Tetons

January 6, 2008
By
I hadn’t showered for nearly two weeks, but the stench rising from my body was neither putrid nor repulsive, it was exactly as nature intended it to be; we’ll call it fragrance earth. It wasn’t as though I couldn’t have showered. I wasn’t in a barren land. I could have made the effort to perform these daily routines, but I choose not to. I had spent the last thirteen days exploring what was to me a foreign landscape, one of untainted natural beauty and a wealth of activities.

Photographs and other artistic renderings of the Grand Tetons fail to do them justice. Even Ansel Adams’s greatest works fail to evoke the same emotions as the landscape itself. It is almost impossible to put into words the beauty of this environment. There were peaks reaching up towards the heavens whose shadows would engulf the landscape as the days grew old; there were rivers scattered throughout the valleys, veins on this living landscape. There were nights like none I had ever seen, the stars shining so bright as to make you think it was day; and there were days with skies as clear and undisrupted as the brooks that flowed beneath them. If I were to describe heaven I believe this would be it. Simply laying witness to the beauty of a pristine natural environment brings me pleasure and my trip to the Grand Tetons cemented my love for the outdoors and everything it has to offer.

Away from the amenities and comforts of your own home you are forced to find forms of entertainment other than television. It is only when you are completely separated from a familiar environment that you look and realize what the world around you has to offer. Camping, for example, is an activity that brings you into the heart of the outdoors and far surpasses the enjoyment I get from a new episode of a show airing on T.V. I like to consider myself a purist in this respect; I find that camping, in a tent or out under the stars, is the only true way to appreciate the environment you are calling home for the night. While I was in the Tetons I saw hundreds of people RV-ing. With the recent splurge of advertisements idealizing RV trips as the new way to see the outdoors and bond with your family it came to me as little surprise. Perhaps it is me, but I fail to see the point of such vacations. What is the difference between watching the Discovery Channel at home and roaring past great landscapes at a federally mandated forty miles-per-hour? You have to slow down, and take that extra minute to start a fire in order to fully realize where you are.

Hiking, a slow, arduous, and physically demanding activity, is perfectly surmised by Greg Anderson who wrote, “Focus on the journey, not the destination. Joy is found not in finishing an activity but in doing it.” Best of all nature offers each one of us the opportunity to partake in this free of charge. Therefore, when in the Tetons, I took advantage of the opportunity I had to hike in a land where around each turn lay something new and exciting. I looked to guide books only for suggested routes, never for the direction I should take come a fork in the path. I did not care whether I ended up at Hidden Falls, or Inspiration Point, like Anderson said, I did not focus on the destination. On these hikes I was regaled by flora and fauna the likes of which were unknown to me. Often times I would stop to marvel at a seemingly ancient tree or a grazing bison. Of course Hidden Falls and Inspiration Point were breathtaking, unparalleled in respect to beauty, but to me just as amazing as everything else. This is why I have such a love for hiking; although you may have a destination in mind, ultimately it does not matter whether you get there as long as you enjoy everything along the way.

For thirteen days I hiked, camped, and unwound in the splendor of the Tetons. I was in a state of ultimate relaxation, thoroughly enjoying my surroundings and all they had to offer. For thirteen days I escaped from the worries of school, college applications, and even my next shower.





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