Westward Adventures – Coming to a close

Monday night at the campground was interesting. I knew from checking the weather that there were potentially going to be some storms coming through, but the weather throughout the Tetons and Yellowstone was hit or miss, so I set up my tent and then went about cleaning up and reorganizing all of my gear. Living out of a car / tent / backpack for two weeks can create a bit of chaos when trying to figure out how to make it all fit back into a suitcase and checked bag. I started a fire, made some dinner and went about burning my extra cardboard and gathering all of my garbage from the car, but before too long, it started to rain big drops and as I heard the thunder getting closer, I put out my fire and climbed into my tent. The rain let up around 8:00pm, so I ran out to brush my teeth and then headed back into the tent for the night. It was a downpour for a lot of the night, complete with thunder and lightning. In hindsight, I should have just slept in the back of the SUV, but by the time I thought about that, I was already barricaded in my tent and everything was getting wet, so there was no point in trying to pack it all back up again. Instead, I listened to the sound of the rain and had another early night.

The great news about having the SUV was that I was able to lay out my tent (and anything else that got wet) over the passenger’s seat, back seats and even into the back to let it dry out before I had to pack it back up for the airport. That definitely proved to be very helpful on this trip! Starting out early, along with all of the rain the night before meant another morning full of fog and extra steam as I made my way through the park one last time.

In addition to less traffic, it was another great morning for bison sighting, with herds lined up along the road.

One stop I made was at Fountain Paint Pots in the Lower Geyser Basin. There were huge signs everywhere about how dangerous the area was. 

The fog stuck around for this first stop and made for some great pictures.

Each of the thermal areas had their own names – first up, Celestine Pool. 

Next up, Red Spouter

followed by Leather Pool,

Fountain Paint Pots

and Silex Spring, which you can actually see a little of the blue color from the road,

and finally, there is Bacteria Mat.

My last stop in Yellowstone was the Fairy Falls trailhead. I didn’t go too far, just far enough to check out the handiwork of a local spider,

and the beautiful bridge.

There are also a few thermal features that feed into Firehole River. 

I couldn’t resist one last view of the mountains as I made my way back through Grand Teton National Park. I absolutely fell in love with the Tetons – you really can’t beat the views in that park and I can’t wait until I can go back again!

Since my flight wasn’t until midnight Tuesday night, I took my time wandering through Wyoming (and a little bit of Idaho) before going back to Utah. Having travelled mostly through Idaho on my way to Jackson Hole, I decided to go the other route this time, but I would definitely recommend the Idaho route – you get much better initial views in the mountains, literally an up-and-over-type drive – whereas heading mostly through Wyoming takes you through very remote areas and small towns.

As I was crossing from Idaho back into Utah, I got to drive around Bear Lake and outside of Garden City, the road climbs to a great overview of the lake.

The rest of the trip back into Utah was uneventful and even though my flight was delayed by about 20 minutes, it was a much easier ride out of Salt Lake City than heading in and I quickly fell asleep. I did wake up in time to see the sunrise in the air as I made my way back to Charlotte.

It’s been about 1.5 months since I started on this trip and I’m still trying to wrap my head around everything that I got to experience. When I first started planning this trip, after everyone got over the fact that I was going to be running two half marathons and hiking in between, their first question was always, ‘who are you going with?’ and I never had a good answer for that. I saw the half marathons and immediately signed up – 2 states in a week is too good to pass up! After that, I just started reading about what I could do while I was out there – I never put much thought into the fact that I would be hiking by myself. I read up on the dangers of wildlife (bison and moose and bears, oh my!) and put in several months of hiking as training. This was not my first time backpacking alone (though last time I did have my dogs with me) and I felt confident in my abilities, including how much hiking I would do, how heavy my pack was and the terrain I would be traveling in. I also did a lot of research on food to eat, what equipment I needed and even bought a gps phone to have in case of emergencies. I loved every minute of this trip and I can’t wait to take another one!

