We spent the last week in and around Jackson Hole, Wyoming. We had been to Jackson a few months prior to ski and test out the van, so we were looking forward to seeing it during the summer months vs the winter.
Our first order of business when we pulled in was to change our oil. It’s pretty crazy to think that we’ve already put 10,000 miles on the car since we started this trip. We had visited Andy Bittenbinder prior to leaving on this trip and he had shown us how to properly change the oil. Andy is the king when it comes to Sprinters (aka the Sprinter Doctor), so we were confident that we’re doing it properly. We’ll put up a ‘How To” over the next few days. Anyway, we succesfully changed it and could now go play. (P.S. after the oil change, our highway MPG increased from 20 to 25, although just temporarily).
We spent some time out at Jenny Lake, which is in Teton National Park. It sits at the base of the Tetons, with spectacular views. Near there was Exum Guides – which I was very excited to see. In college I was on the board for a club, Wharton Leadership Ventures, that organizes events to teach and facilitate experiences to develop and learn leadership skills, outside of the corporate office or classroom in applied, ‘real life’ situations. A few of my favorite events we organized where following ER doctors in the UPenn trama center (think Philly…) and students climbing the Grand Teton. The club is run by one of the most spectacular professors from Wharton, who had built a great relationship with Exum through the Grand Teton climbing event. After a quick visit to the Exum office, Jakob and I signed up for 2 days of private instructions with a guide. I’ll go into more detail later but after signing up, we ran over to the bar to watch the German Semi-finals. We all know how that went (Sorry I’m not sorry, Brazil.)
After a few drinks and an incredible game, we decided it was a good time to go for a trail run in Cache Creek. Although we did run, that wasn’t the best of our ideas. Afterwards, we jumped into the creek to cool off.
We met a friend of mine from high school that night for a drink and food. We hadn’t seen each other in almost 10 years, but it didn’t feel like it. She’s doing really amazing things with her career and we couldn’t have been happier to see her. (We still owe you some drinks, Rose so we hope to see you on the road!)
That night we drove 5 miles up a dirt road to the top of Shadow Mountain to camp for the night. It was a SPECTACULAR spot. The mountain sits to the east of the Tetons, providing a front row seat to the mountains, and we arrived just in time for sunset. That night the sky was covered with tons and tons of stars – it was beautiful. We woke up at 5:00AM to watch the sun rise, which was worth every minute of sleep lost. Tip: if you drive out to Shadow Mountain to camp, follow the road all the way to the top. There are plenty of places to turn off, but the view from the top is incredible.
The next few days we spent exploring Teton National Park and Yellowstone National Park. While I can understand and appreciate the beauty of Yellowstone, it was incredibly crowded and I’ve come to realize that I enjoy the activity of getting to a viewpoint or attraction, a little more than the actual attraction (sometimes?). We only did the ‘lower loop’ in Yellowstone (which is still quite a drive), so it’s partially our fault for not allocating more time, but everything was right off the main road, with tons of people. So yes, it’s beautiful and amazing. But I’d prefer the backcountry. Anyway! We spent the full day in the park, looking at geysers and beautiful springs. We even went swimming in the Firehole River, which was surprisingly warm. There, I finally proved to Jakob that I could actually swim 🙂
The next day was our Snow School with Exum. I’d been wanting to gain more technical knowledge for climbing in snow and rock and this was the best experience possible. We were lucky to have two fantastic instructors with us that day; one that had been with Exum for over 15 years and another, while new to Exum, had incredible experience and knowledge, articulated himself incredibly well and gave us great pointers. He was also from Chile and offered to give us pointers and advice on the area as we get there! They both understood what we wanted to gain from this course and delivered. They taught us technique on how to walk on snow and rock efficiently and safely, how to self arrest in the case of a fall, how to set up snow anchors and how to belay in snow. It was a great experience. The following day we met a different guide at 4:45AM to start climbing Tee-wi-not. Another great experience! The climb included 5,600ft of elevation gain with traditional hiking, snow climbing and rock climbing terrain. This was an incredibly valuable, fun, educational and rewarding climb. We’re definitely really excited to continue with more challenging and mixed terrain as we head south!
While we were climbing for those two days, we left Leika at a kennel (DogJax – Link). The kennel was great – they had 3 large area’s for the dogs to play and run around in. We loved this as the other kennel in town offered to walk the dogs only 2 times a day for 10 minutes – not ok. And it was run through the vet! Anyway, the people at DogJax were great. I had a tough time without her the last night, not that it wasn’t nice to be with Jakob, but I just felt as if I’d abandoned her. Yes, I was a little tired after the climb and missed her. We went to bed early and went to pick her up in the morning. She was adorable when she saw us and couldn’t stop wagging her tail and moaning. The poor girl hadn’t eaten in the two days that we had left her and looked a little thinner. The staff said she had a great time and was playing a bunch with some of the other dogs – so when she got into the van and fell asleep, we understood.
We took her (and ourselves) for a quick walk and headed over to get seats at the local bar for the world cup final… Yay Germany!
We then headed south into Utah.