2.  Nature and History

You have to discover what brings you rest and rejuvenation.

Nature and history are two friends of mine that have always brought me peace. 

Experiencing days immersed in nature settles me through a journey/series of reflection and aesthetics. 

Learning and seeing history yields an emotional walk that inspires me to follow strength and to pursue transformation and redemption. 

Day 2: Create space for you to experience nature and history. You might find the way to peace and that jump you need during a break from work. 

Photo credit….L. Sciba

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Grand Tetons Part 12

The Last Day 😦

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So, the last day was here. We decided to eat breakfast, break camp, and go to a fishing place in the south of the park. I didn’t say Southpark. I’ve never even seen that show. Breaking camp is sad and grouchy. But, it was time. My fingernails were dinge. Our hair…did you need grease? Oh, and I know what you are thinking about me…get your roots done. The children’s hair! Wow! But look how cute they are. And I was ready to not need a flashlight to go to the toilet. I know you think I’m granola, but I like indoor plumbing. I’m American, by God. (What movie?!)

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We broke camp. It took a long time. You should have seen the mini-van. It was a nice combination of snack crumbs, pillows that need a case change, dirty socks, and electronic device stuff. I couldn’t wait to get in it for the 30 hour drive home. Oh, yeah! So, we finally were loaded, and we decided to make a fishing stop on our way out. We like to suck the marrow out of these vacations. We stopped at the little gas station at Colter Bay Village, and I rolled down my window as my sister-in-law Jaymie was coming my way for a chat. As she was walking back to her car, I tried to roll the window back up. Nope. Nothing. I jiggled the window button. No action. I turned my head very slowly and looked at my husband. He got out and walked around. He opened and slammed the door several times. “Now, try it,” he said. It didn’t move. Right. “Well, it’s going to be a windy ride all the way back to Texas,” I said, a little drippy with sarcasm. I was pretty frustrated. My punches weren’t rolling too good.

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I knew Matt really wanted to fish, and the last thing I wanted to do was to go to an auto repair shop to top off this vacation. So, we decided to go with everyone, fish a little, and then head to Jackson to get the window fixed. Since we were driving south out of Jackson, we stopped at the Gros Ventre Slide area. We got out of the car, and I gathered the lunch stuff. The kids, Beth, Jaymie and I headed to this pretty beach on Lower Slide Lake. I turned around and gave that window a dirty look. My husband Matt and his brothers Will and Cole went wading down the Gros Ventre River with all their equipment. I’m pretty sure they were giddy. By the way, you have to say that name with a French accent or its not proper pronunciation.

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The beach was very pretty, and the kids ran about. We sat with our leftover snacks and food and ate lunch and enjoyed the beach. Our kids are adventurous. They are tough. They are pretty cute, but I wouldn’t mess with them if I were you. Sometimes they have sticks.

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One of things I love about my children is that they don’t mind wandering off by themselves for a little explore. I also like that they don’t mind talking to strangers. I’m not talking about unsafe situations. Don’t fret. I’m talking about polite conversation with adults. Anna (our oldest) moseyed down the beach and had a 30 minute conversation with a local lady. The lady came up to me when we were leaving, and she told me how much she enjoyed visiting with Anna. She also said, “Hey you should ask Anna to tell you the history of the Gros Ventre slide area. There was a landslide here in the 1920’s, and she can tell you all about it!”
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Jaymie and I walked up the river a little to try to find the guys because I wanted to take a photo of them fishing. We tried hard. I had thorn scratches from our try. We never found them, so this is all you get.
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They came back pretty soon after we got back to the beach, and we started loading up our stuff and saying goodbye. Matt and I needed to leave for Jackson before shops started to close so we could get the dumb window fixed. We loaded the children, and I shut my door. Matt started the van, and my hand automatically pushed on the window lever to close it and IT ROLLED UP!!!! I started yelling, “It worked! It worked!!!!” Matt was already getting out the duct tape to cover the lever so no one else would roll down the window again. We were so happy. It was such a gift for that thing to work. We all decided to have dinner together in Jackson to celebrate and then head south.