Westward Adventures – Old Faithful, Natural Bridge, Grand Canyon of Yellowstone, Artists Point and Uncle Tom’s Trail

After getting to bed early Sunday night (around 9:30), I got up early on Monday morning to make the trek to Old Faithful. My goal was to get there early enough to beat some of the crowd that I had seen on my first drive through Yellowstone. Part of the road from Mammoth to Old Faithful was under construction, so there were some short delays, but nothing too terrible. Since I left so early in the morning, it made the steam and fog rising from the thermal areas much more dramatic than you would see in the middle of the day.

When I got to Old Faithful, the parking lot was already pretty crowded, but I found a spot and then headed to the main attraction. There were already a lot of people sitting in the benches near Old Faithful, so I figured I would stick around there until it erupted and then wander around the rest of the shops after. I only had to wait for about 10-15 minutes before it started to erupt.

This ended up being a fun place for people watching because there were a lot of selfies being taken during the eruption and huge groups trying to coordinate their own pictures. I really couldn’t have timed my arrival any better because I beat a lot of the crowd and didn’t have to wait too long and then I was able to continue on my journey through Yellowstone.

Next up was the natural bridge which is exactly what it sounds like – a bridge made out of stone. Water washed out the rock from below and left a bridge with even a tree growing on top!

From this picture, you can see how small people on the main trail are. I didn’t actually come up that direction, so I made a loop out of the trail and got an even better picture from the bottom of the trail.

From the natural bridge, I headed to the South Rim trail which includes the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone and Artists Point. While it was a little bit more crowded here, the views were absolutely amazing. The pictures that I took don’t even look real!

Part of the South Rim trail leads you to Uncle Tom’s Trail which is very, very steep, but leads to a great waterfall view. I even got to see a few rainbows the day I was there.

There are 328 steps to get to the bottom platform of Uncle Tom’s Trail, which means another 328 steps to climb back up to the top!

From the South Rim, I headed to the North Rim trail which was much more crowded, at least at first. Everyone wanted to parked in the first parking lot which caused a lot of backup, but the second parking lot had a ton of open spots, so it was easy to grab a spot there and check out the views from that side.

After the North Rim trail, I headed back to the Madison campground for the night… only one more day until I head home.

Westward Adventures – Upper & Lower Terraces, Hellroaring Creek & Mt. Washburn

Sunday was a very busy day. Since I was starting out in Jackson Hole, I had a really early start (6:30 am) and was planning to stay in either Tower Falls or Mammoth. I made it up to Tower Falls around 10:30, but it was full (or possibly still full from the night before), so I drove up to Mammoth and secured my campsite for the night. When I checked in, they warned me to be aware of the elk in the area because there were a ton of calves around and the mothers would charge if they felt threatened. They weren’t kidding about all the elk – they were everywhere! They didn’t seem to care that there were cars and people everywhere and just kept eating grass and wandering around. I got an early lunch at the cafe and then walked to the Lower Terraces.

As you approach the terraces, the first thing you see is the Liberty Cap which was created after a hot spring plume stayed open and the mineral deposits just kept building into what you can see today.


I ended up wandering up to the Upper Terraces too, but those steps still hurt to do! The Upper Terraces gave great views out across all of Mammoth.

 The colors in the different springs were amazing – lots of oranges and browns here in comparison to the blues and greens from the Artists Paintpots.

There were a lot of trees and bushes that were taken over by the hot springs and were in varying states of calcification.

The stark contrast of the white mineral deposits made the active hot springs even more prominent across the landscape. 

After the terraces, I headed to Hellroaring Creek. This was a 4 mile out-and-back hike where you actually start out at the top and head down toward the creek. There were warnings all over Yellowstone about bears, but there were extra signs in this parking lot.

After making sure I had my bear spray handy, I started hiking down towards the creek, with great views of the surrounding mountains.

The suspension bridge is only about a mile from the trailhead, so even though it’s over 500′ down (and then back up again), it’s worth the trip.

