A couple years ago, my little (little *scoff* she’s 6 feet tall) sister gathered a few of us together to go climb a mountain. So we wouldn’t get eaten by bears or fall off some sneaksy cliff, we enlisted the company of a veteran adventurer and experienced mountain climber.
He kind of rocks. Took me rapeling for my 12th birthday. Climbed the be-striped (that’s not a word) Middle Teton with me in high school. Scared off a bear with me on that same trip (really we just lulled the thing into a stupor by singing to it as we tiptoed down the trail.. come to think of it, I believe I was the only one singing..) Taught me to rock climb – my other great love – and love the raw outdoors.
So we decided to climb the South Teton this time. Some of us have been up in those peaks a few times. My dad’s climbed 3 of them multiple times, including the Grand. For my little brother (he also is not little), and my sweet husband this would be a first (sorry if I’m mistaken, fellows). So we were pumped. Got all of our expensive, dried, prepackaged meals, and freeze dried ice cream. Uh huh. Spent a goofy preclimb night at our house as a jumping off point.
And then we took to the hills. These hills.
More crags, really.
That’s Grand Teton National Park. The drive is beautiful. If you ever get a chance to visit this place, I highly recommend it. The lakes are particularly peaceful. Strikingly beautiful.
Our trip started out in the early a.m. We trudged up the switch backs (I hate switchbacks) all morning and into the afternoon.
Except my brother. He ran. Ran. With a 35+lb. pack on. I wanted to trip him, but I couldn’t catch up.
The monotony was eased a bit by the surroundings. Also, the Air Force knew we were there and getting bored and hot, so they made a special trip and flew the Blue Angels past us several times. Practice runs. They did the missing man formation a couple times. That was really cool. Try getting a clear picture of that. Nope. I’d post mine, but it’s just shiny specs in the blue. ‘Fact, I think I deleted it cuz it just looked like sky..
Well, it started to get chilly. Then it got downright cold. We managed to cover our packs before the sideways rain hit. By the time we got to the ‘base camp’ at the Meadows it was snowing/raining hard and really cold. We set up our tents and got into dry clothes (by dry I mean damp) and tried to wait it out. Well, my sister got the worst spot to pitch a tent in the whole place and her tiny one man tent was puddling with rain runoff and her body was thinking hard about taking up a new hobby: hypothermia. Everybody was miserable. Finally, we concluded it was unwise to stay up there and climb in this weather. When we made the decision to head back home, the weather cleared up and the most brilliant and helpful sunshine came out.
Right now, you might be going, “Of course. Murphy’s Law.” But hang on to that for just a moment..
We packed up, so happily. Didn’t bother clean off or dry any of the tents, tarps, etc. (usually a no, no) and started truckin’ down that jagged, craggy, breathtaking mountain. My dad was smart and wore orange. That way, if he fell off a cliff, folks would find him. If I fell off a cliff, people would be like, “What’s that? A human shaped boulder? Keep looking.”
Really, that part of the hike – in and getting to the Meadows – is the prettiest part. Hey, see the sunshine with us? And then look back. Observe that beast of a storm right behind us. Yup.
Remember I said it was raining sideways? Well, the wind was so bad that we saw two tall trees blown down onto the path as we hiked down.
That’s me brother. Thank goodness the tree was there. Slowed him down enough for us to catch up. We tied him to it.
So we hiked all the way back down almost giddy with relief that we weren’t up there half frozen. Right as we were hitting the parking lot that storm that had been chasing us broke open and hail spilled out. We ran to the cars, still laughing.
So, no. Not Murphy’s Law. Great blessing that the sun came out when we decided to leave and stayed the storm just long enough for us to get to safety. My brother was so beat that he fell asleep under a park map on the way home. ..In the car. Not at the park.
I, personally, have made 3 trips up there, and on only one did we make it to the top of one of the mountains. Weather is so lovely when you’re behind your living room window with a cup of hot chocolate and a down blanket. On the top of a mountain, it can really make or break your day.