All’s quiet at Pinnacles Campground on Brooks Lake as I prepare to take the crew and myself to a new adventure.
I have the directions from Larry for a free camp on the Snake River, only two miles from the entrance to Yellowstone. The Best Little Trailer is secured. Bridget and Spike are in position on the bench seat of the Perfect Tow Vehicle. They know today is a travel day. Although I assured Larry last night that I didn’t need any help hitching up this morning, here he comes, a sleepy smile on his face. “Hey, I thought I told you to sleep late!”
Larry directs me as I back up the PTV for a quick hitch.
Again he reminds me to email him. Then it’s time for another bittersweet goodbye. Words don’t seem sufficient. I decide only an embrace will do. “Thanks for that hug, Sue.” As I drive away, I wonder if our paths will ever cross again.
I take the loop around the campground, stopping at the camp hosts’ site.
I sneak over to Joe and Debbie’s truck and slip a thank you note under the windshield wiper. “Thought you’d run off without saying goodbye, huh?” Joe hurries over to my window with his usual, warm smile. “Did you ever get a picture of the bathrooms?” he asks. “Oh yeah, I have to put that on my blog. You and Debbie deserve The Vault Toilet Award!” He laughs, we talk a while, and he reminds me to come back soon.
Seriously, these folks should get an award for the way they tend to Pinnacles Campground and the people who camp there.
This is their fourth year as the camp hosts. Every year they bring more items from their home in Kansas to further decorate the vault toilets. It’s become a fun project. Campers approach the vault toilet expecting an unpleasant, albeit necessary, experience. They come out smiling saying things like, “There’s even a rug in there!” “What a nice bathroom!” “I’ve gotta get a picture of that!”
Joe and Debbie provide hand-sanitizer and air freshener. Knickknacks add to the homey atmosphere. They keep the walls and floor sparkling clean. Each toilet has a little table well-supplied with paperbacks. A note urges campers to help themselves. I traded three of mine for three new ones. What nice people!
Goodbye, Brooks Lake! Thanks for the memories!
The crew and I travel down the mountain and take Highway 26 west. We climb through Togwotee Pass (9,658 feet), and follow a pilot car through extensive construction. Before we reach Moran, the Tetons come into view. Wow! I’ve seen them on calendars and post cards, but photos can’t fully portray their magnificence. Once I recover from my amazement, I realize one small regret . . .
I should have played a CD of Handel’s Messiah as I approached the Tetons!
Becky and Alan , a couple introduced to me by camp hosts Joe and Debbie, pull over behind us as I stop to walk the crew and take photos. They’ve seen the Tetons many times, since they summer in nearby Dubois. They’re on their way to Yellowstone, too. It’s fun to share my excitement with these friendly, fellow travelers. We exchange contact information. “We spend winters in Yuma,” Becky tells me, “so if you’re ever there again (I previously told them about Fortuna Pond), be sure and look us up.”
At last the crew and I enter Grand Teton National Park.
This is so great! I turn right at Moran and we travel north, turning left at the sign for Flagg Ranch. I make a right onto Grassy Lake Road. The road deteriorates to pot-holed pavement, and then washboard gravel. As we drive over the little bridge crossing the pretty Pole Cat Creek, my anticipation grows. There’s the Snake River! A small sign announces “Campground #1, 4 sites.” Remembering that Larry told me to camp at the 2-site campground, I keep going. Coming over the crest of a small hill, a meadow opens up to the right, and the lane to the 2-site campground heads toward the river, off to the left.
We drive int0 a small, paved area.
There are picnic tables, bear proof boxes, and a vault toilet. A tent is pitched by one of the tables; no one is around. I park the BLT in the shade of a pine tree and release the excited, yipping crew from the PTV. Together we trot down the path through the willow bushes toward the river. Spike leads the way! He wastes no time getting in for a soak. Bridget cautiously sits down on the bank and surveys the scene.
This part of the Snake River meanders, wide and shallow, except for the deep channel rushing against the opposite bank.
I turn and look downstream. My eyes are led to the unmistakable, mighty, snow-capped Tetons. I step into the river in my sandals. The water is clear and cool. I look down at Spikey’s dreamy face and laugh.
Thank you, Larry! This is a wonderful camp! And it’s free!