“A journey is like marriage. The certain way to be wrong is to think you control it.” – John Steinbeck
Last year, from Jun to Sept, I had written a grand total of zero blogs. I don’t remember why that happened, may be I do. It may be due to the grand plan and training of the Bridger Ridge Run. Then I had left Bozeman for a 4 state journey in United states covering all four time zones. That was in late August after the Ridge run of course. The trip helped me run along dolphins in sandy beaches in California, Play beach volleyball in Texas and soak in warm waters of Tampa bay.
However, this story is not about that trip, but a short 4 day trip to Grand Teton national park during the 4th of July weekend, getting an extra day off from the toiling summer job, I started driving south, that time also alone. Though sad that, Naren and Ivo couldn’t make it .
I started late from Bozeman because I had to buy a Tarp for the tent and I was leaving four-corners after fueling which took me around 20minutes. Yeah, 20-30mins, Stupid gas stations, my supervisor from the job who was around there though that I am hitting on an elderly blonde, I just winked at him and cruised to West Yellowstone. On the way, I spotted a Grizzly across the Madison river. Thanks to cars parked on the side of road to get a glimpse. As soon as I entered Yellowstone, I got a glimpse of a coyote too crossing the road.
But, even during the longest days of the year, I reached my campground after dark, and I was tired and just wanted to get into my sleeping bag, and I pitched the tent in the most impossible way. It was funny that it stayed overnight.
After the beautiful sleep I got, it was hike time, over the course of next three days, I hiked around 35+ miles on beautiful canyons in the Grand Teton national park. The hikes weren’t properly planned and I was spent on the first two days. The second day I was on top of Rendezvous mountain with the help of Gondola which operates from Teton village as part of Jackson hole ski resort.
My plan was to hike back into the national park through the rear side and get to the trailhead of granite canyon. But as soon as I ventured into the trail behind Rendezvous, there was this long expanse of wet snow. And I could see lot of footprints on all direction and some blood on the snow from some game hunting. Before I knew, I was off trail, no gps, no topographic maps, no compass, no human being. Just pine trees, Boulders, my fear, my gut and god knows what all animals. Thankfully it was still late morning. I ventured in some sense of direction and I reached a Boulder field. Honestly, I was shit scared, but I could here a creek and I was sure that the trail runs along the creek. I moved downhill in through the boulder field.
I went on going downhill and cleared the boulder field and reached thick dense pine forest, I saw a small ravine and continued along that, I am still not sure about the credibility of the decision, animals especially bear tend to be close to ravines for water, but this ravine is going to lead me to the creek and finally the creek. I ventured along the ravine 10feet away from it, with bruises from pine leaves and branches and marching plainly on adrenaline. I was closest to nature, forces and myself.
As I progressed, I was welcomed by claws and footprints of all kind, I had no clue of what it was, my fear told me that it is of a bear, my optimism told me that was from last week.
Alright, when you encounter a wild animal, a moose or elk or bison, Run, and look for trees to cover. It will only charge if there is a baby around. If it is a mountain lion, black bear, shoo it away, fight if necessary, try to appear big and slowly move farther. If it is a Griz, god help you, try to stay calm, try to appear harmless, small and do not make eye contact. If it charges you, hold ground, You cannot outrun, outclimb, outswim a Griz. Most charges are fake. If in the end it attacks you, go into fetus position and cover your neck with hand and with backpack protecting your back.
I knew all this, but still I was shit scared, BTW I was charged by a cow moose the previous day on a well traveled trail. Finally following along the ravine, I reached the creek and it was running in full glory. Think ‘Into the wild’ and Chris trying to get out of wilderness over a full strong creek. It wasn’t that bad, but still I am no Alexander Supertramp either. I finally saw a hiker on the other side, and I couldn’t hear shit, Thanks to the whistle I had and years of shouting in my Mech life, he heard me an suggested to go downstream for a slower current and cross the creek.
It wasn’t easy going downstream, as it was full of rocks, sloppy mud, fallen pine trees and tons of shrubs. But I finally crossed the ice cold creek and with wet feet and climbed a small hill to get to the trail. Boy, the trail welcomed me with claws and a National parks volunteer greeted me and life came back to me. She told about a bear and 3 cubs. thank you madam, that helps. But anyways, I was on the trail, very few people were there on it, I was wasted when I reached the trailhead. My car was in the Teton village, a still 2 mile walk along road, I was in no shape to do it, I hitchhiked there, thanks to a nice small family from Colorado.
I reached Teton village in four limbs and got myself a change of socks and I got myself a Beer and ate like a pig. I was reminiscing all that conjured and counting the number of bruises I had encountered. All I did was nothing heroic or courageous, but breaking simple rule of staying on trail. I have no one to blame but myself. The only positive was I saw wilderness like no one before, And I might have touched certain parts of Earth were no one had gone before. Nothing to brag about though. .
The Teton trip gave me fantastic views, beauty all around and some good food and some nice solitude. And a fresh idea about my capabilities and most importantly my limitations.