Driving to Wyoming I played the first CD of The Way of the Peaceful Warrior (Dan Millman’s international bestseller about the universal quest for happiness) audio book Pam offered before leaving Boulder. The journey, U.S. Tour, wasn’t just about seeing friends and great places it was also a time for looking inward to connect with my soul desires. I had endless time on the roads, trails, and journaling to think about important aspects of life and career direction, companionship, where to live and thrive, and find purpose giving attention to family, friends, and relationships. The deepest times for expression were while journaling looking back on the day and life experiences. My personal journey will continue with the interest of growth walking a desired path Native Americans call the Red Road.

On the road …

PronghornTo have manageable road time I drove to Rock Springs, Wyoming keeping to daylight hours after being forewarned of pronghorn dashing across roads at dusk. Three hundred miles and six hours later this small trucker town just off of Route 80 was roaring with big rigs. Not interested in the fast food stops and diners I unpacked the camp stove and cooked dinner outside my room at an aged, never updated, “Bates” motel. The tent would have been preferred over this shady looking place but I made the best of it throwing the sleeping bag on the bed getting a few hours of sleep. Checking out early with an hour’s drive down the orange sun lit road I entered the Wrangler Café for breakfast and conversation with locals. The Connecticut plates would draw the comment, “Connecticut?! You’re a long way from home!” These are places of meeting interesting down to earth people and hearing talk of local and The Wrangler Cafénational issues. The smell of bacon and seeing biscuits and gravy leave the kitchen made me order the hungry man’s special while drinking too many cups of coffee before sliding into the truck.

Inspiration Point & Jenny LakeA few hours later I was in Jackson Hole stopping for supplies and the Craig Thomas Visitors Center collecting information for the stay in Grand Teton National Park. Shortly after entering the park and selecting a campsite near the Grand Teton Lodge I hiked around Jenny Lake to calming area at Inspiration Point before sunset. In need of good rest before climbing Middle Teton (12, 804 ft.), camp was set and the lantern was out early after dinner. The following morning, rising before the sun, forcing down a few packets of instant oatmeal, cheese and coffee I made way to the Lupine Meadow Trailhead passing more than a dozen grazing elk. Boots were laced, the backpack slung over my shoulder and I started on the trail just as the sun was breaking over the eastern hills. A short time into the hike I met my first friend. She didn’t say much but was willing to lead the way with a funny walk. After a few minutes I asked if this was the correct trail to Middle Teton. There was no answer.  What did I expect from a two legged feather friend, the Ruffed Grouse. Food was more important than companionship to this bird!

AscendingNot far back was the trail junction to Garnet Canyon Trail where I connected with three men from Idaho who welcomed me to their team after a quick introduction. During this non technical climb, we hiked packed dirt, rock, scree and crossed a few snow fields to the base of the final ascent where we visually marked the best line to take. The final ascent was slow due to loose talus and being ready to duck or move to the call out of “rock” when some became ajar, which they did. A helmet would have been a good idea through this area. We scrambled the final boulders and formations to make the summit where a misstep could mean tumbling Geodetic Marker (Unfortunate Writing)down 1,000 plus feet. Six hours and 6,000 feet of elevation gain later the summit geodetic survey marker was within reach. Our team stayed at the summit having lunch and taking in the views causing times of vertigo in the calm 65 degree day. The descent was fairly quick and uneventful except for foot glissading down a few snow fields. At the trailhead thanks were given for the invitation to join before they returned to their home state and I back to camp. This was a truly incredible and epic day.

Nibbled Reese's from a StowawyTaking the backpack out of the truck I noticed signs of a stowaway since a few mini Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups had been nibbled on. After a quick look and being too tired the critter could stay for the night to finish the treat it started. The stove was lit and dinner was a few packs of Ramen noodles, a staple for the trip, always having a chunk of cheese to enjoy with the meal. I slept deeply and awoke to birds and quiet sounds of a new camp neighbor before French pressing coffee, asking a new Belgian friend Oliver to join. Spending four months in Belgium earlier in my career gave us plenty to talk about since favorite foods, chocolate and beer are from the small quiet With Belgian Cyclist Olivercountry. Friends made in Belgium were inviting especially in the historic town of Lier where there’s a plethora of restaurants and cafés. I made note of Oliver’s favorite beer, Westmalle Trappist Ale, (remember this for the upcoming Montana post!) and even though it was breakfast we both could have enjoyed one at that moment. We sipped two brews of fresh coffee and told a few travel stories before I broke camp and he headed into the back country.

Two Ocean's Lake with TetonsWith the stowaway still enjoying the Reese’s I packed the gear and drove north to Lizard Creek Campground on Jackson Lake to reserve a campsite. Two Ocean Lake Trailhead wasn’t far down the road where a leisurely hike was a nice change from scrambling steep talus. The trail wasn’t always next to the water’s edge and decided to bushwhack through a small wooded area to make it to the lake. Noticing huge moose tracks and bedding areas thought came to mind it was probably best to stick to the trail and leave their territory.Two Ocean Lake Closed Trail With slight nervousness and caution I stalked back to the trail since outrunning a bull moose or worse a grizzly wasn’t going to happen. I realized how risky my action was after encountering two Park Rangers closing the trail, one with a loaded and drawn shotgun when they asked if there was sign of an elk carcass from a grizzly kill nearby. Thankfully there wasn’t and I was now at a safe area.

Jackson Lake and the TetonsBack at Lizard Creek I set up the tent, AGAIN, made Ramen noodles and tuna, AGAIN, then relaxed for the rest of the evening spending much of the time at the shoreline of Jackson Lake listening to the water wash upon the rocks and viewing the north faces of the Tetons. The stowaway stayed comfortable in the truck Orb Web Weaverand I in the tent waking to a new friend the Orb Web Weaver. Company was everywhere and anticipation set in that morning knowing just fifteen minutes further north was the next stop to one of America’s most visited national parks, Yellowstone.

Next…Wolves, bison and hot springs…

-Greg

“Balance is implicit in the Red Road. When you’re on the Red Road, you are in the center. Yet, you do not go to either extreme, and you allow both sides to exist. This is accomplished by continually postponing surrendering to temptation, whatever it may be. It is saying `later’ instead of `no.'”

— Dr. A.C. Ross (Ehanamani), LAKOTA

 
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