BY DAVID A. GONZALES
David Gonzales recounts his experience completing his second multi-day adventure triathlon this summer featuring a wild approach up one of the most treacherous peaks in Wyoming: Mt. Moran.
I believe in doing something wild for one's birthday, and I don't know of anything wilder to do from the front door than the Moronic - cycle to Jackson Lake, swim to Mt. Moran, climb the NE ridge, and return the same way.
Now I'm sorry I gave it that name (to distinguish it from the Moranic, which crosses Leigh Lake) because this is picnicking at its most exuberant, encompassing both the Tetons' widest lake and the wildest approach to any of the high peaks.
I will do it again.
60 miles of biking RT, 10 miles of swimming RT, 6K ft. and 6 miles of hiking / climbing, with some 5th class moves at the top. This time I swam from Signal Mountain Lodge to Donoho Point, tiny Marie Island, Elk Island, then Bearpaw Bay, stopping for snacks or a nap at each isle.
From Moran's pebbly shore the ascent follows a mile-long steepening curve without a trail, the bottom guarded by a savage bushwhack, the top by a maze of ledges, slabs, and rubble, the steepness creeping up on you so when you turn around to gaze out at the lake, you find it below your feet.
As to what I forgot and how I dealt: even in dry years, mountains are still wet early season. Duh. The chimneys up high were slimy with remnant snow, mud, and water. The weather was gorgeous on the summit, but I didn't sit down or even stop, because I felt the need to reverse the topmost scary moves immediately. Didn't enjoy them at all.
Aside from these few moments, and the sobering contemplation of the 1950 DC-3 plane wreck on the ridge, where 21 bodies are still buried, the experience was one of meditative awe and joyful preoccupation with the now.
I've finally figured out how to stay happy and strong while picnicking: don't go too fast or too slow, don't stop drinking and eating, make the most of good conditions, and don't fret about the next bit until the next bit. When an enterprise is sufficiently daunting, complex and strenuous, every decision and action is an indelible addition to one's experience and ability.
I wish I made better use of the lessons picnics provide, but I figure as long as I keep going, I'll keep getting better.
David A. Gonzales is a writer, photographer, and picnic enthusiast based in Jackson, Wyoming.