On Tuesdag Juli 11th at 7.30 am, we started an amazing journey from Seattle Airport. Here we were to meet with our Trek America group, which showed to be two other danes (Esben and Mads), two couples from the UK (Dan and Sarah, Vic and Dre) and three people from Germany (Ralph, Tina and Marcel). We were both very exited to see who we were gonna spend every hour of the next 21 days with - and the first impression was certainly good! Our guide, Mike, also seemed really prepared and organized. He told us that he had been an adventure tour guide for 11 years now, but that he'd never done the Rocky Mountain High, which we were going on.
After a quick introduction to the routines of how to use the tour van, we were all set and ready to go! First stop was Mount Rainier, which was about 2 hours drive from the airport. As we entered "wilderness" it really became clear to us, what amazing sights we had to look forward to - the mountains were stunning on this clear, bluesky day!
The very first thing Mike told us when we got out of the van at the visitor center half way up on the mountain was that we were to do a 7-8 mile hike in pretty rocky terrain! Everyone looked a bit scared, but as soon as we got started (with "fuel" - sandwiches and water - in our backpacks) all was okay - and up we went! Mike was pretty impressed with the groups hiking skills - and later on the trip he declared us the best hikers he'd ever had! Luckily everyone was in pretty good shape and on almost every hike we were able to stay together as a group.
On the way down from our first hike we realized what a small world we live in, after all... Anne was walking in front and saw two guys ahead. After having noticed them she looked back at Nanna, and it became clear to both them and us, that we'd met i San Francisco a week ago in front of Coit tower!! One of them was a danish student from Eugene, and since we didn't get a chance to meet with them there, we didn't make a big deal of being co-danes. However, without having talked about going to Mount Rainier NP, here we were on the very same trail, at the very same time. Wierd.
After the hike we went to camp (campside with no showers and only pit-toilets - pretty brutal for the first camp!!) and had a quick demonstration of how to put up the tent - our home for the next three weeks! Trek America provided the tens along with sleeping mattresses and equipment for cooking and storage. Later in the afternoon we went on a small hike to a waterfall nearby, and had a cold, cold dip in the glacier water river.
The first night went with bear stories and smores (marshmallows+chocolate between crackers) around the first of many campfires. We went to tent (bed) tired after a great first day - and a little anxious about bear visits...
Glacier NP (Montana):
Welcome to bearland! Our first hike in bearcountry, where we would might see bears. Our 16 km. hike up to Iceberg Lake was a beautiful walk with a lot of yelling "Hi Bear!!" so we wouldn't surprise the bear and make it feel threatened. The iceberg lake was the most amazing lake ever. We took a lunch break by the lake. We could feel the chill from the ice and we had to put our jackets on. It was so silent the only thing we could hear was the big blocks of ice crack and fall into the water. We took some action shots (which Dan taught us how to do) and then we headed back down the mountain. Unfortunately we didn't see any bears.
The night ended by another lake with beer and a lot of drinking games like "G'day my name is Bruce, Sheila." and our favorite the "Yeeha" game!
Yellowstone NP (Wyoming):
Yellowstone were the place to see animals. We started early in the morning, we drove to the place where the Bisons sleeps and as the haze rised we could see hundreds of big bisons! We saw the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone and the big waterfall. After a day of hiking in the park we went to the hot springs and relaxed in the warm water. On our way back to the camp, most of the group asleep, Mike suddenly yells "BEAR BEAR BEAR!!!!!" and crossing the road, just in front of our van, is a black bear and its cup. It was incredible to see them and the cup looked back at the van before it ran into the bushes, and a chill went through the van. We were all so excited, and a little confused from sleeping - it was amazing. The last day in Yellowstone was the geyser day. We saw the Old faithful erupt and many other geysers, mud vulcanos and some more bisons.
Grand Teton NP (Wyoming)
The day team Xtreme was invented. We did a 14,4 mile hike up to lake solitude in less than six hours, and it was a hard one. The group split up into two groups. Mads, Tina, Dan, Sarah, Dre and us became team Xtreme when we in less than 3 hours made it to the lake Solitude. It was a very steap mountain, and we were exhausted and out of water when we reached the top. We meet a nice man who had a UV light that could make the lake water into drinking water. So we got our bottles filled up and went back down. Unfortunately we walked so fast that we passed a muse without even noticing. But it didn't matter to Dan because he had seen a huge beaver, which all of us believed to be just another marmot.
Jackson (small city in Wyoming):
We started the day in adventure style. Whitewater rafting down Snake river. It was so much fun and everybody got in the water. A great way to start your day.
