Grand Teton/Yellowstone National Park – Vanlife

 #vanlife  😎 Seriously. This is such an iconic vanlife photo! I have not mentioned this yet but I do have a name for my van. I call my van Ody One. Or Ody for short.

 I hit GTNP just at the right time. I rolled in after a day of resupplying in Jackson and was treated to calm lakes and mirroring views of jagged peaks that reminded me of the alps in Europe.

Soak it up! That is the Grand Teton peak off in the distance. Grand Teton translates  “the big tit”!

 So I stealth camped in my van in an undisclosed location and woke up early to hike to bradley lake and catch some fish on my birthday! Thats right, its my birthday! Its my birthday!

 Ok, not going to complain here. The Tetons are amazing.

This way… To the lake….

Yeah, I caught some fish… On My Birthday!!!!

 I wish I knew the name of this rushing creek but I don’t.

 So here is my birthday dinner. Fresh caught trout over jasmine rice. With a large salad. So I do need to correct myself. Technically this is the day before my birthday, July 27th. The following day will be my birthday but I wanted to celebrate today since I knew I would be driving most of my actual bday.

 I was treated to the BEST sunset of the adventure in GTNP! This was my 5th National Park this year! Nice!

 So the next day it was north through Yellowstone National Park making this National Park number 7. I have been to Yellowstone so many times. Seriously I have been to this National Park so many times I cannot count. Its probably between 10 – 12 visits. So anyways, I really did not spend much time in Yellowstone and just wanted to make my way through to my next destination. The Beartooth/Absaroka Mountains.

I stopped for a quick picture along Yellowstone Lake. Yellowstone Lake is the largest  natural high altitude freshwater lake in the US. I was able to make a few phone calls and catch up with a few close friends and family. Cell service was few and far between in the National Parks. Something you get used to on the road.

Sulphur Caldron

You are pretty much guaranteed to see buffalo in Yellowstone.

 And a little bit of National Park humor to finish the post. Taken from inside one of the bathrooms in Yellowstone NP.

Jackson Wyoming Vanllife

I arrived in Jackson on a Monday and realized how busy but beautiful this town was. When I was a teenager I briefly drove through Jackson with my family but barely remember the town and Teton National Park.  Taking a peek at my mountain biking trails apps there were some good rides right from my camp. This is my free campsite off of a dirt road near Mike Harris campground. I am actually camped in Idaho on the Idaho side of the Teton Pass. What a great spot this turned out to be. It had creek running nearby, huckleberries, butterflies, and white tailed deer that made a visit. 

 A friendly butterfly visiting my camp. It was hard for me to meet people on the road so I was grateful for any type of company.

 Blueberry paleo pancakes, 2 fried eggs, and bacon to fuel up for a ride.

On the radar is Mail Cabin Trail. After a quick jaunt peddling up the highway I was treated to lush singletrack in peak wildflower season.

I am not going to lie. This trail is very tough. It started with some gradual climbing but after a few miles turned to steep hike a bike up to the ridge.

 Large talus field on the way up.

Once the hike a bike was over the trail descends down with brief climbs along the ridge with sweeping views both left and right. It was gorgeous up here! After a few more miles on the ridge the trail forks on a steep downhill that took me right back to camp. This ride was a blast and would highly recommend it.

After a chill day in the van reading Survivor, I found a short ride from my camp. These trails were freshly cut and very fun. I was stoked!

It was almost as if Gnomes came out the night before and groomed the trail for me.

Loam…. Loam for days…
The trails I ended riding this day were Rush hour (I went OTB overshooting a small bridge on the way down), Nemo, and, Grumpy. Grumpy was one of the funnest, coolest, little trails I have ever ridden! It is a true gem for being just 1.7 miles. Ride it if you can. 

