Sometime in the 1950s my grandparents from Pittsburgh, PA took an epic road trip out west to experience the premier national parks of America. My grandfather was an avid photographer who took many photos of flowers, mountains, waterfalls, rivers; you name it. Does this sound like someone else you know? I suppose it runs in our genes. My mother sometimes says that people used to complain because so many of his pictures were devoid of family members. I will admit that I too am guilty of taking a lot of pictures of rocks and mountains.
My grandparents also enjoyed camping and, like them, Cara, Maddie and I recently went camping in the Grand Teton National Park that they had visited some 60 years earlier. There is nothing like spending time in the great outdoors amongst the grandest of mountains to restore your soul.
|Grandma on the right|
We camped in Colter Bay, a cove on Jackson Lake, where we watched wildlife including a red fox who wandered through our campsite early one morning and then curled up under a fir tree to take a nap. He must have been completely tuckered out after a night of picnic table surfing. We also were fortunate enough to see a bald eagle fly overhead and watched pronghorn antelope and elk from the roadside.
One of the highlights of our trip was a hike up to Hidden Falls after taking a boat shuttle across Jenny Lake. The sheer volume of snowmelt raging down Cascade Creek was impressive in itself and the cold spray seemed to make it 15 degrees cooler. Following our boat ride back, we meandered along the base of the mountains and then Maddie waded in String Lake.
The view of the peaks from here is spectacular with the Grand Teton (13,770’) jutting into the sky. It is difficult to put in words the beauty of this place, but in 1880, W.A. Baillie-Grohman, a hunter and mountaineer wrote of his first visit:
“Beyond the river the eye espied several little lakes, nestling in forest-girt seclusion under the beetling cliffs of the boldest-shaped mountain I am acquainted with, i.e. the Grand Teton Peak, rising in one great sweep from an amazingly serrated chain of aiguille-like crags sharply outlined against the heavens, and shutting in one entire half of the basin…It was the most sublime scenery I have ever seen.” (Camps in the Teton Basin)
Other hikes took us along streams, ponds and lakes, some with blooming lilly pads floating on the water. The wildflowers were gorgeous so we had Maddie plop down in the middle of a meadow for some photos. After tiring ourselves out in the mountains all day we sat down in front of our campfire in the cool of evening to make the obligatory s’mores.
I was also able to get a few short trail runs in and met another ultrarunner, Dave from Las Vegas. We were both camping in the park acclimating to the elevation since we have races coming up within a week. It was nice to have company on an early morning five mile jaunt that took us along the lake shore and several ponds. Sleeping and running at 7000’ for a week should help me get ready for the Bighorn Wild and Scenic 100 Miler in Sheridan, WY this weekend. Since I’m busy preparing drop bags, I’ll have to save the post about Yellowstone for another time.
It seems camping, travel and photography runs in our family. I enjoy capturing images of America’s most beautiful places as much as my grandfather did and looking at old pictures of their trip out west is priceless. Indeed he was a great photographer and even knew how to take a “selfie” before the selfie stick was a thing.
See you on the trail.