Hiking in the Tetons - My Family Travels

I have always loved the incredible diversity of colors found only in the mountains, but I have always found certain mountain ranges to be prettier than others.  By far my favorite mountain range is the Tetons in northwestern Wyoming.  Grand, majestic, pulsating with color, I always jump at the chance to take the four-hour car ride from Salt Lake to go visit them.  Every time I go, I discover a new favorite canyon.  This year’s favorite is called Death Canyon.  Which would make sense, because that is how I felt by the time I reached the top.

The trip started out well enough; we spent the first two days running Lower Canyon on the Snake River, just an hour outside of Jackson.  While it is possible to go with a commercial company, such as the Teton High Adventure Base or Lewis and Clark Expeditions, my family never does that, as my dad is an experienced river-runner. Running rapids with my family while being surrounded by beautiful scenery and a wide variety of wildlife was truly an exhilarating experience.

The third day of the trip, we went on a 13-mile hike on mainly level ground.  It was pretty enough, but not the sort of striking beauty I expect from the Tetons.  All that hike did for me was to wear me out and give me blisters.  But the next day’s hike was truly gorgeous.  That was the day we hiked Death Canyon.

            To get to the canyon, we first had to hike around a lake.  My sister and I joked about the possible reasons for the name of the canyon, and decided it was imperative that we get pictures of us in various corpse-like poses.  As we reached the bottom of the canyon, the reason for the name became no clearer to us.  With an imposing view of slate-colored cliffs and many different-hued flowers, not to mention the waterfall to our left and the view of the lake behind us, it seemed to me that the canyon was vibrant with life. 

By the time we had hiked five miles up the canyon, I was out of energy.  My family decided to go on ahead for fifteen minutes or so while I stayed behind to rest.  Eventually I got bored of waiting and continued on.  I had to take it slow, but I was just fine with that.  Besides, keeping moving was the only way to stay warm in the frigid mountain air.  I finally caught up with my family, and we started back to the car.

            On the way back down, my mom taught me the names of all the different kinds of flowers.  Columbine, monkshood, paintbrush, thimble-berry – what she didn’t know we photographed to look up later.  I was amazed at how many different kinds of flowers there were – and how many of them my mom knew the names of. 

Being in the out-of-doors always renews my spiritual side.  This trip was no exception.  The daunting mountains made me feel small and insignificant, but somehow, it didn’t seem to bother me; instead, it elevated my soul, made me ecstatic and happy to be alive.  Even though the trip completely wore me out, being able to see the wild, soaring beauty of the Tetons made it worth it.


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