GET OUT: Before the Day Sleeps

By on January 5, 2016

Twilight jaunts help to extend fleeting winter days.

Left: Just another bump on the trail on the way down from Phelps Lake overlook. Top right: A glimpse of the Whitegrass Ranch. Bottom right: Jackson Peak as seen from Phelps Lake overlook. (Photo: katie steinberg, katie steinberg, elizabeth koutrelakos)

Left: Just another bump on the trail on the way down from Phelps Lake overlook. Top right: A glimpse of the Whitegrass Ranch. Bottom right: Jackson Peak as seen from Phelps Lake overlook. (Photo: katie steinberg, katie steinberg, elizabeth koutrelakos)

Jackson, WY – Summer is around the corner. The shocking notion weaseled its way into my mind before I could catch it. In a physical sense, the cold has set into our old swollen toes, but the coming of something special hovers directly overhead. It is the spontaneously predictable awakening of that thing called daylight. We have braved through the darkest of days and the celebrations ushering in the New Year. Some of us have even gotten to enjoy the holidays, students and employees who do not cater to the throngs of tourists pouring into the valley.

However, the inevitable bustle of life will soon return for all. This is when the importance of creating time to get out and enjoy the place we love becomes increasingly important. To really get the sense that you are making the most of your entire day, I recommend a twilight journey. Plus, sunlight lasts until 5:30 p.m. these days so why not take advantage of the light?

I’ve always wanted to enjoy the night more, but creatures of daybreak have a hard time venturing out beyond twilight. Finding motivation for this journey was the most difficult aspect of the entire fling. The mere fact that I expected myself to gather together gear and snacks made me second-guess the mission. Cozy in the house, the outside appeared cold and breezy. However, I had already set forth a steadfast resolution. I would enjoy the last bits of the day.

Driving north with skis in the car, my decision was welcomed by the clear, crisp, unadulterated view of the Tetons. Although I can see these things from my house, the closer I get the better they look. Driving down the windy Moose-Wilson Road, my muscles relaxed. This road, while icy with high snow banks for blind corners, offers a much more mellow experience than the crazed bustle that comes with it in the summer. On the side of the road, a small moose munched on twigs. Slowing down, I got a good look at this poor lad but continued on so not to bother the creature while it feasted on its measly snack.

After winding another corner, I was greeted by a gate that signaled the end of the plowed road. I had donned all proper attire at the house beforehand and hence hopped into my three pins. Then I attached the fanny pack and cruised up the road towards the official Death Canyon summer trailhead. Skiing up through the snow-covered trees, my toes slowly lost feeling. Within half a mile I spotted a view of Albright. The peak glimmered in the evening light.

Continuing up the road, I passed by the old White Grass Ranch and wished I could somehow devise a way to live at the base of prime ski tour habitat. I continued my journey up towards the Phelps Lake Overlook. The lake looked as though someone painted it with watercolors–grey, blue and white swirls carefully twisting to the edges. Darkness swiftly set in, but I figured this would be a nice scenic place to enjoy my carefully concocted blood orange hot chocolate. I sipped the handcrafted mix of cocoa and hand squeezed blood oranges, relishing in the hint of cream and sweetness.

Oftentimes, I find that bribing myself with a bit of comfort can aid in the propagation of experience. Without this motivational drink, I don’t believe I would have even stepped out of my house. After finishing the mug, I wistfully enjoyed the views of Jackson Peak and Sleeping Indian. As they turned that waspy salmon color, I knew it was time to go back to the car. With the knowledge that the entirety of this journey would be downhill, I dawned the beefiest buff I had over my face and realized the fateful flaw of my day: bringing dark sunglasses. Faced with the choice of dark sight or teary eyes, I chose tears. On the way down, I held on for my life. I’m not a skier and free heeling down this ice luge offered extreme terrain for the day. Although no rocks were showing on the trail, the early season snow packs still makes one susceptible to the dips. After flying through the air a few times, I made it back to the mellow road and skated my way to the car.

Although this short jaunt is just a little more than five miles roundtrip, I ended the day with refreshing clarity. Sometimes enjoying the last bits of day can be worth the hassle of preparation and numb toes. PJH

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