Tuesday July 13
Jackson Hole seen from above
Me and the pink lady were walking side by side, she still licking the ice-cream she’d bought in Yellowstone Park. Somehow she managed to talk between licks. “You know,” she said, “we’re walking on history.” I nodded, barely able to talk. My head was hurting from too much grog and the pink lady spoke in a high, dry monotone that cut through me like a knife.
“Mountain men crossed and re-crossed Jackson Hole between 1810 and 1840 catching beaver. The valley was supposedly named after the fur trapper David E. “Davey” Jackson in 1829, perhaps earlier.” She paused. Another lick. “The fur trade declined around 1840 and we don't hear about Jackson Hole again until after 1860.” Then, mercifully she disappeared, ice cream and all, and two other figures stepped into view: Roland and Veronique.
Together we walked around Jackson Lake and caught the boat back from the other side. From the boat I was able to take several dramatic shots of the Tetons.
“You know how they got their name,” she whispered. I span round. The lady wasn’t in sight, but her voice was all around and I caught the whiff of vanilla and chocolate. I shook my head, wondering whether Roland and Veronique were privy to the same conversation. They seemed pretty quiet.
The pink lady continued. “les Trois Tetons” Then because my French is pretty poor, she translated. “The three breasts!” Well, I’d always heard French women were different. I squinted, trying to make sense of what she’d just said; wondered how long those poor bastards had been out there alone and what else they did to beaver, but then the dirty talk ended and she became all factual.
“The Shoshone however called the mountains Teewinot,” (It sounded like dog food) “meaning many pinnacles.” Well, at least they could count. Three breasts, indeed. Then she whispered something else that made my blood run cold. “The Tetons are the youngest of all the mountain ranges in the Rocky Mountain chain. Most other mountains in the region are at least 50 million years old but the Tetons are less than 10 million and are still rising. Jackson Hole is of the same age… and is still sinking.”
Never mind. We’d be somewhere else tomorrow.
Later that afternoon, instead of going to the Hot Tubs with the rest of the group, I went to get my picture taken as a Cowboy, then celebrated with a lemonade at the Mountain High Pizza Pie with Evelyn.
I remember the pizzas were good.
That evening we all went to a barbecue at a ranch-house. It was a large sombre barn. I was one of seven hundred people being fed beef, beans, potato and coffee very, very quickly. Industrial farming feeds beef much the same way. American efficiency is wonderful. That night we had fresh grog.