Today we reached our destination just west of Grand Teton National
Park, about six hundred miles north and west of Leadville. The truck did fine with its new parts, but now we're having
computer problems. If it's not one thing, it's another! As usual, Jim was able to find appropriate solutions
for both critical "machines."
It was hard to leave Leadville. We're actually happy to have been
able to remain there a week longer than planned, waiting for Fed Ex to
deliver a special new air filter for the truck. It arrived on Monday afternoon.
Jim installed it with no problems and we said our good-byes on Tuesday
morning. We were in the area about six weeks, the longest in seven trips
to Leadville since 1999. It's a "cool" place to camp during the summer
and a good base for many outdoor activities. We highly recommend it even
if you aren't interested in the bike or foot races.
TURQUOISE LAKE WALKS/RUNS
Even though I can't run right now, walking with my stretchy knee
support feels fine. If I don't wear it the knee feels like it's going
to fall apart, as if there are some loose parts. I've been doing some walks up to an hour on dirt roads and trails. I began with
smooth flat to undulating terrain,
but moderate grades and rocks seem to be OK now. No 14ers, though.
Jim's not sure if he's recovering from Leadville or tapering for the
Grand Teton race this weekend! He took several days off after Leadville,
then began walking and running gradually. The most he's done is about
six miles last Sunday along the Turquoise Lake Trail. Cody ran with him
and Tater walked with me.
These are some of the photos I took on two different walks/runs at the
lake. They are both on the LT100 course.
The first pictures are from last Friday and feature the dogs. Jim and
I get tired of throwing sticks faster than the dogs get tired of
retrieving them, whether it's on land or water. They are fun to watch.
Cody can paddle really fast and he'll go out every time. Tater is
getting older and doesn't much see the point, especially since Cody
usually steals her stick. Ever the Alpha Dog, he'll drop his own stick to
snatch hers and bring it
back to us! What a stinker he is.
Farther up the trail Jim took both dogs out on a floating dock and tried
to get them to jump off the end. I was surprised it took so long to get
them to jump. They often go flying off creek or river banks. Tater never
would jump off but Cody eventually did:
We went back to the lake to walk and run on Sunday, and there were LOTS
of folks camping, fishing, hiking, swimming, and enjoying the water in
all sorts of craft: motorboats, sailboats, kayaks, and rubber
Most runners in the LT100 don't see all this activity on race weekend
because they run past here in the dark on the first morning and either
don't make it back here on the return or pass by during the night or too
early in the morning Sunday to see much human activity.
Here is a parting shot of Turquoise Lake until the next time . . .
On Saturday we decided to take a drive up to
Independence Pass, a nice place to acclimate at 12,095 feet. We do that
most years, but hadn't been there this time because he discovered he
could get up to about 12,300 feet in the truck on Ball Mountain. Jim
doesn't need to continue acclimating that high. I think he was just so
bored he wanted to go somewhere different than where we'd been this
Along Hwy. 82 a bit past Twin Lakes we caught views of
La Plata, one of the 14ers I'll climb next time we're here. The trail
head parking area was packed with weekend climbers.
Independence Pass is
another ten or twelve miles beyond that. I took these photos from inside
the truck as we climbed the switchbacks to the top:
This one looks back east down to the road in the valley:
The last time we were up there it was stormy and I got some dramatic
shots of gray clouds coming in while I hiked up a ridge, then enveloping
the trail. This time it was mostly clear blue. We sat in the truck
for a while, Jim reading and me drawing scrapbook sketches, both of us
amused by some of the tourists in skimpy summer clothing suddenly turning around and returning to their
cars before they reached the viewing platforms. It is perpetually windy
on Independence Pass, and they weren't prepared for how chilly it was at
After about an hour we bundled up against the wind and walked out on
the ridge half a mile or more with the dogs:
Always curious, we had to inspect this piece of
I've climbed up the ridge on the right previously but
not the one on the left. Maybe next time!
One more scene from the pass:
NEW TECHNO PROBLEM
The good news on Monday was that Jim was able to quickly install the
new air filter in the truck.
The bad news was that our laptop computer developed a serious glitch
the same morning. It worked fine until then, although it's old and is
inadequate for the software and photos we want on it. Jim's been
worried all summer that the hard drive might die, and we've been backing
it up almost daily to prevent a catastrophe (e.g., we pay our bills
Every time Jim booted it up Monday morning, it had this lovely
vertical kaleidoscope of colors gracing the screen, obliterating most of
what he was trying to see. He tinkered with it off and on all day, not
knowing what the problem was.
In the evening we both went to the college library to read and send e-mail,
schedule a bill payment, etc. Jim took the laptop, hooked it up to the WiFi
connection, and discovered the problem is the SCREEN and not the hard
drive. Whew! That was a relief. He could read everything on our hard drive
and see it on the library's computer screen. Glad he thought to try that.
We both soon realized all we needed to do was buy a
little flat-screen monitor and we could continue using the computer on
our trip. On the way to the Tetons yesterday, we stopped at a Wal-Mart and got a monitor.
Last evening in Rock Springs, WY we had a
strong Verizon cell phone connection and the set-up worked perfectly.
Flowers at Independence Pass
However, we don't have a cell signal now in the Teton area and we
can't get on-line in the camper. There is a low signal about a mile from our campground so
we'll either have to take the laptop and monitor there and get on-line
in the truck or use the one guest computer we found at the resort where
the Grand Teton races are headquartered.
