My friend (and former mentor) Carrie and I had begun our epic road trip two days prior to getting to Jackson Hole, WY. I mention this because our trip did not begin in Grand Teton (it began in Atlanta, GA), but our adventure did. We entered the Bridger-Teton National Forest from a southern route and camped along the Hoback River. Growing up on the Eastern Coast, I am acquainted with the Appalachian Mountain Range. The Appalachians are beautiful… but the mountains in the western United States are completely different. They are bigger, more intense, more jagged and a harsh (contrast to the gentler slopes of the Appalachian mountains), and just awe-inspiring. The Hoback River is one of the rivers that comes from the infamous Snake River. Carrie and I camped at a campground literally next to the river and reveled in the presence of the vastness that surrounded us. This is where I should probably mention that I haven’t been camping in over a decade and like most people these days I don’t understand what no cell service truly means. Well, changed that all in one fell swoop.Having no cell service was terrifying if I am being honest… at first. Once the shock of it wanes, the absolute freedom it allows becomes all powerful. I quickly learned to embrace the lack of a signal which was intermittent the rest of the journey.
The next morning, Carrie and I went on a “lazy scenic tour” of the Snake River that runs through the Grand Teton National Park. We shared our raft with a beautiful family from Florida that had three kids that were excited about the water adventure. Carrie and I felt right at home in their excitement as we had decided to see the park on the river just days prior. The tour is thirteen miles long with the Teton Mountain Range as the backdrop for most of the tour. The Teton range has five major peaks with Grand Teton being 13,700 feet above sea level. Again, referencing back to my East Coast upbringing, where the highest peak is 6,684 feet above sea level. Grand Teton is over two times as high and it was incredible to be in the presence of something that large.
Along our tour, we saw a few bald eagles and white pelicans. Unfortunately, we did not see any other wildlife, but we are sure they were there. I mean why wouldn’t the animals hang out in regions that they can’t be hunted? But alas, while there were not many animals on the venture, the scenery was incredible. The Tetons are not the only range visible from the Snake River. There were others and it gives a person the feeling of being infinitely small amongst the tall mountains that surround the valley in which the Snake River resides.
After the tour, we had a brunch (the tour was at 7 am) in the infamous Jackson, WY. It was a cute town that definitely catered to the tourists while still retaining the charm of a small town. As our ultimate destination was the West Coast via Yellowstone, we headed north to find an adventure that we could enjoy before camping again during the evening. We chose to hike a short trail which led us to Taggart Lake. Taggart Lake is a snow melt fed lake that is in the foothills of the Teton Mountain Range. Words cannot adequately describe the absolute beauty of the lake. Carrie and I also took the opportunity to be really adventurous and take a dip into the lake. In reality, I was cocky and said if she jumped in, I would… so we both ended up jumping into an ice cold lake that literally knocked the breath out of us as we jumped in. It was life changing for me. Sounds silly perhaps, but after we got out of the water, in fear of hypothermia, we sat on rocks in the sun to dry off and just be. During my time on the rock, I felt that everything was well within my world and me.
I share the following takeaways with you: (1) Travel. Period. End of story. Explore the world around you. It doesn’t take a lot of money to go to a local forest and just walk it. (2) Push the boundaries of your comfort zone. Camping for me was exciting but also very abnormal for me. I hadn’t been in a very long time and when I had in the past it was more sophisticated and not the way Carrie and I camped. (3) Put down the phone. As a society, we are so involved in our phone that we miss so much that is around us. Zero cell service forced me to have to put it down, but as this is being written later, putting the phone down is much easier. (4) Take risks. Jump into frigid lakes. Hike the mountain trail. Go on an adventure.