In the novel The Hike, Patrick and Mackenzie Kincaid set off from the West Tensleep Trailhead for a weekend backpacking trip. Of course, their adventure unfolds into a an experience unlike any other.
He threw the other shoulder strap over his shoulder, situated the load a little, and tightened the chest and waist straps to get ready for a long walk up the mountain. Patrick motioned with his hand for Makenzie to follow him and walk the couple of hundred yards along the edge of West Tensleep Lake to the trailhead where their journey was to begin. The sign at the trailhead was just as he had remembered it from his youth. It was a dark brown painted sign supported by two wooden posts. It had a map of the trails in the area, some Forest Service information, registration cards, and a pencil tied to it. Patrick filled out the personal information on the registration card and stuffed it in the box so they would know who was on the trail and where they would be in case there was an emergency. He looked around to make sure Makenzie was situated and ready to start the hike, but she wasn’t there. Patrick couldn’t believe that she’d taken off again. He felt the anger rising in him. He called out a few times for her at a level not to disturb any fishermen or campers near the lake, but she didn’t answer.
With his heart racing from fear and anger, Patrick began to trot back down the trail to where he had last seen her. He was moving a little too fast and not paying enough attention to what he was doing. Patrick didn’t pick his right foot up high enough and stumbled on an exposed root on the well-worn trail. With his internal balance being off center from being strapped to the heavy backpack, he couldn’t catch himself in time and he fell like a rock. He landed hard on his right knee and hands. The pain was sharp, but not unbearable; and it only took him a second to stand up and get trotting again.
Within a couple of hundred feet he could see the vehicle where he had left it, and standing in the same place as when he had left was Makenzie. Patrick was no longer nervous and worried for her well-being, but rather he was just filled with anger and he could feel his jaw tighten as he walked the last hundred feet back to the car.
In the story, the father and daughter make a trek into the beautiful Big Horn Mountains of Wyoming for a weekend with nature to repair the relationship from things that just happen as young women grow into adulthood. While on their trip though, a catastrophic event happens and causes an orange fog to encompass the landscape. The two escape the fog by climbing high to a mountaintop and wait for the ominous cloud to dissipate.
Others aren't as lucky though. They do find survivors, but they aren't the same as they were before the fog...
The real West Tensleep Campground is a true place of awesome beauty. It also has a trailhead that connects a web of backpacking trails through established wilderness areas that are like nowhere else on earth.
The Hike is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, organizations, places, events and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.