There is no library in Driggs, ID or Alta, WY, the nearest towns.
Thank goodness for thin, lightweight monitors. This is our first one. Hopefully I'll be able to upload one or
more entries in this journal while we're in the Teton area. I don't know
if we'll keep the monitor, return it for a better one when we have time
to do more research about brands and specs, or just get a whole new
laptop that has more capacity. Fortunately our desktop and monitor at
home are fine for a while.
SCENIC TRIP TO THE TETONS
We mapped out the shortest way (with a camper) from Leadville to
the Grand Targhee Resort west of Grand Teton National Park and it turned out to be quite scenic,
too. It took us a day and a half to go 611 miles, some of it at 15 MPH
on a 10% grade up Teton Pass! Fortunately, most of it was 60-70 MPH. The
weather was great both days.
One of the prettiest segments was CO 24 northwest of
Leadville, thirty-two windy, mountainous up to I-70. We'd been
to Tennessee Pass and Camp Hale when I ran the Colorado Trail last
summer, but no farther than that. We discovered a beautiful road
similar in part to the Million Dollar Highway between Ouray and
Silverton, but not quite so scary. Very nice!
Then we went west on I-70 to Rifle, CO where we ate lunch
and re-supplied at Wal-Mart. That section of the freeway is very scenic,
especially through the Glenwood Canyon area east of Glenwood Springs:
Next we headed up a long stretch of two-lane road on CO
13 and WY 789 to I-80. We enjoyed the hilly southern part of CO 13
between the Roan Plateau and White National Forest. After that, we were
in rolling rangeland that wasn't as interesting. That's when I started
reading 1776 again! The road is good the whole way up to I-80. We
could travel at 60-65 MPH except for one road construction delay and a few
After being on those sparsely-traveled roads for several
hours, I-80 was a jarring cacophony of big trucks and speeding cars. The
scenery wasn't as pretty, either. Even though we could drive a little
faster, we both preferred the more leisurely drive on the two-lane roads
and through the little towns.
Jim caught this "dirt devil" off to the side as we were
Our overnight destination was the Wal-Mart at Rock
Springs, WY. We arrived there in the late afternoon Tuesday and were
surprised to find half a dozen big rigs (RVs and semis) already in
place. We did find a good place next to a long stretch of grass
for the dogs. The adjacent freeway was noisy but ear plugs allowed a
good night's sleep.
We thanked the manager for allowing
us to stay overnight, purchased some more items at this store, and
cleaned up trash along the nearby fence. These practices are advisable
if you stay overnight at a Wal-Mart or other store so folks can continue
to do it. If people abuse the privilege in some way, the managers won't
be so amenable. However, in areas where there are local ordinances
prohibiting overnight "camping" it's usually more because of political
pressure from local private campgrounds that are losing business than
because Wal-Mart objects.
When I let the dogs outside this morning I saw the full
moon setting behind the red-tinged hills across the freeway:
That's not someplace I'd expect to see such a striking
scene. You can find beauty just about anywhere.
We headed north from Rock Springs to
Jackson on WY 191, another good, relatively fast two-lane road. It
became increasingly scenic the closer we got to the Tetons. On our right
was the Bridger-Teton National Forest with its sawtooth-edged mountains
including Gannett Peak, Wyoming's highest at 13,804 feet.
loved the hilly, treed section of national forest from Pinedale to Jackson through the Gros
Ventre Range and along the Hobart River, where we could catch occasional
glimpses of the craggy Teton peaks to the north.
This was getting exciting! We've both been to the Tetons
several times, but never from this direction so the peaks looked different.
They are very distinctive.
At the southern end of Jackson we turned left onto WY 22. Most of the
traffic went north to the Teton or Yellowstone areas and we were once
again in fairly sparse traffic on our way to Victor and Driggs, Idaho.
I'd noted the three passes we'd be going over on this trip and none
sounded nearly as bad as the 11,000-foot ones we'd driven over in Colorado. The new
air filter handled Tennessee Pass (10,424 feet) on Hwy. 24 just fine.
The Rim (7,921 feet) north of Pinedale, WY was a mere bump. So
8,428-foot Teton Pass west of Jackson didn't sound like anything to
Ha! Even the worst passes in Colorado, Monarch and Loveland, were
"only" a 6-7% grade and we had to stop several times on the
ascent of both of them because they were so long.
A sign at the
bottom of Teton Pass warned drivers that it was a 10% grade up that
sucker. Fortunately it was only about three miles up the east side. From
below, it didn't look so bad:
That wasn't all of it though. We crawled up slowly, getting down to only 15 MPH at one point. Jim
pulled over because the engine was straining so much -- but by golly, it
wasn't overheating! The new air filter was doing a splendid job.
After a few minutes, we continued on up to the top without incident
and slowly went down the other side to avoid straining the brakes. The
descent was also a 10% grade and about three miles
long. Neither of us could fully appreciate the beauty surrounding us
because we expected something to go wrong! We'll probably find another
way when we go back home, such as the loop on Hwy. 26 near the Palisades
Next entry: OK, now that we're here, where do we stay?
Includes photos of the Teton Range up close.
"Runtrails & Company" - Sue Norwood, Jim O'Neil, Cody, and
© 2007 Sue Norwood and Jim O'Neil