May 2021 - 22

Josh Peterson holds a brook trout caught by his daughter in 2020 in a creek in the Bighorn Mountains. Miriam, 4,
caught the fish but needed help reeling it in.

lake and posed for a picture. Snowfields sliced down
the granite walls behind us. Pink bog laurel grew
from the squishy ground near our feet. My belly stuck
out as a visual reminder of the change that would be
coming. Our Labrador looked soulful as ever.
What if, I asked my husband, we came back here
each summer? What if we stood on this rock each year
with our daughter, a visual reminder of her growth
much like marks on a wall?
" Sure, " he said.
And just like that, I knew this place would become
part of our lives.
Miriam was born just a couple weeks later. That
was our last trip in the mountains without her. It held
part of our souls. We had to go back.
Was it arbitrary? Absolutely.
Was it necessary? Also yes.

We all go marching

The next year we returned, as promised.
It was Miriam's first backpacking trip. She was
tucked in our blue Osprey backpack, a rainbow-patterned sun hat covering her wisps of baby hair, sleeping
pad and tent strapped to the bottom.
She napped for much of the 5-mile hike in, then
swatted at mosquitoes from the inside of the tent
when we arrived.
We didn't catch any golden trout on that first trip.
Or the second. Perhaps that was becoming part of the
tradition - a journey to a lake on a quest to catch a
22 | May 2021	

Brook trout, pictured, and lake trout are plentiful in Firehole lakes Nos. 1 and
2 in the Bighorn Mountains.

fish we may never find.
We put our tent in a clearing far enough away
from the water but close enough to see mountains
through the trees. That night we took turns singing
various iterations of " The Ants go Marching " when
she woke every hour or two, likely thrown off her
schedule from the day's activities. The sun came up,
a slight breeze kept the mosquitoes away, and we ate
oatmeal while perched on rocks along the lake shore.
Then we took the picture on that rock.
We almost didn't make it on our third summer.
Camped at the truck the night before we woke at 2
a.m. to the sound every parent dreads: toddler vomit.
We cleaned her up and swapped out her sleeping
bag - grateful we brought an extra - and laid awake
the rest of the night wondering if we should go into
the backcountry at all. Maybe we should just pack up
and go home. Maybe this silly tradition didn't need
to continue every year. Maybe we were pushing it.
Like most kids, by morning she was our bouncing
2-year-old with little to no memory of the night. She
ate breakfast and was ready. We loaded her up and
started down that same trail, the one that absorbs
our stress with every footfall. We wound through
the boulder fields and over a creek, past a Volkswagen-sized rock where I know, in an emergency, my
cell phone works. We continued over the log crossings
in the meadow with one of the first glimpses of the
mountains up close.
Then we turned off the trail in that same clearing



May 2021

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of May 2021

May 2021 - 1
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