Thursday, July 26, 2012


for as long as i've known him, chase has talked about wanting to go to jackson hole to hike and play in the mountains.  with the summer coming quickly to a close, we finally made it happen.  both sets of grandparents were enlisted to take on the little people, and we got a week to ourselves in the tetons.  i probably would have been happy with a vacation to a closet and not having to clean the kitchen 3 times a day, so this was really awesome!

we had no problem with our flights there, and we only had to drive back to the airport and demand a different rental car one time.  a few hours after arriving, we decided that we couldn't ride around for an entire week in a car that reeked of cigarette smoke.  plus, they tried to cover it up with "new car smell" spray.  it was raining, and i was still hanging out the window so i could breathe.  that just wasn't going to cut it all week.  thankfully, they were nice enough and replaced it for us.  or they were scared of the crazy woman with the southern accent.  either way, we got a new car that smelled to suit us!

we got in around lunch time, and it started raining.  that messed up our hiking plans for the afternoon, so we just decided to go into town and see what it was about.  we stayed in teton village, so we knew we weren't going to go into town much, but everybody said we had to go just to say that we went.  wow.  the town of jackson, wyoming is crazy.  i felt like clark griswald should have been with us.  what a tourist trap that place is!!  but, we walked around and checked it out and took the obligatory picture under the antlers.

on the way back to the village, the clouds broke and gave us a really cool view of the tetons.

we stopped at the snake river and picked up some rocks.  wes wanted a river rock and a mountain rock.  "hey kids....we brought you a present!  here's a rock!"

we rode the gondola to the mountain top when we got back to the village that afternoon.  it's funny because we told our little people that we were going to the mountains.  the day before we left, wes asked me, "what are you going to do when you get to the top of the mountain?"  i said that i didn't know, and that i would probably just look around a take a picture.  he said, "are you gonna pray?  to god?  like moses?"  i said that i certainly would.  and wouldn't you know that when i reached the top of the very first mountain on our very first day there...god slapped a rainbow right in my face!  how could i not pray with that giant reminder right in front of me?!  it was beautiful.

the next morning, we took a raft trip down the snake river.  it was a little cloudy and cold, but it was still really pretty.  as our group of 12 was getting on the raft, a larger lady was trying to get in and slipped falling flat on her face on the bottom of the raft.  another lady had a meningioma behind her eye and could not see well.  she kept one hand on her husband the entire time.  another lady was petrified to be on the raft.  her fingers were white from clinging to the rubber side.  she also had a hold of the tow rope at one point shaking.  she refused to even scoot over two inches to be closer to her husband when i offered to take their picture because she was terrified to move.  did i mention that this boat was slowly floating down the river?!?  reed could swim faster than we were going.  i was sure that this was the day that the guide was going to have his first customer go overboard.

nobody fell off, and we didn't see any bears.  but we did see a bald eagle.  you can't really see him well because i refused to take my big camera since i didn't want to wag it around while hiking.  but that shadow on that tree is a bald eagle.  enjoy my photographic excellence.  i know you're enthralled.

after a quick lunch, we headed out to jenny lake.  the water is crystal clear.  it is so pretty!  we hit the trail for an 11 mile hike.  i really didn't know what i was getting myself into when chase said he wanted to go hiking.  he wasn't talking about a leisurely stroll somewhere.  he means hiking.  i'm not sure my legs will ever recover from this trip.  anyway, we started at the bottom of jenny lake, hiked up to hidden falls, hiked on up to inspiration point, hiked into cascade canyon all the way to the cascade forks.  and back.  11 miles.  long way, people, long way.

jenny lake

bottom of hidden falls

hidden falls

inspiration point

in cascade canyon

when we got to the forks in cascade canyon, there was a bull moose about 100 yards away from us.  it was a quite a sight to see!  we watched him eat for a little while, and then he stood up.  y'all, i promise you that thing was at least 10 feet tall.  he was a GIANT!  i took off.  well maybe i just backed up several steps.  i figured if he was going to charge and run at us, i was at least going to have a jump on chase!  his legs are way longer than mine...i needed a head start!  but he just looked at us and wondered off.

i was totally fine with being in the presence of this cute little guy, though.

one of the days we were there, my sweet husband thought we needed the experience of death canyon.  i'm not going to lie...the name scared me. i tried to calm myself down, but i didn't feel any better when we got there and saw this...

it turned out to be a great hike!  it was a major challenge, and we both love a challenge.  our legs still hate us from doing this hike, but it turned out to be awesome.  after about 2 miles in, we got a great viewpoint from the overlook at phelps lake

then we made our way into death canyon.

