Prior to departing Green River, we went for a short run along the dirt road we camped on. We thought we saw animals in the distance, and sure enough, there was a group of wild horses up the way. They galloped off when we got close, but running alongside them, albeit briefly, was absolutely magical. Upon return to the car, we did a short lift workout, using our crash pads and backpacks to do split squats, push-ups, and core exercises.
After a week of being derailed over and over, it was so nice to be back into our normal routine. I genuinely believe that it was so hard for me to concentrate all week because of the lack of consistency. Typically it’s easy for us to get exercise before and/or after work, whether it’s a run, climb, yoga, bike ride, or just walk. Those activities were few and far between this last week, much to the detriment of my mental and emotional health.
With very little between Green River and Jackson, we decided to just push all the way there. Thirty minutes outside Jackson, we stopped to soak our feet in the Hoback River and share a Coors Banquet. The view was so casually magnificent, we just shook our heads laughing.
The Subaru had really taken a beating from our highway departure two nights before, so we hit a self-service car wash in Jackson first. It was slightly frustrating, mostly comical, waiting for the owners of pristine Porsches ahead of us to use the car wash, while our car looked like it had been through a Tough Mudder competition. The wait was very worthwhile, as Ryan blasted chunks of dirt and rock off the tires and rims once inside. We left a fair amount of detritus in our wake, unapologetically.
We knew we wanted to eat really well in Jackson, so I turned to Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives for recommendations. I had narrowed it down to two options, an American grill and a taquería, ultimately deciding on the latter. At Pica’s Taquería, Ryan ate an al pastor burrito the size of a small baby, and I had the best chile rellenos of my life. It was our first real meal of the day and so filling, we barely ate the rest of the day.
Jackson is a fun town to walk around and explore. The town square has the iconic arches made of elk horns, and there are countless high end outdoor gear stores to check out. The Black Diamond shop even had a coffee machine free to use (and you KNOW we used it for hot cocoa). We finished the tour at the “Million Dollar Cowboy Bar,” which had a fun vibe — pool tables, a stage, saddles for bar stools, etc. We didn’t end up getting a drink, but had some humorous interactions during our short stay.
Driving east out of town, we headed into Curtis Canyon. Watching the sun set over the Tetons was spectacular, and we had plenty of time to view it — the road was gnarly, full of pot holes, ruts, and huge rocks. All I can say is thank god Ryan is driving. We made it to camp just before sundown and sat outside the tent for a while, listening to the beautiful silence around us.
We slept nearly 10 hours, only waking up to another wild thunderstorm hammering us around 3 a.m. It wasn’t as bad as the one in the Poudre, but it was formidable. The original plan was to wake up early and head to hike in the Tetons, but waking up at 8, it felt like a moot point to rush. Instead, Ryan turned on Starlink and we used it to call some friends and family, while fixing coffee and making Kodiak pancakes. It was such a lovely, sunny morning, exactly the type of morning we envisioned for this trip. The campground host even visited us, telling us (in a friendly manner), “Not sure how things work where y’all are from, but around these parts, food storage is mandatory. We had a cinnamon black bear and her cubs in the campground below just this morning.” Well I’ll be.
At 10:30 we eventually rolled out, heading back into Jackson and then north into Grand Teton National Park. We really relished handing our National Parks Pass over to the ranger and sailing into the park.
One of my best friends from college, Evyn, worked in Yellowstone in 2019 and had given me lots of hiking recommendations prior to the trip. In an email, she wrote: ” I cannot stress this enough you must go to DELTA LAKE.” That was enough convincing for me. I directed Ryan to Lupine Meadows, where we could take a few trails to get there in a round-trip hike of 7-8 miles.
We usually follow the rule of thumb that you should be off any summit by noon. Well, it was 12:30, and we didn’t really know if this hike had a “summit.” But we really wanted to do it. The sky was grey. There were rumblings of thunder. But we thought hey, we’ll see how it goes.
Trucking up this trail, we had finished the first two miles in 40 minutes. The rain came on and off, the thunder continued to threaten, but we still didn’t feel compelled to turn around. Around mile three, the weather really started kicking in, though. A couple hikers coming down warned us that there’d been a grizzly sighting on the trail ahead, and it also started hailing. The hail was mild at first. Then it started coming down harder and faster. Then the size of the hail started increasing. We were looking at each other as nickel-sized hail dumped on us, absolutely dumbfounded and also questioning what was the best move. Do we wait it out? Do we descend while it’s dumping on us?
