A Summer Season in Grand Teton National Park

I've been hesitant to write a blog post about a summer spent living and working in one of the most beautiful places on the planet. It will be difficult to try to do justice to describe what an incredible summer this was, but I'll try my best. Maybe it will even inspire you to go out and live it for yourself. It was a summer full of learning, living every day to the absolute fullest, and meeting the most incredible people from all over the WORLD. The timing in my life, others lives, and the forces that brought all of us together created something beautiful.

I found the job on Vail Resorts Jobs after endlessly searching on google for a summer 'wrangler trail ride guide' position that I could use as an internship for my CSU major Natural Resource Recreation and Tourism. I had worked as a ranch hand at a private ranch before and the best part of the job was riding the horses out on the trail...of course! Working that job inspired me to find a job guiding trails all day, every day in the mountains. Dream hard, work hard, and it shall happen! 

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The Employee Village

I arrived to the dorm with my parents who helped me move in, an 8 hour drive from Fort Collins.The employee village is a street off the main entrance of Jackson Lake Lodge that takes you down a lined road with 'bunker' looking 1 story brown dorm buildings. A couple hundred people live in the employee village I believe and theres about 13 or 14 buildings, an employee bar, rec center, volleyball court, basketball court, and most importantly surrounded by beautiful hiking trails. The village itself sounds like a 'resort' for employees, but trust me, it is way more run down and probably violating health codes. The village was bustling with people of all ages from all over the US moving in and starting to make friends with each other. I felt super intimidated and over my head seeing so many different people unsure I'd be able to make friends. Meeting my roommate Emily eased my worries a ton as we were pretty similar and she was the sweetest person ever! The dorm life ended up being fine because we were all living up our summer to the best, however that meant not sleeping much... We were lucky enough to have a corner room in one of the dorm buildings in the middle of the village, closest to the basketball court, and closest to the employee bar. So if you liked hearing basketballs ram into your window during 3 am spontaneous basketball games, or people getting drunk and yelling in the employee bar, or fights break out in other dorm buildings, our room was the center and best spot to HEAR EVERYTHING. 

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I didn't know what other type of jobs were at the lodge, how many other employees  worked at the lodge, what type of people work seasonal jobs, where they come from, or what they do after the job ends. Turns out theres a  lot of seasonal workers from a wide age variety.

There's the 18 year olds away from home for the first time.

There's the 20-30 year olds addicted to living a life of new memories and adventures, not sure what to do for that career they are supposed to be building.

Then theres the 30-50 year olds, usually in management positions, having a power trip on managing us seasonal folks just there for the good time.

Lastly there are the retirees, these are the most unique and interesting people I met there, complete with finding new love with each other, making lifelong memories, and getting out and living life in their golden years. They seemed to be inspiring for their go-get-it attitude, and definitely really weird.  


Some Weird Seasonal Workers


The Wrangler Job

I met my boss and 2 of the girls I would be working with for the season. My main concern was that they would be snobby, crazy horse girls. Horse girls- yes, snobby- no, crazy- yes. The first one I met was Myranda from Florida. She represented Florida with all her southern 'charm' AKA sass and attitude that proved to be super fun to tease her for the rest of the season. 

My other coworkers were from California, Idaho, Wisconsin, Nevada.. We were a group of ladies from all over the place joined together and it was a beautiful thing. We were a team of hysterical laughing, witty and smart ass, made fun of each other for anything and everything, tight knit team who always had each others backs. We lived together, worked together, risked our stomach health at the employee dining room together, and caused mischief together throughout all departments of the lodge. This team became my family.

Our days became routine starting at 6am, getting the horses in, saddled, and fed by 8 am, trail rides at 9am, 12pm, and 3 pm, horses unsaddled and fed by 5pm. We worked 10-11 hour days but worked 4 days a week. What an amazing schedule! This would ruin me for the rest of my working life in future jobs. The days were filled with sunburns, making fun of the tourists, running from moose and baby, seeing who could pick the trail horses feet up, and trying to get away with riding bareback in the corral when boss wasn't looking. 

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Office View

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The Crazy Horse Chicks


Exploring Our Big Backyard

Theres something humbling and powerful living amongst the Teton mountain range. The Tetons rise abruptly out of the Jackson Hole Valley 6,000 feet nearly vertical. The valley itself is so alive with plants, rivers, wildlife, and everything working and living harmoniously, dare I say the circle of life at work all the time. All of this life creates an energy you can feel buzzing around you, all with the view of the Tetons humbling each person to realize what it is to be a part of our planet Earth.

We were lucky enough to have 3 days off a week to explore the large playground we lived in. We hiked A LOT, had bonfires in the national forest, went off-roading, hammocked near every lake and anywhere cool we could find, wandered around national forest roads, spotted tons of wildlife, ate lots of pizza at Leaks marina, had store runs to the Kmart in Jackson, and enjoyed all the restaurants of Jackson town.

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My FAVORITE all time hiking boots:

Salmon Womens mid ankle rise, waterproof, breathable, and incredible lightweight.


If you are interested, click the affiliate link photo on the right! IT helps support keep my blog up and running.



An Ode To The Aspen Grove

Living in the moment, having new experiences and being able to share that with friends you've come to call family is something special.

Of course I look back and remember all the good times, but I do remember feeling so burned out of my job and feeling like everything I loved was coming to an abrupt end as this was how seasonal life worked. Even all of the horses were burned out. It was the monotony of riding on the same trail, talking about the same aspen tree to guests, giving the same 'don't drop your reins!' talk every day. The irony was that everything outside of work was so spontaneous, ever changing, and life to the fullest experiencing new things and seeing new sites everyday. The hard contrast of my work being so stagnant, not changing or working toward anything.

The only constant change in my work life being the Aspen tree grove we would ride through, their leaves changing from light green, to dark green, to bright yellow, then to dark brown eventually falling to the ground -- signaling our summer season had come to an end. 

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Leaving this place, or maybe it was leaving each other, was hard. 

My FAVORITE travel camera:

Nikon Z6 Mirrorless camera--mirrorless is the newest lightweight, yet extremely professional and high quality camera. Hardy for hiking and travels, this camera is AWESOME.


If you are interested, click the affiliate link photo on the right! It helps support keep my blog up and running.



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