Mars on a cable string

Travel 27/09/2012 – Riverton, WY – Route 267, 26 – Jackson, WY and the Grand Teton National Park (2 Days)

Travel 29/09/2012 – Jackson, WY and the Grand Teton National Forest – Yellowstone National Park – ‘Old Faithful’ – West Yellowstone

Travel 30/09/2012 – West Yellowstone – Yellowstone Grand Canyon – Bozeman, Montana (MT)

Travel 01/10/2012 – Bozeman, MT to Missoula, MT

Travel 02/10/2012 – Missoula, MT to Spokane, WT

Did you ever imagine as children or in your autumnal years that the clouds in front of you were Mountains? Can you picture that in your mind?  6 miles before you reach Moran, WY – the fork in the road between Yellowstone National Park (turn right) and the Grand Teton National Park (go straight on).

In the smoke haze of large forest fires north-west in Montana, Grand Teton and its teenage gang (in geological terms) saunter forward with much posturing.

Pookaverse would love to say this was planned. That we knew where to go and what to do. It wasn’t. We don’t.

So was our unexpected delight. Staying in the shadow of this remarkable backdrop and exploring the 6.6 mile trail around Phelps Lake on another blissfully warm and sunny autumnal day.

That walk in particular was special.

Not just for the splash of greens, yellows and reds amongst the conifers. Nor for the Teton range glowering far above us. But also for the sign-in book (just to let those who come looking for you Know where you were last and when) and the signs that greeted us at the entrance to the Laurence S. Rockefeller reserve. “You’re safety cannot be guaranteed”.

From a country where we have killed all our large predators, the National Park Rangers advice, involved much singing and chanting as Pookaverse made its way near around Phelps lake. The one thing you don’t want to do is surprise a Black or Grizzly Bear.

So you have to let them know you are coming. Alison is tone deaf and Rohan cannot manage a high ‘C’ – neither have sung since choir. So it was hoarse, rasping and sorry hooms who finally made it back to the car park. Saw two chipmunks and a pine martin – does that count?

“What the F*ck was that?” How to get yourself tooled up in Bur’ country without spending $49.95 on bear-strength pepper spray.

Bear Defence in the Northern Rockies, Method 6 – ‘The Fruity Riposte’. Brandish weapon like a Royal Engineer at Rorke’s Drift, purse lips and fling forth your foul feculence.

Tired. Both of us Experiencing mental fatigue more than physical fatigue.

Mental fatigue by the number of miles covered in the final week of September – 1268. Coupled with the nightly routine of finding somewhere to stay. It takes its toll. No complaints. Just an observation.

We have gained two hours in this past week. Thinking naively perhaps that ‘slow-lag’ would be negligible. How would you spend an extra hour?

Though the physical fatigue experienced when walking in these parts is augmented by the number of feet above sea level. To give you some examples. Jackson Hole, WY is  6237 ft (1901m) above sea level. We went on the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort Skyway that took us up to Rendevous Mountain above Teton Village at a height of  10,450 ft (3185 m).

Yes. There is a man on the upper cable car assembly travelling 4,000ft to the valley floor. He is not Richard Burton.

We saw our first moose (bull) as we made our way smoothly up the few strands of turned metal past the artificial snow makers that dot the slopes . It was resting on somebodies expansive back lawn. The house boarded up for the fast-approaching winter.

Winter is taken seriously around these parts – for skiers and non-skiers alike – with the first snows due on the exceptionally parched ground by mid-to-late October.

The effect at the top of the peak from which the mildly suicidal launch themselves down Corbet’s Couloir cliffs – not slopes – is the sensation of inhaling broken glass. This experience proves similar for both asthmatics and non-asthmatics amongst our party. Acclimatisation to the thin mountain air as well as to the culture. Our accommodation in the memorable Jackson, WY for example. Warm and comfortable surroundings at the Alpine House with a distinctively frosty reception.

Yellowstone. Hmmmm. For another time perhaps and not for this blog. If you decide to go before we see you next then we recommend that you:

1 – Take a bus tour around the park as tail-gating is a constant nuisance – as it has been for most single carriageways in the US. This will let someone else take care of the driving while you can enjoy the key stops – ‘Old Faithful’, ‘Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone‘ etc.

2 – Don’t try to stay cheaply in West Yellowstone – buy the best room you can afford.

And finally.

3 – Much of the delight to be had in this diverse area may not be at the main tourist attractions.  This time of year the National Park Rangers have started closing off sections of the Park for winter. But still, Pookaverse found all of the major sites busy and bustling with all kinds of fatuous nonsense going on.

So find your own truth in this place. It could be a a ray of sunlight on a tree. A glimmer from Lake Yellowstone. Or a chipmunk defying death at the Grand Canyon of  the Yellowstone. Next time, Pookaverse wants to do a guided hike into the wilderness where possible as this is probably the best way to experience the pure wilderness of this vast place.

World without End. The halfway point of the Phelps Lake trail, Grand Teton National Park, WY

Pookaverse would like to express its genuine admiration for the National Park Rangers (their knowledge, helpfulness and snazzy uniform with the ‘smoky bear hat’ notwithstanding) and the National Parks Service of America as a whole. Conservation and preservation of natural resources may well be one of this countries greatest achievements. The next generation will probably have a more informed perspective.

Route Change Notice: Pookaverse will be travelling North-West through Montana and not South-West through Idaho. This is due to our general energy levels as we want a ‘slow-burn trajectory’ to Seattle passing through Bozeman, MT – Missoula, MT (here tonight (01/10) at the best hotel of the trip so far) – Spokane, Washington (WA). There are also reports of new fires in Idaho as well as a 4.1 quake in California. Just in time for the ‘Big One’.

Then via the Grand Coulee Dam to Seattle – exact route unidentified as yet. Pookaverse is soul-searching at the moment. Did we peak at Devil’s Tower? We’ll let you know what happens…

Time Zone Alert: Pookaverse switches to Pacific Standard Time when passing through Couer d’Alene, ID tomorrow (top of the Idaho ‘panhandle’) . The last time zone change of this leg. We’re only one more hour away. You are still here with us. And we are closer to you than you think.

Both hooms catch a breath of Mars on Rendevous Mountain and ….get together at the same place at a pre-appointed time


3 Responses to “Mars on a cable string”

  1. jose Says:

    the photos are spectacular, loved the one taken from the cable car
    and Rendevous mountain

  2. Richard Winstock Says:

    Hullo Mr K! Thanks for inviting me along to witness this mind-bending trip of debauchery and perversion! I must take issue with your statement “..a country where we have killed all our large predators” as this is plainly not true. I have been allowed to continuously roam almost at will in this fair country of ours with little notice paid to my predatory nature….

    Glad to see you’re enjoying yourself, and keep the dribble coming!

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