Monday, August 15, 2022

September 5

After a restful night’s sleep we got an early start back toward civilization down that ten-mile dirt road. Previously, I had mentioned that leaving the Sage Creek dispersed campsite in South Dakota the road seemed bumpier on the way out rather than on the way in. I want to amend that statement right now. At both Chalk Flatts and now at Crystal Creek the road in was far worse on the way in because we didn’t really trust the GPS to get us there and going along those narrow dirt roads was mentally jarring. Last night coming to Crystal Creek not only was I tired but I was grinding my teeth to point where I needed an ibuprofen to ease the pain.

Coming out of Crystal Creek was better. I did see a boulder, that had it been three feet further in the middle of the road, there would have been no way to get around it or move it. So it wasn’t just the actual things that happened that stressed me out, it was the hypothetical things that might happen that stressed me out too.

Along the way just off the dirt road was the Red Hill Ranch which had a stock of like fifty horses and colts grazing in lush green pastures. Both the horses and the setting were quite beautiful. It was hard to get any good pictures but a Google search revealed this was a working ranch that raises horses for purchase. Just beautiful.

Once we were on lovely smooth pavement again Donna wanted to go check out Shadow Mountain even though it didn’t have any water and suss out a campsite for the night—you know, so we would be more prepared than we were last night. Donna was also quite stressed on those dirt roads.

Shadow Mountain wasn’t far down the smooth pavement of Antelope Flatts Road but my thinking was it was Labor Day and people would be traveling today and we have no trouble finding a spot. But I was overridden—anybody seeing a pattern here?

At the entrance to Shadow Mountain was another dirt road. Hoping to avoid it I flagged down a couple of guys with Massachusetts plates exiting. They told us the mountain was empty and they had just left a site with a great view of the Tetons. We thanked them and said “Go Bills,” to which they responded, “Good luck with that!”

Though I didn’t want to drive down another dirt road and up a mountain, we did. I was getting really mad at Donna but when we got to the site the Massachusetts guys had just left it was so worth it. As advertised it had a stunning view of the Tetons.

I made a breakfast of egg whites with onions, peppers and sausage while Donna laid claim to this spot by setting down our 6x9 plastic road carpet and a collapsible chair—not our deluxe lawn chairs. Of course, she then went looking for rocks. It was superb call to come up the mountain to not only get the spot, but to have breakfast with those three great peaks staring us down.

After a quick trip to the Visitor Center where Donna bought a monocular—like  binoculars without the bi, we went on a 10K hike to Taggert Lake. At the head of the trail we met a lovely Asian woman named V who asked if she could walk with us. Her husband had a bad back and wasn’t up for the hike. During the beautiful uphill rocky walk we shared a little bit of who we were with V and she with us. Donna told her about this blog and V told us about her son who was thinking about giving up on medical school because of Covid—he was shocked and depressed that so many bought the disinformation rather than the science.

Nonetheless, it was a lovely walk with many friendly people returning from the lake saying hello and telling us how far we had to go. Once we got there was a bunch of people taking selfies. There was this beautiful Indian girl posing like a model with the Tetons and lake in the background as her boyfriend snapped away. When it was his turn to be photographed, he stood on the rock with his back to her with his arms spread in the shape of a Y. It was so lame. Again, these girls could do so much better these guys.

V also snapped a bunch of selfies while I sat on a log taking it all in and Donna looked for rocks. The trip back down was better for Donna and V than the way up. It was worse for me because of my creaky knees and ankles, but behind us was a group of college girls and I could hear their conversation about some dorm room drama. I love hearing people’s random conversations whether it be a loud guy on the phone in a restaurant or a group of girls on a hike.

In all the hike had taken a couple of hours. We needed to get dinner supplies, so we went to the Colter Bay Center which had a grocery store and a gift shop. It was almost forty minutes from where we were at Taggert Lake so round trip was going to be almost two hours and we needed to hustle. In addition to driving mistakes costing you twenty-thirty minutes, everyplace you wanted to go was a haul too, even when you knew where you were going.

But it turned out great. I fried up some burgers while Donna made a fire and we listened some Outlaw Country—Linda, Ronstadt, Kathleen Edwards, Drive By Truckers—watching the sun fall sublimely behind the Tetons.

How we got here...
An Ode to Fire and Donna
Chronological Posts From The Road 
Going Mobile: What We Learned
Our Rig: A Pictorial Essay


  1. The camera on your new phone is very nice! Donna doesn't want to be photographed? No shirtless P.A. Kane pics for the next book jacket?