In search of moose
Trip Start Sep 26, 2010
44Trip End Jun 10, 2011
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This leg of the trip begins in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. I was in Jackson with Abra, her husband Bob, and our friend McCain for New Year's Eve 2000. We figured that if the world was going to come to an end, Jackson would be a lovely place to be when it happened. In the 10 years since then, I think that I have changed more than Jackson. Jackson is a small ski town with the requisite art galleries, western boutiques, and arches made out of discarded elk antlers. We discover that it also has fantastic homemade ice cream, which means that Jeremy approves of the place. On our way out of town we drive by the elk sanctuary. There are no elk there now, but during the winter it is crowded with elk standing in the snow and you can take sleigh rides among them
We head on to Grand Teton National Park. I've been telling Jeremy how beautiful the Tetons are, but at the moment they are cloaked in clouds. This leads to many jokes about how majestic the Tetons are and how amazing the elk are: "Look at that elk standing in front of the mountain!" said while pointing into a cloud bank. However, we did score a beautiful campsite by a lake and enjoyed a cold beer by the fire in the nearby lodge.
The following day we went on a 15-mile hike through the mountains. It was beautiful - one of those hikes where you can make yourself dizzy trying to look down at the trail so you don't trip, up at the craggy mountains draped in snow, and side-to-side to spot wildlife. At one point, we both halted because we could hear this deep, booming sound from the forest near the trail. We spotted something large and brown moving through the woods, but couldn't make out exactly what it was. It turns out it was a bull moose who had surprised the group of hikers in front of us. Given their reaction and anxiety about potentially running into the beast again, part of me thinks that we were lucky to have some distance between us and it
From the Grand Tetons we moved on to Yellowstone National Park. Being in Yellowstone is like stepping back in time. There are geysers and bubbling hot springs everywhere you look. In the cold weather you can see the steam rising all over the valley. We saw Old Faithful erupt, of course, but were fortunate enough to be standing next to Castle geyser when it erupted (erupts twice a day) and Grand geyser when it erupted (erupts once a day). Both were spectacular and put Old Faithful to shame. We also saw lots of wildlife - bison, elk, and wolves - but still no moose.
Camping has been a bit of a challenge. Most nights it gets down to the mid-30's, which is not too bad, except that it's also been raining or very windy. We've developed a good system for staying warm that involves a roaring campfire, a Nalgene bottle full of boiling water as a bedwarmer, and occasionally a swig of wine for good measure. One night I awoke to hear something sniffing around the tent. When something is walking around your tent at night, you convince yourself that it must be large and bloodthirsty. In the morning we found what looked like wolf prints around the tent. The beast was curious, perhaps, but not bloodthirsty. I suppose the smell of sweaty backpackers wasn't very appetizing
We had a break from camping when we stayed with Jeremy's friend Trevor and his wife Meredith in their home in Bozeman. It also gave us a chance to cook a healthy delicious dinner, which we both had missed doing. A person can only eat so many cup-o-soup or dehydrated backpacking meals before a homecooked meal starts to sound heavenly. Refreshed, we ventured through the unpopulated plains of Montana to reach Glacier National Park. Going-to-the-sun road, Glacier's best known attraction, was partially closed, but we still enjoyed great views of glaciers. Despite the name of the park, I was surprised to see glaciers in Glacier NP. I guess I think of glaciers as being something that are present in more extreme places. The glaciers are receding, as they are in much of the world, and sadly someday soon Glacier National Park may no longer have glaciers.
The moose-hunt continues in Canada......