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The McCarthy Take-over

The last week and a half of January, I had the absolute pleasure of giving my good friends from Vermont, Eric & Liz McCarthy, a place to stay on their adventure to the Tetons.  I don’t think I can even begin to explain how excited I was to see them.  I don’t think I’ve seen them since September or October.  I counted down the days until they got here, and tracked their flight on my phone for the hours of their travel leading up to Idaho Falls.

Let me just make a side note that since moving to Idaho, I haven’t had much luck meeting new people.  It gets a little lonely in this small town.  There’s not much of a night life, and even if there were, I’ve got a pretty set schedule of going to bed around 8:30pm in my ripe old age of almost 28.

Upon Liz and Eric’s arrival, their Toyota 4×4 rental pulled into our driveway with about 3 months worth of food and wine that they brought, surprise Lake Champlain Chocolates, Cabot Cheese, a Batman Sandwich from Vermont Sandwich Company, and a half bottle of Brandy in the center console left from previous renters.  You would think they were trying to feed 100 starving children or something with all of that food.  I don’t think we’ve had that much food in our house…well…ever.  Turns out, Eric sneaks to the kitchen every night for a 2am meal.  I would say snack, but I really don’t believe he just eats a snack.  I’m pretty sure it’s a plate full of leftovers and dessert.  I wouldn’t be surprised if he drank a cup of coffee after that too.  I have yet to understand how he can eat and go back to sleep in the middle of the night.  Blows my mind.

So weather wise on a vacation to the mountains for skiing and other adventurous activities, I don’t think they could have picked a better time.  They some how flew in during a slight break in the storm, and got here right after probably 3 feet of snow and before another foot or 2.  Snow conditions on the mountain were pretty incredible with the exception of some wind packed areas.

The first day of their trip, Rory and I took them up to Grand Targhee to go skiing and snowboarding.  Aside from the whiteout conditions, it was pretty spectacular.  I think the amount of snow surprised them both, in a holy-crap this-is-awesome-but-my-legs-are-killing-me sort of way.  We played for a while, and then somehow ended up in the Trap Bar.  That night, everyone was fairly exhausted, but ready for a new day of adventures to come.

The next day was awesome!  I woke Liz and Eric up REALLY EARLY.  They said they didn’t mind and that they were excited, but I secretly think that 5-something was a little early after a long day of skiing.  Either way, we got dressed and ready to go, got in the Toyota, and started to drive to Teton Pass all before the sun even thought about coming up.  We stopped for breakfast in Wilson, WY at a bagel shop.  The bagels there reminded me of home.  They made them fresh every morning.  So good.  We ate while we rode in the truck and kept on heading towards Jackson.  Our plan for the day was to search for animals at first light in Grand Teton National Park, stop in to see the Ranger’s station and some museums, cross country ski to Jenny Lake, and then to go on a horse drawn sleigh ride through the elk refuge.  Looking at it now, after typing all of that out, I have no idea how we really thought we were going to accomplish all of that in one day.  We definitely made a really good effort though.  We ended up driving through the park and seeing elk, wild buffalo, and moose, which was awesome.  We stopped at the Kelly Warm Springs which is a natural warm spring right off of the side of the road.  It’s so neat because it’s a little pond and stream with snow all around, but the water feels like a nice warm bath.  You can even see bubbles coming from under the stones at the bottom of the pond.  Really cool.

Driving around Grand Teton National Park was so fun that we decided to keep driving north to Jackson Lake.  Rory and I had driven up that way once when we first moved out here.  It was beautiful.  This time, the lake was frozen and the clouds were finally breaking.  The sky was opening up and letting the majesty of the Tetons peek through.  It was just enough to get an idea of the size and grandeur of the mountain range, but left the imagination to want more.  We kept driving staring intently at the mountains and the surrounding landscape.  Liz found a cool little part of the Snake River that curved next to the road with a line of ducks swimming and diving for food.  We pulled over to take pictures.  The view from there was incredible and the ducks were so cute.  They paddled around in single file lines along the white ribbon of snow that banked the river.

