Weather in the Tetons can change in what seems to be an instant. A warm, sunny day had just transformed into a chilly, overcast day with a strong, threatening breeze. I had just arrived at my chosen campsite in the North Fork of Cascade Canyon in Grand Teton National Park when “bad” weather immediately began encroaching. I set my pack down and scoped out the scenery when thunder began to echo off peaks and canyon walls, reverberating from one wall to another and back and forth. It was a chillingly sublime sound. I sought temporary shelter underneath a large boulder while waiting for the storm to pass. A paranoia of lightning kept me nervously huddled uncomfortably low below the boulder.
While the rain made its best, yet futile, effort to drench me, I realized that this was actually the first thunderstorm that I’ve ever had to wait out while hiking or backpacking. Could that be right? In every hike I’ve done since 2006, when I began considering myself an avid hiker, have I really run from, avoided or just finished hiking whenever a storm had worked its way in? It was shocking to me that this was only the first time I had actually waited out a storm while out in nature. As this revelation settled within me, a comfort poured over my mind that shifted my view of the storm. It became something beautiful. I poked my head out a little to get a better view of what was going on. Most of the lightning was to the north over Leigh Canyon as sunlight broke through a hole in the clouds and began crawling up the eastern wall. I found myself with a new peacefulness and resonance with nature that I hadn’t felt before. I now had the small, but growing confidence that I could enjoy nature in many more conditions than just blue skies.
The sound of rain and passing thunder along with my new awareness left me in a euphoric state that had me out from underneath the boulder and enjoying the now light pitter-pattering on my rain jacket. Soon enough the storm had subsided and moved east, leaving both a stronger-than-remembered, fresh rain scent and a blissful silence to the North Fork, the only remaining sound being the constant, subtle roar of all the creeks pouring into the North Fork of Cascade Creek.
My newfound appreciation for all of nature’s states was rewarded when more clouds began to pass over toward sunset. Seeing the potential for something special, I found a scenic location near a small creek that passed in front of my tent and set up my camera there. Moments later, the sky exploded with color over the Cathedral Group of Tetons better than I could have ever imagined. Nature had rewarded me for finally accepting the other aspects of weather as beautiful also. This sunset that I’ll never forget was probably meant to do so so that it will serve as a reminder the next time "bad" weather rolls through.