We ate at the Snake River Brewery and Restaurant. It was great food with a nice atmosphere. After dinner we settled in for the long haul home. We drove all night and all day and all night. We arrived in Amarillo by morning. No joke. We ate at the IHOP there, and we were so gross by then. But, the pancakes were good, and we all needed a break from our cars! Finally we made it home. It was a long drive home, but it had been a glorious vacation. I loved every part of it including ankle wounds, broken windows, and 13-mile-hikes. I can’t wait to go back this summer (yes, the 2013 camping trip is being planned as I write! This year, we are going hard-core backcountry camping. Pack it in, pack it out. I’m gearing up the children for water and granola diets. They are getting pumped. Wait for it!)

Oh, and look who said goodbye as we left.

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P.S. I thought you should know that after the pregnancy scare during our trip, Clay and Mattea had a healthy baby boy named Parker who was born in February. He’s adorable. All’s well that ends well!

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Part 6

Part 7

Part 8

Part 9

Part 10

Part 11

Grand Tetons Part 10

Leigh Lake Part 2

After we ate lunch, the children settled in at the beach to make a shark out of sand, swim, fish, and frolic.The shark turned out lovely, and they named him Mr. Jiggles. If you read my Yellowstone trip blog, you would remember that they did the same thing last time we did this hike. Same name for the shark and everything. Creatures of habit these children are. And now I’m typing like Yoda. I watched in wonder at the beauty mix of mountains, water, sunlight, and children. The boys found some large logs, and I found myself transposed into the Swiss Family Robinson novel. I just want you to know that my family would survive if we were on a deserted island. We figure things out. We would probably thrive too. I mean, if there was fresh water and food sources. 🙂

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Beth and I discussed hiking down the trail a little further. No one else was interested, so we set out just the two of us. It was quiet walking after leaving our bunch, and we chatted softly or not at all as we wandered down the path eager to see more wildlife.

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We walked through with the lake on our left and changing meadow/forest on our right. I remembered that we were heading toward Bearpaw and Trapper Lakes when we saw the burned part of the forest on the right. Finally, we came to the meadow that I remembered from two years before. The forest opens up, the lake is distant, and you must choose your path. I feel like this is my life right now. Have you had a season like that?

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I’ve got to get some socks like hers. Beth’s my cool-meter you know. Except sometimes at the bayhouse when she wears this leopard headband with red trim. Then, I have serious questions about measuring my fashion against hers. Also, sometimes we have these weird moments like this past summer when we ordered the exact same swim suit in different colors without planning it. We don’t live in the same town and I never discussed my swim suit shopping with her. It happened two years in a row. Odds, please? Then once we showed up at the bayhouse both reading A Wrinkle in Time. Huh? But, Beth has trouble finishing books. I finished it that week. That was in Summer 2011. Beth still hasn’t finished it. Love ya Beth!

We moved on down the path toward Trapper Lake. The meadow ends soon after you make your choice, and then you are in the forest again. We came to some sites that were backcountry campsites. They were very pretty with access to pretty streams. We began to make plans to come back next year. It was so quiet there. I could hear the water rippling.

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We kept hiking, and the path to Trapper Lake wound around past Bearpaw Lake. On the left side of the path huge rocks rose up, and I mentioned that this would be good mountain lion territory. Beth thanked me for that thought, and we hiked along silently for awhile. I had the feeling we were being watched, and I was wishing I could see what what watching us (from a distance of course). Beth had her bear spray, and I was behind her. It was very still in this forest. “I feel a little creeped out,” I told her. She said we could play our ring tones on our phones. Yes, we did. Wow. Why didn’t we just play music, you ask? Well, she did for awhile, but then we were running out of battery. So I kept hitting the alarm ringtone on my phone. It occurred to me that we might be annoying the bears and they might just come attack us so our phones would shut up. We are so dorky even in the middle of the woods. I think I laughed so hard that I snorted. Then we arrived at Trapper Lake and I was in awe. I wanted to sit down and stay for a while.

