A Slice Of Humble Pie

Perhaps it was the light. Perhaps it was the company. Perhaps it was the angle or the location or just an over-active imagination. Whatever the reason, I have now enjoyed a large slice of humble pie.

Hiking with guests and employees is always a highlight of my summer. These longer hikes allow me to access areas I do not get a chance to visit very often. Thus, when one of our annual visitors asked me to join her on a hike near Hidden Lake, I jumped at the opportunity.

With water and bug spray and snack and camera in tow, we headed off to re-visit old haunts and explore new areas around that beautiful lake to our north. Unlike many previous hikes, the wildlife was scarce and the people were abundant. Too abundant.

Perhaps that is why we headed off trail near Goose Lake, determined to follow the ‘old section’ of trail along the opposite shore. Except for abundant deadfall, things were going well until I almost stepped on an interesting find. There, in the heavy timber, lay a unique bone.

While finding a bone in the woods is not an unusual event, this bone struck our fancy. Why? It must have been the light - or the angle - or just the desire for more adventure than the day had provided thus far. Whatever the reason, what we saw was not really what we saw.

Thrilled at my find - a ‘most unusual skull’ - I determined to carefully carry my treasure back to the lodge for what I hoped would be identification. However, we still had miles to go before we turned toward home. Thus we began our four-mile side trip.

Long story short, I set the ‘skull’ down during one stop and, would you believe it, failed to pick it up again! I did not recognize it was missing (obviously I had several other things to distract me from one little item) until another mile or so back down the mountain.

My tired feet and the ticking clock convinced me to leave it and continue on home. Surely we had taken a good enough look. We could figure it out at home. What I had not done - something I rarely ever forget to do - was take a good picture. If I had . . .well, my slice of humble pie might have been a little bit smaller!

Back at the lodge we scanned the books and the Internet trying to identify our find. We drew sketches. We contemplated. We asked other people for their ideas. To no avail. Nothing would do but that I return to where I knew the ‘skull’ lay waiting.

Taking a serious look at the schedule I determined to fit it in the next morning. Granted I’d have to jog as much of the seven to eight miles as my tired feet would allow. Granted I’d be pushing my luck. Granted I didn’t really know if I could fit it into the schedule. But curiosity wouldn’t leave me alone.

Then, kind hubby came to my rescue. Offering to take me via motorcycle (which is legal on these trails) to ‘the’ spot. I jumped at the offer. Thus, after dinner we headed out - one misguided naturalist (if you really stretch the definition!) and her kind chauffeur.

The trail was NARROW - amazing how much narrower it seemed on a motorcycle than on foot. The trail was ROCKY - I had forgotten all those rocks and water boards! The trail was STEEP - in places. However, the motorcycle was FAST.

I had figured, even with jogging as much as possible, it would take me at least three hours to make the round trip - plus a bit extra for the drive time to and from the trailhead. On the motorcycle it took about ½ that time. Amazing.

I was able to direct him right to the spot. There it lay. My unique and unusual ‘skull.’ Glad to find it still intact, I proudly showed it to my escort. “A backbone. You drug me up here for a backbone?”

A backbone? It’s not a backbone - it’s a skull! Look!

It all depends on your perspective. I have said that so many times in so many different situations. I had to laugh. What a fool I had made of myself! Oh well! This was not the first time I have had to laugh at myself - and it certainly will not be the last.

Humble pie is not so unpleasant eaten in a relatively private location. However, I could not remain up there - nor did I want to considering the abundant mosquitoes. Thus I swallowed my pride, grabbed my ‘skull’ (after a quick picture should I lose it again), and jumped on behind my kind (and talented) chauffeur.

Back at the lodge I ate my humble pie with good graces and then decided to turn the experience into a joke for others to enjoy. Thus, on your next visit to Elk Lake, be sure to check out our “Genuine Montana Jackalope Skull.”

And now you know the rest of the story. . .

Lady of the Lake

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