Onward . . .

After leaving Yellowstone (that’s right, I’m just going to continue the story as though I did not take a 3-month break from blogging), we headed south. This is where our original roadtrip itinerary became fuzzy. We didn’t know exactly what we would do with the last part of our trip when we set out, and we still hadn’t decided. Should we check out Grand Teton NP or head back into Utah to visit Canyonlands NP? Canyonlands, by the way, is where Aron Ralston got trapped in Blue John Canyon (as depicted in 127 Hours). Personally, I was leaning toward this adventure since I love canyoneering and morbid curiosity had a hold on me. However, during our drive south we got a glimpse of the Tetons, and they looked absolutely majestic. I began to consider a bit of mountaineering, nevermind my total lack of technical mountaineering experience. Mike and I continued on to Jackson Hole, Wyoming to consider our options.

Our first peak at the Tetons

I wasn’t prepared for such a charming, quaint, adorable town. Jackson Hole is just so…wonderful. If I could afford a summer home, I think I would look into real estate in Jackson Hole.

Anyway, we decided to splurge on a hotel for the night so we could take much needed showers and reassess our plans. We hadn’t showered for a week or so, and I was looking forward to a rinse. Mike felt the showers weren’t so much needed, but he agreed to the hotel to placate me.

It was during our hotel stay that Mike proposed his plan to summit the Grand Teton. I had my reservations but ultimately agreed to the adventure. The next day, we left the hotel and spent our time going to gear shops and arranging the necessary details for our expedition. Mike went to the backcountry office and secured a permit for a high-altitude campground the following two nights, we shopped for food and extra layers, and we reserved crampons and ice axes for pick-up the following morning. After all of our preparations, we went to find a nice camping spot on Forest Service land a little closer to the Tetons than Jackson Hole so that we’d be able to get a decent start in the morning.

The camping spot we found afforded lovely views of the Tetons and the surrounding area as it was located on a hill above the flat plains below. We saw a fair amount of wildlife on our way to our spot, and Mike went on a few wildflower photographing expeditions after we’d settled into our camp site for the night. After dinner we crawled into our tent and slipped into our sleeping bags. It was a chilly night, but we were reasonably comfortable. Until….


Me: [instantly awake, whispering] Mike, what was that? It sounded huge…

Large animal: [thud, thud, thud, snort]

Mike: Shhh! Just be still.

Large animal: [thud, rumble, thud, heavy breathing]

I can’t speak for Mike, but I was petrified that a bear had wandered into our site. It may have been an elk or some other large animal, but I’m certain it was something I wouldn’t want to fuck with. If it was a bear, I’d obviously be screwed. If it was just an elk or some large hoofed animal, I might only get trampled, but that sounded unpleasant too. After at least a half hour (probably an hour) of both of us lying stiffly, straining our ears for any tiny noise, and staring wide-eyed at the roof of our tent, we decided to bail. Our car seemed more protective in the event of a bear attack, so we jumped out of our sleeping bags, tore down the tent, and quickly crammed everything into the car. We then attempted to sleep in horribly uncomfortable positions for the rest of the night. So much for a good night’s sleep before one of the most grueling hikes of my life…

…but more on that next post. (I promise it won’t be 3 months.)

2 Responses to “Onward . . .”
  1. Kristen Mott says:

    thanks for posting! looking forward to the next!

  2. José says:

    The funny thing is, even though I’ve seen you guys since this all went down, I have no idea how this story ends! Curious indeed. I’m hoping to get up the damn Teton this year, we’ll see. Rainier is also a maybe…

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