Coming home from the whirlwind road trip has been a hard acclimation. It's difficult to immerse into beauty and wilderness and basic human needs... only to come home to work, loud noises, bright lights and day to day normalcy. Anyone who loves living outside and makes a habit of it shares these feelings. I think I've finally adjusted enough now to take some time and write about the experience. In the next few weeks I'll be posting details of each stop. It just feels like there is too much beauty and adventure to group together all at once.
Our first stop was in Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota. We camped in the petrified forest and were absolutely dazzled by the sparkling landscape and alien sights. It was so clear how old (huge understatement) everything around us was. We were able to see a lot of wildlife and had a wonderfully romantic night. Solitude, the full moon and the summer solstice in a land so bizarre and lovely. The sunset and sunrise here were stunning- beyond words.
Our second stop was in Custer National Forest in Montana. It was breathtaking, vast and green. There were many warnings about grizzly bears here. We found signs of those big bears very close to our camping spot, too. That was a little bit alarming, but we had so much fun playing in the nearby creek that it didn't seem like a very big deal.
Next up was Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming. Really, no one can adequately describe Yellowstone. It is wild, volcanic, full of mountains, rich with animals and extremely unique. We were barely able to crack the surface of what is available to do here; hiking, paddling, climbing, sight seeing, ect. But we saw hot springs, hiked to a waterfall, explored a bit and soaked in as much energy as possible. This land is special.
We had even less time in the Grand Tetons than in Yellowstone. We managed a beautiful hike and some photography stops, but that's it. We absolutely will be returning here. The small taste we had was unreasonably gorgeous.
This is where Jon and I parted ways for a while. I will be posting a large blog entry about my experience here in Idaho. I was able to really experience some unique landscape via walking, photography and of course, climbing. I feel that I really changed somewhat as a person through my experience here and am looking forward to further exploring that. I would wake up every morning here to a gorgeous sunrise and usually, I would be in the tent sleeping before the sun ever began to set. The wind was generally strong and the sun was generally very hot. The rocks were outrageous. The free roaming cattle were fantastic. I will definitely return here in my life. I want to climb more and experience more of what The City has to offer. I also went to Castle Rocks State Park, which was nearby. It was just as lovely and interesting.
When Jon picked me up, we headed to Salt Lake City, Utah. Neither of us had been, so we wanted to be sure to see the Great Salt Lake. We did this by hitting up Antelope Island State Park. Holy moly. We fell in love. It is beautiful. Such an amazing contrast between a strange, desert lake and the mountains that surround it. Along with the lizards and buffalo that inhabit it. We very much enjoyed everything SLC had to offer and even thought about making it our next home. Which is certainly a plausible option.
We wanted to hike to the summit of a mountain on this trip and that was accomplished in Medicine Bow National Forest in Wyoming. We hiked to the top of Medicine Bow Peak, at the elevation of about 12,014ft. Everything here was wonderfully picturesque. It was unexpectedly wild and gorgeous. The wild flowers and glacial lakes will stay with me for a very long time. We saw a moose, made a marmot friend and had a camp spot that I would describe only as "ideal".
Black Hills National Forest in South Dakota is one of my favorite places in this country and I was so excited to share it with Jon. We experienced a flash storm, where I was nearly struck by lightening. We saw a breathtaking sunset and sunrise. Had a very romantic breakfast alone on Silven Lake, and hiked up Harney Peak while the world was still asleep. We are planning our next trip out currently, because we need to climb here. We played around a bit, but a full climbing trip is in the works. The energy in this land is just revitalizing.
We ended our trip with back country camping in Badlands National Park in South Dakota. We wanted to start and end the trip in different badlands, which we both felt was pretty beautiful. This is a favorite place for both of us and we were so excited to experience it together. And what we experienced was nothing short of life changing. I will be elaborating in another post, but we went through a very large storm. From zero to 100 in no time, one of the biggest storms I have been witness to hit us. 70mph winds, penny sized hail and lightening everywhere. Our tent was the only metal anywhere in sight. And that is a scary thing. It was a time of fast and hard choices, stunning and strong nature, and feeling so very small.
This trip was life changing. I feel that both of us came back different. Still us, but changed. This experience was stunning and everything we needed. The wilderness and adventure we craved, with the push we needed to motivate ourselves to commit to the lifestyle we've desired. A life outside. A simple life with each other, nature and not too much else. We have many big changes on the horizon and I thank this experience that was given to us. Without it we may not have realized just how badly we need to escape into the mountains and deserts and forests.