The Randomness of Mountains

The mosquito bites aren’t as plentiful or irritated as I worried they might be, but walking on the flat, carpeted floor feels a bit more like balancing on a tightrope than I would prefer. Amusing, considering that I’ve significantly upped my running distances for the past two weeks without such obvious side effects. But the randomness fits in with the rest of the start of this Wyoming summer.

Let me back up. I received my job ‘offer’ letter back in March and it decreed that I needed to be in Wyoming by May 14th, ready to begin work on the day after. My new boss didn’t actually call me into work until the 20th. Since that first day, my schedule has been a patchwork of being told my hours the day before, getting called in the middle of the afternoon to come in for a brief two hours of work, and texted information day-by-day.

weeks of randomness can affect one's sanity

weeks of randomness can affect one’s sanity

Random is one word to describe it, but most of all, frustrating. Hours have been few enough since I got here that I don’t want to miss out on a chance to work, but I don’t want to spend my free days glued to the golf course waiting for possible calls. Yesterday, by the time I’d ascertained that I did, indeed, have the day off and evaluated my options for the afternoon, it was 3 p.m. I was running low on provisions and decided to go ahead and make a grocery run rather than trying for a long bike ride. I outfitted myself for easy walking, thinking that I might go ahead and stroll around downtown and maybe stop in a cafe for a while and write.

I drove across Jackson to the everyday half of town (as opposed to the tourist half) and bought a few random supplies – super glue for the mug I’d managed to toss off of the nightstand, an underliner to make my in-room pantry more functional – before re-evaluating my options. I’m trying to stay aware of how much I’m using my car and not waste money using it to travel simply because I have it with me, so I elected not to drive back across town to the downtown area. I would only need to drive right back to where I was for my grocery shopping and thanks to being here without a car last summer, I knew I was perfectly capable of getting across town without driving.

cross-country travel can leave the feet dusty

cross-country travel can leave the feet dusty

But I didn’t really feel like waiting around for the bus, especially after spending the entire morning waiting around for a response from work. I could have walked to the downtown area, but I did that so many times last summer that it sounded like a dull option. So I elected to walk over to the town trail system and explore. I only discovered the entrance to the hillside trail area late last summer, so it was ground that I had only covered, at most, once before.

The first brief section of hiking led to a connection with the Snow King Trail that I had walked last year, so I turned off a relatively horizontal trail for the more familiar and much more vertical one. A lot of panting, red-facedness, and friendly dogs later and I made it to the summit, where you can stand and see the entire town laid out before you, followed by the Elk Flats and behind them and their lakes, the Tetons.


Still retracing my steps from last summer, I hiked along the top of the mountain ridge back across town. One side of the mountain drops down to town, the other opens up to acres of open ground. The trail was mostly clear, with only a few really slushy or snow covered sections. After the hard work of the climb the cool breezes at the top were quite pleasant, except for the clouds of mosquitoes who seemed pleased with all the portable snack bars that were traveling through.


At the far end of the ridge, the path turned back into a series of switchbacks leading down to the same area of town that I had started from. Narrower and dustier than the path I’d walked up, but no less steep, they took a fair amount energy to navigate. By the time I’d regained pavement, my legs were feeling shaky and my phone clock told me that my possible stroll downtown had turned into a three hour hike over and across a dusty mountain.


It seemed silly to leave the grocery shopping undone, since it had been my original purpose, so I didn’t. While I already knew that shopping while hungry can cause you to buy an excess of food, I now know that shopping while thirsty and dirt-coated leads me to buy a lot of fruit. Today, I’ll have to see if my sore muscles will allow me to balance long enough to put it all away.


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