Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Jackson Hole and a Tram Ride up Mount Rendezvous

September 25-26

There's so much to do here in Jackson Hole we extended our two nights (with one full day to explore) into three nights. It gave us time to do laundry, catch up on some blogging because I have internet finally (none in Yellowstone's campground), and just enjoy gazing at the mountains and hiking along the river. We settled in on Sunday afternoon with enough daylight to walk down along the Snake river which runs in back of the campground. The tenters are right on the river overlook. Wow!

The next morning we dawdled a bit over breakfast then made a stop at the Visitor's Center to get hiking information. We decided to take a flat walk on the levee along the Snake River near the town of Wilson. At the .5 mile marker there were two female moose nibbling on the trees. Unfortunately, I couldn't get a clear picture because they were in behind the trees. We probably would have missed them entirely except for several other walkers who pointed them out. They really blend in with the scenery. We stood and watched them for a few minutes and then went on hoping they would come up on the levee to cross to the river for a drink. No luck. But the three mile out and back walk was delightful with all the fall colors and the bluest sky I've ever seen. We also came across a few young people with a border collie who was trying to catch his shadow. What a sweet little animal (reminded me of our Shaley who lived to be 16 and was our "circus dog" who would jump through hoops and do all kinds of tricks). The river is clearly down now and there is driftwood all along the dry places in the river. People tell us in the spring when the snow starts to melt it turns into a raging riot. I sure wouldn't want to take a whitewater trip then.

We drove up to Teton Village and had lunch at the Mangy Moose. It was breezy but we sat outside on their deck and braved the occasional cold gusts as we ate our buffalo burger and Idaho trout fish and chips. Great food and a hefty lunch to prepare us for a hike on the mountain. We took the tram to the top of Mt. Rendezvous. It was an eleven minute ride and what a view! But when I got off at the top, I had to sit down I had such vertigo. The mountain is over 10,000 feet elevation and  looking down into the valley with nothing around me but open air (and a breeze to boot) made me dizzy. I had to look down at my feet when we climbed the stairs to the "top of the world" to view the scenery all around. Looking over at Grand Teton peak, the highest mountain in the range, we seemed to be at the same level but Rendezvous is actually about 3,000 feet lower. Sure didn't seem like it.

Dad with Grand Teton peak in back.

We hiked about a half a mile down the mountain and then stopped to sit on a rock and pray our rosary. A large group of young people came along and then an older man. We asked who the kids were. They were students from Iowa state studying landscape architecture and he was the professor. He said the hike was to explore what exactly landscape architecture means. What a place to think about it!

I'm not sure what "landscape architecture" is, we didn't get into that, but we've seen lots of buildings here in the west that are designed to fit into the landscape. I imagine that's what landscape architecture means -- designing buildings in comformity with the surroundings. There's definitely a different look here. The visitors centers and museums are often made with local stone and in different designs from back east -- simpler and more rugged. Lots of the log cabin type look in the restaurants with cowboy decorations: ten-gallon hats, saddles, dear and buffalo heads, antler chandaliers and door handles. It's really different from what we're accustomed to. And bronze sculptures, big bronze sculptures are everywere: bison, groups of elks, bears, moose, etc.

The temperature at the top of the mountain was about twenty degrees colder than the bottom. Brrr...ice and snow in the crevices. A sign at the top showed pictures of wildflowers and called the area an "alpine meadow." There were still flowers blooming among the rocks and it made me think of Heidi living with her grandfather on the mountainside and running barefoot in the summer meadows with Peter and the goats. The view down into the valley was breathtaking once I could look farther than my feet. I think I could get used to being that high. I never get vertigo on our own beloved Virginia mountains but they are an entirely different breed. I think the Massanutten is about 1500 feet as it rises from the dam below our house -- quite a bit smaller than 10,000 foot Mt. Rendezvous. And people ski off Rendezvous. Someone on the tram was talking about a teenager who was killed last winter when he fell head first into a snow well under a tree. Apparently the snow under the trees doesn't get packed down and he must have smothered when he couldn't get out. I hate to think of such things.

We looked for wildlife on the tram ride down but didn't see any. We did see lots of beautiful fall colors, but I kept hoping for a glimpse of mountain goats or bighorn sheep. No luck, only the shadow of the tram preceding us down the mountain.

Then back to the campground for a campfire. What camping trip would be complete without an occasional hot dog cooked on a stick over an open fire? The stars were brilliant in the dark, clear sky. So I've decided to name our little home on wheels la maison de les etoiles, the house of stars. We haven't spent much time there except at night sleeping under the stars.

1 comment:

Jessica Kreitzer said...

You are making me envious. I'm ready to do it all again. It seems there are so many more fun things to do out there. I'm glad you guys are having a good time. Drive safe!