Foiled by the road closures in the eastern limits of Yellowstone, I eventually backtracked all the way back to Jackson. Driving south through Idaho, I paralleled the majestic spine of Tetons through the fields of fertile soil. Eventually, I crossed back over Teton Pass and reconnected with Euan, a fellow Batesie, in downtown Jackson. We spent the afternoon at the brewery where he works before heading to a friend’s place for a few rounds of stump, a soggy bonfire, and an NHL championship game.
That night, I experienced one of the best nights of sleep I have had in awhile. Maybe it was because I was sleeping in a loft above a loft. Lofts are always cozy, but lofts above lofts are exponentially comfier… At least I think that is how the formula works. In retrospect, I realized that it would be the last bed I would sleep in for at least a month. I’m glad it was a comfy one! In the morning, we lounged around watching Chopped before I headed off for the Tetons.
My first attempted trip to Yellowstone had left me with ample time to explore the northern section of the Tetons up by Jackson Lake. Now, I decided to spend some time at the visitor’s center and take my time checking out the Tetons from a little closer up. The mountains themselves still had a formidable snowpack, so I wouldn’t be attempting any major hikes. Those would have to wait for a while. That said, I sincerely hope an ascent of the Grand is in my future… my very near future. In the meantime, I would have to settle for wandering around through Moose and viewing the Tetons from afar.
In my opinion, the Tetons are one of the most impressive mountain ranges in the continental United States. Sure, they might not be as tall as the Sierra Nevadas or as expansive as the Rocky Mountains, but they are fierce, jagged, and imposing. They are not for the faint of heart. They feel raw, untouched by erosion. At 13,770 feet above sea level, the Grand remained hidden for most of my visit, only hinting at its sharp summit through wispy banks of cloud. The mystery only intensified my desire to reach that hidden pinnacle of rock and ice. Some day…
With the roads to Jenny Lake still closed for the season, I decided to swing by the Chapel of Transfiguration that I remembered so vividly from my last visit to this range. Even though denominationally Episcopalian, the Chapel of Transfiguration feels like it owes far more to the likes of John Muir than the tenants of modern Christianity. Within the small chapel, a dozen rows of wooden benches face a simple altar adorned with two small flowers and a Spartan wooden cross. Behind the altar, a large pane of glass frames the Tetons in all of their awe inspiring beauty. Despite my intense spirituality, I have never found myself particularly drawn to the teachings of any of the major organized religions of the world, but this place speaks to me. It sends a very simple message, one that I think we need to be reminded of more often. Whether or not you ascribe the beauty of the natural world to some higher power, we do need to celebrate and revere it.
Although I hadn’t planned it that way, my moments in the Chapel of Transfiguration marked the end of my tour through our nation’s National Parks. Later that afternoon I would leave the Tetons behind and head for Lander, Wyoming, where the next phase of my adventure would soon begin. My time in that small, simple chapel left me with a sense of serenity and reverence that mirrored my emotions regarding the journey that had just concluded.
With plenty more stories to tell, tips to share, and adventures ahead, stay tuned for some final updates before I begin my next adventure!
On the Road to Lander