Today we woke up to 16 inches of snow on our deck. And tomorrow the local ski resorts open! Jackson Hole Mountain Resort and Grand Targhee. So I’ll officially say ski season 2016/17 has landed in Teton Valley, Idaho. The days leading up to ski season can be quiet and boring. But now we wake up each morning to see how much snow fell and where. Another morning ritual whether we are venturing into the backcountry or not is to check the local avalanche report. Jhavalanche.org
It’s so fun when friends come to visit. Because I get to be like a tourist in my own town. Go do all the fun thing that draw people here in the first place. It’s almost like seeing my home with fresh eyes and renewed psyche! Mountain biking for beginners is excellent on the Sheep Bridge Trail up Teton Canyon. It’s pretty flat but it is classic single track. Horseback riding with the Linn Canyon Ranch is definitely worth the expense. And Lana is an excellent guide. Follow up the ride with a great campsite up Teton Canyon for the next two days and you’ll forget the outside world even exists. Marshmallow Smore’s and hickory smoked bison burgers, with excellent company, including Bears, deer and the Moose all within earshot.
Not pictured here we spent a great day on the white water section of the Snake River. Jumping off of cliffs, fly fishing, swimming and paddling.
Take the boat across JennyLake to hike up cascade Canyon and you will be surrounded by views of the Tetons like no other. You will also be surrounded by a lot of people but I guess we all want the same thing. Right as our boat was docking there was a little black bear running up the hill.
Hikers passing us kept telling us that there were two Bullmoose up ahead. So that kept the kids motivated to keep hiking.
The hike up
Cascade Canyon is a gentle grade not gaining too much elevation until you hit the Paintbrush Divide Junction. So it makes for a stunning easy hike. There’s nothing like jumping in a cold mountain stream to cool you off and wake you up in the middle of summer. But you have to be pretty brave because the water is very cold.
We ended the staycation with a night out in Teton Village to celebrate my husbands birthday. Dinner, wine and cake at Osteria. And the next day our friends who are more like family drove home to Alabama to return once the snow flies.
Well, this happened. Our youngest son has graduated from Teton High School. We are so proud of him and all of his accomplishments. Come August he will be off to study physics at MSU Bozeman!So in honor of our great success thus far in raising our three boys in the small community of Teton Valley, Idaho, we took ourselves on vacation. With North, South, East or West our options. Glacier National Park was still partly closed due to snow, we save the East for trips to visit family and we went West already a few months ago on a ski trip. So South it was. Southern Colorado imparticular. Neither of us had ever been and we were feeling ready to get hot!Of course always staying on par with adventure and keeping it fresh and us on our toes we found every dirt road possible to test our trusty Volkswagen Van. A 1991 Syncro Westfalia with a Subaru engine and a big old solar panel with a penchant for exploring remote regions with enormous beauty! This incredible camp site called Point of Pines is off of the Blue Mountain Rd. A dirt road that heads east into the heart of Dinasaur National Park. Straight up for several thousand feet on rocks shaped like sharp, geometric shapes. The van could barely make it in first gear. We once passed a rancher who couldn’t believe his eyes when he saw us crawling up that mountain side. But that view and those ancient pines and that dramatic sunset sent all the stress that had built up since our last vacation straight out the window. Especially the next morning when we took turns riding our mountain bikes down hill about 12 miles. On our way South we stopped off in Fruita, Co. A town that is known for some excellent mountain biking. We got to the trailhead at literally the hottest part of the day. We have yet to experience heat where we live so it felt a little overpowering. But we headed off anyways on a 2 hour bike ride. Hot as hell is all I can say. Next stop, Mesa Verde National Park. That’s two Natioal Parks so far! Which I think is super cool because it’s the National Parks Centennial anniversary this year. We drove to Mesa Verde along the Dolores river. This area is incredible and deserves a trip of its own. We stopped at West Creek during the hottest part of the day and found a crystal clear pool of cold La Sals Mountain runoff to soak in. WOW!!!! This place is amazing! What history! We hiked an ancient pathway along cliff edges to hidden communities, cool in the shade of the walls. Springs seeping in crevasses provided fresh water and strategic planning allowed them to grow CORN!
These are corn grinders that were found right here. Much of the main water source for this region is the Mancos River of which the head waters are in these 14,000 foot mountains off to the North of Mesa Verde. The tallest one being the sacred Black Mountain of the northern most boundary of the ancient Pueblo People’s territory. So where do we head? Straight up a dirt road leading to the flanks of these sacred peaks. Immersing our imaginations into what life was like so many hundreds of years ago for these ancient dwellers. 12,000 feet in Colorado is pretty easy to access. So after a short hike to above the tree line we find ourselves back in the snow and loving it. The Mesa off to the right of this picture is Mesa Verde. Again we took turns riding our mountain bikes back down and out of these incredible mountains. Through the town of Durango onto Hwy 550 to Silverton and up to the mining ghost town of Eureka we found our next camp. It’s crazy to me how exploited the land is in Colorado from mining.