Backpacking trip to the Wind River Range – Pinedale Wy

Ahhh! That sweet sweet vanlife! One of the many times I stayed in a Walmart parking lot. I haven’t shopped at Walmart in years but since I have been utilizing their free camping so I thought it would be only fair to purchase some groceries. I did end up getting my first batch of cherries at this Walmart and it started a cherrey craze all the way to Whitefish Montana. But other than the cherries, Walmart groceries are packed with disappointment. Generally I would sleep great no matter where I parked. I had complete privacy with my window coverings and by turning on the fan and maybe some music the space inside my van would be its own little cozy world. The Walmart parking lots were always busy with campers in the back of the parking lot.

 You really see the whole gamut of nomads and RV/Vandwellers. Here is a jellyfish van parked in the Walmart in Rock Springs Wyoming. It was hot as hell here!

Thanks for sending my hat and thanks for the gift card Mike! It was nice to get a little care package on the road.

Here was a campsite I found off of that was just a few miles from the trailhead. I stayed here for about 4 days total. 

Earlier I had made my way to Pinedale and got some resupplies and prepared for a 3 night 4 day backpacking trip in the Wind River mountains in central Wyoming. I had been dreaming of this hike for years after following several hikers recommendations in the past.

 After a good nights sleep I got up early and was on the trail by 7am. I was very excited for this hike. I had planned a large loop crossing 2 major passes and a side trip to the legendary Titcomb Basin. I brought my bear canister and felt the large load of food, water, and a full pack. Me being excited I put it into high gear and trekked into the Bridger Wilderness.

Immediately I was treated with spectacular views of the range.

 Wind River Range is full of granite and water!

 It was lake, after lake, after lake along this hike. The beauty wasn breathtaking.

Lots of tributaries and streams. I love the light colored granite that forms the range. Coming from the Pikes Peak area of Colorado I am used to seeing the pinkish colored decomposed granite that dominates that area, it was refreshing to see such pretty rock all over the place.

 The trail was well constructed and bobbed its way in and out of lake basins. I must have crossed 10 lakes by this point!

 Can you see the beautiful Titcomb basin off in the distance. Here I am nearing the evening at Seneca Lake with the ‘13,751 Fremont Peak off in the distance.

Unfortunately I had to pull the plug on the hike and camp much sooner that anticipated. About 6 miles into the hike I was cruising along with my earbuds in when I notice a sharp pain in the arch of my foot. I take a few more steps, then again, a very sharp pain! I knew something was wrong immediately and took a break to rest my foot. After a short break my foot was still hurting and made the decision to camp at a Seneca Lake and call the day after only about 10 miles. I had planned to hike about 20 miles that day but looking back my body was not ready for that much distance with the load I was carrying. Also I had some new shoes (Altra Lone Peaks 3.5s) that barely had any arch support with the stock insole. Later I put a pair of green Super Feet inside the Altras and they have been great ever since. So long story short I had to cut my 3 night 4 day trip down to a 1 night 2 day trip. In the long run it was a great decision to call the trip, rest, then make my way back to my van the next day.

 I had a lot of time that day after pitching camp and just enjoyed the views of Seneca Lake, listened to music, and took some pictures. I also snacked a lot since I had a bunch of backpacking food I would no longer need.

 It was a good campsite and enjoyed the sunset. I always enjoy a good sunset.

 That next morning I was up early and made my way back to my van. I was disappointed that
I did not get to do the whole loop that I planned and missed out on Titcomb Basin but still was very impressed with what I did get to see and really enjoyed my time the best I could. My foot was hurting on the way back still and I was reassured I made the right call.

I had brought my Tenkara fishing rod on this trip and was having trouble catching anything until I tried my hares ear lure at Beauty Lake. 

I ended up catching 2 little brookes and was pretty satisfied to have finally caught something. 

I took a day to rest in my van and made one more day trip to a lake nearby called Long Lake. It was a steep 3 mile hike to the lake. My foot was still sore but I could tell it was already getting better after a days rest. I brought my spinner rod down here and fished for a couple of hours. It was windy and the fish were not biting.

