Jackson Hole, WY
Jackson Hole, Wyoming
What an incredible first stop living out of the van! Kyle, Winnie and I ventured north out of Steamboat with the intention of heading straight to Bozeman, MT. What was supposed to be a night or two along the Snake River Valley turned into a weeklong expedition of outdoor recreation and creative pursuit. For those of you who have been to this location, you’ll understand exactly why we couldn’t leave. Her sharp granite holds the spirit of great-ascended ones, including Confucius and St. Germaine, and she beckons us to passionately live in the sunshine and the starlight. For those of you who haven’t visited, I’ll try to detail the breathtaking magic of the Tetons. There will be an ineffable quality of the backcountry lifestyle these words won’t be able to quite contain, yet my urge for writing about our adventures is strong. In fact, I even pulled the Black Egg card from a magical Spirit Animal deck, which correlates to the 5th chakra and calls attention to honor your truth. If you’re in the market for a new set of cards, I highly recommend! I’ve come across this pack a few times recently yet only pulled from this deck twice in my life; both times it was this mysterious and perfectly kismet icon that jumped to my fingers. It speaks to my lifelong desire to teach and resonates greatly with the pull I feel to guide others through instruction and meditation. Thank you, Black Egg, for feeling me and reminding me that my path is unfolding in line with the universe’s wish. Using knowledge I’ve collected from my three decades in this body, I seek to share sacred space with others and stay alert for opportunities to be a lifelong student myself.
Alright, rambling hippie, back to the Vancation.
We pulled into town Tuesday, July 17, with only one giant dent in the windshield as our casualty. Needing a good stretch after eight hours of driving, we decided to hike up Snow King, which is a great dog friendly path…or so we thought. Getting to the heart of western culture, Jackson has an old timey reenactment of a shoot-out every evening at 6PM, and though it may delight the hoards of Yellowstone visitors passing through, it did not entertain miss Win Win. Our poor little fur baby got so spooked from gunshots she started sprinting up the hill North America claims as the most vertical gain per square foot. Yikes. Big thanks to a gentle stranger for grabbing her harness so we didn’t have to summit the ski area, but she sure knew how to get our heart rates up. Side note: the only time she has ever run away from me was when someone shot a firework off near her head at Rancho del Rio. A dog whisperer bribed her with tuna fish to get her back to our camping area. Dogs don’t think rationally when they are terrified. Or, at least, mine sure don’t.
Needing a taste of the local craft cocktail and decent Asian food-duh-we headed over to Thai Me Up, home of Melvin Brewery. It’s like someone crawled inside of our taste bud profile when they made up their menu: local beef and pork for Kyle, organic salty and spicy vegan fare for me, and over twenty heady beers on tap complimented by funky mixed drinks. We shared a Thaiger Woods (vodka and Thai iced tea) and polished off a Thaigarita (coconut milk mixed into a strong classic marg). We munched on sweet and sour brussel sprouts, mango spring rolls, and yummy red curry with our dear friend Sydeny, while sampling some seasonal sour Petite Rose and Hey Zeus Mexican Lager. This aint no food blog, so I’ll get onto the good stuff.
I logged over 20 miles on my brand new Why Cycles Wayfare rig that Wednesday and am officially in love with this bike!!!!! No number of exclamation points will do this bad boy justice. Cruising through the very biker friendly streets, or sending it down Cache Creek single track trails, I learned so freaking much about what I had been missing out on by never owning a legit set of wheels. Sydney toured us through epic fields of wildflowers, up steep rocky paths, and all over the neighborhoods before leading us to the People’s Market for high quality grub. Sampling goat cheese, slurping on sloshies with spirits distilled right here in the Tetons, trying on sustainably sewn garb, and wolfing down tamales was the perfect cap to our day. We headed back to our packs for the ride home, when all of a sudden I heard a joyful and inquisitive, “Is that Sal!?” WOOP WOOP! Turns out, this night could only get better, as my old homie from Aspen, Max, spotted me in the crowd. We chatted for almost an hour before planning the next day’s events, which required a break for our tired old bike booties.