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There was one family there with a couple of kids splashing in the water. And there was a British couple who asked us to take their photo. We got them to take ours, and then the husband of the couple told us that his great wish on this trip is to see a bear. At this time we got a text from our husbands telling us that there was a bear headed toward the path we went. I told the British guy, and he was quite excited. They packed up and left.

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Beth and I washed our faces and hands in the spring that fed into Trapper Lake. It was very cold water, and it felt so good. We imagined together that our families would love this place, and we were sorry for a moment that they weren’t with us. We decided we should probably hike back to them especially since there had been a bear on the beach with them heading our way.

The hike back seemed to go so fast, and before I knew it we were in the meadow again. Two forest rangers were coming our way, and we waved and stopped. They asked where we were going and where we had been, and then we introduced ourselves. Her name was Jean Reagan, and she told us that every summer for the past 12 years, she and her husband come as volunteer backcountry Park Rangers to the Grand Tetons. Jean likes to keep a running bear count so she was happy to hear about our bear report for the day. Jean told us that she is a children’s book author, and Beth told her about my writing. We exchanged information, and I found out that she had just released a book called How to Babysit a Grandpa. Jean told me that she would send me the book and I could tell you what I think about it. So, my next Grand Teton post will be a book review on Jean’s book. I won’t tell you any more about it for now!

Can you believe this encounter in the meadow? Beth and I loved meeting Jean and her husband, Peter. They live in a cabin off of the trail we were on with no electricity all summer. I hope someday to visit Jean in that cabin, but that day we needed to get back to our group. Sorry for this information, but I had to stop in the burned forest part to take care of some business. Back on the trail, we caught up with our group finally. They were ready to leave the beach.

My brother-in-law Will had been fishing, and a bear had come very close to him. Then the bear walked through the beach campsites, and a family who had just arrived found the bear going through their things. They packed up and left in their canoes paddling as fast as they could. The kids were all keyed up from all this bear activity. Our hike back was just as lovely, and we found another bear eating some berries along the way. The bear would not cooperate with me for a photo, but I will tell you that it was big and orange-brown.

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Someone needs to tell this bear to quit turning his butt in my face when I am trying to take a photo. Dude! Seriously!

Really, we were so happy our bear count was five after this hike. By the way Jean recently told me that her final bear count for the Summer of 2012 was 18! She said she even got to watch a bear scratch its back on a tree for a while. Her life is so cool.

We stopped at the store to do a little shopping for souvenirs. Beth bought socks, and of course I bought some too. They have moose on them, and they are so softy. I love to wear them.

Back at the campsite, we decided to have French Toast for supper because we had a lot of eggs and bread left over. The kids loved it, and I had never seen them eat so much. We were all worn out and happy and full. Oh, and we had showered. It’s the little things.

To be continued….look for the Book Review coming at you next!!!

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Part 6

Part 7

Part 8

Part 9

Grand Tetons Part 9

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Leigh Lake Part 1

The next day we were all pretty pumped up. We all knew where we were going was a honey hike because we had hiked this trail two years before. There was beauty and a beach! We made our way complete with fishing poles and sunscreen to the Leigh Lake Trailhead. The Leigh Lake trail starts at the String Lake picnic area, and it is a lovely starting point. It’s an in and out hike so you can go as far as you want. We went in about 2 miles.

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We were rewarded immediately with a sight we had been longing for our whole trip. Don’t tell sister here that I put this pic on the blog. She is very particular about her pony tails being lump-free. In fact, I was going to comment on how great her pony tail was until I saw the little lump there. On a side note you should know that I’ve done a lot of hair in my life. I’ll be doing two sets of hair in approximately nine hours from this moment. I’m not great at it, but I don’t think I did this one. I can do a pony tail, you know? But, you are camping after all, you say? Oh, well she doesn’t take lumps no matter what. This one must’ve snuck by her. Anyways, this next photo shows you our theme shot for the day.

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Yes, it’s a bear. He was just a little brown bear, and he was swimming. He was pretty cute, and I was glad he was on the other side of String Lake so we could watch him for awhile. Check out his tongue. There were kayakers in front of him. He ignored us all. I don’t think this was his first rodeo. He headed back into the trees, and we ambled back onto the trail.