From the bridge, you can see down to the creek, and at the crossing, it’s swift whitewater rapids.

I ended up walking the whole way to the creek. Theoretically you can cross it to combine this hike with another trail for a much longer hike, but while the current is not as deep or swift, it is still at least several feet deep and there are warnings about safe water crossing. Overall, there wasn’t too much to see at the creek, but there were a lot of birds nesting in that area.

After heading back from the creek, it was up, up, up to get back to the trailhead.

From Hellroaring Creek, I headed to Mount Washburn to attempt my first 10,000′ summit. As part of the Vacation Races series, they have different “clubs” you can join if you do certain things after the race and get a discount on future races. For Yellowstone, one option was the Washburn Club – hiking Mount Washburn within 72 hours of the race and posting a picture with your bib and medal. Challenge accepted!

Throughout Yellowstone, you’ll see hundreds of downed trees and Mount Washburn was no exception.

The good and bad part of this hike is that you can see how much farther you have to go to get to the top. If you squint really hard at the highest peak in the picture below, you can just make out the outline of the observation tower.

The trail is a very wide fire road, which is not accessible to cars, but makes for an easier path to get to the top.

There wasn’t too much snow on the actual road, but as I climbed higher, there were definitely huge snowdrifts.

At the top, you could see almost a full 360 of the mountains and inside the observation tower, there were directional signs to show which mountains you were looking at in the distance.

As I hiked up, I could see some bighorn sheep on the next hillside over and once I was up in the observation deck, I took advantage of the telescope to see them up close.

Despite being a little overexposed, the picture turned out pretty good. I just held my iPhone up to the eyepiece and tried to center it as best I could. Even though I started out in the afternoon, the weather cooperated for me and I got a great view at the top.

There were about 20 or so people at the top of the mountain when I got there, but they quickly dispersed and there was a couple who had also run the race who offered to take my picture at the top, and soon enough, I was the only one left up there. It was pretty cold at the top, so once the sun started to go behind the mountains, I quickly headed back down. As I was coming around a bend, I could see two bighorn sheep near the trail, so I slowly made my way towards them. One of the sheep kept an eye on me and headed into the middle of the trail after I walked down.

This was my first 10,000′ hike and it was definitely tough! The whole hike ended up being a little over 8.5 miles because the fire road was closed down at the base of the hill instead of at the main parking lot, which added an extra 2 miles to the hike. I didn’t get my Garmin started right away, but it was about a 2,000′ elevation gain and loss.

It took me almost 4 hours to do the hike, including a little time spent hanging out at the top. Since I started later in the afternoon, I knew I would be pushing myself to get to the top and chasing the sunset on my way down, but I’m really glad I did it. 

After leaving Mount Washburn, I headed to Roosevelt Lodge for dinner and on my way, I was able to see Rosie and her three cubs – my first bear sighting!

That ended up being my only bear sighting of the trip, so I’m glad I got to see them when (and where) I did.

Westward Adventures – Monument Geyser & Artists Paint Pots

After a quick shower back at my hotel, I headed back into Yellowstone Park. I had reserved a room back at the Hostel in Jackson since I had to return the rental car, so I just wanted to do a few quick stops as I headed back through Yellowstone.

My first stop was Monument Geyser which was a lot harder of a hike than I expected. It was only a 2.4 mile hike total, but half of that was straight uphill and I picked the middle of the day to do the hike, so it was very hot. After the other hikes I did in the park, I think this one can be skipped – there are much better options to see geysers. 

This was also my first real exposure to the sulfur smell of the geysers. You can smell it a little bit as you’re driving through the park, but it’s much stronger as you get close!

This geyser didn’t have much of a “restricted zone” so you could pretty much wander around where you wanted, but it was definitely a good idea to keep an eye on where you stepped.

You can see the steepness of the trail in this picture, as well as some mountains in the background.

