Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Rhody Goes West: Mount Glory and Goodbyes

On our last full day in Wyoming, we all woke up very early to go for one last hike.  This hike is one that doesn't exist on trail maps or on any brochures of the area. Known only to the locals, we parked on the side of the road by what is known as "the pass" and then crossed the road to start our hike up Mount Glory. This was one of the most difficult hikes of the entire trip, and I would compare it to the hike we took to get up to Delicate Arch in Moab.

The first part of the hike was a 1600 foot climb, but that was only 3/4 mile of the 6 mile hike! Going essentially straight up was so difficult, especially since we were starting at an 8400 foot elevation. If you have never experienced athletic activities at an elevation that is so drastically different than the one that you typically reside in, then you really can't imagine how hard it is to breathe. While I'm not in as great of shape as I used to be, I really didn't think I would have such a hard time breathing while just walking at a quick pace, never mind walking straight up 1600 feet!

View from Mount Glory, Jackson, Wyoming

But, as difficult as the initial climb was, it was so worth it, because the view from the top of Mount Glory was beautiful.  With it not being a part of the Grand Tetons, you could see the backside of those mountains in the distance among all of the other smaller mountains in the area.  We took some time up here at the top while we waited for the rest of the group to finish up the steep climb, and since we had left so early, we ate breakfast while we waited. After all, it was only 7:30am!

You can actually see our cars parked along side the road in this picture - Top of Mount Glory, Jackson, Wyoming

Me at the Peak of Mount Glory, Jackson, Wyoming

Once everyone had reached the top and had enough time to recover, we started our trek down one side of this mountain and then up to the top of an adjoining one. The top of the next mountain was very rocky, such a different landscape than the grassy pebble filled peak of the last one.

Rocky Peak of Mount Glory, Jackson, Wyoming

Once we got to the other side of this mountain, of which was very steep and slippery because of the rocks going down, we came across the most beautiful wildflower meadow that was leading us into the woods for the next leg of our hike.  I was really looking forward to seeing these large areas of wildflowers, however, this ended up being the only one that we actually saw! Most of the large fields in this area of the country are actually grain and grass fields and not wildflowers, like I originally thought.

Wildflowers on Mount Glory, Jackson, Wyoming

The rest of the hike was very cool too, leading us through the forest, then down some winding hillsides, leading us to a lake nestled between the mountains.  We rested here again, waiting for the rest if the group to catch up, and then we finished off the last mile and a half, where we came off the trail at an entrance at the bottom of "the pass."

Ski Lake, Jackson, Wyoming

In order to get back up to the cars at the top, we had to hitchhike, so me and D's uncle flagged down a guy in a pickup, who let us hop in the back of the truck bed and brought us up to the top of "the pass."  We grabbed the cars and drove them back down the mountain and picked everyone back up.  This was actually my first time hitchhiking! 

On our way back to the house, and on our last day, we finally saw one of the animals I was looking forward to seeing most - the moose.  New England has moose, but not in Rhode Island, and aside from seeing them on TV and in print, I had never seen a moose in person. But, lo and behold, standing on the side of the road in someone's front yard was a young male moose.  He was so interested in eating the leaves off of the trees that he really didn't care how close we got to him, so I ended up being only about 30 feet away from him.

Moose - Jackson, Wyoming

Moose - Jackson, Wyoming

I was so surprised at how skinny they were! I knew that moose were really tall animals, but I didn't think they would be this narrow. I was figuring that they would be built more like a deer or a horse, but they are so skinny!

Just before sunset, when we were back at the house, I set myself up right next to the hummingbird feeder on the back deck to see if I could grab some pictures of the hummingbirds.  There must have been eight or nine hummingbirds swarming around the feeder, and they were so calm that they allowed me to get four inches away from their feeder with my camera. I was standing so close to the feeder that I could feel the air moving from their wings fluttering at the feeder.  It was so amazing, and using the continuous shot feature on my camera I took over 300 pictures of the little birds.

Hummingbirds - Jackson, Wyoming

This last evening was the perfect way to unwind at the end of the vacation - we relaxed in the river, hung out, had a delicious dinner, and then said our goodbyes to family and new friends, as we had a five hour drive back to Salt Lake City in the morning to catch our afternoon flight.  

And this is the final post of my Rhody Goes West series. I am finally done recapping this incredible trip.  All in all, this was one of the best vacations that I have had - it was full of activities, most of which were physical, and we were also able to visit with family.  I actually am really looking forward to another vacation out to this area, and can't wait to explore more of the West side of our amazing country!!

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