This morning I rose from my slumber at 6 something, and as MCL slept in, I took a stroll on a trail along the shore of Jackson Lake. By myself, so to speak. As much as I love my people, a solo stroll (can’t really call this a hike – just didn’t qualify in my book) lets my mind and senses appreciate my surroundings more.
When I first started out, I was quite aware of my violation of several rules of bear country: I was hiking alone, in the morning, quietly, with no bear spray. Asking for trouble. Then again, I’ve met grizzlies, black bears, moose, rattlers and coyote on their turf before and never had a problem. I work with politicians for a living, after all.
The aroma of damp cedar and pine in cool mountain air cleans out the neuro-transmitters of the brain. I’m sure there must be some biological truth to this. The sound of trumpeter swans honking in the distance and ducks splashing in the nearby water further awakens the senses in a way with which caffeine cannot compete, for me anyway. The feel of the soft dirt beneath your feet, rather than the concrete or even asphalt is a welcome respite from the developed world. The visual vigilance of watching every shadow to assure yourself it is not something that might want to give you an unwelcome bear hug finishes off the buffet of the senses.
The rain from last night still clings to the needles of the trees, rendering a glisten from the morning sunlight that seems to light my way more than the rays themselves, but then as the sun rises higher, long shadows stripe the forest around me, helping me notice the yellow monkeyflower, or wild lettuce as some call it. They poke their heads just above the height of the grasses and, like a choir of color singing in unison, they all face their director, the sun. I join them, just to let it warm my face.
As I come close to the shore again, I spot a heron stalking breakfast in the water. Ever so graceful, it moves stealthily and silently, motivating me to focus more on my own non-impact. It notices me, but I am still enough not to distract it from its task. I moved on before it caught anything.
Time limitations forced me to turn around on the trail and head back. Shortly after my u-turn, I met a couple – maybe in their 60s – who smiled and quietly said hello. Some time after that, I began hearing the sounds of motor vehicles at a parking lot, and then the sound of the loud voices of twenty-something year olds. They were following all the rules: be obnoxious to disturb all wildlife so you will never see any and therefore not blame the National Park for injuries when you anger or threaten them.
When I returned to the cabin, MCL were rising and we soon left for Jackson, Wyoming. There I learned that Moe’s Bbq has great ribs and that my kids believe that all snow cone syrup actually taste the same, and we just THINK it’s different based on the smell and color. Interesting theory. They got this idea from a friend who runs a snow cone truck. M rejects the theory, having grown up in south Louisiana and therefore being somewhat of an expert or connoisseur of snow cones based on her experience with a place called “The Little Brown Cooler” and others. I did well to stay out of the debate.
Speaking of debate, we accidentally drove by Gerry Spence’s office and I got to sit with Mark Twain for a moment. Both – big deals.
I did NOT buy the top hat I liked, because my family thought it looked goofy, and then we drove back to the cabin, stopping only to watch a lone moose along the way.
Tomorrow we would drive back through Yellowstone to Bozeman, MT, to spend the night and then fly home to Arkansas.