Last summer

As my freshman year at the University of Tennessee ended, my planning for the summer had landed me a job working in the Lake Yellowstone Hotel in Yellowstone National Park.

Almost immediately after moving out of my dorm room I found myself driving 2,000 miles to Wyoming where I would  live for three months- working, hiking, climbing, and making some of the best friends I’ve ever had.  My Yellowstone friends and I hiked over 200 miles of trails in Yellowstone and the Tetons during our first two months out West. But, upon the realization of my massive “must hike,” “must try,” and “cannot go home without doing this” lists, two close friends and myself left our jobs to backpack for the final month of our summer.

From spending four days at the International Climbers’ Festival in Lander, WY to hiking Yellowstone and Teton backcountry day after day, our decision to leave our jobs was the best we had ever made. Ramen noodles, Van Camp’s pork and beans, and plain ‘ol rice (cheap tastes good) became our three staples.  Our wanderings had no set schedule, but we were always on the move- hitting campsite after campsite.

Of course, there had to be a highlight of the trip- climbing Grand Teton.  Climbing the Teton was one of the goals that I had set for myself months before I arrived in Wyoming, so standing on top after a day and a half of up up up was by far the most accomplished feeling that I had all summer.  Needless to say after the climb my to-do list for the summer was more than satisfied.

On the Summit of the Grand Teton

On the Summit of the Grand Teton

Now, I’m back at the University of Tennessee and training for the Great Pacific Race.

I have enjoyed the life of full-time Environmental Science student, part-time training athlete more than I can say.  Having a goal such as ours has given me motivation unlike any I have ever felt before.  I am so used to the short-term motivation of working a climbing route for a day or two until I hit that final move, or planning a long hike that I will be done with after twenty or thirty miles.  I’m used to having projects that come and go, immediately moving on to the next thing.

Planning and training for this row is a new kind of challenge for me.  I am preparing for something that is seldom done- especially in this country and even more so at my age (currently 19).  As the weeks go on and we become more physically and mentally prepared for our upcoming adventure, I am becoming increasingly obsessed with the idea of the journey.

It is going to be hellish I’m sure, but I will love it all.  I am no longer working towards that last hold on a rock face, but working towards the last 1000, 500, and the final mile of this epic row.

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4 Responses to Last summer

  1. Forrest says:

    Incredible summit photo! You should come visit the North Cascades when you have time.

    • jammguen says:

      Thanks Forrest! I’ve never been to the Cascades but would love to go. I have not had many opportunities to do mountains but I look forward to more chances in the near future. Hopefully after this row I can do some traveling to work on my climbing to-do list.

      • Forrest says:

        I invited you of course partly out of hospitality, because Washington is a place for lovers of mountains, but also because the top of Grand Teton looks more like a North Cascades summit than I would have expected. Until I read your post that’s where I thought you were.

        And on that note, I need to get myself back to Wyoming, it looks pretty nice out there. :)

  2. jamesmguenther says:

    Reblogged this on Among the Trees and commented:
    If any of you are interested, check out the Salty Vols website, where my team and I will be posting updates up until we set off on the Great Pacific Race next summer.

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