After driving so much, we figured there was no way we were going to have time to cross country ski the 9 mile loop to Jenny lake, so we went into Jackson and had some lunch.  Once we were done, we headed toward the elk refuge and signed up for the sleigh ride.

The sleigh ride was so awesome!  Our tour guide, Jordan, led our horse drawn sleigh (drawn by Jack and Jill) out into the refuge were thousands of wild elk were hanging out eating, laying down, and playing.  He pulled us up as close as possible to some of the biggest sets of antlers I’ve ever seen in my LIFE.  We learned a lot about the elk and got to take tons of pictures (and in my case, like usual, too many pictures).  After the sleigh ride was over, we headed back over Teton Pass, and went home.

Day number three, four, and five were kind of a blur to me, because I had to work.  Liz and Eric came up to Grand Targhee to try out skiing again and luckily I got to get out of work a bit early to snowboard with them.  The next day, they went on a snowmobile tour of Yellowstone.  They got to see Old Faithful which I am very much jealous of.  I’m pretty sure they also went cross country skiing at Grand Targhee too, which they got some really neat pictures from.

Day six and seven were spent skiing and snowboarding at Jackson Hole and walking around the town of Jackson itself.  Our time was spent making some great turns on the mountain on a beautiful bluebird day, and shopping in town in the evening.  We even got to see a dogsled race in Jackson which was pretty awesome!

Day eight was their last day here.  We went to Jackson again and finished up some shopping.  Souvenirs and whatnot.  Found some gorgeous jewelry and other trinkets and Liz bought a cowboy hat. :)  I was sad to even think of them leaving because it was so nice to have had them here.

They left the following morning…early.  Like, earlier then we even get up for work.  So early that it might as well have been Saturday night instead of Sunday morning.  They were so quiet leaving, that I didn’t even hear them go.  I woke up and they had left.  I’m kind of happy that they didn’t wake us because I would have been a mess I’m sure.  I miss them so much already and can’t wait to see them again.

Monday though, little Davit (for those of you unfamiliar, little Davit is my big, little brother, David) comes.  I. AM. SO. EXCITED.  I’m sure there will definitely be a blog to follow that visit too!  But as for now, enjoy the pictures attached to this one!

 

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Our Cross Country Skiing Adventure

A NEW BLOG!  Wooo!  I FINALLY have something fun to write about!

Lately, snow has been a bit sparse here as it has been for just about everywhere else in the country, so unfortunately, we didn’t have another series of powder days coming up for our 3 day weekend.  Because of the lack of snow this week, snowboarding can be a little boring for me…and a little annoying trying to scrape my way down chopped up ice on the mountain along with bits of gravel.  THIS weekend, I wanted to go exploring.  I wasn’t sure where, but I wanted to see something new.  Although the view from our house is incredible, it really makes you want to get out and see what else this part of the country has to offer, because you can already tell that it’s going to be amazing.

Rory came up with the idea of cross country skiing.  I’ll have to admit, I was a little surprised that he thought up cross country skiing because it is new for both of us and it’s definitely not an easy sport (especially when you’re a snowboarder).  I think he went once when he was in boy scouts probably 12 years ago, and I was lucky enough to have a couple of friends take me last winter for my first time (thanks Liz & Eric!)  So once we figured out our snow crossing medium, we had to decide where we were going to go.  Rory, again with his great ideas, suggested Mesa Falls.  Our roommate, Alex, had gone there on a snowmobile tour a couple of weeks ago and said that it was really awesome.  So, Mesa Falls it is!

A little history on Mesa Falls:

Mesa Falls Tuff, which is the rock over which Upper Mesa Falls cascades, was formed 1.3 million years ago. A cycle of rhyolotic volcanism from the Henrys Fork caldera deposited a thick layer of rock and ash across the area. This layer compressed and hardened over time.

