You can’t reserve tent sites at Teton National Park and I get that there are legit reasons for this, but who wants to drive eight hours to roll the dice on whether you can get a site?
When you are in the middle of the forest?
For that reason I reserved tent cabins for the first night so at least we would be guaranteed a place to stay.
The tent cabins weren’t bad, although very bare bones. They seemed dark and spartan compared to my tent but they were nicely situated so each cabin looked out at the woods an not other cabins. The bathroom and dishwashing amenities were excellent.
MPT got a camp site in the RV area because there was nowhere else to park her rig but we managed to meet up at our tent cabins for dinner. Had it not been for the cellular service we would have been SOL when it came to hooking up.
The plan was to wake up early the next morning and get in line for camp sites, preferably together. Loony and I went by MPT’s camper around seven and woke them up by rocking it while yelling at them to wake the fuck up (we didn’t say fuck) and come to our camp for breakfast and coffee.
MPT isn’t a morning person. I am. It’s a source of tension.
I come bounding into her house at 10am having been awake and productive FOR FIVE HOURS and she’s just tucking into her first cup of coffee and she’s all, “Shhhh.”
Another fundamental difference is that I don’t give a shit whether my kids want to stay in bed, WE DIDN’T DRIVE EIGHT HOURS TO SLEEP GODDAMMIT! YOU ARE GOING TO GET UP AND HIKE!
fears respects her even more morning averse kids’ desire to sleep in. Between our different circadian rhythms and um, parenting styles, it was a challenge to get on the same schedule.
Loony and I woke up to the morning chorus of birds and popped out of bed. It didn’t hurt that the cots in the tent cabin were uncomfortable as fuck so we really weren’t incentivized to lay around.
We were able to secure two side-by-side spots for us and Alana’s family and set up. Our tent is kind of a hassle to put together but knowing that we would be there for five days made it really worth it to have a big and comfortable home base.
Loony and I woke up around 5AM, made coffee, and went on walks together. The first day we spotted a fox walking parallel to us. She seemed very curious about Scheissehund, either as a curious looking kit or maybe a snack.
Our early mornings took us to Jackson Lodge where we ascended the stairs to the jaw dropping view of the Tetons in the giant picture windows. I think the cheapest room at the lodge is $300 a night so buying coffee and a bear claw was a small price to pay to stroll around the verandah and look at the elk grazing in the meadow.
Lunch Tree Hill is where Rockefeller was inspired to buy the surrounding land that he would eventually bequeath to the National Parks Service … and it was about 200 yards from the lodge.
We took a short hike to Christian Ponds where Loony got to see ducks, including the cutest, tiniest, morsel sized duckings. We heard loons and Sandhill Cranes calling while waterfowl weaved in an out of the reeds. Pictures cannot convey the quiet beauty of this place.
And not to belabor my point, but morning light really is the best light.
I took the boys on a trail ride one day figuring that they would enjoy the scenery from atop a horse. I also wanted to give them a break from hiking given that I was dragging them all over the place.
Itchy had an epic allergic attack which put him in a super foul mood. I thought that a swim in the lake might wash away the dust and pollen and put us all in a better state of mind.
When it comes to stamina, nothing beats a moody tween. He stubbornly clung to his foul mood while I took deep cleansing breaths to keep from chewing him out for being a big baby even though he just got to ride MOTHERFUCKING HORSES FOR CHRISSAKES!
My breath was taken away the moment we walked up to the pebbly swimming beach.
The day positively shimmered. It was around 4:30 and the light was just right, the Tetons loomed over the glistening lake, people were taking in the sun and the water, and it was one of those perfect moments in time.
Yet Itchy was still a grouch. It was only when Ben showed us the tadpoles in the shallows and I literally dragged Itchy over did his attitude finally improve. They spent the rest of the afternoon catching tadpoles. They were so thick that you could easily catch them in your hands.
Leave it to kids to overlook the mountains and the lake and fixate on tadpoles, but isn’t that what childhood is about? The small things?
I remember being obsessed with pond scum on one of my camping trips with my dad in the Uintas. I think the appreciation of views and mountains is something that comes with age. I know the boys will never forget that afternoon with the tads.
The water was bracingly cold when I first jumped in, but after a minute of swimming around I found it to be very comfortable and refreshing. I stayed in for a long time and enjoyed the absolutely clean and clear water.
I took Scheissehund with me everywhere we went in Chicky’s old backpack. He rode silently in it even during hours long hikes.
Dogs are allowed in the campsites and on the main roads but not on any of the trails. MPT brought her dog Rizz and left her in the air conditioned camper but I wanted to take Scheissehund with me, mostly because I didn’t have AC (natch) and I you aren’t supposed to leave dogs unattended at the camp sites.
Dogs aren’t allowed on trails because they poop, pee, chase animals, and run off the trails. With over 5 million visitors to the Teton/Yellowstone area each summer, conservation is key. But I figured I was respecting the intention of the law by not letting his little feet touch the ground.
I’m not sure a ranger would have seen it that way but we never got busted and Scheissehund experienced the Tetons from his shaded, padded, bug screened backpack.
I’ve never met such a pouch hound. Even after jostling around in the pack for four hours, he still wanted to hop back in for the car ride back to the camp site.
I didn’t have much luck seeing wild life other than The World’s Tamest Squirrels at Inspiration Point.
Some kid was having a very messy snack (seriously kid, how hard is it to keep food in your goddamned mouth?) and the squirrels descended on him like a pack of adorable zombies.
We did the Inspiration Point hike despite it being very busy because we wanted to take the ferry and check out Jenny Lake. I’m not sure I would recommend it, though. It’s great for kids and people with limited stamina because it’s very short (just a mile to the top) but it’s packed for that very reason.
The squirrels were the highlight and again – despite the surrounding majesty – it’s what the boys will remember.
Besides the squirrels, the fox, and elk, the most exciting critter I saw was a fellow Chiweenie.
Gus probably weighed four pounds more and had floppy ears, but otherwise he looked just like Scheissehund. He had the turned out Popeye forelegs, the long waist and the shortened legs, the same swirls of fur on his bum and everything.
Stay tuned for the fourth installment. It’s by far the juiciest.