Sunday, March 2, 2014

Climbing the Tetons - August 2014

It's been six months since our epic Teton 2014 trip, and I feel like a slacker for taking so long to post about it, but it's not for lack of desire.  Honestly, it's the third child.  Oh, she's a sweetie, but that third child put us over the edge and has seriously cut back on our blogging time.

Back to the story.  Amazing, amazing trip.  I'm never happier than I am when I'm in the Tetons, and this trip was no exception.  In fact, I was so giddy the whole time that I think I drove everyone else crazy with my constant singing and whistling.  Great family and friends for a few days in the Tetons--without cell phone reception--is about as close to heaven as you can get.

This trip was particularly special for me because I got to share it with my oldest sister Tammie.  In a family of die-hard Teton fans, Tammie's love for the Tetons is unsurpassed.  But she had never had the same opportunities as some of us to backpack and climb in the Tetons.  Until now.  And, as you'll see, I took it upon myself to document her maiden voyage.

This trip, we backpacked from the west up Teton Canyon to Alaska Basin, which served as our base camp for the day hikes and excursions that followed.  One day we set out to climb Battleship Mountain (the peak in the above picture, which has always been a goal of mine).  Unfortunately, none of us was able to summit because--and I'm not making this up--the rocks were so sharp and loose that we feared being severely lacerated if anyone slipped.  No, really.  I still want to climb that mountain (because I'm sure the views are spectacular), but I'll do it with thick pants and gloves.

But no failed summit could spoil this party.  For example, we made it to Hurricane Pass and enjoyed the below view of Schoolroom Glacier, Cascade Canyon, and (from left to right) the Grand Teton, the Middle Teton, and the South Teton.

Sisters Tammie and Holly enjoying the view.

We also discovered this really cool place that I didn't know existed that was covered with large rounded, rocky mounds.  Jason, the geologist, tried to convince us that these mounds were ancient corral beds that used to be under the water but were now on a ridge at about 9,500 feet above sea level in the Tetons.  He could be right, but I still think they're probably fossilized brontosaurus dung.

Oh, and did I mention it was absolutely gorgeous, and the company was unrivaled?

And the highlight of the trip was my papa's 60th birthday, which we celebrated by waking up at 3am and hiking from Alaska Basin to the top of the South Teton.  We hiked through the dark past Sunset Lake and raced up the steep talus slope (pictured below) to try to make it to that saddle/notch by sunrise.

And we made it.  And watching the sun rise behind the Tetons was one of those moments I'll never forget.  The peak on the right is the South Teton--our destination.

Tammie Sue enjoying the view.  And, I think, realizing how far away and big that mountain is that we're about to climb.

Two points for anyone who can find Tammie in the below picture.  I took this one from the "base" of the South Teton looking back toward the notch (on the far right) where we watched the sunrise.

And that's when the fun really began.  I had done this same route up the South on two previous occasions, but I had forgotten how steep and long it is.  It just goes up and up and up.

And up.

But we made it.

And here is my dad, reaching the summit of the South Teton (12,513') on his 60th birthday.  As you may recall, my dad and I climbed the Middle Teton on his 55th birthday.  There's a trend here, so I asked my dad what he wanted to do for his 65th birthday.  His answered that he wanted to stand on the top of Rendezvous Mountain--the Teton peak to the south of us, that has a tram to the top.  Of course, months later he's now forgotten the pain and he's already planning the next climb.

View of the Grand (the tall one) and the Middle (in front of the Grand) from the South Teton.

And this is my favorite picture from the whole trip (click to enlarge).  It's an amazing view, but even better is that it shows Tammie on top of the South Teton to the right.  It was her first major climb.  It had been her dream for a long time (decades of staring at it from the bottom).  She said it was the hardest thing she's ever done.  I'm sure there were times she wanted to quit, or doubted whether she would make it.  I'm sure there were times she wanted to kill me for bringing her on the trip with promises that she could do it.  But there she is.  I was so proud.