Between 200,000 and 600,000 years ago, the river eroded a wide canyon which was subsequently partly filled with basalt lava flows. The Henrys Fork of the Snake River then carved the channel through the basalt; which is the inner canyon seen today.

Upper Mesa Falls is approximately 114 feet high and 200 feet wide.

Thank you http://www.wikipedia.com

We rented cross country skis from the mountain that we work at the night before our adventure, and woke up nice and early yesterday to start our trek.  Steve, our other roommate, decided to take the trip with us.  All of us packed a backpack with little snacks.  Mine carried some Cabot cheese (thanks Aunt Nancy), my Gerber multi-tool (a little Davit Christmas special from a few years ago), some sunglasses, and of course my camera.  We got to the ranger station at around 8:15am to get our Park ‘N Ski permit, and continued on our way.

From the ranger station, the drive wasn’t too much further.  We crossed a couple of rivers and headed up a winding hill.  Steve and Rory, who were sitting in the front, spotted 2 moose!  So obviously we immediately pulled over and turned off the truck to take pictures.  There was a mama moose and a younger moose.  They were right off the side of the road!  I thought I had some really great shots, but after reviewing them, I’m smacking myself for not bringing my tripod.  Idiot.  Lesson learned.  They came out pretty blurry, but I pulled the least blurry ones I got and posted them.  Not even a mile up the road from the moose, we found a really gorgeous scenic overlook.  Finally a view of the Tetons that I haven’t really seen yet…one from a distance!  I think we were around 45 miles away.

Moments later, we arrived at the parking lot for the Mesa Falls Cross Country Skiing Adventure!  We gathered all of our things, clicked into our skis, and headed up the Mesa Falls Scenic Byway until we got to the trail head.  I think the trail head was about a half a mile up the road.  Once we got to the trail head, we could either take the nice, groomed trail, OR take the un-groomed, road less traveled which happened to be the more scenic trail.  Of course, since all of us are inexperienced cross country skiers, and all of the trails were rated intermediate – expert, we were obviously going to take the un-groomed, icy, brush sticking through the snow, trail.  We may not be good, but we’re a pretty confident group of people.

The trail ended up being a bit of a struggle, with each of us taking a fall or two…or three or four in my case, but man was it cool!  The first trail lead us through the woods right along side of a canyon with awesome views and interesting rocks and trees.  There were rabbit tracks everywhere and trees with little caves in the trunks!  It was neat!  Even the moss looked cool!

The first leg of our trek lead us to a big rock peninsula that had such a cool view of the Tetons and a really huge hill covered in enormous volcanic rocks made into what resembled pillows because of the snow.  It was pretty neat because the rocks were so big and there was nowhere that they could have fallen from, so you know they’ve been there for EVER.

Our second leg was groomed (thank god) and started with a nice big hill.  Well, it wasn’t really THAT big, but for someone who doesn’t ski, it was colossal.  Steve went down first and took a minor fall.  Rory made it down without a hitch.  Me on the other hand, well lets just say that the snow tasted great towards the bottom.  Ouch.  The trail took us through a nice open meadow-y area where we could finally pick up a little speed and kind of coast our way around.  It lead us to a small camp ground with an overlook of the lower falls which was amazing because it was kind of a funnel of stepped waterfalls, but it was huge.  We stayed there for a few minutes to give our legs, and arms, and backs, and whatever other body parts that got sore, a rest.  We ate some pepperoni, cheese and crackers, took some pictures, and headed on our way towards the third leg.

The third leg, which I’m checking out the map now, turned out to be the expert trail.  Out of all of the legs, I don’t really feel like this one was much different in difficulty.  It took us through the rest of the campground and through the woods again, but it was groomed which was nice.  The last half of the trail was shared with snowmobiles, which left us on an open road with no tracks to keep our skis straight in.  Oh and the road just happened to be down hill.  Steve toughed it out and skied the whole way down, while Rory and I ended up skiing about 2/3rds of the way and walking the rest.  The road took us to a little house and a really cool walk way with decks to view the Upper Mesa Falls.  The waterfall was enormous.  It hit the pool at the bottom with such force, that the mist covered the opposite side of the canyon in snow and ice hundreds of feet high!  It was really something worth seeing.