Noon in the the town of Ouray, (they call this place the Swiss Alps of the US) while sipping on a cold brown ale, cast in the shadows of 14,000 foot peaks. We start to realize that we are very close to Telluride and the Telluride bluegrass festival is going on this weekend. So we scout the map for a pleasant dirt road to venture up. We come across Last Dollar Rd. Up, Up, up to 11,000 feet. We meet some older guys in their late 60s who were riding their bikes from Fort Collins to Telluride. Pretty ambitious dudes! We find a killer camp site and the next morning found $30 tickets for the Thursday show. I have always wanted to go to the Telluride bluegrass festival. It was cool how it just worked out. The town of Telluride is incredible. A Huge waterfall that grows throughout a hot summer day is just right up the valley. The best part of the day was seeing John Prine. And meeting all sorts of great people. Other than that we found it very hot and covered in tarps. We were happy to move on and get back into the woods. However finding a campsite during this festival in the region was pretty tough. Needless to say we found a dirt road that went straight up a mountain to an amazing lake. Atlas Lakes. We decided since were pretty close to Glenwood Springs that we would head up there to see my brother and sister-in-law. On our way we stopped at the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park. That’s 3 National Parks! After a great unexpected visit with my brother and sister-in-law, We all got in a great soak together at the Glenwood Hotsprings and we were off. Heading north. Back home. Never willing to give up the adventure we found whatever dirt roads we could to cross the country into Rocksprings. The Vermillion River. Just on the north east part of Dinasaur NP. Through Irish Canyon. A few more stops in the ancient landscapes of our ancestors and we find ourselves home. It’s not to bad to come home from vacation when we live in such a beautiful place. But did I miss anything from home while being gone for a week? No!
Dakota is our youngest son. He is a senior in high school. 17 years old. And totally fired up about mountain biking and downhill biking. With the snow melting quickly in the high country. The parallel trail which is a fun downhill mountain bike ride from the top of Teton Pass has been riding great.
It’s rare when a teenager actually wants to hang out with their parents. And seeing as he will be off to college next fall. I’ll take anytime I can with him. Also him being the youngest of our three sons, (Brice and I are soon to be “empty nesters.” ) these moments should be cherished. So we have been doing lap after lap of the Parallel Trail. Dakota goes HUGE! On most Saturdays this spring my husband and I decide to go camping somewhere in the Greater Yellowstone Region. Our VW Syncro Westfalia camper van is perpetually packed and ready for whatever adventure may be next. Often we go look for grizzly or black bears, wolves and other critters in the wild reaches of Yellowstone or Grand Teton National Park.
Today we started our day at Colter Bay Campground. Now we are camped at Jenny Lake Campground. Yesterday we saw a black bear on the side of the road. Super cute. Not too big.We woke up this morning to a fox in our campsite. He was pretty curious about the dog leashes and the water bowl. He actually drank out of it. Meanwhile our dogs are freaking out and the fox was completely unfazed by them. Moving on from Jenny lake we pull into Teton Village for breakfast and coffee at the RMO cafe. Not really wanting or needing to go home for any reason we decide to keep on rolling along. A quick stop at the grocery store to restock a few supplies and we are off. This time towards the Gros Ventre Mountains and Granite Hotsprings. Aahh…
Took a slight detour out of Teton Valley, Idaho this weekend. I find it truly amazing to be able to go such a short distance from our little homestead into some of the most wild country in the lower 48.
We drove into Old Faithful to witness the obligatory eruption. We were THE only ones in the parking lot. We hiked to the more remote observation point.
There were these two Ravens flying all around us and hollering at us. One flew nearly into my head, warning me to mind my own business. I literally jumped and screamed.
We watched the great run-off of mighty rivers forging confluences of chocolate waters. The Upper Mesa Falls.
Yellowstones Gibbon Falls. This guy got a pine bough stuck in his horn while scratching up against a tree.
All of these wonderful sights and sounds while being on-call for a few home births. It is an honor to work with these amazing midwives. Mountain Mamas Midwifery team. Some of the valleys lower single track has dried enough for some sweet early season riding. It’s a great time for me to get into biking shape.
I must admit…I had a great ski season. What a way to bring an end of the lift served ski season, but a going away celebration for Blackfoot chairlift at Grand Targhee. Blackfoot will be replaced next year with a quad lift.
A good farewell.
Elijah and Dakota have been seriously getting after it up in the Big Holes behind our house. They built a sweet igloo!
Then having 10 days off or so and not deciding on a warm destination. My husband and I opted for the “chasing powder” vacation throughout the Pacific Northwest! Beginning with two free days at Sun Valley, that just so happened to be powder days!
Next thing you know we have driven 10 hours to Leavenworth, Washington where my high school BFF lives with her family. Her husband is the mountain manager at Stevens Pass, where we spent the next two days skiing delicious, fresh powder runs all day long.
Once we had our fill of Washington we headed to Missoul, Montana. Some of our BFF’s from Jackson moved there recently and it was great to have a nice visit with them.
Next stop; Lost Trail Powder Mountain. We had heard great stuff about this place and it did not disappoint! Our lodging was just down the hill at Lost Trail Hot Springs. It was closed but they really didn’t hesitate to let us rent a cabin and soak in the springs. We had the place to ourselves. It was quiet and peaceful.
If you ever just really need to get your fill of powder skiing, head to Lost Trail. The lifts are long and slow which makes the runs stay fresh.