I was browsing through some old photos tonight, and ran across these two from Grand Teton National Park in September 2001. Every time I see these photos, it so easy to drift back to that time in our lives. Although we were planning to take some time off before September 11 occurred, the events of that day spurred us to stop our planning and just live life. So we packed up our truck with camping gear and started driving west. Our trek hopscotched from the Field of Dreams in Iowa, to Wall Drug, Badlands National Park and Mt. Rushmore in South Dakota, Devil’s Tower, Yellowstone and Grand Teton in Wyoming, Flaming Gorge and Dinosaur National Park in Colorado, and finally Arches National Park in Utah.
Of all the beauty and grandeur we witnessed, our day hike up Cascade Canyon to Lake Solitude in the shadow of Teewinot and Grand Teton was perhaps the most memorable day of my life. The edge of Lake Solitude is about nine miles of trail and 3,000 feet in altitude from the trail head at Jenny Lake. During our ascent up the scree-covered trail, we ran across a buck moose who seemed to find us as fascinating as we did it.
As we left Jenny Lake behind us, Cascade Canyon rose nearly 3,000 feet seemingly straight up on either side of us. Never before and not since have I felt the true insignificance of self that I felt surrounded by those massive walls. The trail twisted, turned and switched back endlessly, each time teasing us with the prospect that Lake Solitude was right around the next bend. The anticipation was palpable for what seemed like hours. When the crystal blue water finally appeared, a feeling of accomplishment flooded through me like I’d never experienced before.
Although we could only savor the surroundings for a short while before heading back down before nightfall, I can’t remember another time in my life where I felt more accomplished, more happy, more as one with my partner in life, and more as one with this little rock we call home.