GRAND TETONS

// Day 9: Grand Tetons

The morning is so cold and it is raining – not hard, but enough to get through the trees and sprinkle down on us. I rock a socks and sandals look, glad I packed my down jacket and a beanie. Kyle’s hands go numb making breakfast. We are in quite a state by the time we have cleaned up and are headed back out into the park, miserable in a sense but also having a good laugh at ourselves. The rain has brought a fog with it, and the majestic mountains we know are there are hardly visible. We try a morning drive around Jenny Lake but can’t see across. We ride out through where Ranger Brad said we were likely to see moose but the moose evade us. Disappointed but not yet completely discouraged, we decide to head into Jackson. We will stroll through the outdoor store, find somewhere to eat lunch, and hope that the clouds lift. Maybe we will even buy some long underwear to get us through another cold night here. Surprise: it is sunny in Jackson! The radar shows that this is the only pocket of no-rain on the map. The mountains are still shrouded in fog, but we don’t care. It is so good to see the warm sun. In high spirits, we do buy long underwear, and ask our cool checkout girl where we should eat lunch. She suggests a “cheery” local bakery a few blocks down and promises delicious sandwiches and gourmet coffee. She is absolutely right. We sit on the patio and eat slowly, savoring a lunch that is not turkey and cheddar eaten standing up in the cold out of the back of the car. It is warm, it is sunny, it is delicious. We are greatly refreshed. We stroll around Jackson for an hour or so, peeking in at all the shops and watching the clouds lift ever so slowly off the mountains, hoping and praying they will stay away. By the early afternoon we have ventured back in, the clouds still dark in faraway patches, but no longer obscuring the view or threatening to open up on us. We take another drive around Jenny Lake, and can now see the glorious peaks across the water. Afterwards, Nigel carries us up Signal Mountain – a twisting, turning, half hour drive that takes us up to a set of lookouts, where we stand for several minutes gazing across at the peaks to the west and the valley to the east. We spy a marmot up here, standing at attention on the side of the road. We recognize him from the Audubon Guide to Mammals book that Kyle bought in the Teton store yesterday. We are back at camp by late afternoon, using all our remaining shower tokens for long, wonderful showers. We are headed to Jackson Lodge for the evening for internet, wildlife viewing, and splurging on a fancy dinner. I put on my best outfit (jeans and a chambray shirt with my Chacos – I have not planned on a swanky evening out) and hope they’ll let us in to eat as such. We have double success: we are seated without a reservation at a window seat that “just opened up.” Glory. Rob is our waiter and we love him. Short-statured, bearded, and slightly gap toothed, he makes jokes and compliments us on our orders. During the course of our meal, we watch the rain clouds drift down over the mountains and cover them up, then lift off the other side. Our food is delicious, our whole evening magical. We don’t even mind that the low tonight is just above freezing or that it is raining again when we get back to camp. We pull on our new base layers underneath all the rest of our clothes and jackets and drift off.

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