Middle Teton, Wyoming

July 9, 2003

Dave Svilar

 

Core group of the Grand Tetons from the popular Snake River Overlook.

I was sick of making the drive from Colorado to Seattle, so this time I detoured through Wyoming and Montana looking for some way to break up the monotony of driving.  My first attempt was driving through Hudson, WY, a town of "Svilars."  The town of folks with my rare last name turned out to be a ghost town, so I hurried up the highway to the Grand Tetons.  I arrived late and "camped" in the backseat of the Maxima at the Snake River Overlook.  Hoping for good light I crawled out before sunrise the next morning to snap a few pictures.  The light was not as expected, and my pictures turned out to be mediocre at best.  The next plan was to find something to climb.

The lady at the ranger station told me that the Middle Teton was a good scramble, but issued a stern warning about going alone.  I ignored her and started down the trail sometime after 9 p.m.  No more than 100 yards into the hike and I heard some loud rustling in the bushes.  I knew it wasn't another hiker, so I quietly approached and was rewarded by a 2/3 grown black bear (with brown coat).  I got to within 20 feet of the bear without it even noticing me as it rambled through the undergrowth upturning dead logs in search of insects.  I was so close that I could hear the beast breathe!  After alerting the bear to my presence I took a few pictures and watched it disappear into the foliage. 

The bear overturns a downed log in search of insects.  How many beatles does it take to fill up a bear?

The trail continued up the hillside rewarding me with consistent views of the valley dropping farther and farther below.  The hike didn't have much of a wilderness feel, but I was amazed as always how easy it is to leave most people behind with just a small bit of effort.  Looking down into the valley hundreds of cars could be seen cris-crossing the national park.  Most folks probably stop at a designated viewpoint, snap a picture with their new digital cameras, walk 100 yards back to their SUV, and bite into a fresh Twinkie.  It doesn't seem like that much of a mystery to me why Americans are so fat and out of shape.  At least they are supporting the national parks.

After a split in the trail the trees quickly disappeared giving way to a large basin that was mostly snow covered.  I didn't really know where I was going, but figured the route would reveal itself if I just continued along the south side of the Middle Teton which was now directly in front of me.  Sure enough, the southwest side featured the "couloir" I was looking for.  A moderately steep snow slope followed by a class 3 gully put me on the spectacular summit (<4 hours from car, 6,000' elevation gain) that had perfect views of the Grand's Exum Ridge - a future endeavor.  A group of three I had passed a few minutes before joined me on the summit and pointed out the route on the Exum Ridge including the famed 'Wall Street.'

Another climber stands on the summit with the Grand's Exum Ridge route visible to his left.

 

Dave on the summit.  The route starts in the valley and continues up the basin to the left of my head.

 

Relaxing by the irresistible gurgling creek on the descent.

After spending an hour on top I bombed down the hill until finding a small, irresistible grass meadow with a stream gurgling through.  Upon reaching the Maxima in the 90F heat I was glad to have the parent's car equipped with air conditioning.  I drove a few miles north to Yellowstone to the zoo known as Old Faithful.  I wandered through the hordes of camera equipped tourists feeling out of place.  I didn't even stay to watch the geyser go off.  However, I did take extra time to seek out the finest toilet in the Old Faithful Lodge.  It was one of those handicapped toilets with the extra thick seat - perfect for a tall guy like myself.  Best of all, it had a big window that provided views of the setting sun.  In my grimy state the toilet itself was worth the price of park admittance.  If it was just a little larger I could have bathed in it.

Not willing to pay for a hotel or even a shower I drove until exhaustion overcame me, which wasn't that far - somewhere in western Yellowstone.  I folded up my lanky frame for a second night in the cramped backseat of the Maxima now wishing I had my truck.  The thought of another night in the Maxima gave me the needed incentive to make it all the way home the next day.

-written July 2003

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