Friday, September 24, 2010

2010-34 Grand Teton NP, Wyoming


Grand Teton
Jackson Wyoming

rugged scenery before heading to Teton

Campground:  Gros Ventre, Grand Teton NP.  $20 dry camping.  Basic bathrooms, water and dump station up front.  Lots of wildlife in the area and they often come through the campground including buffalo and moose.  Three over the air Tv stations available.

Campground:  Walmart, Evanston Wy.  $0.  The store is tucked away behind all these other big buildings.  The parking lot stretches out.  Filled with cars close to Walmart, semi trucks in the outer lot and by evening a helter-skelter array of campers.  Very noisy from highway traffic, trains and semi’s coming and going.

Campground:  Walmart, Price Utah.  $0. Ok, I’m getting hooked on free parking.  Only two campers at this point in the parking lot.  

After a couple of days of enjoying the hot mineral pools of Thermopolis, I still love the name, it was time to head on over to the Grand Teton NP.  Just south of Thermopolis is the Wind River Canyon.  One of the most spectacular deep canyons I’ve ever traveled through.  Lots of pullouts to ohh and ahh over as I descended into the canyon and through three tunnels.  The Wind river flowing over rocks, crashing and churning as it wound it’s way through the canyon.  Opposite were the train tracks and multiple tunnels for it that looked more like mining entrances than tunnels for a train.

High country, before going over a pass into Grand Teton

I had to climb Togwotee Pass on my way into the Grand Teton valley with an elevation of 9,658 feet.  Sure glad I had the truck serviced before this part of the journey.  Awesome views as the cottonwood, some aspen and others are all turning a golden yellow.  Even the low scrub along the valley floors and creeks have turned a golden yellow creating a mosaic pattern on the landscape .  Then of course, there had to be road construction.  At 9,000 feet they had completely torn up 5 miles of roadway and were feverishly rebuilding the roadway.  That of course translates to 5 miles of mud, dirt and rockie roadway following a lead car through the construction zone, past huge earth movers, graders and trucks hauling dirt.

Grand Teton approx. 60 miles away

Finally making it over the pass, views of the Grand Tetons come into view.  Pulling off to enjoy the view in a chilly 50 degrees was well worth the stop.  And of course taking a ton of pictures hoping to catch the grandeur of the scenery.  

Having arrived at Gros Ventre, I sent up camp on an open plain surrounded by sagebrush and cottonwoods  all golden yellow off in the distance.  As I had asked for a sunny location so my solar panels would work their best.  My first night in camp, the temperature plunged quickly after dark.  My gas furnace ran constantly throughout the night and when I woke the next morning, it was a bone chilling 25 degrees.  

I quickly got dressed and headed out shortly thereafter for my meeting with the manager of the campgrounds in Grand Teton NP.  Along the 30 plus miles to the other end of the park, I saw a wolf out in on the range, a huge herd of buffalo crossing through the campground and three big eared mule deer.  

It’s a contractor who performs the work for the national park and I was to check out the requirements for the camp host job.  I had been told they expected one to work 40 to 48 hours a week.  The manager verified that was correct and we discussed some of the duties.  This is a full paying position and a campsite is also provided, though I believe one has to pay a small amount for the monthly campsite.

Now I can’t remember working that many hours since I was about 20 years old and that only lasted one year.  I had worked as an assistant manager of a 7-11 and the work was non stop.  It nearly killed me.  This job, the work would be less intense perhaps, but still working a possible 48 hours a week is a bit much.  After all, I am retired.  

Though I absolutely love the area, I believe I will decline the job.  It would also involve working for 5 months and that is way too long of a commitment for a work camp job.  Since I will hit the magic “62” this coming July, (I’m really about 45 in spirit anyway) I will be able to come back to the area and stay in the NP campgrounds for half price.  Yes, that would be $10 a night.  Usually with a limit of 14 days at each campsite, I could easily enjoy a month in the Tetons, and perhaps another month in Yellowstone, just a stones throw from Grand Teton.  There are benefits to getting older.

In the mean time, I’m enjoying the most wonderful fall days here in Jackson Hole Wy.  Although the nights are cold the days warm up to 70 and with those rich blue skies and sunny days who could ask for more.  I love the cottonwood and aspen in their royal gold fall colors.  I believe I timed it perfectly.  I had never seen aspen change color and they are just stunning, as I knew they would be.

And of course I’ve already committed to doing a bit of camp host work for Dead Horse Ranch St Pk in Az in Oct and possibly Nov.  Now there’s a good camp host job.  4 hour work days for which I get a campsite free.  And  of course I get to meet up again with some great people who work and live in the area.  So from here I’ll be boogying across the rest of Wyoming, Utah and into Arizona in short order.  

Along the way, I’ve been reading a Louis L’Amour book, The Lonesome Gods.  Quite an epic tale of a family heading out west and into California.  

I spent my last day in Jackson, it is not Jackson Hole as many people think.  Only the surrounding area is called Jackson Hole.  The town is on the edge of two ski areas and contains almost 30 art galleries.  Along with some pretty upscale jewelry stores and shops with everything from western wear, western inspired rugs to the numerous T-shirt shops.  Tons of good restaurants to try out like the Cadillac Ranch. With a nice square park setting in the center of town.  I talked to one gallery owner and suggested his busiest time of year must be in the winter with all the skiers in town.  He informed me that the busiest time of year is the short summer months of  late June, July and August.  Said most skiers were of the professional type since both ski areas were on some pretty vertical mountains.  Meaning you have to be a pretty good skier to come here.  So the skiers stay on the hills all day and rarely come into town except to dine.  In the winter thousands of Elk migrate to a preserve right on the edge of town and one can take sleigh rides through the herds of elk.  Can you imagine being surrounded by picturesque snow covered mountains on a sleigh ride.

I’ll be heading through Utah on my way into Arizona and from what I’ve seen so far, the state has some pretty awesome mountain ranges and valleys in-between.  All the fall colors are out, maybe not as spectacular as back east, but still a joy to see the reds and bright yellows of fall.  Heading through one large canyon outside of Provo Utah, a doze huge wind generators were at the mouth of the large canyon.  Constantly taking advantage of the breeze being funneled through.  Many of those valleys are heavily irrigated and the farm lands are rich and bountiful.  

My next report will be from Price Utah, Moab and beyond.  Keep the adventure alive within you and explore something new each day. 

more photo's posted on Picasa.  

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