CODY, Wyo. — By the end, they had just eight pieces of bread and a half tank of gas left.
It was Sunday night, Nov. 3, and Mark and Kristine Wathke, missing since Oct. 28, were sitting in their Kia Forte trapped in a foot of snow above 10,000 feet on the Beartooth Highway. They had come to the realization that probably they weren't going to be found, that this was likely the end.
It had dropped to 7 degrees below zero that night; Mark's water bottle, sitting in the back window, froze solid in a matter of hours.
The night before, on Nov. 2, when the idea first truly set in that they might not make it off the mountain, they decided to write goodbye notes to their loved ones and make a recording giving their farewells.
|Beartooth Pass closed for season|
Up until that point, they'd been pretty sure someone would come looking for them.
The couple, from Wisconsin, had just finished a weeklong vacation touring national parks in South Dakota, Idaho and Wyoming. The grand finale was Yellowstone, and by Monday afternoon, Oct. 28, they were headed out of the park, turned for home.
"This was the return trip," Mark said.
"We were headed home," Kristine said.
They had reservations for a hotel in Miles City and so they punched the address into their cellphone's mapping application. The route it gave them took them out of the Northeast Entrance of Yellowstone National Park on Highway 212 over the Beartooth Pass.
"Thank you, Google," Kristine said.A week passed.
On Saturday night, Nov. 2, with supplies running low, they began to talk about freezing together in the car and never returning home. They decided that, while they still could, they'd write down their goodbyes and leave a message for their families recorded on their cellphone.
Sunday night was as cold as they'd been the whole week, and that's when they finally accepted their fate. "We were like, 'Alright, we're going to die,' " Kristine said. And then Monday morning dawned a couple hours later, and Mark thought he heard an engine.
|Beartooth Pass in June|
"Mark heard it first and he was like, 'Kris! Kris! Kris!,' " she said. "We saw him coming up the road and I was just crying."
Rancher Troy Barnett had decided Sunday night, Nov. 3, that he'd check the highway after hearing that a couple had gone missing from Yellowstone earlier in the week. He found them first thing, put them on his snowmobile and drove them down the highway.Where were Obama's Federales when it was time for a rescue? Let's hear it for the intrepid rancher who was bold, creative, took the initiative and saved the couple!