Thursday morning, we were early to rise and caravanned with some Backroads employees over to the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort for some asana on top of the gondola. Fresh air and spectacular views made the class fly by, so we decided to ride the tram to capitalize on our time in the area. Kyle handled our Progressive windshield claim while I gaped over the edge of Corbet’s Couloir, vowing to return one day when the powder was blowing and my adrenaline was high. We munched on a lemon curd waffle (where my witches at!?) to cross that off the bucket list, and continued home to take Winnepus for a swim. Sydney and I took a mellow trail during sunset and selected the perfect creek for us ladies.
If there is one thing we Wohelo girls know how to do, its fearlessly run into cold water for a birthday suit plunge. Syd and I collectively boast over 1,000 dips into Sebage Lake in Raymond, ME, so it was only natural for us to seek out a remote creek bed for some backwoods baptizing. Want to add a bit of intention to your time with sacred water? Here’s one of her favorite exercises:
1) Face upstream and think about what you are ready to receive. Honor the hard work you’ve put in to be the best version of you, so that your contentment will attract even more positive influence. Be proud of your accomplishments and see yourself ascending the mountain of evolution at exactly the pace you need to be going. Dream big about your plans for the future. Mentally or verbally ask for what you’d like from the universe. Our angels are listening, and they are ready to give when we call them in for help! See gifts of abundance and prosperity flow towards your being. Breathe in gratitude, exhale peace.
2) Face downstream and think about what you are ready to release. Find honesty within yourself, and know you are healing mother earth and all her creatures when you focus on letting go of the emotional baggage that weighs you down. Let kindness radiate out from your heart as you soften the walls of defense, grudge and judgment. Offer thanks and forgiveness into the stream for your lessons, struggles, temptations, old patterns, habits, and anything else you want to watch float down the current. Breathe in freedom, exhale love.
An intimate group of us gathered for a breathwork meditation in Rafter J, enjoying an evening of conscious connection. It was a gentle session, and all of the breathers found surrender into the sweet meditation. What a nurturing gift after our days playing in the heat of the summer sun. And in this beautiful space, another being decided to join us. Here’s the story I wouldn’t really write home to grandma, but keep reading if you like weird phenomena.
I’m not quite sure what to name this energy force—Unsettled Soul? Playful Ghost? —which had first greeted us in the form of large electrical sparks and, eventually, a small fire in the building. Long story short, Kyle and I felt less like we were mooching a parking space in our friend’s ranch and more like live savers since we prevented the place from burning down. This go around, the trickster didn’t put us in danger, but rather absconded with my Selenite crystal. This wand is a prominent figure when I lead workshops, teach at yoga studios, or set up my humble alar, so I invited it to breathwork como siempre. It has been with me through plant ceremonies, photo shoots, energy circles, festivals, global travels… everywhere. She has protected me in times of terror and helped me channel the divine during moments of awe. She is my SALenite, after all. Quite strange that the haunted house chose to absorb her. We searched for it directly after the breathwork session and literally combed every inch of the room. No sign. Multiple people came in and out of that ranch and looked for the crystal for five days straight. No sign. I even wrote a big note on the community whiteboard for guests to keep an eye out for it, because I’m that kind of nerd. No sign. Maybe the poltergeist wanted us to stay in the region, because the day we finally called as our last, the Selenite reappeared broken into two pieces. *Shocked face emoji* Here are a few quick facts to know about this stone: it resembles petrified wood in that the grains run long ways, and when it falls or is handled too roughly, it usually splices apart like you would imagine wood splintering. Glutinous comparison: Have you ever tried to break a good string cheese in half? It doesn’t work. You have to pull it into threads, ya know?? So you can imagine my surprise when we found the wand cleanly sawed in half. Kyle had his first experience muscle testing as I directed him to feel into the energy of the parts to see which one wanted to stay at the house and which one wanted to come with us. Some bury crystals when they break in half, but I decided to leave this one out in the open. Let this stone be the spirit’s way of showing itself, instead of needing to light things on fire. Aho. May the ghost RIP.
