Day 41: Grand Tetons

I don’t want this day to end. We hiked 12 miles and climbed just less than 3000 feet all while carrying our heavy packs. I’m tired. Muscles are worn out, especially after summiting a mountain yesterday. The rest of the family is in the tents, resting, relaxing, and writing. I opted to soak up every moment I have in this place and climbed a gigantic rock and am watching the mountains change before my eyes as the sun sets. Marmots keep zipping past and the only sound is that of the rushing water of the mountain river. This was a perfect day and I’m actually dreading closing my eyes, knowing that’s the end.

We woke early and made the quick drive from Yellowstone to Grand Tetons. The ranger who gave us our backpacking permit sent our excitement level through the roof, informing us that the three daily permits in this area. are highly sought after and we were going to be blown away by the views. He was right. We packed our bags, transferring all the necessities from our day packs to the backpacks. It took awhile and it was about 11 by the time we were ready to throw the packs over our backs. But, we were hungry. We didn’t find many options at the general store in the visitors center, so we opted for a brand new to me food….those creepy sausages that roll on the heater machines in gas stations. And you know what? It was damn good.

With full bellies, we hit the trail. The first task was to hike around Jenny Lake. This portion was a few miles long and moderately steep. We were quick and got through it without much pause. The next portion was a few miles up Cascade Canyon. We hiked along side the river with towering mountains on either side. The last portion was a few miles up the North Fork of Cascade Canyon. And holy schmoley. The beauty. It was steep and hard, but the views of The Grand Tetons couldn’t be rivaled. We were permitted to camp within a two mile area and found the perfect site near the start of the camping area. This is great because we’ll cut a couple of miles off of tomorrow’s hike out. We set up camp quickly and actually put the near empty packs back on our backs. There were still about two miles to Solitude Lake. We gained a lot of elevation in those two miles, but it felt like nothing because the packs were nearly weightless. This lake. Ahhh! I wish you each could have been with us so I wouldn’t have to poorly attempt to describe it. Floating throughout the lake were icebergs, many with, interestingly, downed pine trees. I can’t fathom how they got there, but I suppose they fell during the winter and we’re dragged out to the frozen lake. They drifted by us as a black marmot played peek a boo with us. At first we though she was after our fancy dinner of pbj&c and jerky, but no, she just wanted to play a game, like the ones you play with cute babies at restaurants as their parents are oblivious to the entertainment the baby found. Now I want a freaking marmot too. Once it got chilly we headed back the two miles to camp. Along the way, the outline of the Tetons filled the horizon and wildflowers were a carpet at our feet.

The rock I’m sitting on now (I’ve moved and the rest of the family has joined me) is slightly reddish in color. The ranger informed us that the red color will pop on the Tetons as the sun sets and the whole range will glow red. That phenomenon is beginning and I never want to leave this place.

Although the hike was long and tiring and hard and all those things that could really ruin a hike, we did so good. We didn’t talk a lot, but mostly focused on our footing and the surroundings. Yet, I learned more about each girl. Ellie rocks as a leader and her steps are more bold and confident when she leads (a position Zoe usually has.) Zoe, whom I rarely follow as I’m usually in the back, is so polite to the other hikers, always saying hi and thanking them for letting us pass. Observing them in these roles, is one of the greatest rewards of these trips for me.

I want to say one last thing about the Grand Tetons. After we set up camp, I wandered around our area just a bit on my own. I paused and just stared at these grand mountains. I was overwhelmed. My stomach got into a bit of a knot and my breathing was quick and choppy. This place, like so many others we’ve had the opportunity to visit, is seriously breathtaking. There aren’t words. There aren’t pictures. And the memories won’t do it justice. Being here. Right now. I’m so lucky. This is one place I will draw my motivation, my creativity, my passions, my love from as we wrap up this trip and move into the rest of the year.

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