I love climbing mountains, but really I'm a guide at heart.  I get even more joy from sharing these experiences with other people.  Which makes me think of the second time I climbed the South Teton, in the summer of 2002, with Suzanne.  We were just dating at the time and I really wanted to share this with her.  But she had horrible blisters on her feet from backpacking in, so she had to wear her Teva sandals because she couldn't stand to have her hiking boots on.  But she told me she was OK and--I kid you not--she climbed that mountain in her sandals.  Looking back, I can't believe she continued to date me and eventually married me.  She should have known at least by then that I was crazy.  But, I sure do love that memory of sharing the South Teton with Suzy, too.

Here's the view from the top, looking south.  Snowdrift lake (center) is the most amazing color of blue. Pictures don't do it justice.

These are just such unique experiences, filled with beauty and adventure, and trial and pain, that they stick with you forever.  I still remember exactly how I felt when I took the below picture of my dad, sister and 12-year-old nephew:  I felt proud--proud to be part of a family that brings three generations together on a beautiful day to climb a serious, beautiful mountain.  

Unfortunately, we eventually had to leave.  But the memories are sweet.  And motivational--we're already planning our next few adventures.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Pray for Momma Grover.

And for her sweet family.  She's had a huge influence in my life, including through her amazing children.  And now she's sick and needs our prayers.  We love you momma Grover, and your whole family.

Friday, January 31, 2014

Happy Chinese New Year!

From Tenny's first-grade class.

This song has something to do with a panda, but it's all Chinese to me.  (Tenny is on the bottom row, third from the right.) 

Monday, January 13, 2014

Tenny's a skier

Tenny learned to ski at Brighton this weekend, and he's hooked.  I was nervous that he might not like it and I wouldn't have a ski buddy, but he loved it and it came really naturally for him.  He got bored with the bunny hill after a couple runs, so we spent the rest of the day skiing down from the top of the mountain.  I don't think I've ever seen Tenny happier than that.

Here's a video of Tenny on his first ski day.

I can't wait to get back on the slopes with my little ski buddy, and he's begging to go again too.  This could become an expensive addiction.  But you have to take advantage of these moments before they become teenagers and don't want to be around you any more, right?

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Okay, we're a little slow on the Christmas greetings, but we've been so busy having fun that it took us a while to get to the Christmas cards and blog posts.  Better late than never.

We hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas and New Year!

As for Ye Stewart Clan, 2013 was a wild ride.  Julie started walking, and then toddling, and then running, and now she's trying to master the scooter.  She's also the cutest, sweetest girl ever, and she's totally in love with her brothers.  Tait started preschool last Spring (before his third birthday) because he begged us to let him go to school.  He loved it, and he's back in preschool now.  He's finally moving away from the terrible twos, he's a big tease, and he loves playing and helping mommy and daddy with everything they do (except clean the house).  Tennyson just turned 7(!), but he thinks he's 13.  Tenny continues to study Chinese at school, and he loves riding his bike and scooter, building things, taking things apart, and playing video games.  Suzy and I are just hanging on for dear life.

As for resolutions, in 2013 we resolved to spend more time in Southern Utah.  We knocked that one out of the park.  In fact, we've made four wonderful trips to St. George in the last six weeks.

But honestly, we're exhausted.  So, in 2014, we resolve to do less.  No really, that's our New Year's resolution:  DO LESS.  Oh, and learn how to grill a really good steak.

Happy 2014 to all of our friends and family!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Happy 7th Birthday, Tenny!

And now a poem from your momma:

Tenny, you're turning seven today!
You're seeing the world in a whole new way.  
No more a babe.  Net yet a man.
You're asking all the questions you can.
You're learning the truth about life on this earth.
You're feeling the truth of your own divine worth.
I never will doubt you.  Your heart is pure gold.
So don't be afraid to be different.  Be bold!
Tenny, I love you, but it is bittersweet,
to let go of the boy for the man I will meet.
So no matter how tall, how grand you become,
remember your mother and from where you have come.
And these arms that cradled you once before,
will comfort and hold you once again more.

We love you Tennyson!  Happy birthday.