Winging It

Hey Everyone! Most of you have seen pics from our trip to Yellowstone and the Tetons last week, but I thought I’d give you a quick rundown of our time there last week. Erich swapped days with a coworker and it was the first time we were able to go on a trip for more than 2 or 3 nights! We had six days and nights to play with. Sometimes we plan trips, make reservations, and kind of map it all out. Sometimes we wing it. This time, we decided to wing it. Thursday we headed to the Tetons and set up camp near Jackson Lake. There was a lot of wildfire smoke in the air so everything was pretty hazy. You could see the outline of the mountains and tell that they were incredible, but it wasn’t the view we were hoping for. The next day was the same so we headed to Jackson Hole to check it out and grab a few supplies. On the way home we saw a mama and baby moose running across a field, the kids were pretty excited. We did a simple hike to Leigh Lake as the sun was setting but it was obvious the smoke was going to affect our week. The forecast called for rain on Monday, which we hoped would knock some of the smoke out of the sky, so we decided to head to Yellowstone for a couple days. We headed up on Saturday morning and spotted some elk, drove through a herd of bison (much to Cooper’s surprise), and did a short and very steep hike to see Lower Falls. That night we ended up camping at a primitive campsite up on a hill above a river  where we celebrated Micah’s 2nd birthday.  The next morning we headed to the Northeast region of Yellowstone: bear and wolf territory. Halfway through the valley, the transmission on the truck appeared to be overheating. We pulled over to let it cool off but based on the gauge, we were in trouble. We had a nearly 9,000 foot pass to go over to get out of the park, or a long drive back down to the other East entrance. We contemplated our choices, knowing it wasn’t the safest place to break down. Thankfully Erich was an ASE certified mechanic in a previous life, and started to have a hunch that it might be an electrical issue with the gauge and not actually a transmission problem. He was just guessing (I could tell he wasn’t certain the transmission wouldn’t blow), but we proceeded over the pass and out of the park. Thankfully, our master mechanic was right and the transmission did not blow. We wanted to camp in the Shoshone National Forest just outside the lower East entrance and then head back to the Tetons on Monday, hoping the rain would have cleared the skies. We headed South and crossed over one of the most amazing river canyons we’ve ever seen, Clark’s Fork Canyon. It was incredible! Then we drove over Dead Indian Pass, also pretty impressive, and found an awesome campsite just outside of Cody. The forecast was correct and it rained that night. What we didn’t anticipate, was that at eight and nine thousand feet, that rain was going to be the first snow of the season! How exciting! After a slight delay waiting for an avalanche to be cleared, we got to drive though a snow capped Yellowstone, back to the Tetons, and set up camp at Lizard Creek on Jackson Lake. It was beautiful, but still raining. We had high hopes for the next day and, thankfully, we were not disappointed! Tuesday we woke up to wispy clouds and beautiful blue skies. It was our 14th anniversary that day and we were finally going to get to see the Tetons. And with snow! The clouds blocked the top half of the mountains for the first half of the day, but we only had that day so we tackled our bucket list, starting with Schwabacher’s Landing. It was simply breathtaking. We hiked down a small path that led to a view of the Tetons from the Snake River. It was awesome. On the way back we lost track of the little foot path and wound up in a clearing with a LOT of fresh bear scat. Erich was carrying bear spray, so we weren’t too worried, but we knew we needed to stay close and find our way back. I think the kids may have experienced a little adrenaline rush, and needless to say, that was definitely the most exciting hike we went on this trip. We also stopped at Oxbow Bend, enjoyed the sunset at Jenny Lake and then drove up Signal Mountain for one last view. The Tetons are extraordinary and even the kids were in awe, filling the truck with “Oohs” and “Aaahs.” We packed up our little trailer and headed home. Our new little 17 foot bunkhouse was such a blessing. The nights were cold and we switched campsites 5 times, but it was so smooth and easy! I’m not sure I would have done that with a tent and 4 kids. Life lessons this week: smoke stinks, stay on the path, and, once in awhile, winging it pays off. So, whether you are a planner or a wanderer, go out and explore a little more. 😉

Pictures below for my friends not on Facebook…


Asia faithfully sending out her postcards.
Leigh Lake
Lower Falls
The canyon at Lower Falls.
Micah’s birthday.




Micah on his birthday balance bike.
The amazing canyon near Dead Indian Pass.
The canyon at Buffalo Bill Dam in the Shoshone Forest.


Our first glimpse of the Tetons after the first snow/rainfall.
River Matea =)
Micah bear
Schwabacher’s Landing


The view from Snake River on our “exciting” hike.


Jenny lake just before sunset


Our littelest daredevil.


Sending off her “boat.”
Jake and Asia and their boat.
Signal Mountain
Oxbow Bend


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