We hung out there for a while, took pictures, and met a handful of snowmobilers who had stopped to see the falls too.  We finished up the pepperoni, ate some more cheese and crackers, and shared a Snickers bar, then we were on our way again.

The trek back wasn’t as difficult as the way there thankfully.  Most of it was slightly downhill and we pretty much just got lazy and coasted as much of it as we could.  The total distance covered was in the 9 mile range by the time we got back to the truck.  It was so much fun and I can’t wait until we do something like it again.

We were all VERY sore and stiff by the time we got back home, but are mostly recovered this morning.  Don’t worry though, it’s a good sore!

 
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Posted by on January 6, 2012 in Mountains, Scenery, Sunrise, Wildlife, Winter, XC Skiing

 

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Operation: Christmas Tree

So yesterday, Rory and I went out Christmas Tree hunting.  Apparently, the only place to buy a Christmas Tree around here is the local grocery store, and they wanted $35!  We went to the forest service instead, and they sold us a permit for $10 to go out and hunt our own Christmas Tree.  They sent us out to a canyon with a one way road covered in snow that we had to carefully navigate through until we thought we found a good place to look for a tree.  Once we parked, Rory, Jackson, and I started wandering through the forest from Charlie Brown Christmas Tree to Charlie Brown Christmas Tree trudging through the snow.  We went from one section of the woods to another…and then across the road and into more woods.  We finally found a tree that might be worth cutting down and bringing home…I think Rory was starting to get tired of wandering through the woods and his boots were filled with snow.  While he got the saw ready to start cutting the tree down, I continued to wander and found OUR tree.  It was extremely tall, and was growing less then a foot from the tree next to it which meant that a quarter of the tree would probably be bare…but the top half of it grew alone, and that’s the one I wanted.  We got the saw out again and started cutting into the trunk.  We took turns running the hand saw through the tree and when it was about to come down, Rory pushed it away from us.  We ended up having to cut another couple of feet off of the bottom before dragging it through the woods and back to the car which was a feat of its own.  Then, we loaded it onto the car, tied it with twine and took a look at what we had.  Our tree was HUGE.  It barely fit on the car.  The tip of it was almost dragging on the ground!!  Needless to say, we drove home slowly.

When we got home, we unloaded the tree, brought it in only to find out that It didn’t fit, brought it back out, and trimmed it from the top and bottom.  We brought it back in, stood it up, and started decorating to Christmas music on Pandora radio.

Here are the pictures from our excursion.

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Hope you enjoyed the pictures!!!

Happy Holidays!

 
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Posted by on December 13, 2011 in Hiking, Holiday, Wildlife, Winter

 

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Happy Birthday, Rory!

Yesterday was Rory’s 27th (shhh he doesn’t like to talk about his age) birthday!  He’s officially as old as me for a couple of months now!

We woke up around 8 with a goal for the day already in mind.  We were going to hike to the top of Peaked Mtn. (pronounced peak-ed) up at Targhee and snowboard down.  Peaked’s elevation is 9,830 ft.  We started by taking the Dreamcatcher lift to the top of Fred’s Mountain.  Then we traversed across to about the base of Mary’s Nipple.  We hiked up Mary’s nipple and across and then traversed across the ridge to Peaked.  Then we hiked up the steepest wall of snow I’ve personally ever hiked to get to the top.  Here’s a map.

The map really does the hike no justice…aside from the fact that we got just about 2,300 ft. of vert. to snowboard down.  The conditions were incredible and pretty much unbelievable considering we haven’t gotten a good snow in weeks.  It was at least knee deep and sugary light floaty powder.