there was a historic patrol cabin at the alaska basin junction, and that is what we were trying to reach.  it's way on up the mountain.  and although i don't know the real reason why it's called death canyon, i believe it's because you are almost dead when you finally make it to the top after climbing for miles and miles on this...

it was a relief to come into the clearing and realize that we finally made it to the cabin!!

this was my favorite spot of our entire trip.  it was this perfect little place.  we went back and took a rest there after we made it to the cabin.

these marmots were everywhere.  i assume they are nice?  i'll take him over an angry moose anyday!

we made our way back down into death canyon and had to hike a few miles back up to phelps lake.  at one point chase turned around and said, "i don't think i'm going to make it!"  my legs were screaming at me, but i was just glad that i wasn't the only one!!  it was a great hike, and if you go to jackson hole and are up for a challenge...conquer death canyon!

we also drove to yellowstone one day.  the drive was pretty, but i don't do well with two lane, winding roads.  my stomach just doesn't like it.  especially when it's that far.  but we survived, and we saw some pretty amazing things while there.

there were all sorts of cool hot springs and geysers at the park with old faithful.

morning glory pool

old faithful...the main attraction.

excelsior geyser crater

grand prismatic

we also saw some elk and a buffalo a few feet from our car.

we made a stop at canyon falls.  it had an upper and lower falls that both had impressive water falls.

as if god wasn't showing me the beauty of his creation already...he did it again!

the grand canyon of yellowstone

on the way home, we spotted 3 grizzly bears.  if i had to see a bear, i only wanted to see it while sitting in the car!  they were several hundred yards away, and again i didn't bring the good camera.  those 3 brown dots...they are bears.  enjoy my photographic excellence one more time!  you're welcome.

the last day that we were there, we decided to do one more hike.  this time we chose the taggart/bradley lake trail.  i loved the previous hikes.  this one...not so much.  it started it out just like any other, but as soon as we got on the trail there was a sign about a bear attack.  obviously, this made me a little antsy.  and then as soon as we get about 1/2 mile in, i spot a moose moving through the trees.  all i saw was a brown body moving at first, so i just assume it is a bear.  it turned out to be a female moose, and she just ended up walking away up the hill.  but i was done for, and i didn't enjoy much of the scenery because i was too busy looking for bears.  it did have some great scenery when i could pull my eyes from the trees and brush.

and then...we get to a point about 2.5 miles into the mountains where the trails met by bradley lake.  chase and i start walking up a hill right off the trail to get a better look at the lake.  we have not passed many people on this hike, but at this point a man walks up and says "did you scare the bear away?"  we had our kids' little cowbells tied on our backpacks to make noise while we walked.  we replied, "we're trying."  he said, "no. i mean, there is a bear somewhere near here.  a guy just told me he saw one right here."  i died.  and then i came back to life.  as we continued walking up the hill to see the lake, chase jumped back and pointed about 15 yards in front of him and whispered, "he's right there!"  i died again.  and then i tried to run.  but chase wouldn't let me for fear of startling him.  he was on the smaller side, so all i was concerned about was getting away from him and getting away from mama that was somewhere nearby.  my fight or flight response kicked in big time, and i was ready to fly!!!  i could have run the entire hike back at a blistering pace, but again....he wouldn't let me.  so i settled for squeezing his arm off and holding on to my bear spray for dear life.  and then he wanted to take a picture by the other lake so he could remember the fear in my eyes.

my pulse has gone up again just thinking about it.  the whole rest of the way, i just kept quoting bible verses.  william has learned psalm 121 over the summer, and i just kept saying it over and over.  "...the lord will watch over your life, he will keep you from all harm.  the lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forever more.  both NOW and forever more, lord.  NOW, please!"  anyway, i got over it, and we moved on to jenny lake where we got in a canoe and made our way across the lake.  it was really nice, and we had some awesome views from this vantage point.

our last night, we took the tram up to the top of rendezvous mountain.  i saw some crazy rock climbers reaching the summit, some really scary ski runs, and some really cool 360 degree views of jackson hole.

it was a great trip and so much fun to get away for a little bit.  we like to go on vacation where you actually do something while you're there.  we totally got our wish, and we have the aching legs and feet to prove it.  on the way down from rendezvous mountain on the tram, chase said something about rock climbing being pretty cool when we passed those climbers.  i survived a bear this trip.  he better go on his rock climbing vacation with another wife because this one is at least going to keep the mountain below her feet. would be hard to rock climb with one hand when you've got a death grip on a can of bear spray with the other!  

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

backyard fun

as much as we frequent the pool, we like our backyard just fine, too!

happy summer!