It has been a crazy last two weeks. First, I headed off to the Tetons in Wyoming for a mountaineering expedition with a group of fine young men from the Blue Ridge School. Accompanying me was Tony Brown to share the guiding honors. We knew the late wintry weather out there would prevent us from a summit, so we adjusted our bearings to give the boys an introduction to mountaineering. They got that and more. We arrived to a cool and snowy mountain range in Jackson Hole. We went through the elk antler entrance at the quaint airport and began our journey. First, we had to get our food and cooking materials and once that was done we headed to the Tetons. We embarked on a trek with 3000 ft. of elevation gain and 50+ lb. packs. Once we arrived at around 8500 ft. the snow presented itself. We set up camp at a late hour in the snow clad basin known as the Meadows in Garnet Canyon. Putting up the tents on a snow ledge that would be boulders come warmer weather, we ate quick and slept. The boys were weary from the altitude and a good night’s sleep was in order. The next day we introduced the boys to the proper use of ice axes and crampons. This culminated in self arrest and glissading drills. We moved camp down several hundred feet back to 9000 ft. at the Platforms. We were able to set up some nice camp sites in the snow. The next day we decided to do a rappel on this 100 ft. cliff providing the backdrop for our camp. This required a traverse across a snowy field of some insanely and sketchy incline . I took Henry with me to go set up the rappel. With ice axes and crampons we prodded our way up to the top of the cliff with more than a few gasps and gut wrenching moments. Once atop the rappel site, it was quickly recognized by me that we might be the first to attempt this feat. Once I got the rappel anchored and set, I gave Tony the signal to bring the team up. After making their way across the incline traverse, we began sending the boys over the cliff on rope. Let me mention that when we started this it was sunny and beautiful. Snow capped peaks and bowl of snow below to gander upon. Bam, halfway through the process of getting the boys down off the cliff, a storm moved in and started throwing everything at us from hail, sleet, rain, snow and high winds. All of this in a whiteout like condition created a fever to pick up the pace, yet safely. Tony was manning belay below and I was managing the site on top. We worked like a well oiled machine. Eventually, getting everyone including myself off the cliff on rope as we planned. The boys will not soon forget that and what the mountains can throw at you. Once down we ran, skidded and fell into the tents, while leaving the ropes blowing in the wind. Once the storm moved through, we retrieved the ropes and bedded down for a bit. After 3 days and 2 nights up high, we decided to go down to a low camp where the temps were warmer and get dried out. Over the next few days we camped and continued cooking our food. The boys really enjoyed this process as we had a great selection. The hummus with extra heapings of garlic and refried beans made a delicious wrap and was my favorite. On our next to the last day in the Tetons we trekked around Jenny Lake and that was a beautiful hike. Covering close to 10 miles, the boys were ready for a break. While we were hiking around Jenny Lake we came across Hidden Falls where a nice rock face presented itself. I told Tony we should come back here tomorrow and run the boys up it.
This is a big tourist site at Hidden Falls, so I thought what a cool place to do some rock climbing, while hearing the rush and pounding of a huge waterfall going off close by. Upon waking the next morning and our last day, we gathered our ropes and climbing gear and set off for Jenny Lake. We jumped in the shuttle boat across Jenny Lake to save time and hopefully avoid potential weather problems that can occur at any moment in the big mountains. We arrived at the climbing site and I set off leading the climb. After climbing 100 ft. straight up, I set up the belay station and began taking climbers.
The boys rocked it out and as they arrived, I sent them right back down on rappel. After spending a week with these guys, we became a smooth operating machine and this was apparent during the climb. Way down below the tourists who had come to see the waterfall were now gandering at us and snapping photos. At the top of the climb you could see out over the beauty of Jenny Lake. All down and safe we headed into Jackson Hole for a shower, food and some touristy musing. We set up camp for the night and got up early in order to catch the plane home. This was a great experience and I was glad to be a part of it. I can’t say enough about each of the boys and their positive attitudes. The conditions got bad several times and we pushed them into discomfort at times. They handled it with zeal and swagger and are better for it, I have no doubt. The Tetons rock and if you haven’t been there then you need to start booking a ticket right now. Also, we saw tons of wildlife that is common to the area such as: moose, elk, antelope, bear and MARMOTS. The marmots became our trip mascot, which is only fitting since Marmot provided the tents for our expedition.
Since returning from the Tetons, I have done a few XC Mountain Bike Races. I don’t normally do these as I’m an endurance mountain bike guy, but the sprinting is good for fitness and it is always good to work on speed. Racing in the open division loaded with pro/cat1/expert racers, I was pushed and I loved it. Finishing respectfully among these fast riders was a nice reward as well. This weekend we have the 12 hours of Cranky Monkey Mountain Bike Race at Quantico. I’m doing this with my buddy, Chris, as a duo team. We are planning to do well and push it. Trevor will accompany us in support. It is hot and humid here, which will surely be another obstacle to deal with this weekend at the race. Stay hydrated and keep pushing forward.
I almost forgot, we found BigFoot!