Race and vacation: week in review

Last week we met up with my family for vacation near the Tetons. The week before, I decided at the last minute that I could run a 10-mile trail race the morning of the day we left for vacation. I ran the same race 2 years ago, so my goal was to finish in about the same time. My time was a full 5 minutes slower, but parts of the course were extremely muddy and slick, so I’m counting it as “about the same”. Full recap coming later.

I headed home about 10 minutes after I crossed the finish line to finish packing and drive to the vacation house. We stayed on the west side of the Tetons, just barely in Wyoming (the nearest towns were in Idaho). My family always does vacation rentals because there are a lot of us – 13 adults (minus one this time), a one-year-old, a newborn, and another baby on the way. We visited the nearby national parks, of course, but also spent a lot of time exploring nearer our house.


We hung around the house in the morning and headed to Mesa Falls after lunch. Uh, weekend afternoons are the worst time to visit a tourist attraction. The falls are pretty though.


Some of us hiked the Darby Canyon wind cave trail. The internet info on this trail was contradictory – it’s 5 miles roundtrip, no, 10, no, 7. Turns out a 7 mile round trip takes you all the way to the cave, while 5 miles takes you to a viewing area where you can see the cave from across the canyon. And 10 miles is just a dramatic estimate. (I’m guessing someone based it on a step tracker.)

We were the first car parked at the trailhead at 8:15ish, but the parking lot was overflowing by the time we got back. The trail begins in a fairly flat meadow/wooded area, then starts a gradual climb into the canyon. After 2.5 miles, you can clearly see the cave on the other side of the canyon.

After just under another mile, there’s a steep final climb to the waterfall below the cave. And then an either steeper set of stairs up to the mouth of the cave (I stopped at the bottom of the steps).


We checked out another nearby trail, New Sheep Bridge. This one wanders through meadows and woods and is mostly flat. The main attractions are the wildflowers and the roaring creek. We ended up going about 4.5 miles, with a bit of running sprinkled in.


We got up super early to head to Yellowstone (a 2+ hour drive from where we stayed). Despite going midweek and planning to hit the busiest spots first, we ended up skipping one of our intended stops because there was a long line of cars just to get into the parking lot. If you want to visit Yellowstone in the summer and not miss anything, you’ve got to stay closer to (or in) the park. (And still get up early and/or stay out late.)

Grand Prismatic Spring

When we stopped at Yellowstone Lake, I hiked the Lake Overlook trail with my brother and sister-in-law. Despite the packed parking lot, we saw no one else on the trail. It’s a <2 mile loop that takes you up to a viewpoint overlooking the lake. We also were surprised by an elk shortly before we got back to the trailhead – she just looked at us and walked away.

Yellowstone Lake is massive – this is just the West Thumb area.

We headed into Grand Tetons National Park to hike at String Lake. There are a few trails that start in this area; we did the String Lake trail. It’s about 3.5 miles and loops around the lake. The trail starts out right along the lakeshore, climbs up and gets pretty far from the lake for a while, then returns to the shore.

Near the end of the hike, we found a spot to stop and swim/wade in the lake. Well, the boys swam and I waded with my niece, who was delighted with the cold water. The rest of our party only stuck their feet in.



A few of us had planned on a long hike…but by Friday morning nobody was really feeling it. So we checked out a farmer’s market in a nearby town and played games at the house.

…And on Saturday we went home to recover from vacation.

Do you prefer active or relaxing vacations?

What’s your favorite National Park? (In any country…)

Linking up with Holly and Wendy for Weekly Wrap

9 Comment

  1. What beautiful pics! I like to be active on my vacations, but probably not QUITE as active as you LOL Sounds like you had a great time with your family.

    1. Hannah says: Reply

      Well, by Friday everyone was active-d out!

  2. I always love to see all of the beautiful places you run!
    Deborah Brooks recently posted…Add These 7 Bosu Exercises To Your Strength Training RoutineMy Profile

    1. Hannah says: Reply

      Thank you!

  3. OMG, that all looks amazing! I’m definitely looking forward to some nice hiking on my vacation. I like to relax & be active. 🙂 OK, for the last few years almost all my vacations have been racecations . . .

    I’m so impressed you did a race and then left!

    I love National Parks. There are so many wonderful ones — I loved Rocky Mountain, although that was a really really long time ago. Yosemite (even longer ago, we weren’t even married then). I want to get back to Acadia . . . we had a wonderful time in Zion & Bryce last year . . . oh, yeah, Mr. Rainier . . .
    Judy @ Chocolaterunsjudy recently posted…How does running change as you age?My Profile

  4. This is gorgeous!! No better way to spend your time! Makes me think about Glacier National Park, where I will hopefully get to spend some time soon 🙂
    Karen Bayne recently posted…Run & Ride Kings DominionMy Profile

  5. A family vacation sounds so fun! I wish my parents would go on vacation with us!

    I like a mixture of both relaxing and active vacations. I love being busy and seeing/experiencing new things, but I also need time to just chill out and relax.
    Kristy from Southern In Law recently posted…Recent Things: The Time I Went to the Dark Side…My Profile

  6. […] day after we got back from vacation last weekend, I came down with a cold. So, I did what anyone does when they are stuck at home: I […]

  7. We use vacation rentals by owner as much as possible. My boys were so tall/big, it was hard to cram us all into one hotel room. You can find some very cool places too! Your pictures are lovely. It sounds/looks like a wonderful vacation. Since I’m close to the Great Smoky Mountains NP, I’d have to go with that one as my favorite. Thanks for linking!

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