My next spot was one I was looking forward to – Artists Paint Pots. There were large boardwalks over the thermal areas, so it was a very easy walk. There were some sections with stairs (very painful after the half!) but it was amazing! 






There were so many different colors, some areas letting out steam or bubbling up – it’s definitely a can’t miss spot on your trip through Yellowstone. It’s only a 1.2 mile lollipop loop and if you can skip the sections with stairs if you want (though you definitely lose the great overarching views from the top). 

Westward adventures – A break into reality and Trapper Lake night #2

Since I unexpectedly stayed at the Colter Bay campground on Wednesday night, I had an easy trek to my first destination of the day – real showers and the laundromat! As I drove the half mile to the laundromat, I saw that there was a lot of fog hanging around the lake, with the mountains peeking out overtop. I knew it wouldn’t last long, so I threw on some shoes and headed out to the same trail I was on a couple days ago.

By the time I actually got to the good mountain views, most of the cloud coverage was gone, but I still walked along the water for awhile and took even more pictures!

After that short side trip, I headed back to take a shower (which was amazing!) and do my laundry. It was nice to have a break and be able to fully charge my phone, catch up on what I had missed over the last 5 days and just generally take a break for a little bit. I finished laundry about lunchtime and headed back to Trapper Lake.

When I got to the Leigh Lake trailhead, I briefly talked to a Ranger who was headed out on the trail. I was still packing up my stuff, but he was sure I would catch up to him at some point on the trail. I did eventually catch up to the Ranger and he offered me a kayak ride if I would help him to get to the north side ranger station. Unfortunately, I didn’t know where that was (especially in relation to where I was going), I’m not a strong swimmer should anything go wrong and it was already starting to get quite warm out, even under the shade of the trees. So, I passed on the offer, but later I found out that the Ranger station was very close to Beartrap Lake, so I would have had about half a mile of hiking to go after that, but I think I still made the right decision based on the information I had at the time.

When I got to camp, the lake looked a lot different with the sun shining over the mountains.

When I first saw the Ranger in the parking lot and told him where I was staying for the night, he told me that the night before there was a bear sighted at Beartrap Lake (the lake about half a mile before my campsite) and to make sure that I kept all of my food in the bear box. So, as soon as I got to camp, I quickly packed all of my extra gear into my very own bear box.

Shortly after I got there, my marmot friends came to visit again.

Since I made it to camp by late afternoon, I set up my tent and decided it was time to take a nap while the sun was so hot. I slept for a little bit and apparently there were a few other folks who took the trail, because at one point I heard someone say, “Look, there’s a tent. I didn’t see that on the way in – it’s well camouflaged.” 

I made another campfire and just spent the night relaxing and watching a beautiful sunset over the mountains.

 Overall, I didn’t end up doing too much on Thursday, but that was intentional since I knew I would be driving up to Yellowstone on Friday and I had a race on Saturday, but it was still a fun day. Sometimes it’s good to build in a little bit of a rest day, especially when you’re on track for an 85-mile week (hiking + a half marathon). 

Westward adventures – Jenny Lake: Hidden Falls & Inspiration Point

After a short delay, I’ve finally started writing about the rest of my trip out west… for the full recap (by day), check out my Westward Adventures page.

Wednesday morning I headed back to the trailhead and got some great views of the mountains that were partially obstructed the afternoon before by the rain showers that came into camp.

After the meadow, I walked back past Leigh Lake, which had great reflections of the mountains in the early morning.

From there, I went back to the Jenny Lake trailhead to start my hikes for the day. First up was Hidden Falls. It was a steep hike and I was (again) glad that I had my hiking poles with me. Even though it was the middle of the week, it was very busy around Jenny Lake, but the hike was definitely worth it.

On my way up to Hidden Falls, I passed a trail that was under construction. Unfortunately for me, it was the trail that goes between Hidden Falls and Inspiration Point. So instead of taking a short hike to my second stop, I backtracked down to the main trail around Jenny Lake and started from the bottom of the Inspiration Point trail.

