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  • Writer's pictureKatja

Five Small Adventures in Lieu of One Big One

The areas around Western Montana and Eastern Idaho have been calling to me a lot over the past year. Hopefully, I will get to spend some more time in both before the winter season sets upon us.

Even though I continue to find myself staying closer to Vashon for the time being, inexpensive airfare and an open invitation to go backpacking near the Tetons had me throwing together a backpack and off on a weekend adventure. The day before my flight, a rapidly changing weather forecast had me questioning the sanity of a several day trek in the rugged Wyoming mountains. Luckily, my friend Douglas lives in the area and had a few backup plans in case of inclement weather.

Any regrets I had at missing out on the original backpacking plan were quickly put to rest by the amount of ground we covered over the next several days and the amazing places I got to see. The weekend reminded me that sometimes the plans we make are not always the plans we should follow, and being flexible and willing to adapt to whatever gets thrown your way can produce wonderful results. From watching a storm race across the water at Jenny Lake to standing in Yellowstone for the first snow of the season, I found myself on the adventure I never could have planned yet was exactly what I needed.

Adventure One: Cascade Corner, Yellowstone National Park.

Cave Falls at night and Bechler Falls in the morning. The hike between them was pretty easy, but the trail invites you to keep going for what looks like an amazing cross-country trek deeper into Yellowstone.

Adventure Two: Wildlife Viewing in Caribou-Targhee National Forest

Disclaimer: most of the “wildlife” along the dirt roads and camp areas amounted to cows and deer sightings, but a small excursion to a beaver complex provided some meditative views and lovely surprises.

Adventure Three: Stormwatching in Grand Teton National Park

With a wonderful stop at the Episcopal Chapel of the Transfiguration along the way. How amazing would it be to work in a place like this?

Adventure Four: 40+ Miles on Grassy Lake Road.

What began as a near-futile search for a campground became an epic dirt-road traverse from Moran, Wyoming to Ashton, Idaho via Grassy Lake Road. Not a drive I would recommend for the faint of heart nor the small of car, but definitely somewhere I want to spend more time getting to know.

Adventure Five: First Snow of the Season in Yellowstone National Park

Even though the original backpacking plan was a bust, I came out of the weekend with a new perspective on an area I had only previously seen in the summer, more confidence in the backroads and weather conditions for when I return to adventure more on my own, and a deep sense of gratitude for the many ways nature can surprise and amaze us when we simply stop for a moment and pay attention to what’s right there in front of us, no matter where we are.

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