Out West Vacation 2013: Grand Tetons & Jenny Lake

out westPerhaps the truth depends on a walk around the lake.  ~Wallace Stevens

Wyoming cattle grazing

Driving, driving, and more driving across Wyoming. Wyoming really is kind of the way you’d think: lots of wide open spaces, lots of cattle grazing. Mountains rising in the distance. Next destination: Grand Teton National Park.

Grand Teton National Park

The Grand Tetons truly were amazing, rising up in the distance. I kept thinking, and saying, “Wow. They look like Expedition Everest at Disney,” even as I realized that it was rather idiotic to compare a man-made ride to some of God’s majestic creation.

Grand Tetons National Park

Even the parking lot had a great view!

An early-morning walk is a blessing for the whole day.  ~Henry David Thoreau

So we parked at Jenny Lake, one of the large lakes in the park. My husband suggested we hike around part of the lake, about 2 or 3 miles. It was cool, and beautiful, and this sounded okay.

Pause for a bit of backstory here: the previous night, I wandered out of bed in the dark of night for a nocturnal bathroom visit. I can’t help it; it’s a legacy of having three children. Anyway, in my unfamiliarity with the hotel room layout, I lost my direction in the bathroom doorway and took a tumble INTO THE BATHTUB, UNCEREMONIOUSLY WHACKING MY BACK ON THE SPOUT AND THEN THE SOAP TRAY. Owwww! As I scurried to get myself up and out in the darkness, my first thought was not to wake anyone up. My second was that I sure hoped I was not hurt. I could not afford to be out of commission this early on a vacation! So, I was pretty sore, but headed back to bed.

The next morning, I was still pretty darn sore, especially my side and back. I popped a Motrin and soldiered on.

Grand Tetons National Park

I’ll have to say that it was beautiful, at first. Each break in the trees would reveal a vista prettier than the one before — the clear blue lake mirroring the mountains covered with trees and snow, the beautiful sky.

About this time, my husband announced that we might as well just hike around the entire lake. It was “only” 7 miles. We didn’t have anything else to do.



Grand Tetons National Park
We kept walking. And walking. And walking.

We passed some people. Others passed us. I noticed that there is a definite “look” to the kind of folks who frequent national parks. They’re not your typical WalMart crowd. No, they’re often a little older, and they’re … fit. They wear LLBean-type clothes. They carry walking poles. They wear Indiana Jones hats. They are chipper. They wear backpacks with packets of trail mix and bottles of water.

They are not, actually, like me.

Grand Tetons National ParkThere is nothing like walking to get the feel of a country.  A fine landscape is like a piece of music; it must be taken at the right tempo. 
Even a bicycle goes too fast.  ~Paul Scott Mowrer

We kept walking.

We passed by a group of these happy hikers, taking a break to munch on almonds or something. We kept on hiking.

It is not easy to walk alone in the country without musing upon something.  ~Charles Dickens

Hiking, especially hiking several miles, provides plenty of time for thought. And “think” I did. I realized some things about myself. I realized that I am a person who enjoys nature, but in limited quantities. I don’t think I will ever be that senior who enjoys hiking through Alaska or sleeping in a tent.

I realized that, while I enjoy the beautiful scenery and viewing new places, I really do have a limit for the number of times I want to see a vista of the same lake through tree branches. I think that limit is something around 57. Or possibly 63, on a good day.

I realized that the Motrin was wearing off, and this scared me, because my back and side were really starting to hurt again. I was okay though, right? I mean, I was able to get up out of the tub and I had already walked several miles today. Then again, there were those scary internal injuries that you can’t see. That’s actually how Princess Diana died! She looked okay after her car crash, but the internal injuries killed her. I didn’t even want to think what was going on in my insides, but they weren’t feeling too great.

Grand Tetons National Park

About six miles in, nature played a cruel joke. Just when I thought we’d be starting to see signs of a welcome center, we came across a sign. A detour sign.

This detour took us away from the beautiful lake and tree-covered trail. Now, we were hiking up along the mountains. It was rocky. It was hot. It was dusty. It was long, long, long, and it felt like I was stuck in some never-ending circle of Dante’s Inferno.

Grand Tetons National Park

In the morning a man walks with his whole body; in the evening, only with his legs.  ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

We walked a couple more miles. Still no visitor’s center. Finally, we reached a map. And it looked like — wait for it — we were on THE OPPOSITE SIDE OF THE LAKE FROM WHERE WE PARKED.

At this point, I did something I rarely do. I totally lost it, right out there on the nature trail.


Wow. That was unusual. For me. My husband, annoyed, yelled out my name twice, followed by “Calm down!” My older two girls looked at each other with raised eyes and kept walking. My youngest came up, linked arms with me, and we … kept walking. There was really nothing else to do.

Finally, at some point in the day, we got back to our starting place. It had been a memorable day — that’s for sure.

He who limps is still walking.  ~Stanislaw J. Lec

15 thoughts on “Out West Vacation 2013: Grand Tetons & Jenny Lake

  1. The more I read, the more I hoped I was dreaming and that was NOT reality. That was painful to comprehend. Were you physically OK? Good grief!!

  2. OK, Susan, so what happened next? Are you all right now?

  3. Thanks for the concern — I felt pretty rough for a couple of days, but slowly improved. At the present time, I’m totally recovered 🙂

  4. I wonder if you broke a rib or some other bone. I’m sorry you had to do that hike the day after your fall. You would probably have enjoyed it much more if it had been on another day.

  5. BTW, thanks to Daughter #3 for showing compassion. And, I thank you for the last quote. I’ll have to remember that as I limp along.

  6. I don’t know if I should tell you this or not, but I’m one of those happy hikers. My husband and I love to pack the bags, load up the dogs and head for the woods. Due to time constraints and the health of our 13-year-old Beagle, most of the hikes we do currently are five miles or less, but a couple of years back, it was not at all unusual for us to hike 10-12 miles in an afternoon. We love it! But as others have said, I’m sure you would have enjoyed yourself more if you hadn’t been in pain and unease about your health. I’m sorry for your injury and that you weren’t able to better enjoy the trip. From the looks of it, we would have been in Heaven on Earth!

  7. What beautiful scenery, but so sorry to hear about your bathtub injury and that very, very long hike the next day! E-gads! I cannot even walk one mile, let alone as far as you had to walk. You are one extremely brave woman, that’s for sure. Tell your husband, no more hikes on mountainous trails while on vacations out west!!! I totally agree with you about NOT camping or spending all day outdoors anytime anywhere. It makes my back hurt just to think of what you went through. Your description of the entire episode was perfect; no wonder you are such an excellent writer, dear friend!

  8. I really enjoyed reading this, and I especially love the very appropriate quotes. My dh and trekked to Yellowstone and Grand Tetons back in our before children life. We loved it and look forward to sharing the experience with our kids.

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