Day 42: Grand Tetons

We’re outside of Salt Lake City now, have loads of laundry in the hotel washer and dryer, and we found a great place to order pizza and huge salads from. It’s a low key night after a long string of pretty intense, tiring days.

We woke up early to the sound of a river and crisp, cool air surrounding us. One thing we didn’t wake up to was a drop of rain. This was the first, and only, night of backpacking that it didn’t rain on us. Zak and I were chipper, knowing we wouldn’t have to spend hours drying out all our gear when we got to the stop for the night. I stumbled out of the tent I shared with Ellie to find the sun rising over the Tetons, where, just a few hours before were glowing in the light of the sun setting. We packed up the tents and other gear, ate some Clif bars, drank cool canned coffee, and said goodbye to another one of my new favorite places in the world.

Then we threw our packs over our backs for the last time of the trip. If you’re a backpacker, you probably have such a love/hate relationship with you pack. I do. I named mine Granite because she’s a foggy grey color and weighs as much as the heaviest rock you’ve ever laid eyes upon. She’s an Osprey and I’ve had her for three summers, longer than anyone else in the family has had their pack. When our car got broken into two years ago, in some ironic sick joke, my bag was the only one not stolen. At that time, I was the only one who hated backpacking. We had done it one time prior to the break in, one long mountain hike in Great Basin. On that hike, two years ago, I complained so much about the weight that by a mile in, the rest of the family had divvied up my gear and I was just hiking with an empty back. I still complained. Reflecting on it, I know I didn’t have the weight distributed correctly and I hadn’t tightened the straps enough to keep the weight off my shoulders and on my hips. That roadtrip ended abruptly, so I didn’t have another opportunity to give backpacking a second try. At this point, two years later, I love backpacking. And, a lot of that, is thanks to Granite. She’s my lifeline out on the trail, the carrier for all I need to survive in the wilderness. She carries my food, my shelter, and any iota of comfort I’ll be granted. But she’s heavy. As a beast. Each time I put her on, I slug her over my shoulder with all my might, while trying to stay balanced and not fall over. It is anything but graceful. Sometimes I’ll hoist her onto a big boulder, so I can avoid swinging her around. Once she’s on, I tighten all the straps, and we set off. That’s when she gets her revenge for whatever I’ve done to upset her. The belt part digs into my pelvic bones. At this point in the trip, I have wounds that scab up, only to be reopened the next trip, on both my hips. She also digs the shoulder straps into the side of my neck. So, as much as I hate her, I love her. I try my hardest to keep her away from sappy trees and mud and ooey slugs. I dutifully wrap her in her rain cover each night, even if it isn’t supposed to rain. And, in turn, she embraces me during the long hikes and carries all my necessities. We have quite the relationship.

As Granite and I, and the others, and their packs (all of which are also named) set off on the final leg of our last backpacking hike, we didn’t forget to take in all the beauty that surrounded us. This place is magic and I truly can’t wait to return. I just wonder if it’s acceptable to go to the Tetons and skip Yellowstone. The hike was quick, about six miles and we were done by 9:30. We opted to take the boat across Jenny Lake, saving us a few miles of hiking, knowing we had a long drive facing us.

The drive to Salt Lake was long, mostly because Zak and I were both tired so had to stop and switch drivers often. We’re about 5 or 6 hours from home, Colorado home, and we can’t wait to be there tomorrow.

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