We made our way down the trail a short bit and waited a little while longer, but still the hail did not let up. A man and woman started running down past us, the woman shouting in a cheerful sarcasm, “Isn’t this fun?!” We looked down at them and decided we should follow. We were only getting colder, and at least going down would get us back to the car sooner and also keep our bodies warmer by moving.
There was hail on the trail all the way to the bottom. In the three miles back, we got bombarded by hail for probably half the time. Some of the hail was so large and fast, it felt like little bee stings on our legs. We were jogging along with the couple ahead of us, cracking jokes and making Spongebob references, which distracted us from the cold and the absurd situation we were in. Once it finally subsided, we actually got to have a lovely chat with the couple, who were from Canada and visiting the area for a week. We exchanged recommendations for Colorado and British Columbia, and before we knew it, we were back at the trailhead, the sun shining.
We sat in the car for a solid 20 minutes, staring up at the Grand and Middle Tetons, debriefing what had happened and talking through how we could have handled it differently. Ultimately, we wouldn’t change anything, besides the obvious — not starting at 12:30. We vowed to come back later in the week, in the morning, so we could actually see the lake.
In an effort to restore our dopamine levels and get a hot shower, Ryan booked us a cabin at a little resort in Victor, Idaho, through Thursday. The drive from the Tetons toward Teton Village, Wilson, over Teton Pass, and into Victor was stunning. First stop: Grand Teton Brewing Company.
After all the tourist hubbub of Jackson, GTBC was such a welcome relief. The inside and outside was totally unpretentious, not trying to be edgy or hip or bougie or any of the things breweries are so wont to do. We each had a weisse beer and sat in lawn chairs outside, eating too much of the complimentary popcorn. We also added stickers to their massive outdoor keg, to leave a little touch of Coloradough.
Now at the resort, we feel like we’re living in absolute luxury, having access to bathrooms with showers, laundry machines, and a fridge! I fixed an elaborate meal of mac and cheese with vegetables for dinner and we just chilled out, watching World Bouldering Finals.
Monday was a reset day. We had hopes of climbing after work, but with a thunderstorm at 7 a.m. and threatening clouds on and off all day, it wasn’t worth the risk. We worked from our cute little cabin all day and went for a run. Once we wrapped up work, we strolled from the resort into “town,” and found Victor to be such a quaint place. There was an “emporium” where you could buy souvenirs and ice cream, served by 12-year-olds behind the counter. A thrift store and pizza shop and taco stand. We lingered in the market and deli, drawn to groceries as usual. We got incredible fig and olive bread and buffalo cauliflower bites for our dinner and saw a flavor of Kodiak Cakes never before witnessed — almond poppy seed. Still debating if we splurge on it …
A special part of the afternoon was checking out “Food Shed Idaho,” drawn by a sign advertising homemade cookies. Upon entry, we found what seemed to be an artisanal Italian shop — there were all sorts of fancy pastas, tapenades, olive oils, cheeses, and wines. The owner of the store asked if she could assist us, and I somewhat sheepishly told her we were interested in the cookies. “Well,” she began. “The only cookies I have available right now are these remaining oatmeal scotchies, BUT if you’re willing to wait, I can make a fresh batch right now and you can get them before I close.” We certainly didn’t want her to go to all the trouble of baking right then and there, but then she told us how the cookie ingredients are sourced (copied from her website, so I don’t mess it up):
“Made with local organic flour from Hillside Grain in Bellevue, Idaho (just outside Sun Valley), local raw pasture-raised Jersey milk butter from Cache Meadow Creamery in Preston (at the Utah boarder), and local pasture raised eggs from my niece’s farm, Late Bloomer Ranch in Driggs (the next town over). We use as many organic ingredients as possible. In short, the best ingredients. Period.”
(It must also be noted that Preston is where Napoleon Dynamite was filmed.)
With that information, we had to get some cookies. We decided to buy two of the oatmeal cookies and then potentially order a dozen in the next couple days. She was just so willing to accommodate us and so friendly, we left feeling very positive.
And the cookies. They were divine. The butterscotch and sugar and salt were balanced so perfectly and the texture was ideal — crisp, crumbly edges and soft in the middle. You could just tell that they were made by those quality ingredients.
Back at the cabin, we just relaxed, read and watched TV, did laundry, etc. I made high-class paninis with the bread we bought. As much fun as climbing would have been, Ryan made a good point: we’d been going-going-going since we left, so we may as well rest, especially when the weather isn’t ideal. We’ll see what the rest of this week holds — feeling super grateful to be in this small town and removed from the noise of life back home.