The Leigh Lake hike keeps the lake in view for you the whole time. As we walked the kids were jolly, and we heard some other hikers say that there was a bear ahead on the trail. We peeled back our eyelids, and all who had bear spray wiggled it out of their bags and belt loops. We came to a tree you can ride first, and of course each child had to take a turn.

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Hey this is my sister-in-law Beth and my nephew Porter. She’s a lot of fun, and if I’m around her long enough, I start to laugh like her. Porter is super cool. Also, he has a cool t-shirt on, and I asked him the whole trip if he would give it to me. He said no. I’m happy to report that Beth gave me my very own t-shirt like Porter’s. Yes it has Jesus on it. Yes it says “I’m kind of a big deal.” It makes me happy.

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You should definitely stop and ride a tree if you get the chance. Trust me. You have to grab up these rare opportunities in life. After every child sat up on this tree and had their photo taken, we moved on. I caught up to the front to be with Anna. My brother-in-law Cole was at the front too and I was glad he had bear spray because we spotted a big brown bear to the left of the trail. He was very close to us, and our loud group was a little behind. We stayed quiet and watched him forage for berries. I knew how good those berries were, but I thought he must need a lot of them to feed that big brown belly. The rest of the group caught up and watched too.

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My heart was beating fast, but I was so thankful for that moment. A few minutes passed and he crossed the trail in front of us and moved out of sight. Nothing for us to do but move on people! Here is my nephew Bill. He’s prepared.

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Not much longer after our second bear sighting, we made it to the gorgeous beach on Leigh Lake. Everyone spread out on the sand. Kids went in the freezing cold water, and I pulled out my smashed loaf of turkey and mustard. We began to hand out sandwiches, dig our toes into the sand, and exhale a little. I closed my eyes and opened them again, but still, the beauty of this place overwhelmed me. My nephew Luke completed the view, don’t you think?

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To be continued…

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Part 6

Part 7

Part 8

Grand Tetons Part 8

I love writing about a trip so many family members were on. They give me corrections all the time. That’s okay. I want to get it right. I mean it. So, thank you Will and Clay and Matt. Haha!

This next day was moving day, people.  Beth and I got up as early as we could. We weren’t looking cute, we didn’t have coffee, and we were filled with angst. We wanted those backcountry reservations. We got up to the window and there were two people in front of us. I won’t lie to you. I felt a little hostile towards them. I listened hard to their requests, and they didn’t sound like Jenny Lake hikers so I relaxed a little. The reservation host was quite chatty with the lady right in front of us. She wasn’t even going. She was just making the reservation for her daughter. Hmph. At this point, I was reminding myself of my Christian values and polite manners that my mother taught me. Finally, the lady got her reservation and left.

The reservation host looked at us with what I think was dread. How could this be you ask? We must’ve looked anxious. We explained our group size, where we wanted to go, our canoes, our family going home, etc. She looked tired. She pulled out the map and was shaking her head and talking about how big our group is. There were no open backcountry sites together that we could feasibly canoe into. There were none we could pack into for our large group. Doomsday and bad news was all she gave us. We called our people and told them we were going to the other campgrounds to see if we could get a first-come first-serve spot.

We shuffled to our car and conjured up some hope for the next place. It was hard to accept we wouldn’t be backcountry camping on this trip, but we didn’t want to be whiners so we moved on. We drove all through the Jenny Lake and the Signal Mountain campground, but we had no luck. At this point, our guys made the executive decision to move two group sites down at Colter Bay. We headed back. I thought we had come to a place of acceptance, but when we got back to the group site, Beth cried a little. We had had such expectations with a let down. She’s a passionate person. It’s one of the things I love about her. I almost cried too, but only because we had to pack up to move two spots down. Moving and Packing=Grouchy Moms. You know I’m right.

The saddest part of our move was that Clay and Mattea were leaving to go home. They took their picture in front of their tent, and then they loaded up their family for the long drive back. We were all sad to see them go, and we hoped everything would be alright with their baby.