So after 4 days at the Winds it was time to make my way north to Jackson Wyoming. One of my vanlife strategies is to try and arrive at a new camping location mid week and avoid the crowds on the weekend. I was looking to arrive in Jackson on a Friday but decided to pull over at this peaceful spot just off the highway in between Pinedale and Jackson to burn a couple of days before arriving in the busy town of Jackson. It turned out I was tired from all the excitement in the Wind River Range and needed a couple of days to chill out anyway. I spent 2 days resting and reading the book The Dog Stars by Peter Heller. This book had me on the edge of my seat and turning pages for hours. It had been a long time since I  have read like that if ever. Thanks Paul for lending me one of the best books I have ever read.

On my way to Jackson Wyoming I stopped along the Hoback River and threw out a line. I caught this carp. It was a shock how ugly this fish was after catching beautiful trout all these years.Yes I thew this guy back!

The best boat is Steamboat!

After a great time in Vail with my friends Paul and Becca I made my way to Steamboat Springs Colorado. Steamboat was one of my Colorado bucket list locations. Being a Colorado native there are lots of iconic mountain locations that I have not yet seen. In a matter of a couple of weeks I was able to check off Crested Butte, Vail, and now Steamboat! When I arrived in Steamboat it was hot! It was 94 degrees in town and you could tell it was really dry. I made my way up the Buffalo Pass road and after what seemed like hours (probably only 45 minutes) of bumpy rough steep dirt road and many occupied campsites I came across one of my best sites to date! When I arrived I knew I was going to stay for at least a week. I ended up staying 7 days that included 3 mountain bike rides, and a 2 day fishing/backpacking trip on the Continental Divide

My first adventure was riding the CDT to Fish Creek Falls Trail then taking the fork to Steamboat resort and ride a flow trail down.

Round lake off the Wyoming Trail (CDT)

Sweeping views over Steamboat Resort

This was the 3rd moose I saw this day. I spotted two more next to a small lake on the Divide earlier in the day.

This was my biggest ride of the year. 6k of climbing. I ran out of water on the Spring Creek trail and got rained on for about 2 hours.

The next day it was time to refuel with a big breakfast. I have gotten really good at making omelette and love making sweet potato has browns.

My next ride was a double diamond black trail called Grouse Ridge. It was very steep with lots of rollers with alternate lines. It was fun but lived up to the double diamond rating IMHO.

After descending the grouse ridge trail I hopped on the Flash of Gold Trail that was a freshly built climb with tons of switch backs that made for mellow elevation.

This section with aspens and ferns was a real treat. It was my first time seeing this time of fauna in Colorado.

Here is a grouse at the top of the Flash of Gold Trail. The next ride was descending down Flash of Gold trail then connecting to the BTR descent. This was also an excellent combination of trail in the area.

So after a couple of days resting up from the bike riding. I had planned a 2 day 1 night backpacking trip along the CDT to Luna lake.

After a 2 mile road climb (felt like 5 minles) I connected to the CDT to head north….

Beautiful looking day to start!

Steamboat was very pretty with lots of wild flowers even for how dry it was.

I had attained the ridge and was crusing along the Continental Divide.

Great trail on rolling terrain.

Here is Luna lake. I had the whole lake to myself and the fish were biting like crazy! Just about every cast I was getting a bite. Most were small brookies.

Luna lake was very pretty.

I perched my tarp overlooking the lake and was treated to this gorgeous sunset.

After some fishing and a nights rest I trekked back on the CDT. I got rained on again but this time was for about 4 hours. I kept a brisk pace and was able to dry off once I got back to my van.

Vail with Friends!

There is amazing free camping off of the top of Vail Pass. I love this picture of Paul and Becca AKA: Pubecca) on the blanket in the grass. Makes me feel like a hippie. 

 After my time in Crested Butte I got a call from my friends Paul and Becca to meet them at Vail to ride the Two Elks trail.

Views of the Gore Range off in the distance. We took the Bowmans Shortcut route to the Two Elks trail.

