We left Yellowstone longing for a sense of freedom. What we saw next did not disappoint. As we rolled into Grand Teton National Park, a perfect range of snow-covered peaks piercing the crystal blue sky appeared before us. Someone said describing them: “This is what real mountains should look like”.
A large green open space lay between the mountains and us; occasional old ranches would appear as we drove by, wild bison grazing on fresh grass, antelope and domestic horses coexisting in the same environment. The dry air of the breeze brought in freshness through a rolled down car window.
In the northern part of the park something amazing attracted park visitors’ attention. A grizzly mama bear was bringing up her 4 babies in the area. Indeed, a rare occurrence. Dozens of cars were parked on both sides of the road, people with all types of cameras fighting for the best spot to take a picture from the distance of the road. We slowly drove by the crowd without stopping.
We had an important issue at hand – where do we set up camp for the night? Having consulted our best friend – the US Public Lands App, we found what looked like a perfect spot. Not too far away, within an hour drive there was a good amount of official dispersed camping spots. We crossed Snake river, drove through Antelope flats and finally here we were, at the foot of Shadow mountain.
Those camping spots looked absolutely amazing, the problem was that they were all taken. Faced with no alternative, we set poor Ёжmobile up for a trial: we decided to drive up Shadow Mountain in hope of finding a free spot up closer to the top.
What came next was a purgatory. Huge boulders sticking out from the gravel, steep curves pointing upwards, 4x4 trucks with high clearance sneaking by, hunting for the same thing we were looking for.
Finally, we stopped pretty high up just to look around. The view was absolutely incredible: sharp mountain peaks looked past the clouds, their wide bodies crowded next to each as if lined up for something, be it obligation or a spectacle. A vast plain separated us and all around there was forest, forest, forest.
We parked next to a guy who has already claimed a spot with a perfect view, and hiked up a hill to find a nice prairie to set up our tent, away from the road, from the RVs and everybody else. Wild elk greeted us at the top, and soon enough we were all set for the night.
The next day we collapsed our tent, rolled the dice and drove all the way back down to see if anyone has taken off, and oh yeah we got lucky! The sweet sweet spot from the day before was free, and 10 seconds later it was ours.
We did several hikes in Grand Teton, all of them south of Jackson Lake. On day one, we took a much needed shower aka ice-cold dip on a hike around glacially-carved String lake. The water was about 54ºF (12ºC).
It goes like this: you force yourself into the water, then there is about a minute or two of pure pain because the cold gets straight to your bones, and after that you just stop feeling your legs / body and everything becomes OK again. The alternative being staying dusty & gross, it was totally worth it!
Later on hiking we saw signs of avalanches taking place earlier in the season: there was still a thick layer of snow on the ground and numerous trees broken and bent down. Apart from that the nature was flourishing. Gentle birch trees, pine forest, wild animals and birds surrounded us.