This past weekend a quote from Robert Burns, "The best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry", summed up my Sunday morning. I drove up into the Beartooth mountains to spend a quiet weekend with the dog and check out the Northeast corner of Yellowstone Park. On Saturday night I went to sleep with what I thought would be a perfect plan for Sunday but things didn't work out the way I had planned.
Besides going fishing for the day I also decided to break camp before dawn and try to get a Grizzly sighting as I drove into the Park. After dinner I plugged my cell phone into the Toyota to charge and got a fire going. By 10 o'clock I was ready to hit the hay. I grabbed the phone out of my rig, set the alarm for 5 am and crawled into the tent with the dog.
The next morning the alarm went off at 5 and Thompson and I dragged ourselves out of the tent. The temperature dropped down more than we thought it would overnight. When I looked at my themometer it was just under 30 degrees, not out of the ordinary for the Beartooths. After packing our gear we had a bite to eat and were ready to hit the road at quarter to 6. This is when all our plans were thrown out the window.
When I turned the key the starter clicked but vehichle didn't start. Everything electrical was working but the battery didn't have enough juice to turn the engine over. Apparently charging my cell phone in the cold temps was just enough to drain my battery. When it's 6 am and you are camped up a jeep trail in the mountains the last thing you need is a rig that doesn't start.
The first thing I did was take a very deep breath, I counted to 10 and lit a cig. This kept me from punching my dashboard and yelling every swear word known to man. After a minute or so of collecting my thoughts I reassured myself and Thompson that it may take all day but we'll get the vehichle started. The one and only option I had was to start hiking out. I prayed that I would find someone else camped up the jeep trail, if not I would be hiking out to the main road. Someone or something must have been watching out for me. Luckily there where people camped in the next campsite down from me. Since it was still very early, the sun hadn't come up yet, I sat on a stump and enjoyed the view for about an hour and a half. Around 8 I finally heard a voice from the campsite. I crossed my fingers and walked into their camp. When I asked the owner of the truck in the site if he had jumper cables I found out that his thinking was the same as mine. We had both brought tow straps in case our rigs got stuck on a muddy jeep trail but neither of us thought we would need our jumper cables and both of us left them at home. Thank the lord that he was going to drive me down to Cooke City to get cables.
As we neared the end of the jeep trail we saw one of those big vans everyone is camping out of these days. We both had the same thought, someone in a vehichle that big has to have everything plus the kitchen sink with them. We swung into their site and I jumped out. I explained my situation to a young couple and asked if they had any cables in their van. They didn't just have any old set of cables, they had a set of industrial 20 foot long jumper cables. I almost jumped for joy! We borrowed their cables and headed back up the jeep trail.
It had been almost 3 hours since Thompson and I had crawled out of the tent but the Toyota was finally running. I told my new friend to stop by the shop the next time he was in town so I could hook him up with some flies and then he drove off to his campsite. I returned the cables to their owners and thanked them for helping a stranded stranger.
No matter how much you plan and think you are prepared, a monkey wrench can be thrown into the mix at any moment. From now on I am going to have all my gear loaded in my rig and leave it there forever. If you ever find yourself in the woods with a dead battery and your camped next to me, "Don't Worry". I will never leave home without jumper cables again!
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