In the evening we went to dinner at Gunbarrel, which was delicious, and we went to the rodeo. The place to see real cowboys! It was so american with national symphony, flags, bull riding, lasso throwing and cowboy hats. We enjoyed it a lot after accepting the calves didn't hurt from the lasso. After all that we went to party at Million Dollar Cowboy and we had a blast!
ocky Mountain NP (Colorado):
Our hike that day started at ca. 9000 feet and at ca. 1200 feet, so Flattop Mount trail was a hard hike, especially because of the thin air and the wind. The way down went a lot faster because we were cold and the 9 miles were quickly done. After that we took a two mile hike to emerald lake which was to idyllic!
In the evening we played a how low can you go game, Anne was in the top 3 and Nanna cracked her pants.
Arches NP (Utah):
At Arches we saw our first sunset, we went to the park had pizza and enjoyed the beautiful view over the canyon, it was so silent except for a japanese woman who found it to be convenient to sing a little tune.
We had a short sleep before we woke up at 4.30 to go see the sunrise from Devil's Garden. We all sat on a huge sandstone and watched the sun rise over the "mountains" and it felt like we were the only people in the world. In the park we saw the arches "Double O", "Navajo Arch" and "Delicate arch". We slept out side the park in Moab and we slept under the stars.
Monument Valley (Utah/Arizona):
We went on a jeeptour with a navajo indian guide named Tony. Tony showed the park and the different sandstone and told ud all of the names (which the indian gave them because they look like it) like "the Elephant", "3 sisters", "Big Hogan" osv. At Big Hogan Tony sang and played for us while we was inside looking up at the sky. The Indians made dinner for us and Tony told us about their culture while we sat around the fire. We slept under the fullmoon out in the dessert that night. And again we woke up really early and drove in the jeep to see the incredible sunrise.
Grand Canyon (Arizona):
What a sight! Anne had seen GC before, but it was Nanna's first time, and it was amazing! It is hard to understand how that small, small river (Colorado river) that you can see in the very bottom of the canyon, has formed this astounishing landscape that stretches miles and miles and covers several square km. On the first day we both did a small hike while the others were in the chopper. Nanna went to Oh Ah Point and Anne to Cedar Ridge. The heat was overwhelming and afterwards we had great respect for the long hike the day after. There had been some talking in the group about doing the river and back in one day - but we all decided not to, and Dan, Sarah, Tina and the two of us hiked Plateau Point (12,2 miles) instead. We were only 1,5 mile from the river, but had we done it, we wouldn't have made it up! Anne nearly got sick about .5 mile from the top, but we all made it - thanks to 5 liters of water in 6 hours EACH!! The afternoon went with showering and relaxation in the shade back at camp :)
Easton's ranch (Arizona):
A day at a real Amercan western ranch! It included horseback riding, actual dinner at an actual table and last but not least - THE PARTY BARN! Two other Trek A.-groups were there at the same time as were were, and we had a great party at night. All of our group decided to dress up in togas - do not miss out on the awesome pictures of our fashionable creations!!
Hangovers... Everyone was kind of tired when we came to Zion NP, but most of us decided to do a small hike anyways. We shuttled into the beautiful park, where the road was at the very bottom and had the cliffs rising on both sides - wow. The hike we did was in Virgin River and at times it was very difficult to find a good place to step... This caused a couple of falls - but nothing that could stop us from at least going the same way back (which, by the way, was the only way back!) The night in Zion was our last camp night - kind of sad, but then again, we did look forward to sleeping in an actual bed. We ended as we started - around the campfire with smores and stories :) At 5.30 am everyone got up and went for the very last hike of the trip - the Angels Landing. The hike was up, up, up - and then .5 mile on straight down cliff with chains to hold on to. Neither of us went all the way - the nerves couldn't take it!
VEGAS BABY!! The day had come, and we arrived in the city of lights, extravagancy, sin, gambling and loads of hotels around noon. Mike took us to lunch in a hotel that had the most overwhelming all you can eat-buffet any of us had ever seen! Not only did it have a lot of food - it was good food!! We ate till we couldn't fit anything more in our stomachs - and then we went to check in at the Alexis Park Hotel. It was weird to put down the dirty backpacks on the clean beds after having had the tent as our beloved home for 20 days... We enjoyed it though, and had a little relaxy time before we went power shopping for the big night to come!
At 7.30 pm the group met outside the hotel - everyone looked really fancy for the first time in weeks; the girls with make-up and dresses, the guys shaved and with good looking hair! Wow, we were ready for Vegas Baby (or Wegas, as Mads was known for pronouncing it:)). The stretch Limo picked us up at the Hard Rock Cafe, where we had a drink and watched all the different kinds of people that find their way to Las Vegas.
The limo-ride was awesome!! It reminded both of us of studenterkoersel, and was basically a couple of hours of crazy partying on wheels! Nobody payed attention to where the limo actually went :) All we knew was that we were let off on The Strip (the main street) and the rest is party history!