The area around Grand Teton National Park captured my heart long ago, but I hadn't seen it in over a decade when I suddenly felt a stronger pull than usual to return to the area again. Against all odds and obstacles (distance, timing, weather), I ended up on a harebrained adventure getting myself there for a brief but very worthwhile visit. (The trip also got me thinking more about how important sustainable travel is.) 

I arrived in the golden sunlight of late afternoon, pausing more than a few times to savor the sights: the awesome peaks jutting up from the expansive open area surrounding them; a herd of horses grazing and socializing nearby; the sunlight playing over the land, beginning to dip behind the mountains, and radiating through the cracks. I loved it all. 

I caught the sunset near Schwabacher's Landing, and it was wonderful, lighting up clouds like fiery embers drifting across the cool evening sky. I stayed there for a bit in the twilight, just enjoying the place. As the night deepened, I found a place on the open range to sit with the stars and watch the moonlight glint over the peaks. It was a fairly clear, very windy night. The wind whipped and surged across the land, legitimately nearly blowing me over a number of times. I couldn't help laughing at the energy and exhilaration of it.
Looking over the land, bathed in moonlight, it was interesting how, though appearing simply flat at first, the expanse has more layers and undulations than expected, all speaking to the history and formation of the land. It's fascinating to me to try to think about how the landscape has changed over time and what used to be where; it's like some form of vague time travel we can engage in. I finally slept and awoke to cloudy skies the next morning. 

I wandered back to the landing just to enjoy the area anyway and found another photographer there heading back out. The Tetons were obscured by clouds, but the sunlight burst through the other side of the sky and soaked everything in brilliant gold light. As I was gaping at the colors and landscape, the other photographer walked past me and shook his head, lamenting, "Poor conditions for shooting, huh?" as he left. I blinked in surprise and almost laughed. I knew he meant the comment because the Tetons weren't as visible, but didn't he see how amazing the lighting and landscape around were? 

Sometimes I think we forget to see everything around us, or we can get so focused on one aspect that we miss the rest. It's a good reminder to me to appreciate more and always look for the beauty, too, because it's always there somewhere. I stayed longer admiring the way the light washed over the land and listening to the breeze. Eventually I had to pull myself away. Before I had to leave the area, the weather turned and it began to snow. I savored a last walk through the chilled, flake-filled air and peaceful quiet before embarking on my crazy journey home.

Abby Valiant
@abbyvaliant
www.abbyvaliant.com

 

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