Cliff Jumping: Phelps Lake, Grand Teton National Park
Still wiping the sand from my eyes, I sat down for lunch and starting clawing away at my food. I’d woken up late that day and planned to do nothing but recharge my mental battery. As I picked away at my plate, a friend of mine sat down to join me for lunch. Coincidentally, he had the same day off and we started talking about plans for the day. He told me that he’d heard about cliff diving from people at work and my ears perked up immediately. Within minutes, we were in my car headed down to the spot at Phelps Lake.
We parked at the Laurance Rockefeller Visitor Center near the town of Moose and began the short hike to get to the site. It took about an hour to reach the rock and after walking in the 90 degree heat for that long, jumping off a 30 foot rock into frigid water was more than welcome. The rock is in the shadow of the Tetons and the lake in front of you seems to stretch out for days. We spent about an hour at the site and our time was split between jumping into the water and relaxing out in the sun. Before our visit ended, a middle aged gentleman arrived and we started talking back and forth, challenging each other to try some tricks. I told him that if he did a backflip, then I’d do a front flip (I didn’t tell him that I’ve never done one outside of a trampoline). He stepped up to his launch point and jumped. His body rotated flawlessly down to the water and he stuck his landing below. Now the pressure was on for me. I handed him my camera and took my place at the end of the rock. I stood there for at least a minute trying to shake the nerves. Was this really a good idea? Meh, who cares! You only live once right? I eventually found my focus and put all my energy into the task at hand. I wound up, dove off and tucked into a ball. I floated to the water and it seemed to take minutes to hit the icy brew below. I came up to applause and compliments from the peanut gallery on the cliff 30 feet above me.
I’ve already taken my family out here and hope to visit Phelps Lake again soon. Who knows, maybe next time I’ll be the one to nail the backflip or gainer first!