The team turned the vans southward today, headed for the Tetons. Early morning coffee at the Jackson Lodge invigorated the crew and everybody was ready to take in the beauty of these picturesque mountains. At the Willow Flats overlook, we took scenic photos and Greg and Melissa shared with us some of the human and geologic history of the greater Tetons region. Melissa also had her “Sound of Music” moment among the beautiful wildflowers of the Jackson Hole valley.
Next, we braved the crowds at Taggart Lake for a “perfect weather hike” – a 4-mile loop to the lake and back. Many pictures were taken lakeside as South, Middle and Grand Teton peaks provided the perfect backdrop. Those that bird (and they know who they are) enjoyed a plethora of birdcalls (Hello, Green-tailed Towhee!) and special sightings such as two darting MacGillivray’s warblers. The weather was almost warm, and we enjoyed shedding heavy coats and thermals. Swallowtail butterflies flitted and tent caterpillars wiggled in the midst of the vegetation. The aspen-lined trail followed the hillside down along babbling brooks, finally emerging into a sage-covered valley.
After a picnic lunch, our next stop was the Laurance S. Rockefeller preserve. The visitor center provided the group a moment of quiet reflection. Some chose to sit outside in nature reflecting and journaling. Others took a brisk 3-mile loop hike to Phelps Lake; another exquisitely mountain-framed loch. Laurance S. Rockefeller believed in the power of nature to restore and sustain the human spirit. He envisioned a place where visitors could experience a spiritual and emotional connection to the extraordinary natural beauty of Phelps Lake and the Teton range. This vision was enhanced by sensory rooms inside the center where we experienced the sounds and sights of the Grand Teton National Park. A quote from a poem by Terry Tempest Williams on the wall outside the soundscape room states, “Nature quiets the mind by engaging with an intelligence larger than our own.”
On the way back north, we stopped for some excellent pizza at Leek’s Marina on Jackson Lake. As the sun was setting, we had our penultimate group meeting on the shore of Lewis Lake. Martha gave us the challenging task to describe our Yellowstone experience in three words. While no single word could do this journey justice, some of the words mentioned were reflective, grateful, invigorating, humbling, restorative, flora and fauna, and splendor. Another quote from Terry Tempest Williams’ poem in the Rockefeller preserve summarizes our experience well: “We see the Great Peaks, mirrored in water—stillness, wholeness, renewal. Reflection leads to us restoration.”