It was a long and hard hike to the top of Inspiration Point – 7,200′ – but again, very worth it. You could see out across the trees and Jenny Lake and even watch the ferry boat bringing more people across the lake.

After spending some time hanging out on the top of the mountain, I headed back down to the main trail again and instead of going the whole way around Jenny Lake which would have been at least a 15 mile hike (in addition to the 2 miles I had to go to get to my campsite for the night), I just went back the way I came.

As I started my trek around the lake again, I could see the clouds starting to form and could hear some thunder rumbling in the background. At that point, I was glad I made the decision not to go the whole way around the lake so that I could head straight to my campsite for the night.

As I got to the Leigh Lake trailhead it started to rain a little bit, so I quickly re-packed my overnight bag and as I finished, it started to rain a lot harder and the thunder got a lot closer and I started to see some lightning. So, instead of risking hiking through that weather, I hopped back in the car and tried to wait out the storm. The bad part was that the cell reception in the parking lot was really bad, so after about 45 minutes I drove up the road a little bit until I found better reception, took a look at the radar and it looked like there was going to be a break in the storm around 6:00, so I headed back to the trailhead and waited some more. Around 6:15, I decided the weather didn’t look like it was going to get better anytime soon, so I headed back to the Colter Bay campground to stay for the night instead. 

I stopped by the ranger station to let them know I wasn’t staying at Leigh Lake that night and see if there was any way to change my reservation to Leigh Lake for Thursday night. Unfortunately, someone had already booked the last campsite there, so I stuck with my original reservation at Trapper Lake. The bad weather never did hit up at Colter Bay, so I think I made the right decision to head up that way, especially since I was going to end up there Thursday morning anyway.

Westward adventures – Colter Bay, Swan Lake, Herron Pond & Trapper Lake night #1

Tuesday morning I headed to get a backcountry permit for my next 3 nights ($25 per continuous trip) and ended up with a permit for Tuesday and Thursday night at Trapper Lake and Wednesday night at Leigh Lake. Originally I was going to try to stay at Hermitage Point on Tuesday night, but apparently it was closed because of a wolf den. The trail was open to Swan Lake and Heron Pond, so I decided to start my morning at the Colter Bay trail and just make a good 5 mile hike out of it. 

I really think that Colter Bay is an underrated part of the park. The trail is pretty flat and gives amazing views of the mountains over the water.

After the Colter Bay loop, I had a little trouble finding the start of the Swan Lake / Heron Pond loop, but eventually I made it onto the right loop. The trails were mostly single-track and there are a lot of unofficial paths that wander off, so sometimes it’s hard to tell which direction to go. I would definitely recommend taking a map on this hike. 

Both Swan Lake and Heron Pond seem like they’d be good places to view wildlife in the early morning or evening.

You can also get good views of the mountains along with lots of lily pads. 

I also saw another trail friend, though this one didn’t “scurry” off.

After completing the loop, I headed down to the Leigh Lake trailhead which would take me to my campsite at Trapper Lake for the night. I stopped to take a lot of pictures around Leigh Lake and was really excited that I would be able to spend some more time there the next day.

On my way to Trapper Lake, I could hear thunder in the distance and it started to get cloudy, so I kept moving as fast as I could so that I could get to camp before it started raining. Luckily, the weather held off all evening and while it got really windy and sprinkled a little bit, it never turned nasty.

As I was going to get water the first time, I thought I saw a baby bear on its hind legs in the grass, but then it turned and I saw a big fluffy tail, so I knew it wasn’t a bear. Shortly after that, I had a visitor to my campsite – another marmot, this one all black. He spent a lot of time hanging out at the campsite along with a few friends. I think the designated campsite must be pretty close to their home because they just hung out both nights I was there. He would run onto a rock, then flatten out and just look at me and watch what I was doing.

He also made the craziest noise! I don’t know if this was a mating call or a warning to the others that there was a human in the vicinity, but it was interesting, nonetheless.