Our new campsite was very pretty with lots of skinny trees intermingled throughout. It wasn’t as close to the bathroom, but it lended itself to a Sherwood Forest feel. I think this is why I have a Sherwood Forest ringtone for Beth now. It reminds me of camping. Yes, I know: dorky! Once we had everything set up, it was lunchtime. We decided to treat ourselves and eat out for lunch. We made a plan to eat and then head to Two Ocean Lake for an afternoon hike with fishing. We ate at the Ranch House restaurant; they had a salad bar along with chili, soup, and baked potatoes. It hit the spot for me, and I was ready for a new hike. My meaty heel was healing thanks to Beth’s sulfa meds and Cole’s teflon pads.  I had abandoned my hiking shoes for my running shoes.

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Two Ocean Lake is a  lovely 6.4 mile hike around the lake, but it’s not really a fishing spot.

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Some of our hikers really wanted to fish, and about half-way through the hike we realized this. The fishers decided to turn back and go to a little spot along the road.

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Beth, Matt, three of our girls, Beth’s niece, and I decided to keep going around the lake. We weaved our way through meadow and then forest and back through meadow. The lake was in view almost the whole way, and the trees seemed like giants.

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The meadows silenced us. Once in the middle of one of the big meadows, I kind of felt like I was being watched. I scanned carefully all around because this is supposedly one of the best hikes to see bears. I didn’t see any bears. 😦 Being a smaller group, it was a quieter hike, and I found my soul calmed and reflective. Breathing in is like going to a spa there.

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A big bonus on this hike is that we found huckleberries! Hallelujah! Huckleberries give you a little boost to finish the hike strong. As we rounded the last bend, the girls were all very proud of themselves. Six and a half miles could never be ominous after you’ve done 13.  I was proud of all of them, and I would recommend this hike to anyone (unless you are looking for a good fishing spot). Other hikers we saw on the trail told us we would definitely have seen a bear any other time of day than when we were there. So, go early morning or late afternoon to see critters. Apparently, we were there during nap time.

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We drove to the fishing people, and they had caught some fish! They hadn’t caught any worth bringing back to the campfire, but they were happy. We went back to our new campsite, showered and enjoyed a delicious meal of Frito Pie. This was not your ordinary Frito Pie. There was salad to go on it, and we had camp donuts again for dessert! I’m pretty sure we fell into our sleeping bags that night. What a day!

To be continued…

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Part 6

Part 7

Grand Tetons Part 7

 

KayakThis next day we had a whitewater kayak trip planned. Clay and Mattea had decided to go home early, but Clay wanted to go on this trip. So, I stayed behind with Mattea, Beth, and the kids that were too little to go on the trip. I have to tell you that we didn’t plan this very well. You shouldn’t do your longest hike where you get back to camp the very latest and then have to get up early to make it to your whitewater trip on time. Next time, we will remember this! I helped them to get ready to be gone early, and then I hoped that Claire would sleep in a bit.

Since I didn’t go on the kayak trip, I can only tell you what was told to me about it. They drove to the place, and they all were fitted for very cool wet suit gear. Since there was an odd number of peeps, my eldest daughter Anna, being the adventurous girl that she is, volunteered to be in a single person kayak. They were given a safety/kayak orientation, and they got in their boats and went down. They were in Class 4 rapids, and my husband said that Lydia (our 7-year-old) was in his kayak was pretty nervous the whole time. The rest of the people had a fun time, and no one cap-sized.

There were three guides with our group, and they were river rats saving up to kayak in other places in the world. The two younger guides had gotten in at 4am that morning from a four day kayak trip. The owner of the kayak trip was the other guide, and he complimented Anna on how she did on her own. Cole said he’s pretty sure the guides took the group all the way around the biggest rapids because they didn’t want to see their whole group flip over. Clay said the guides said our group was the “advanced duckie group” because they did so well. After they finished their trip, they went out to eat at a sandwich shop that was recommended by the guides.

Now, let me tell you about our ladies day. First, we went to the shower and the laundry. Oh, yes. It had been two days for me, and I was ready. Claire and I took our time to get clean, and I had to spend some time on my meaty blister heel cleaning and doctoring and covering. Ew. And ouch. And wow.

