Leaving the Uinta Mountains of Utah took some convincing, but the Labor Day weekend crowds were heavy, and for those seeking quiet and solitude, it wasn’t the place to be. The sounds of ATVs and dirt bikes seemed a whole lot less appealing than the majesty of the Tetons.
So we left northeast Utah, bound for Wyoming. The drive leading into Jackson, WY from the south is pretty epic. The road follows the long curves of the Snake River through a canyon cut into the granite rocks towering overhead. At this point in its winding life, the Snake is fast, deep, and blue. It’s a marvel to see. Jackson, according to one local we chatted with, is part of the richest county in the US. From what we saw, the gargantuan lodge-style homes and the expensive galleries and shops don’t contradict his statement. Although Jackson itself was OK, the Tetons beckoned.
If you’ve never seen the Tetons, I’m going to do a very poor job of describing their size and the feeling they evoke. They’re just something that you need to see for yourself. At a minimum, I hope you have a few minutes to Google search Ansel Adams’ epic series of photographs commissioned by the National Park System of these peaks. If you can’t do that, my photos will have to do. The Tetons rise up –seemingly out of nowhere– from the flat, almost terrain-free valley floor that lays to their east. The landscape simply goes from flat to ginormous mountains.
Our first night out of town, we got a local tip that there was a natural hot springs pool known to locals as the “hippy pool”. It was near, but not a part of, the developed hot springs of Granite Falls. It sits at the end of a semi-maintained dirt road, way back in the mountains outside of Jackson. We followed the obscure directions from the bearded buy at the buffalo butcher shop, and found ourselves at the edge of Granite Creek to find the hot spring seeping out of the cliff face about 15 feet above the creek on the other side. We gingerly made our way through the icy cold, thigh-deep water to the pool, and when we stepped into the hot spring water, we immediately felt the ice bath was justified. If you ever have the chance to sit alone in a hot spring pool in the middle of nowhere surrounded by mountains at sunset, you always cross the freezing cold water. Always.
With legs fresh from the previous night’s ice water treatment, we embarked on a long hike up Cascade Canyon the next morning. The hike was lauded as one of the most beautiful in the park, ending at a snowmelt-fed blue alpine lake. The roundtrip was just under twenty miles with a few scenic detours to waterfalls and cliff overlooks, but the guidebooks were right. The views up the canyon were painted with the first yellow and red signs of fall from the stands of aspen trees. The lake provided us with a picnic spot of epic proportions, and the hike down the same trail we climbed presented us with the view of the Grand Tetons from the back side, something that’s less frequently observed by most park-goers.
The Tetons are an adult adventure wonderland. The summer provides backcountry access, hiking, climbing, camping, fly fishing, 4×4 trails, wildlife viewing, and more. The winter provides resort skiing, mind-boggling backcountry big mountain skiing, snowmobiling, more fly fishing, and the list could go on. We hiked. We fished. We camped. We cooked meals over campfires in cast iron skillets, we drank Wyoming Whiskey on the rocks from white-speckled blue enamel mugs while staring at the Tetons through the glow of our campfire, and we crossed freezing creeks for hot spring baths. The Tetons were everything we hoped for and a whole lot more.
So what is 10 and 2? Meet Ryan and learn about why he’s on the road with Crown & Caliber.