• Maddie Phaneuf

Western Adventuring

Wow. That about sums up how I feel about spending just about a month out West this summer. My brain was constantly being blown by the beauty out there. I was in awe with the mountains, lakes, rivers, wild flowers, wildlife, and the people out there. I honestly loved every day spent exploring new trails and places, it was possibly the best three weeks of my life.

View of the Tetons and Jackson from the top of Snow King

I spent the first two weeks living and training out of Jackson, Wyoming. Huge thanks to the Castle Crew; Lily Koffman (and her parents), Charlotte Cole, Ben Allen, and Dustin Ramsay for hosting me! You are all so much fun, and I felt super welcomed and really a part of the crew the minute I arrived. It was so nice to be able to cook my own meals, train with new faces, and get familiar with the Jackson and Grand Teton area. I'll try to fill this post with a lot of photos, but for photos that don't make the cut, check this link!

The Teton Range as seen from Curtis Canyon at about 5am

Running at the pass with Ben

Hiking with the crew from the pass to Jackson Hole ski mountain

Some highlights from the first two weeks include:

- rollerskiing on super nice bike paths

- 5+ hour hike where I bonked harder than I've ever bonked before

- hiking in Grand Teton National Park

- uphill mountain running race up Snow King

- rock climbing adventure

After spending two beautiful weeks in Jackson, my boyfriend, Dustin, and I decided to spend my last week doing a mini road trip. First on our list was Yellowstone National Park. If you have never been, I highly recommend visiting. It was the most insane nature and scenery I have ever seen in my life. We kept joking by saying "Are we sure we're still on Earth right now and not on a different planet?". Seriously, Yellowstone is full of crazy stuff. We saw Old Faithful, Grand Prismatic Springs, Grand Canyon of Yellowstone, and Mammoth Hot Springs. I expected we were only going to spend 2 hours in the park but we ended up hanging around for about 4-5...and could have easily spent a few more hours if we weren't in a rush. Oh yeah, we also saw a buffalo hold up traffic and get within inches of my face...check it out here.

We spent the night in our friend Ruben's cabin. This was a cabin deep in the woods where there was no electricity and no running water. We woke up to beautiful views and then drove on up to Glacier National Park, just under two hours away.

After getting groceries, bear spray, and cooking ware we arrived in Glacier National Park. We hiked the Highline Trail, which is a popular 12 mile hike with views of the park along the entire way. It was incredible. One of my favorite parts was that there were these little Columbian Ground Squirrels running around EVERYWHERE! I kept referring to them as "lil guys", they made me so happy. Another highlight of the hike was adding a segment that overlooked this beautiful glacier. We believe we were looking at Grinnell Glacier, but not 100% positive. The hike took us about 5 hours (I think?) and absolutely destroyed our legs. We were exhausted by the end of the day and couldn't wait to jump into some cold water, rehydrate ourselves, and eat lots of hot dogs and s'mores!

Since our legs were pretty toasted the following day, we decided to drive north to Canmore/Banff, Canada. It was about a 4 hour drive and totally worth it. We got up early so we arrived to town right around 11am, grabbed some lunch, walked around the town, checked out the biathlon venue, met up with a couple of my biathlon friends, sat by the Bow River, and visited Lake Louise. This was Dustin's first time in that area, and it was so much fun to see how in awe he was by the massive mountains and nature. It made me re-appreciate that beautiful area and the fact that I get the opportunity to race and spend so much time there in the winter.

We weren't originally planning on spending the night, but we camped right outside of Canmore for the night and got up early the next day to hike Ha Ling Peak. This is one of the more popular hikes in the area, and I don't blame them! It only took us just about 2 hours to hike and we got some amazing 360 degree views of the valley. We both agreed we didn't want to leave, and that this are was both of our favorite places ever.

360 degree view from the top

Photo doesn't do it justice, view towards Canmore from the top

After peeling ourselves away from Canmore, we drove back down to Glacier National Park. We spent the evening watching the sunset from Many Glacier, it was great. The following day was our last day in the park, we got up early and ran to Hidden Lake. We were hoping to run right up to the lake, but that part of the trail was closed due to bears in the area. The overlook was a beautiful enough view though, and it was fun to zip by tourists on the boardwalk. We also got to see a marmot and a couple of mountain goats!

Sunset looking into Many Glacier

Hidden Lake

After hiking into Hidden Lake, we drove over to the town of Whitefish, Montana. We had both skied in this area this past winter/spring and agreed that the town looked interesting and that we'd love to explore it if we had the opportunity. It was definitely a cute little touristy town, tons of shops and restaurants. We walked around for a bit, grabbed lunch, and then continued our way down to Bozeman. We got to stay with our friend Ruben and his housemates, they were all super friendly and we had a blast for my last night in the west. The next morning we went out for breakfast...the last meal! We drove to the airport and then I got on my plane and headed back east.

I had such a great time in Jackson and the rest of the west! Everybody I met was so friendly and exciting to hang out with and get to know. I loved every minute of this mini adventure and can't wait to go back. Now I will be gearing up for our first set of World Cup Trial races in Jericho, Vermont in two weeks. I'm hoping they'll go well, and will give you an update once they're over!

Currently listening to: I Want You by Marian Hill