Day 41 through 46: Grand Teton National Park (part 3)

Before you call DCFS please read fully.  Today began with a plan to hike up Signal Mountain whose trail lies across the road from our campsite.  This hike was described by a campsite worker as short and ugly.  Knowing that nothing coud be ugly in this glorious place, we decided to believe only the short part.  So after a harrowing walk along the road to the trailhead we hiked 3 miles to the mountain summit (over two hours) only to be met by tons of tourists snapping pictures of the glorious teton range view (I should mention there also is road that will take you to this very spot.)  We must have looked mighty out of place among all these clean people; as we were tired, sweaty and eating scraps of squashed food from my camel back.  Henna was so tired she sat right on the ground not caring that people had to walk right over her.  A nice looking man asked incredulously, “Did you hike up here?” To which we proudly answered “yep”. What came out of his mouth next was the last thing we expected.  He looked right into our over tired and sun streaked eyes and bluntly asked, “Why would anyone walk when they could drive?” How do you reply to such a forward and insane comment?  You don’t.  I simply turned to Henna who at age 8 had hiked up this summit, not so pleasantly at times I might add, and asked her if she would do it again.  She replied without hesitation, “Yes!”  I thought that was all the response that was needed.  Her reasons can be best described in the pictures that follow.  Boy do I love this kid.

Day 41 through 46: Grand Tetons National Park (Part 1)

We have been living in Grand Teton National Park now for a couple of days.  I like it.  We have some great neighbors, lots of hiking and swimming options, and good mountain views in every direction at every time.  The town of Jackson (better known as Jackson Hole) is just a short drive away and that is where we went last night to fill up the tank, eat some Thai, and get new wedding bands.

After a couple of false starts that included a very handy salesperson who tried pushing 70s disco era stuff, we found our rings.  Sterling silver, they did not fit us exactly right but after some hammering they were ours.  We celebrated with some Thai food.

All was well at the restaurant until the gun shots started.  First it was one pop (maybe a car backfiring?), then a few more, and then finally a steady barrage of bangs that appeared to be occurring less than fifty yards from where we were dining.  No one else at the place seemed to mind so we did not panic.  Later I found out it was the nightly shoot out staged on Maine Street twice a day.  Funny, some people drive all the way to Wyoming to escape their urban woes.  Those same people then ooh and ah over a recreated shooting.  Maybe the nightly news should take Jackson’s cue and, instead of merely telling the news, use actors to recreate the daily mayhem.  It still might be depressing, but at least it would be more entertaining.

Before heading into town we made some friends and I picked up a nemesis.  I will tell you about the friends first.  A few sites down from us live Mike and Nicole who hail from Pomona, IL (the heart of one of my favorite places in the world, Southern Illinois).  Father and daughter they are the advance team for an adventure oriented co-ed youth group that plans on camping a couple of weeks in the Tetons (co-ed teens camping together for an extended period of time, what could go wrong?).  Mike has been here before and knows the park well.  He also knows quite a bit about camping in general and has the easy going knowledgeable manner that makes for a great neighbor.  His daughter is headed to Chicago in the fall with her husband with a theatre background and a desire to make it in the big city.  As cool and friendly as her father we hope she makes it big (and ultimately invites Corey, Henna, and I to NYC to watch her perform on SNL).  Mike and Nicole shared a few huckleberries with us and, more importantly, shared where they picked them.  Henna was enthralled and the hunt was on.

On the way to the huckleberry patch I met my foe.  She was walking alongside a trail with her young son and seemed sweet enough at first.  We asked her directions to the String Lake Picnic Ground area (an essential first step in our search for the elusive berry).  Her response, “you don’t want to go there.”  I did want to go there.  “Well, you can swim right here, I mean it is the same lake.  Over there it is just crowds.”  I felt a little defensive and told her about the huckleberries.  She did not respond to my excuse (and does anyone really need an excuse to go to a popular tourist destination?)  but instead added “I mean some people like that sort of thing especially if you have never been here before.”  “I like huckleberries,” was my response.   She again ignored my reason for searching out what to her must seem like the worst excesses of a National Park loving society.  What got me going was how defensive and competitive I became.  I suppressed it well, but in my head I was listing all the hikes, roads, and parks we have been just this summer where people were few and the views many.  But the thing is there is always someone who can trump us.  Mike for example has out camped and hiked us many, many times over.  Later on the trail we bumped into a family living out of a tent for a month (like us) but (unlike us) have three small children with the youngest about a year old.  We also have met people cycling, hitchhiking, and walking the same terrain we have driven.   And all the people just mentioned have grace.  They live the way they do not to gloat but to more fully enjoy life.  “Love the life you live, live the life you love” is on every e-mail Corey sends out.  That should be enough.