Then we did laundry which was sorely needed. I know this doesn’t sound exciting, but clean clothes on a camping trip are gold….especially socks!

Then we drove around looking for camp sites because we were going to have to move the next day. Our original plan was to canoe into a backcountry site on Jenny Lake, but we didn’t know if we would be able to get those sites. We also didn’t know if we would have the canoes because Clay was thinking he would take them home the next day. Our plans were up in the air, and our back-up plan was to camp near Jenny Lake, but this is one of the most popular spots and all the sites there were first-come, first-serve. We drove through all the camp sites in that area learning how to get in there quickly and get the spots we needed. Stressful! It is important to remain flexible when you are camping. Trust me.

We decided to eat lunch at the Signal Mountain Lodge after all that research. It was very yummy. I like National Park food! I had a blackberry margarita, and a hummus sandwich. It was good, but Beth’s chili and cornbread was better. Mattea was looking a little peaked, so we headed back to camp after lunch. With her settled into her tent, we took the kids to the Park store at Colter Bay. There is a little museum there, and we went through it and did some shopping. By this time, it was time for me to start cooking. I was making Cowboy Stew, and I went back to the camp and started cooking meat.

Cowboy Stew is a great meal for camping. All you need that is fresh is the ground beef, and then you just add cans of tomatoes, corn, green beans, and beef broth. I sliced a million potatoes too, and sauteed them for a while with the ground beef. Then I threw them all into the pot. Everyone was happy with this hot stew. Oh, and every night we made camp donuts. For camp donuts, you need biscuit dough, a pot of oil to fry it in, and a zip-lock bag of cinnamon sugar to toss them in. Fry up the biscuit dough in balls, and then toss them into the bag of cinnamon sugar. Yummy and perfect for around the campfire. This is Cole and Beth’s recipe, and they brought enough for us to enjoy donuts every night. Oh, wow, I need one right now! Jaymie liked hers with salt only because she doesn’t love sweets.

This whole day was great for my blister, and we that stayed behind felt rested. The kayakers were happy too albeit tired. Clay and Mattea decided to leave the next morning, and we were all a bit sad for them. The next day, we needed to move camp, so we were trying to figure out where we would go. Beth and I had a plan to go to the backcountry office straight away in the morning, and then go onto Jenny Lake and Signal Mountain if we didn’t get those. You’ll have to read the next post to find out what happened!!!!!

To be continued…

Grand Tetons Part 6

Okay, so the next day we were planning on hiking Rendezvous Mountain. Clay and Mattea were having trouble deciding what to do. We sat on the railroad ties that were in front of our campsite. Our heads were hanging. I just kept thinking how no one would never want this in a pregnancy…ever…but especially not when you’re in a tent thousands of miles of away from home. Clay said, “We will go into Jackson to the hospital. Y’all go onthe hike.” I was so sad for them. This was the hike he had been looking forward to, but none of that mattered now. Jaymie offered to take Wynn (Clay and Mattea’s oldest son) on the hike with us. We had taquitos again that morning, and then we packed up the bags and kids and left. Clay promised to keep us posted.

We drove to the Teton Village where we were planning to take the aerial tram to the top of Rendezvous Mountain and then hike all the way down. It was supposed to be about 12 miles, and we were geared up for it! The Teton Village is cute and definitely a mountain resort town. You can go there to snow ski in the winter. I’m sure it’s lovely wrapped in snow, but it was very green and beautiful!

The aerial tram isn’t cheap, but it’s worth cutting your hiking journey in half and making it all downhill from there! It is a very nice tram, and our whole group fit on the car plus a lot of other people we didn’t know.

Now we had a lot of boys on this trip, and we love them. But, since most of the girls in this picture are my daughters, I have to brag on them. These are the coolest bunch of girls ever. Check them out with their hydration packs ready to take on the mountain! We so much want to raise our daughters to be adventurous and strong…we are working on it!

Finally the tram came for us, and this was our view.

