A First Timer's Tour of Big Sky Country, Via 1987 VW Vanagon
Two film photographers and their basset hound puppy explore Grand Teton and Glacier National Parks with eyes wide and amazed
ED NOTE: With COVID-19 keeping us inside we're resurfacing archival favorites to aid in the mental escape and adventure planning for future times to come.
Michann Stoner is a Denver-based photographer. Follow Michann on Instagram.
With much anticipation, and many sluggish days of 9-to-5 leading up to this two week van trip through Wyoming and Montana, the departure date couldn't come soon enough. And when it did finally come, of course Adam and I were unprepared yet incredibly eager to get on the road. With some last minute packing and a quick oil change for our 1987 Vanagon, Jo, we loaded up what we hoped was enough gear—not forgetting our 8 month old basset hound, Wilbur—and headed east.
Along the way we sat in puddles of sweat while driving through the height of summer heatwaves with no A/C, stopped to visit a friend in Idaho Falls, ID, and occasionally found home in Wal-Mart parking lots for the night.
Each little detail and moment has burned a spot in my memory, but one thing I'll never forget for sure is the way I felt when I saw the Grand Tetons for the first time. August fires in Montana had caused an eerie haze to hang over the jagged peaks of the mountain range, making the monuments mountains feel even more imposing.
We spent a few days with the Tetons—a huge feat for us, as we tend to not stay in one place for longer than a day—spending most of the time posted at our campsite, or taking intermittent dips into Jackson Lake while letting Wilbur try out his new life vest.
Our next destination was Glacier National Park in Montana, where we would meet up with our two friends who were driving there from Pennsylvania. The four of us camped out, got clean in Lake McDonald, drove the Vanagons up and down Going-to-the-Sun Road, and hiked up to Iceberg Lake. I even broke my left foot on the way back down the trail, and the boys took turns carrying me on their backs for the remaining 2.5 miles of the trail. Yikes.
Even with the broken bone our time in the wild west was the perfect cap to a summer full of dips in cold lakes and memorable miles on our ol girl, Jo.