After our scare with the supernatural, we decided to ground back down to earth with some time in nature. Our Steamboat Springs crew of four humans and two dogs went to a campsite overlooking the Tetons called the Observatory, where we braved flocks of mosquitoes to gaze at the Milky Way. Julie and I stayed up past 3AM in order to catch some peak light, and we were rewarded with ample shooting stars, easy bike trails, and zero grizzly bears. The following night, we explored Shadow Mountain campgrounds and really took the van through the ringer. Wu handled the rocky ruts like a champ, but listening to our entire belongings rattle around made us shy away from a few primitive roads. Our check engine light triggered on, and a trip to the Ford dealership in town was expensive enough that we bought a reader online to avoid high fees in the future. The third site we stayed at was inside of Curtis Canyon and had way less of a haggard approach, but just as beautiful views. Para gliders greeted us in the sky, while family campers welcomed us on the ground surrounded by elk refuge, lakes, flowers and high hills.
Since we couldn’t strap on our snowboards, and downhilling was out of the questions because Kyle’s hand was acting up from our previous ride, we decided to pack up the discs and head back to the mountain for some frolfing. Winnepawsake is straight up crazy dawg when she accompanies us for 9 holes, so we had to sacrifice a fris for her right away. Somewhere between lunging after ground critters, or hopping around to find her new favorite toy, she injured her paw L But a little rest and a lot of coconut oil (as her organic vegan treat, we use Musher’s Secret for the pads) got her back to business.
Our day out at Slide Lake filled my need to get some serious time on the water. Shameless plug for a company back in the ‘boat: I use a Hala Hoss board that makes me feel like I am driving a Caddy—she’s low and wide, perfect for yoga, multiple hitchhikers who want me to gondolier them, taking on the whitewater, or cruising through the lake. I’m not going for speed here, but if you’re looking for a sportier model, they have tons of options for all ability levels. A mean headwind had me paddling more on the starboard side, so my left intercostal muscles were pretty worked, but it made the ride downwind so peaceful. I love the sensation of riding little whitecaps and paddled the length of the lake twice to feel more like a lil dolphin bud. Luckily, there were very few people around and Winnie got her fill of chasing sticks, swimming after us, and trying/failing to get after the fish that jumped around.
Most of the campsites we went to involved little hikes out with the dogs, but the most notable walk we went on was through Death Canyon in Teton National Park. Kyle diligently stayed with Winnie and tinkered in the van while I went out with a big group for Sydney’s birthday treck. Thanks, Kyyyyyle. You da best. This famous spot boasts 2.7 billion year old rock jutting up towards the clouds…teehee, what did one mountain say to the other mountain when it crashed into it? My fault! Silly geology joke there for ya. Anyways, the day was simply divine. We boosted up and down the very well traveled paths through light rainfall and bright sunshine, wind and stillness. After passing a cabin that is the usual end point for hikers, we decided to keep going in search of a more private spot to lunch and dip in the glacier water. Once we had walked about a mile through the Alaska Basin, Danny and I celebrated reaching our destination with a quick Wim Hof exercise. Our intention was to do three sets of short breathing techniques before sitting in the stream, but mother-nature had different plans. A very stealthy female moose sauntered into our picnic area, and when Sydney told us to open our eyes, all I saw was the rest of the crew dashing away from us. Obvi, this turned the meditation into a minor panic-forget everything you’ve ever learned about wilderness and deciduous animals-assume that it’s a bear when it’s a moose-group sprint into the willows away from her. The cow was probably just as surprised that a crowd of monkeys was taking up her watering hole, but for a second there I legit thought I was going to be stampeded or ripped apart, given the energetic exit my team was making. Those few seconds of not knowing what was coming at us felt like a slap in the face to our original mission, so Danny and I sat right back down and completed our set. Thank goddess the clouds were scarce when we got in that creek because DAYUM that water stung.
Free concerts, tons of breweries, farmers markets and many lovely encounters later, Kyle and I are enamored with Jackson Hole and cannot wait to spend more time in this valley. Comment with your favorite spots, and visit my Instagram for more pictures of the trip!