August 2, 2022
The Grand Tetons
Studying the weather forecast, Mike postponed his plans to hike near Jenny Lake on Tuesday, preferring to stay dry. Recovering from the previous day’s tour of Yellowstone, we slept late. Now that the contents of the refrigerator had thawed, I enjoyed a hard-boiled egg for breakfast before we set out to explore Grand Teton National Park.
Curious about its meaning, I Googled the word “Teton,” expecting a reference to a revered Native American site. I won’t ruin your fun. Although many sites point to Teton as a name for the Lakota tribe, others are less noble.
Mike was in awe of the mountains, their rocky crags jutting into the air up to almost 14,000 feet with a minimum of foothills, preferring them over the forests and rivers of Yellowstone. The peaks’ formation has to do with the shifting of the earth’s crust. At no time, however, did we have a clear view. If the mountains weren’t obscured by clouds in the morning and during storms, smoke from fires in the northwest of Oregon, California, and Idaho hazed them, reminding us how small the planet is.
There was no evidence of bark beetle in the forests, which is controlled by the cold temperatures of winter. Rowan had given us a detailed description of how the beetle works, which I won’t repeat here because I will get it wrong. There was evidence of extensive fires throughout the parks and at our lodge. Whereas we city-slickers bemoaned the fate of the forests, Rowan spoke about the rejuvenating that results. He encouraged us to observe the height of the new pines coming in to estimate the time since the fire.
Although the day was overcast and perfect for hiking (sorry, Mike), we enjoyed views of the valleys and the mountains, entranced as the clouds maneuvered around the peaks, constantly changing the view. Noting the textures and colors of the hillsides, I made out shapes much as if I were observing clouds formations. One hillside sported a large mural of ET. Having read “The Overstory” by Richard Powers and “Barkskins” by Annie Proulx, I pondered if bald hills meant no tree growth or lumber deforestation. As we drove through the forests, I listened for the trees communicating with one another through the massive underground fungus.
There was plenty of time to think about trees during the drive. My not-so-extensive botany education had taught me about male/female plants. I wondered if my teachers had never taught the differentiation of male/female pines to deflect jokes about sexual organs lying on the ground?
We saw several herds of bison in the distance. As we left a parking lot, a dog’s barking grabbed our attention. We looked up to see an excited canine’s head hanging out an RV window, barking at those strange creatures.
A pulled pork sandwich with undercooked French fries and a beer at Dornan’s Chuckwagon, an outpost in Moose, Wyoming on the main loop in the park made up my lunch. Mike filled up on an overcooked crispy chicken sandwich and cole slaw. Noticing a rafting tour kiosk, we canceled our rafting reservation out of the Jackson, and re-booked at Dornan’s for Thursday, making for an easier drive.
Mike marveled at the peaks while I filled my soul with views of the lakes, low because of farming irrigation. At one site, we responded to another visitor asking if we knew of other views of Jackson Lake. He said he was from Florida and not really interested in water. I countered we were from Arizona and very interested in water. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
The rain started around 3:00, just when Mike would have been returning from his hike. Not looking forward to being cooped up in the cabin, we headed to Sheffield’s at Headwaters Lodge for cocktails and supper, joining all the campers looking to escape the rain. We found a table in the bar and got served immediately as the crowds grew in the lobby. Having ordered a post-prandial Jameson on the rocks, we exchanged places with a family in the lobby, giving them our table while I finished my drink in the lobby. A charge of $1.25 for the cocktail ice cube convinced me to follow my sister-in-law Lisa’s advice to order it “neat.” Yes, next time I will bring my own ice cubes.