Here are some pictures from the hike taken from my phone and from our gopros…

This is a photo of Mary’s Nipple from the TVT…on the map above, my location is where the orange and blue meet for the first time between Fred’s Mountain and Mary’s Nipple.

This is Peaked from the same location.  This is the mountain that we were going to summit.

We were half way across the ridge between Mary’s and Peaked…(mary’s is behind me to the left)  Look at those Tetons! :)

This is what we had left in front of us…

That’s Mary’s from just about the top of Peaked…

AND WE MADE IT!!

After hanging out up there for probably close to 20 mins or so, taking in the view and taking pictures, we had the best run of our season so far.  It was incredible.  The views were amazing!  The Tetons are bigger then you can imagine, and they’re still about 8 miles away!  Pictures do them no justice.

Once we snowboarded to the bottom, and hiked our way back up and out, we went to the Trap bar for a celebratory beer and Kobe Beef burger.  So delicious.  They taste even better after you’ve worked for them haha :)  We went home and napped for a bit, didn’t have anything special for dinner, and then had cake.

I made Rory a chocolate cake with chocolate butter cream icing, ALL FROM SCRATCH!  Yes, I’m proud…and yes, it was delicious.  I was trying to be all cake boss, and cover his cake in fondant and decorate the crap out of it, but I failed miserably at that so I just squeezed some icing on top in the shape of the Tetons and covered his cake in candles.

and then he blew out the candles…27 + 1 for good luck :)

Happy Birthday, Rory!  I love you and I hope you had a great day!  You’ve still got the spirit of a child and I absolutely love that about you…we will never get old :)

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Tomorrow, we’re going to get a permit from the forest service and go Christmas Tree Hunting…Post to follow soon :)

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on December 11, 2011 in Birthday, Grand Targhee, Hiking, Mountains, Scenery, Snowboarding

 

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Turkey for days

THANKSGIVING WAS AWESOME!  We had a heck of a weekend.  I cooked the best turkey I think I’ve ever made which was amazing!  Steve (our roommate that we’ve become good friends with over the past few years) finally got a chance to get to Wydaho to check out the new house and I was so excited to be able to cook for him and Rory!

I started out Thanksgiving morning by baking pumpkin cake, which was incredible by the way, thanks to Rory’s mom for the recipe.  Cathy, I don’t think it could have come out any more perfect, thank you it was soooo delicious!  I’m definitely making it again.  After the cake was finished, I decided to wait a couple of hours to start the stuffing and turkey because I only anticipated the turkey taking like 4 hours to cook…(hah…i was way off, but we’ll get into that in a sec).  The stuffing I made was all thanks to Uncle Henry…best stuffing in the WORLD and always a huge hit when I make it for friends.  I think next time I’m gonna double the recipe because the stuffing is always the first thing to disappear and then days later when I’m fixing myself a heaping pile of turkey, I’m always bummed that I don’t have any stuffing to go on top.

So it’s getting to be around 9-10:00am and I’m on what I’m pretty sure turned out to be a life saving phone call with my Dad…He started asking how long my turkey was going to take and when I was planning on putting it in.  I was so confident that it was only going to take 4 and a half hours at the MOST so I was planning on putting it in the oven around noon or 1ish.  Now, my dad and I have quite a bit in common, and we tend to eat about the same way (and at the same pace…fast).  He let me in on some of his turkey wisdom, and let me know that he stuffs the hell out of his turkey and it adds quite a bit of time to his roasting.  I obviously stuff my turkey until literally nothing else fits…so tight that I almost couldn’t squeeze a couple cloves of garlic in there after I was done.  Needless to say, my turkey took over 7 hours to roast.  Not 4.  Thanks Dad.  I put my turkey in earlier and saved what could have been a cannibalistic Thanksgiving with 2 VERY hungry boys.