It was a quiet night for me – the weather made for an early evening with no good sunset views. I was also very aware of how remote I was – the campsite was the only one at that lake with only two other campsites at Beartrap Lake about three-quarters of a mile away, so I was definitely alone in the woods. It was a peaceful night, without even the chirping of the marmots to keep me awake, and the next morning, the only wildlife I saw was a deer who had wandered near camp.

Next up: Jenny Lake loop and more changing plans…

Westward adventures – Death Canyon Hike

Monday morning, I got up, dealt with my wet tent and headed back to Jackson to continue hiking in the Tetons since Pinedale wasn’t going to work out. On my way down on Sunday, I passed through lots of little towns, sometimes with populations less than 100 people. I got to see cows on the road and migrating antelope making their way up towards Jackson.

Since it was still fairly early in the day and there had been so much moisture overnight, there were clouds hanging in the mountains as I made my way back through some of the small towns, including Bondurant (population: 93).

The Death Canyon trail that I had planned to hike (originally a 3-day trip) was still on my list for a day hike, so after stopping in Jackson to pick up some more hand warmers (for future reference, you may need to look behind the gun counter to find these at Kmart), I was on my way to the trailhead. The road to the trailhead was mostly one-lane, very bumpy at times and seemed to go on forever, but eventually I got to the trailhead, right around noon. The first big site was the Phelps Lake Overlook at 7200′. 

From Phelps Lake, the trail became more and more rocky and also more steep…

but you could see so high into the mountains – it was amazing! 

This is definitely the type of trail I was hoping for when I started planning my hikes out west. 

There were also lots of small waterfalls randomly coming out of the mountainsides. 

After hiking for awhile, the trail switchbacks up the mountain beside a huge stream with lots of rushing water.

I did come across some snow on the trail, and it was a lot easier to go across the first time (heading uphill) than heading back later in the day, but the snow was still hard packed and I had my hiking poles, so that made things a lot easier.

Eventually, the trail leveled out and got closer to the water. 

When I made it to the Patrol Cabin, I decided to keep going (mostly because I didn’t remember my map correctly and was thinking I could make it to the Death Canyon Shelf). I hiked for another couple of miles before realizing that I probably wasn’t going to make it to the shelf before I would need to head back to the trailhead. These miles were mostly in the woods and provided some relief from the sun that was beating down on the previously rocky trail. On my way back to the trailhead, I came across a moose who had found some good grass to eat beside the trail a hundred yards or so ahead of me. 

Luckily, I saw him and was able to snap a couple of pictures before he decided he wanted to come a little closer and continue eating grass along the trail. This is when I decided that I wasn’t going to be able to just take the trail around him (he was now standing on the trail), so I crossed the stream on a log and started to make my way down stream to get beyond him. 

As I did this, he found a new spot to eat grass and I had to re-cross the water to get back to the trail. I took off my shoes and the water came up to my knees and was really cold (snow runoff), but it wasn’t too far, maybe 8-10 feet, to get across and then when I got to the other side, I dried off my feet while keeping an eye on the moose who was continuing to eat, but keeping watch on what I was doing as well. After I got my shoes back on, I snapped another few pictures and headed on my way to leave the moose to his foraging. 

On my way back, I got to meet another trail friend – a marmot who I thought was going to come right up to me to greet me. He saw me coming down the trail, stopped and then when I stopped, he came up the rocks beside me and when I didn’t move, he just looked at me for a minute and then scampered off.

The hike back was mostly downhill until I got back to the Phelps Lake campground turnoff, so it was a much easier hike back. I was also able to see the sun start to go behind the mountains, creating fun shadows around the rocks, trees and water.

Going this direction also let me see more of Phelps Lake. 

It was probably around 6:30 or 7:00 when I finished hiking that night and since I didn’t have any other plans, I drove up to the Colter Bay campground to stay for the night. It ended up being a great place to camp because I could drive my car right to the campsite and get everything situated for the rest of the week. 

