Even though the holidays are over, we still haven’t taken down our Christmas tree/ Hanukkah bush, and don’t really intend to. It is just too much fun – note the bike parts. 10 points if you know what they are!
Early morning park adventures never get old, even in the bitter cold. Today was one of those bitter cold, wonder Wyoming windy days. We set off early, coffee in hand to drive out to the park to ski a peak called Wimpy’s. With the persistent slab, we planned to ski pretty conservatively, although there are some really cool couloirs off the backside. On the way in, we passed an early morning herd of deer and moose.
Skinning into Wimpy’s takes a bit more flat traversing than 25 Short ,and I took advantage of the time to get some skin track shots with the Tetons in the foreground.
Some days it is beautiful and sunny, and I am able to zone out for the skin track and cruise, and sometimes it is like today. Today it was bitter cold and windy. The skin track was blown in almost immediately, meaning that since rob was two switchbacks above me, we were both breaking trail. About three quarters of the way up, I needed to take a break. I took a knee to get a bit out of the wind and the steep soft skin track had obviously taken a tool on my hydration. Before I had a chance to get my water out, I had to put a hand on the ground to steady myself. Even though I wanted to take a longer break, the risk of getting chilled in the wind was too great, so I drank, ate a few bites of frozen pb&j and continued my slow motion slog to the top. That is the thing about backcountry touring. There is a fine line between too cold and sweating, between moving fast enough to be comfortable and needing to stop for food. Often, you can do a whole tour and wait until you get back to the car to chug some water and eat a ton, but that was not today.
At the top I grabbed another snack while transitioning and stashed some more calories in my pocket to snack on on the way down. Luckily, the way down was 100% worth the way up. Our tracks were the only ones out there.
Not only was the snow good on the way down, but the track out was a coast. Needless to say I took a long hot shower to warm up after Wimpy’s. Does that make me a Wimp?
Think Jackson is only a biking and skiing town? There are plenty of other things to do. That is, if you like climbing, hiking and in this instance, caving. There are the wind caves on the Idaho side of the Tetons and there is a five-mile long cave route that connects to the ice caves further along the cliffs. Rob and I didn’t do the whole cave, since it would require more equipment that we brought, but we crawled between chambers until the first mandatory rappel. Next time, we will need to bring harnesses, rope, wetsuits and more snacks!
Past the Grand Teton and the Middle Teton are more impressive angular mountains. I remember driving to Jackson for the first time and Rob promising me that I would know when I saw them. At almost every mountain range I would ask, “Are those the Tetons?” After a bit Rob turned the radio volume up loud enough so I just had to wonder to myself. As we made the last bend into town looking above the “Welcome to Jackson” sign, I saw them. Well, I only saw The Grand, but it was enough. The rock looked like it had been pulled from the crust yesterday, with sharp ridges and deep shadows, and I suddenly thought all the other mountains I had seen before were tiny. This was a mountain, surrounded by cow pastures and high mountain lakes, energizing the peaceful landscape and all those who live near it with a sense of raw adventure.
The Tetons are the most impressive mountain range I could ever hope to live near, so when a friend of ours invited us to camp on Jackson Lake under the shadow of mount Moran, we were ready and in the car quickly. We motored to the far side of the lake by boat, had a fun time dragging the boat into a cove for Rob- facilitated valet parking – all I could think of was the scene in African Queen when Humphrey Bogart gets covered by leeches.
After a great night sitting by the campfire and watching the full moon, we had some fun knee boarding on the way back to the other side of the lake. I have never been knee boarding before, and it is quite the core and quad workout. By the time we were out and back home it was only noon and we had plenty of time for an afternoon adventure. I love living in the thick of it!