On top of turkey, stuffing, and pumpkin cake, we had asparagus, candied sweet potatoes (Moms special recipe, thanks mom <3), smashed Idaho (cause we’re actually IN Idaho) potatoes, that awesome jellied cranberry sauce that comes out in the shape of the can (cause it reminds me of Nana’s house for Thanksgiving when I was a kid), gravy that I cook right in the pan the turkey was cooked in because that’s the way Nana always did it, corn, and crescent rolls that the boys made but couldn’t figure out how to roll them haha.  They did a great job though aside from me having to smack their hands away from the turkey when it came out of the oven.  Steve, however, snuck a wing and RAN outside with it right when it came out of the oven.  He’s lucky I spared his life.

After our dinner, we all went into a tryptophan induced coma.

Here’s a short slide show of a couple of thanksgiving pictures :)

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On Friday, Grand Targhee had their opening day.  Rory, Steve and I went to get a few turns in and had a pretty good time considering only the beginner lift is open.  We still managed to get a couple powder turns in there though :)  We stopped at the Trap and had some Kobe Beef Burgers (mmmmm) and I hung out there and had another beer while they took a couple more laps.

Saturday was Jackson Hole’s opening day.  Rory and I went.  SO FUN.  My legs turned into jelly after riding powder all day.  We had a blast!  The snowboarding season has officially begun!

The weather has been warming up a bit around here…30′s and 40′s mostly, which isn’t helping our snow situation much.  We finally got around 4 inches yesterday, but it’s not nearly enough to open more of the mountain.  It gets really windy at the top and all of the new snow just blows off.  Wind is not cool right now.

Anyways, there’s an update for ya from the past week or so.  If anything exciting happens, you can expect another post, but other then that it’s all been calm on the home front.  Hope everyone is well!

 

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MOOOOSE!

So this morning I figured out how much Rory REALLY loves me.  Today is football Sunday.  Football Sunday happens to be his favorite day of the week (one that he looks forward to continuously) where he sits on the couch, relaxes, watches the game, has a few beers, and has his man time.  Today happens to be his LAST Football Sunday before work starts for the winter which could potentially eliminate Football Sundays all together.

For all of you who know Rory, you know how much he likes to sleep.  I found that out the hard way the first time we went camping years back by accidentally interrupting his precious slumber.  On a weekend especially, you do not want to wake him up before 10. Period.  After 10 though, you’re in the clear and his “Minnesota nice” usually comes out in full effect.

Now, on to how I figured out how much he really loves me.  This morning, after a night out to see the TGR movie premier and having a few cocktails, Rory woke up with me at 5:15am, in the dark, dressed in layers for the negative six degree crisp Teton Valley weather, and drove an hour away, over Teton Pass, to get to Grand Teton National Park before sunrise.  BEFORE SUNRISE.  Last week, as you may have read in a past post, we stopped into a photo gallery and talked to a man about seeing wildlife.  He said the best time to look was at first light.  This morning, we saw.  It was amazing.  He drove me around the park, pulling over as many times as my little heart desired so I could hop out and take pictures.  He turned around when I wanted, and even suggested going down different roads.  He kept his tired eyes PEELED all morning looking for any kind of wildlife we could spot.  What. A. Guy.

We spotted like 6 moose, countless elk and tons of antelope!  They were so close to the side of the road, and some even walked right in front of the car!  I couldn’t believe it!  This was my first time shooting any moose, so my pictures aren’t great, but it was fun to be able to see them.  The picture of the elk wasn’t easy to get because he was RUNNING through a field and across the road so bare with me.  Hope you like my first attempt!

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P.S.  I love you, Rory.  Thank you for experiencing this with me without a single question.  You are amazing!  I’m sorry you’re spending your last Football Sunday in bed, catching up on much needed sleep.

 
 

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Powder Grins!

This morning…Grand Targhee reported 15″ of new snow over night…guess what we did today?!?!

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It was incredible…spent LOTS OF TIME HIKING UP HILL IN THE SNOW…but got my first legitimate, non-forced face shot this season…epic.

WHEEEW!!

 
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Posted by on November 18, 2011 in Grand Targhee, Mountains, Snowboarding, Winter

 

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