Saturday, September 22, 2012

Grand Teton: Owen Spalding

 The speed record for Grand Teton was set only a few weeks ago. It went car to car in under 3 hours. As I stared into the darkness ahead with my fading headlamp lighting the way, I couldn't believe we were 18 hours into our day. Needless to say, my plan to be off of the mountain by 2:00p.m. and going for an afternoon swim hadn't worked out.

As we left home the evening before, we had no idea what a memorable day we were in for. We all packed into my truck and started our way toward Jackson. The whole trip came together when my friend Josh Snow had said that he really wanted to climb the Grand. As the sun set and we continued north we talked and laughed. A trip like this is only as good as the quality of people that you get to experience it with. We had a good group.

"DEER!" Parker yelled as I slammed on my brakes. I had been looking at a sign and hadn't noticed the small antelope darting across the road. We barely missed him thanks to Parker. We pulled into the parking lot at the trail head and bedded down for a few hours. We all slept lightly thanks to some not so distant elk that sang to us throughout the night. We awoke at 4:30 a.m. and started on our way around 5.

The accent went well. It was what you would expect, a whole lot of walking. We were met with a brilliant sunrise in the meadows. We continued onward and upward but it wasn't long before Parker started to lag behind. He wasn't feeling well and it was easy to see. He looked exhausted. We looked around and could tell the weather was with us and decided to keep together and still push for the summit.

Our slow pace allowed us a unique opportunity to enjoy the mountain. We sat and talked. We told jokes and laughed. Eventually we made the summit and it was something that was worth the wait. Everybody in the group had their strengths and that was what made the long day worth it. Parker is like "rainman" with route info, no matter how miserable things get Eric can make anyone laugh, and Josh was a constant driving force.

The summit was an interesting place to share with another group. Two girls showed up just behind us and one of them wanted a nude photo on top of the Grand. Parker, being the professional photographer in the group, obliged. We ended up working with the girls on the decent because the non-nude partner was not in very good shape.

After we got back down off of the main peak we felt we were practically there... but it wasn't long before my knee seized up. Before I knew it, I was hobbling like I was 100 years old. Our slow pace slowed even more. It wasn't until I got some ibuprofen in my system that they loosened up enough for me to make steady pace for the rest of the way out. It was the day that didn't seem like it would end, but it ended just as any journey does. My mind has already begun to dull the misery and I can't wait to go back. 



We had one of the best mornings I have had in a long time. We went into Jackson and had a great breakfast.

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