Days 5-7: Mt. Rushmore to The Tetons

Days 5-7: Mt Rushmore to The Tetons
The excavation of Mt Rushmore intrigue us as we listened to our walking tour on headphones. Using an ancient point system, a scaled model was used to make the sculpture life-like. Every one inch on their pattern symbolized 1 foot on the actual mountain. By lying a level steel beam on top of the mountain and using a plumb line, they were able to construct each feature of the faces accurately. Workers drilled in a honeycomb fashion and then would dynamite the rock, getting within 4 inches of the final shape. Lastly, they used a tool that would hammer and spin at the same time for the final touches. Fourteen years later and with no death toll, Mt. Rushmore was completed and remains one of the United States’ most recognizable monuments.

Next on the agenda was Grand Teton National Park, where we planned to meet with friends from Philadelphia, Jason and Nicole. We were greeted in the parking lot by a screaming Nicole running toward our car- the video of this episode is so endearing! Then we drove to a brewery in the ski town of Jackson, WY to discuss our grand plan for our Paintbrush/ Cascade Canyon Loop hike in the next 2 days.

As it turns out, the only available campsites were a mere 4 miles into the Lower Paintbrush Canyon. That left 16 miles through rocky terrain and snow for the 2nd day. Good thing we had some of Jason’s famous camp-style Thanksgiving dinner to energize us the 1st night. This stuff really sticks to your ribs, consisting of turkey jerky, instant potatoes, instant stuffing, gravy mix, and dried cranberries all cooked in 1 pot.
On the morning of day 2, we woke joyously to find no bears had disturbed us or batted our bear box during the dark hours. We pumped frigid stream water through our purifier and into 6 water bottles and 1 camelback to prep for the hike.

Above: Jason Arasim, Nicole Freyer and Jason van den Brand at the peak!

It was glorious, challenging, painful, emotional and inspiring all in one. Just see the pics! We spotted a black bear cub, took a dip in chilly Lake Solitude, marveled at the surrounding peaks from the snowy yet sunny ridge, and walked for 10 hours.

Because we missed the ferry at Jenny Lake by an hour, we tacked on 2 more tiresome miles to get to our car minutes before dark. We groaned, ate and collapsed back at the hotel, which we had booked from the trail on our IPhone. Gotta love technology, even in the woods.

Left: Jason near the peak

Right: Jenny Lake at sunset