Monday, September 28, 2009

The long road home.

by Ben

Genny and I are now finally in Connecticut to enjoy the presence of family and friends, but it was a long time getting here. While the trip really only took 1 week and 2 days to get home, it sure felt like 9 weeks and 5 days (see the first quote on this page). The reason is that this summer has been exceptionally busy for both of us. Genny had quite a bit extra to do at the office. And for me, the photography business has been picking up nicely in the last few months. While being a good thing, this has left me quite occupied with things like figuring out how the heck to run a photography business. We've been planning this trip home for months, and it began to seem as if the longest leg of the road home was just making it through the summer. After that, we were only 9 days away.

As if the glittering prize of going home wasn't enough to make the wait seem long, we decided to take a side trip to Grand Teton National Park and planned to climb the Grand Teton itself. Now, the accomplished students of Geography out there will know that Northwest Wyoming is not remotely close to on the way to Connecticut from Colorado. In fact, it's 12 hours out of the way. When I was younger, the threat of driving even 3 hours was enough to make me tell who took the cookies from the cookie jar. But ever since picking up a camera, moving west, marrying a sporty gal like Genny and becoming an adventure photographer, I've logged over 250 hours of road trip time. So what difference does it make to tack 12 extra hours onto a 32 hour trip?

Our original plan was to climb the Grand via the Owen-Spalding Route. We didn't have much time, so we left Thursday night and drove through the night. Arriving in Jackson, WY around 5am, and knowing we had to be at the Ranger station at 8am, we ended up napping in sleeping bags on the side of a road. We were delighted when we woke up to the sunrise illuminating a beautiful view of the Teton range. We were also a bit surprised to see that we were in the close proximity of quite a few photographers. They weren't taking our pictures, at least, not while we were awake. But you see, there's this barn, and everyone loves to take pictures of it, and we were apparently only a few hundred feet away from it. The edge of the road was now like the sideline of a Superbowl. Nothing turns me off more than a gaggle of photographers, all with their cameras and tripods, lined up right next to each other, all taking the same shot. It reminds me of the the beginning of Say Anything, when every dad has out his camcorder at the graduation. Count me out.

So we headed off to the Ranger Station to get our permit. Come again? The Owen-Spalding route is covered in ice and is out for the season? Well, that changes things. This is one of those times where you begin the understand the merits of coming up with a Plan B before you need it. We looked into some other routes and weighed our options, but all the other options on the Grand are longer and/or harder, and by the time we we narrowed down the options, we came to the conclusion that there wasn't actually enough time to do any of them. Nuts. On to Plan C.

So we spent the day planning, walked around town, ate some good food and got a few items, like a map. We decided to have a go at the Middle Teton, which has a nice 3rd class route up the backside of the mountain. Unfortunately, with the loss of the primary objective comes the requisite loss of motivation. So maybe we got a bit of a late start. But I did manage to make the nice shot of Mt. Teewinot and Jenny Lake you see at the top of this post, so I guess it was the right time to get up.

The hike was lots of fun, even though the weather came in and kept us from summitting (or was it the late start?). Lots of elevation gain, lots of rocky terrain, and tons of mind-blowing scenery. I've had a great deal of failure this season in the mountains and with climbing, so Ive adapted a new philosophy that everything is just training for something else. That way when you fail, you can still say, "Hey, it was great training." Well, the way my legs were burning for the few days following, it must have been some excellent training. Or maybe that was because after hiking, we jumped in our truck for 4 consecutive 10 hour days of driving. Yeah, that's what it was.

No comments: