In the fall of 2004 Jim Smoak graciously invited several men from St. Paul’s Church to join him for a week’s vacation in August, 2005, at his cabin on the Snake River near Jackson Hole, WY. In addition to eating, sleeping, beer drinking and tall-tale swapping, we hope to get in some fishing and trail hiking in the adjacent, dramatic, magnificent Grand Teton National Park. Toward mid-July, 2005, most of us desk jockeys became aware of the sedentary nature of our life styles. Compared to the lung busting, feet pounding hikes around 10,000 feet coming up in the near future, we felt – how can I say this? – inadequate.
[Note: this article contains some ironic foreshadowing. See the article on our August 2005 trip to Grand Teton National Park. Lung busting and feet pounding hikes was hardly the half of it…]
Soon before the Wyoming trip, Bob Boettger planned a training hike on Grandfather Mountain for July 24, 2005. Joining him were Jim Smoak, Jerry Moore, Paul Anderson, and myself. Supposedly joining us but wimping out…I mean developing conflicts… were John Willardson and Chuck Forester. They said something about lecturing at a seminar, traveling out of town and family home for a visit.
On a beautiful and rare sunny, mostly windless day we car pooled from Bob B.’s house to the trail head on the Parkway at Boone Fork Creek parking area. We ran a shuttle to the Swinging Bridge at the top of the mountain and came back to the bottom to start the hiking proper. I mentioned that I was used to hiking all the way up the mountain, across all the peaks, then hiking across the peaks, down the mountain, back to the beginning. Paraphrasing Pancho Villa, I commented that we did not need no stinkin’ shuttle. The group quickly and unanimously voted me down.
The hike was wonderfully enjoyable and a successful training session. We traversed 3 miles and ascended 2,000 feet, first on the Tanawha Trail, then the Boone Scout Trail, to Callaway Peak. After a break to admire the 360 degree view, we hiked steeply downhill to eat a trail lunch in the Alpine Meadow. We then crossed all the major peaks along the Grandfather Trail, repeatedly gaining and losing about 500 feet altitude over Attic Window and McCrae Peaks. Lots of cables and ladders! Thankfully, and quite rarely, the mountain trails were mostly dry, with the occasional mud hole and creek crossing. The rock was good and grippy on our boot soles. I have seen (and felt) much worse many times!
We reached the Swinging Bridge at the end of 6 tough, rugged miles. Jim shuttled us back to the parking lot for the other vehicle and we made it safely home. A good workout and training session was had by all.