Thursday, March 5, 2009

Yellowstone National Park, Grand Teton National Park, & Jackson Hole, WY

Lafayette, CO - Back in November, our friend Bill sent out an email asking if anyone was interest in doing a winter trip to Yellowstone to do a bit of cross-country skiing. I think it took Suwei and I all of 10 seconds to decide that we were going. Well, last week, it finally came time to pack up the truck and depart for Wyoming.

We started off with 4 days in Yellowstone National Park. I think the last time I'd been to Yellowstone was in high school or thereabouts, and I know I've never been there in winter. Yellowstone is fairly unique in that once it starts snowing, they pretty much close the park for a month or so. Then come mid-December, when there is enough snow on the roads, they reopen for a 3 month winter season. The only way in and out of the majority of the park is via snowmobile or snow coach. The only lodging open in this part of the park is the Snow Lodge near Old Faithful Geyser. It is such a cool time to be there. It's unbelievably beautiful in the winter and you tend to see more wildlife than people.

Snow Coaches and Our Driver Julia

West Thumb Geyser Basin

Waiting for Old Faithful to Blow

We did two days of cross-country skiing in Yellowston. Day one, we stated off from the Snow Lodge and took the Howard Eaton Trail to Lone Star Geyser. From there we returned via the Spring Creek Trail and the main road. We figure we did a little over 14 miles and definitely felt it that evening. Suwei and Ann, being truly hardcore, tacked on another mile to that total by renouncing a short-cut and following the creek all the way to the road.

Cross Country Ski Trip to Lone Star Geyser

On Day 2 we took an organized tour to the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone. David, our guide was a friend of a friend of Ann & Pei's. It took two hours or so in a snow coach, including stops for pictures of bison, wolves, and swans, to get to Canyon Village. From there, it was a short ski to Inspiration Point and the canyon rim. Alternating between using the skis and the snow coach, we were also able to see both Upper and Lower Yellowstone Falls from both sides the canyon and see views from Lookout Point, Uncle Tom's Point, and Artist Point. It was dumping snow most of the day, so although many of the photos didn't turn out that spectacularly, the skiing was great!

The Grand Canyon of Yellowstone Ski Tour

After Yellowstone we headed back to Jackson Hole where we had rented a cabin. The plan was to do three (four for some) days of skiing at the resort. Half-way through the first day, however, I changed the plan by tearing my ACL. It was dumping, the snow was wonderful and I was having way too much fun. I made two turns in a bumpy gully and felt my knee pop. Next thing I knew, I was laying face down in the snow. I got up and tried it again. "Pop!" and I went down a second time. I knew I was done. From there, I slid down on my rear and worked my way back to the main slope where Suwei had flagged down ski patrol.

In the clinic, they x-rayed the knee. The doctor spotted a small fracture leading him to believe that I had torn my ACL. I spent the next few days sulking in the cabin, while the others were off playing. They were good about it. They'd come back in the evening, grinning from ear to ear, telling me about how bad the conditions were and how little joy the day offered. Suwei was very nice and took a break from boarding on Saturday to take me out to Grand Teton National Park. We ended up getting some BBQ in Jackson for lunch. It was nice to get out.

Moose in Grand Teton National Park with Jackson Hole Ski Resort Behind

Crampon Crutches / MRI Results

So, we're back home now. On Monday they took an MRI of my knee. From the report: "There is evidence of complete disruption of the anterior cruciate ligament at the femoral origin." In other words, "Yes, you tore your ACL." That means I've got two weeks of physical therapy before I go in for an operation on the 19th. After that, the doc says, I have two weeks on crutches and six weeks of physical therapy and gimping around before I'm declared back-to-normal. Bummer! Well, that should leave me plenty of time to look for work.

Overall the trip was a blast even with the bum knee. Makes me want to go back again next year. Thanks go out to Bill for putting the whole thing together & the rest of the gang for lying to me.

Here is the link for the slideshow. Bigger, better pics and comments to boot.

Yellowstone NP, Grand Teton NP, & Jackson Hole, WY

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