Paul getting his shred on. The upper part of the Two Elks trail was open and fast!

The Colorado Indian Paint Brush is my favorite flower to photograph.

Becca soaking in the views on the Two Elks Trail. We lucked out with great weather this day.

The end of the trail was  a techy exposed canyon next to this stream before you finished in the town of Minturn.

The next day Paul and Becca went to Vail resort to ride with a friend and I took a backcountry route to meet them at Vail resort from out camp.

The route took me to over 11k feet and to the top of the Mongolia Bowl. I have never skied Vail so it was cool to see this iconic skiing area.

After this ride we got some fried chicken in west Vail at a place called Yellow Belly that makes fantastic gluten free chicken.

Back on the road! – Crested Butte Vanlife

So after a month of housesitting in Colorado Springs it  was time to get back on the road! After my tour in the desert I had planned a tour loosely following the Continental Divide from Colorado To Glacier National Park in Montana. Here is my van parked on the crest of the Continental Divide on highway 50 next to Monarch Ski Resort. It seems like every time I cross this pass I stop at the parking lot at the top and make lunch.

My first destination was Crested Butte. I have been riding mountain bikes in Colorado my whole life and have never ridden in the iconic Crested Butte trails. When I first got to town I rode Strand Trail which was a great introduction to what the riding is like in the CB area.

It was hard to find the good free campsites in Crested Butte. I felt lucky to find this neat little spot tucked into the aspens with a good view.

After riding the short Strand trail the day prior I was ready to tackle one of the more difficult high elevation routes in the area. This time it was the Teocalli Loop that was 11.3 miles and 2,100 feet of climbing. I must of have had an off day because I bonked on the climb of this ride and ended up not enjoying the wicked fast technical descent. That’s how it goes when you are riding consistently. You are just not going to feel strong every time. Especially when your ride goes above 11,000 feet.

There were some amazing views on the ridge of the Teocalli trail that made this ride very worth it.

I made a litte friend on the trail until he started chewing on my frame bag to get himself a snack.  This is a yellow belly marmot.

Mmmmmm my favorite meal….. Breakfast!!!!

So after taking a rest day it was time to ride the trail that Crested Butte is famous for. The 401 trail!. Here I am completing the road climb to the top of Schofield Pass. I thought the massive amount of stickers covering this National Forest sign indicating the top of the pass was interesting.

The singletrack climb to the top of the 401 trail went by quick and was much easier than the Teocalli trail climb. I was feeling strong and fast for this unbelievably beautiful ride!!!!

“I was promised wild flowers up to my handlebars but instead they were over my helmet.”

I was very impressed with the 401 trail. It lived up to the hype and could very well be one of the best mountain bike rides of all time. Zipping through the wildflowers at high speed with breathtaking alpine views of the surrounding peaks. I felt exhilarated after finishing this ride.

After finishing the 401 trail there was a little creek by the trail head. I decided to toss a line in and caught this little sucker! It was

Gothic Colorado

After finishing up my rides in Crested Butte it was time to move on. My next destination is Vail Colorado to meet up with some friends, but on the way I stopped for a nights stay in Gunnison for a quick nights stay at Hartman Rocks.

Mountain Biking in Eagle Colorado Videos

Pool and Ice Rink Flow Trail

Dirt Drifter Downhill Trail

My camp at the top of the Dirt Drifter Trail Head. The road to get up here was a bit rough, steep, narrow, but I made it in my 2wd minivan!

Some of the best dirt around. The town of Eagle really takes care of their trails. 

Grilled shrimp, golden beet noodles, and cucumber salad.

Capitol Reef National Park

After 10 days I parted ways with the Escalante National Monument area I made a quick stop in in Capitol Reef National Park on my way back to Colorado. I did a quick afternoon hike up to Cassiday Arch and checkd out some petroglyphs.  I don’t feel like captioning all the photos but it was good to check out another National Park. This one made for 4 National Parks visited in a 2 month time span.