“Wilderness is not a luxury but a necessity of the human spirit”
– Edward Abbey
“Everything in nature invites us constantly to be what we are”
– Gretel Ehrlich.
A few weeks back, I spent four extraordinary days with Jackson Hole Mountain Guides (JHMG) in Grand Teton National Park.
For nearly a year I trained at the gym, in the pool, and hiked up several smallish mountains to prepare for the seven mile hike up to base camp and a couple days of climbing. At different points during those months I felt strong and was excited and others sad doubting my body and commitment. I wanted to succeed and to me that meant being able to at least get to high camp (no small deal – the distance wouldn’t be a biggie I do that mileage once a week now and then – but figure in you are gaining 4200 feet of elevation and it becomes very difficult very quickly) and do some climbing. Thanks to a TON of water (one of the best things you can do to acclimate your body is to drink water – something I did consistently for nearly 72 hours prior to the trek) and JHMG I did what I set out to.
When at long last, I got into the rental SUV in Salt Lake City and began driving towards Jackson, Wyoming it all felt very real and really great. As the mileage I covered grew the West opened up in dramatic fashion. The red canyons in Utah the open plains of Wyoming and those mountains!! A few small towns offered quintessential Americana with signs promoting rodeos and in Afton the Red Baron Drive-In with burgers, tater tots and an entire menu dedicated to shakes.
After checking into the Alpine House in Jackson Hole (I give it five stars for the delicious homemade breakfasts, comfortable spacious rooms, and super helpful staff) I explored the town. If anything the town wasn’t so great. Lots of tourists (five years ago locals verified what friends who had been there before and loved it told me – used to be summers were mostly locals – then something happened and no one is entirely sure what and now it’s more locals during the winter) and kitsch.
No tourists when I hiked up Snow King – locals favorite for in-town trail running (only “running” I did was into a couple waves of altitude sickness). It took every bit of determination and physical strength I had to make it up that mini mountain – something I could practically run up back home.
I will let the pictures tell the rest of the story….
My biggest takeaways:
Focus on what is in front of you, or the exposure everything around you will overwhelm you the guide explained. Trying to practice that here on the ground.
I LOVE mountains. I also LOVE having everything you need for a night out in the wilderness on my back. Trails and mountains will be a part of my life for the rest of it.