Cor, Nice Tetons (USA Day 69)
The three-thousand foot climb of Togwotee Pass coming out of Dubois was thirty miles long, but only thirty percent intense. It took time, yes, but so does eating chicken wings and you don’t see anyone complaining about that. We sat in a low gear, our little speaker playing out some bear-alerting tunes, and got busy. As we climbed through the pine forests, enormous rocky outcrops poked up obnoxiously above the treeline, so very out of place, often castle-like and sheer. Each one seemed insurmountably high, yet ten minutes later there we were, pootling past, making our way up a hill, the top of which we couldn’t really see.
The peak arrived before the top of the hill (explain that one, science), so we stopped, ate everyone’s favourite snack of carrots drizzled with barbecue sauce, then carried on climbing to the real top, where the descent began. Seventeen miles of gliding, interrupted by the occasional rude uphill just to keep us on our toes. At a certain point, I looked up to see the most mind-blowing horizon upon which I’ve ever set eyes. The Tetons, Spanish for breasts, are the spikiest, snowiest, most inhospitable ones you can imagine. They tower imposingly over the landscape, inducing upon me such an incomparable feeling of terror and awe that I’m almost embarrassed to admit it. I let out a kind of “Wuurgh!” noise, followed by a few variations on that theme, then struggled to keep my bike upright for the next half hour. I can’t speak for Amy, but I’m pretty sure that was her reaction too.
Our pal Bernard had told us that you could gain entrance to Grand Teton National Park for free on a bike, simply by using the bike path that runs alongside the entrance gate and not looking suspicious. Sad to report here that this may be true of the southern Moose entrance (not an entrance for Meese, you fool. They come in by helicopter) but it certainly isn’t true at Moran Junction. We skiffled around the side roads, trying to find a bike path, before blundering accidentally into the view of a park ranger inside their entrance hut, and accidentally buying an annual pass, which will accidentally give us entry into all national parks for free, from now until next August. Our plan currently involves visiting three and not being here come August, but that’ll save us a little money.
Our destination was Jenny Lake campground, a good fourteen miles off the TAT but so worth it. Those hills that had appeared on the horizon all those miles ago were now standing right there, on the other side of Jenny, a lake. We pitched our tent in disbelief. This campsite fills up at 9am every morning: it’s the most popular in the park. But they reserve a little space for hikers and bikers, as do most campgrounds in this area, and these never fill up. Our pitch just happens to be closest to the lake with unimpeded views of the glaciers and barren rock faces and pine trees that somehow hang on to their nigh-on vertical slopes. We’re pretty sure we have not only the best pitch in the campground, but the entire national park. What an absolute dream.