I have been looking forward to the Tetons/Yellowstone since we started planning our van route. My family visited the National Parks with some friends when I was young (maybe 12?) and David has only been to Yellowstone in the winter at the age of 6 (he distinctly remembers the awesome winter vehicle they traveled through the park in). I was old enough on my visit to remember the geysers, springs, and most especially the boiling mud pots. I was excited for David to see these exotic natural wonders and to have some more variety in the trip. Although I think I’d be pretty content to spend weeks at a time hiking in the mountains, David especially was ready for something new. I was worried we would stop appreciating all the natural beauty around us after so much time in it. It is sad how quickly you can become desensitized to a mountain top view or alpine lake. David and I have had a lot of conversations about this on our trip – how easily we can forget how lucky we are to be traveling everyday. While we were walking through Yellowstone, David wondered how many people there had been planning their vacation for months, years, or even a lifetime, while we were just passing through with Yellowstone as one of many stops. I read a few articles on this topic with ideas on how to keep yourself excited and appreciative of beauty. I especially liked this quote from The Alchemist cited in one article:
When each day is the same as the next, it’s because people fail to recognize the good things that happen in their lives every day that the sun rises.The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
While we set out with the intent to practice more mindfulness strategies on our trip and limit our cell phone time, we haven’t yet been too successful. I realize that you have to be intentional about changing your mental patterns and mindset or it won’t happen. I’m going to start trying to think of one thing that I’m grateful for each night before bed and spending a few minutes focusing on it (an idea from a kid’s science podcast “Brains On!” that I found myself listening to on a run. It was previewed on my favorite podcast, Terrible, Thanks for Asking, and it was my only downloaded episode. However, I may be checking out more of their episodes as it was really interesting!)
We were also excited about visiting the Tetons because we planned Jackson as our base camp, where we have a couple friends. We spent our first night in Jackson getting the royal treatment from Mike, who we met through one of our good friends in Portland. Mike is a brewer at Roadhouse Brewing Co. and very kindly shared some extremely tasty beer with us, and stocked us up for the next 3 months! We especially loved the hazy beers and hearing some of the details on how Mike thinks up new beers and experiments with different flavors. We’ve both wanted to try home brewing, and were especially pumped up about it after talking to Mike. While in Jackson we also visited David’s college friend, Katie, who lives in Teton Village. It was super interesting to hear about life in the Village, where only about 30 people live full time. It is hard to imagine living literally next to a ski resort!
We did a few hikes in the Tetons and most enjoyed a backpacking trip of Paintbrush Canyon and Cascade Canyon. We were fortunate to snag a permit for the trip, as a portion of permits are reserved for walk-ups the day before the night of the permit. We camped in the Upper Paintbrush Zone where we enjoyed both sunset and sunrise colors on the surrounding mountains. As David remarked, it is hikes like this that help us snap out of nature snob mode. I think it also helps to spend the night out in nature and enjoy some solitude. In the morning we finished the elevation gain of the hike and reached Paintbrush Divide at 10,700 feet, which has incredible views of Thor Peak, Mt. Moran, West Horn, Mt. Woodring, the Cathedral Group, and Rockchuck Peak (we couldn’t recognize any of the mountains by name, but I learned this from Teton Hiking Trails.com). From here it was about 10 miles to the van, which felt very, very long. A moose sighting helped increase morale a few miles before the end, as well as a good supply of Sour Patch Kids.