I didn’t have much time to come off that rocky mountain high because we headed straight from Steamboat Springs, Colorado into Wyoming where we spent a week in the incredible Grand Teton National Park near Jackson.
The base camp that Jeremy nabbed for us is one of the best and therefore most difficult to obtain campsites in the entire Park. (He is a ninja at finding the best campsites even when things seem to be completely booked.) Our site was situated just twenty minutes from the town of Jackson, making it an easy drive into town, as well as close to the amazing hiking and outdoor recreation areas that National Park offers. Fergus (our ginger cat) also loved the site as we were able to walk on the trail together through the sagebrush and grasses that covered the campground. The cottonwoods and blue spruce trees reached into the sky above and Fergus went nuts watching all of birds chirping and flying from tree to tree. The Gros Ventre River was also a short stroll away, and the site offered us views of the Grand Teton and Blacktail Butte, which we hiked to the top off during our stay. (More on that below!) Wildlife including bison, moose, and mule deer frequented the area too, so I was able to see my first big male moose as well as a plethora of mule deer.
One of the reasons we decided to explore the country in an RV is because we noticed over the past five or six years many of our peak experiences together and as a family included being in nature. Spending time in the Tetons was a 10/10 peak experience extravaganza. After work one night we explored homesteads still standing once occupied by Mormon pioneers, and another night we rode our e-bikes through the park. Thursday, with blue skies and the temperature reaching 93 degrees, we attempted a post work hike near String Lake. However, as we headed into the park, the sky turned ominous and I was glad Jeremy’s rain jacket was in the car. A few yards into the hike though, we realized we had forgotten the Bear Spray. And as the light rain began to turn into big, fat raindrops, I decided to trust my intuition and abandon the plan. On the way back to camp, the temperature dropped to 53 degrees and the rain turned into rock sized hail! I was glad I had trusted myself rather than power through!
Friday, the sun returned and we took a ferry across the famous Jenny Lake, the wind whipping through our hair as the magnificent Tetons loomed overhead. We hiked 3 ½ miles into the Tetons through alpine meadows where we saw amazing waterfalls. After the hike back we headed back to Andi, changed for dinner and spent an amazing evening exploring the town of Jackson which included a memorable meal at a restaurant called, The Gather.
Saturday, through Jeremy’s stellar research, we found an incredible mostly undiscovered hike through the Butte. As we were the only people on the trail, every step of the way seemed like we were walking through a Disney movie. Butterflies flitted about everywhere, bright golden flowers with purples, reds, and blues were strewn throughout the fields, and birds of all colors and sizes skipped through the tree line as we climbed. It literally felt like heaven on earth. When we reached the top we had incredible 360 views of the entire Valley. It was during this hike where it occurred to me, “I have come through the worm hole.”
With a view of the snowy Tetons peeking through the trees, my breath heavy from the mile ascension up the steep terrain, surrounded by trees and a field of yellow and gold, I felt as if the transition from one life into the next finally felt more complete. After nearly five months on the road, I felt freedom. That familiar longing for the life I left behind extinct. Rather, I felt for the first time, the notion that I am truly on the adventure of a lifetime. That I have seized an opportunity to explore and live a life of adventure, exploration, and that all the growing pains are helping me to build a true partnership with Jeremy and become a more fully expressed, better version of myself.
Seven miles later, the sun still high in the sky at five pm, we jumped into the Jeep and drove back to String Lake where we put in the paddleboard. Stripping down to my undies, Jeremy and I floated in and around the shallow lake on the paddleboard together for hours, taking turns jumping into the cool water. In the spirit of being courageous, I even took my turn paddling, standing, gaining confidence with each stroke, ah-mazed at how clear the water was as I stood tall, marveling at all the fish I could see from this vantage point.
I am getting used to my spot on the passenger seat of Andi. I have learned how to operate the awnings this week, too. And I am beginning to recognize the chirps of chipmunks, and the chirps of a ground squirrel. I have been close enough to the birds to watch them sing, their tiny beaks opening and closing as their music fills the air. I have learned that a moose sheds its antlers each winter. And, I know what it sounds like when the wind blows through the Aspens.
Now, this is what it is I am longing for.
And so, onward to Glacier National Park. To Montana