Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Grand Tetons & West Yellowstone

Day 11-12 
I barely woke up in time for a timely checkout, but on my way out I saw para-gliders who had ridden up the Jackson Hole Tram and floated down to a nearby field.  

From the hostel I was only about 15 minutes from Teton Natl. Park and I immediately scoped the map for fishing spots.  I ventured off the map and into some lake spillways that were in high country where I took the ever loyal 4Runner into 33% grade back roads. 

I found fresh bear signs and small mountain lake trout.  Then I drove around the loop of the park and found myself in awe of the Tetons.  What makes them special is that they can be seen, in their honed glory, from almost anywhere in the park.  After fishing a couple spots and game watching at the Oxbow Bend, I came to an overlook where the sun set. 

With binoculars, I realized how intense the Grand Teton is. I wondered what Dad's experience may have been like when he climbed it, which face he climbed, what equipment he needed etc.  

As I looked at the terrain that surrounded the base of the mountains I realized that there is a series of plateaus that have been carved down by rivers.  I also noticed that a small black bird was hovering (it looked small because I had been focused on the mountain), but in reality, it was a bald eagle hovering 30 feet above the tree line searching for food probably 100+ feet high.  Later on, another bald eagle (also with its mature white head) came into view--it was incredible to watch them hover.

I realized something important: sometimes you need nature, God, for some, an addiction, or others a lover, to take you where you cannot go on your own.  It was a spiritual moment.  I saw a lady staring at the sunset over the Tetons in the most bleak and blanketed, "I need something in my life, something bigger than me" face.  I said hi, but her hi in response and faint wave led to an embarrassed shoulder turn and she began to sob.  I should have talked to her since she was alone. 

I then fished some shallow water after sunset that only held fingerlings. I 4-Played (4-wheel drive lingo) in mud puddles and dirtied up the ride.

Then I came to a park gas station and purchased four essentials: gas, a tall boy beer can, a Teton Topo-map bandana, and a chocolate bar.  When I walked up to the register, the older man said, "I know you like to fish, but do you like to hike?"  To that I replied absolutely, but what set him off? My attire, the muddy car?  He said I know exactly where you need to hike, its the most beautiful place in the park and the lakes hold fish that can be caught on every cast!  I was shocked at his kindness, but after talking some details over my Topo bandana map, we concluded that it wasn't safe for me to go alone due to bears.  I thanked him for giving me the advice and promise to go in the near future, but what a guy!

I got a view from Jenny Lake and then camped out at a random parking lot since the campground was full.  I cooked ravioli and passed out.  

The next morning I headed north through the park.  I fished below the Jackson Lake dam and did pretty well.  It was damn cold outside, but I took some decent fish from the spillway including a nice fall colored brown that got off in the current after a 5 minute fight.  I drove through Yellowstone to get to my Grandmother's home in Ennis, MT, where I plan on relaxing and recharging for the more scenic and colder leg of the trip.  

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