I had never before seen a wildfire, after living my entire life in rainy, wet, Maine where the forest does not depend on fire to reproduce and spread. There were two wildfires raging as we drove west through Wyoming to Grand Teton National Park. The one closest to our route was the Lava Mountain fire, which was right along Route 26, the road that would take us to the park. It was supremely odd for me, having never experienced it, to be able to see the smoke for miles and miles ahead of time. After driving past the edge of the fire that was along route 26 (and witnessing some ranchers herding their cattle away from the flames along the road) we were in the clear about a mile later. Really, it was beautiful blue sky and sunshine just up the road…as long as you didn’t look back towards the fire.
I’m fairly certain that the only word that came out of my mouth was ‘wow’ when we came into view of the Teton range. The peaks are incredibly beautiful. There are no foothills around the mountains so it appears as though they rise directly out of the lakes in front of them. One of Ansel Adams’ most famous landscape shots is of the Tetons behind the Snake River. Though I couldn’t dream of taking a shot as stunning as any of Adams’, the landscape itself does most of the work, although it is hard to do it justice.
We camped right outside the Curtis Canyon campground, on the Bridger-Teton National Forest. I say right outside because we were not in one of the 12 designated Curtis Canyon sites. We were technically dispersed camping, although we were within walking distance of the campground. It was very clear that many many people had stayed there before us, with small fire pits and the ground almost completely devoid of grass.
Our neighbor for the time we were there was Matt, a volunteer firefighter and salesman from Colorado who was in Jackson for business. He reassured us that the bears (most likely) would not bother us this far south and that if they did, he would come out of his camper and scare them away for us. It was nice to have someone who was used to dealing with bears near us, as neither Katie nor myself has ever been to bear country before.