It wasn’t a long ride, and I liked the part when the car would sway. Finally we made it to the top. There is a waffle restaurant at the top, and we were all a bit sad we had already eaten our breakfast. We agreed that next time we would get there earlier. By the way, we should have arrived earlier anyways. It was already about noon when we were at the top, and that doesn’t give a lot of time for 12 miles with a large group with young children. Of course that didn’t matter then.

Now, I don’t know what kind of hiker you are, but if you go to the Grand Teton National Park and you are able, you should hike this. It is not an easy hike, but the views are spectacular. It is steep downhill for the first part, and my sister-in-law Beth was laughing about how steep it was. I told them to just walk like a goat and grip the mountain. I demonstrated for Beth and Jaymie how to walk like this, and there is a picture, but um, it’s not my best look. It was hilarious…even better than the leg picture from Part 4.

This hike had it all! Wildflowers! Beautiful forest! Meadows! Snow! Yes, snow. We ate lunch by a big pile of snow. It was quite awesome for our Texas children.

There were magical moments for me in this hike. It was like being inside of a painting that keeps transforming into more beauty. Every where I turned the scenery gave me fresh breaths. After we finished our picnic by the snow, I went behind a rock to have a moment alone :). Everyone else was moving on already, and I turned to see them all trekking up a hill on the trail.

A few moments later, I found my nephew Luke checking out his prospects. We looked carefully for bears. I think most of us were really hoping to see one. Nope. I think we saw some bear scat though.

The hike went on for miles, and we found ourselves moving from forest to meadows. I realized that a blister that had developed on my heel at Phelps Lake was crying for more duct tape. When I re-taped it, it was looking pretty bad. Well, what do you do, right? Push through the pain.
We took breaks occasionally for the children, but we needed to keep moving because of limited daylight.

We took turns leading and trailing and making sure all the kids were still with us. At some point, Cole and Beth and Matt and I began a word game as we hiked. We tried to come up with as many synonyms as we could for a particular word. Hey, we are actually very good at this game. I think it’s because our professions are different from each other, and we have a plethora of vocabulary between us.

At the top of one of the hills, we all felt our phones go off. We had cell phone service for a few minutes! This was just enough for us to get the news from Clay and Mattea that the baby was alright. She had a subchorionic bleed in between the uterus and the placenta. She needed to take it easy, and everything would probably be okay. We were so relieved and happy for them!

Here we are taking one of our last breaks. After this we moved into a rocky forest, and it felt enchanted. We saw a moose down by the river below us on the right. And, then, thankfully, we found some wild raspberries. Hands down, it was the best raspberry I’ve ever eaten. The kids loved it! There weren’t many raspberries, but right after that we found huckleberries. It was just what the little ones needed to push through to the end.

The very end of the hike is in a dense forest that doesn’t afford much view. We decided the last two miles was the payment for the other 11. Yep, turns out it was actually 13 miles. I won’t lie to you. There was some crying at the end, but it was mostly little children. Their legs were worn out. Cole, Will, Matt, Beth, and I took turns carrying kids. I didn’t want to know what my blister looked like then. I was walking along and Beth’s niece who is from Italy started sobbing and saying, “We should not be here! We should never have come! We will never make it!” “Whoa!” I said, “Calm down, honey, we are okay. We are going to make it.” Beth hugged her tightly. We needed to keep moving. We didn’t have any flashlights.

Finally we came to the top of the Teton Village. The sun was setting, and we were ready for dinner and some chairs! When we arrived at the village, it seemed to me that we walked forever trying to find a restaurant. I don’t think it was very long until we came to the Mangy Moose Restaurant. Oh, glorious day…or night. It was a lodge type atmosphere, and I would recommend this place to you as yummy and affordable. Our waitress took one look at us, and started bringing our kids chocolate milk and pizza. At the adult table, we ordered all the different calzones they made. We ate as much as we could and tried to replenish our electrolytes. It was a very good meal. I was having trouble walking because of my blister, and in the restroom I saw that it was a little raw meatish looking. I didn’t care at that point, but I planned to care for it the next day.

We had to carry all the kids to the tent when we arrived at camp. I wished that someone would have carried me, but somehow I made it into the bag and crashed.

To be continued…

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5