Next up: Colter Bay, Swan Lake, Heron Pond and my first night at Trapper Lake.

Westward adventures – Pinedale, WY & Green River Lake

Early Sunday morning I headed down to Pinedale, WY with the hopes of hiking to Titcomb Lakes, but in my research, I failed to realize that Pinedale is actually a couple thousand feet higher than Jackson which means that I only made it about a mile or so into the hike before hitting too much snow to continue. 

So, instead, I headed to Green River Lake campground that the guy at the visitor’s center recommended. He wasn’t kidding that it was really remote.

I lost cell phone reception about 3 miles onto the dirt road which went on for 20 miles until I finally reached the actual campground. I had passed so many great camp site options along the river that I decided not to stay in the official campground and instead find a spot along the river to spend the night. I ended up driving back about 11 miles until I found a spot along a bend in the river that looked like a good option and drove my car down beside the river. 

It was a perfect spot with lots of downed wood and a pre-built fire ring, so I was able to build a small fire while watching the sun set over the mountains. There was a short shower, but nothing more than just sprinkles, so I went ahead and made a fire while waiting for the sunset.

Needless to say, I was not disappointed with the sunset that evening – it was amazing! I went to bed pretty early that night (soon to be a theme of my trip) and I was woken up to the sound of something large splashing in the river. Of course, my first thought was a bear (because why wouldn’t a bear go swimming at night?!), but when I turned on my flashlight and shined it out my tent, I couldn’t see anything, but I did hear something fly away. I’m assuming it was probably geese that had some in to stay for the night and I interrupted their settling-in procedures. Luckily, after that, I didn’t have any other strange noises in the middle of the night!

It was surprisingly cold that night, probably due to the lack of anything to block the wind around my tent, so I put on all the layers I had brought and was still a little on the cold side. I knew that I had a hand warmer in my first aid kit in the car, but I really didn’t want to get out of my tent, so I stayed put and managed to get some good sleep.

The next morning when I woke up, my tent was soaked! I hadn’t thought about the fact that there was no tree coverage and I was right next to the water, so my tent had collected a ton of condensation overnight. Luckily, I was able to shake a lot of the water off and then hang it over the seats in my SUV to dry out before I headed to my next stop. I would definitely recommend having a plan for this if you’re going to be camping in the open or (as happened to me later in the trip) you get caught in a lot of rain which will also soak your tent.

Westward adventures – Wandering around Grand Teton National Park

After the half marathon on Saturday, I took a quick shower and decided to wander around the park a little bit to try to figure out my options for hiking later in the week. My first stop was a visitor’s center and after talking with several rangers about the trails I originally wanted to hike, they felt that the snow was still probably too deep / treacherous to go without an ice ax, so I quickly nixed that idea and figured I would do some day hikes instead and just camp closer to civilization.

After the visitor’s center, I stopped by the Taggart Lake trail and decided that would be a good short (4-ish miles) post-race hike. 

After the Phelps Lake overlook, the trail was much less crowded and I found myself alone a lot of the time.

The weather was looking a little dark, with lots of rain clouds in the distance, but luckily, the rain stayed far enough away from me that I was able to just finish the hike before it started. 


Next up was the Jenny Lake scenic loop, followed by dinner at Signal Mountain. It had cooled off quite a bit by then, but I still stayed out on the patio and ate dinner looking at Jackson Lake. 

On my way to dinner, I passed by the road that went up to the top of Signal Mountain, so I did a quick backtrack and headed up to the top for a sunset / rain cloud view of the mountains. It was an amazing view!

Since I was almost to the part where I could make a loop out of my trip, I kept going and came across the Jackson Lake dam which was really neat. 

After the dam, I headed back on the main road toward the Teton Village and stopped at several of the pull-out areas to get even more pictures of the mountains!

Next up, a quick detour from the Jackson area down to Pinedale.