“It was September in the late 1950s. It was cold out and damp at night, the sky was huge. The strong scent of sagebrush as I walked by it has stayed with me forever. It took me thirty-five years to get back to the Tetons but I’ve never forgotten that smell.”
This memory for Chris Wright, a longtime Foundation donor, remains as fresh as the first moment he experienced Grand Teton National Park as a young teen on a trip with his dad and his father’s friends. “We fished the Gros Ventre and stayed at the brand new Jackson Lake Lodge. I pretended to fish, but really, I was looking at the mountains. This is when I became completely enthralled with the Tetons.”
The next time Chris returned it was 1993, and he came with Holly, his wife. He remembers that wall of mountains as they crested Fish Hatchery Hill and drove into the park. “It was an emotional moment for me. The memory of my father and our trip came rushing back.” They hiked into Cascade Canyon that day, where the peaks surrounded them. “We couldn’t turn around because we were just drawn in farther. Holly was fascinated—hypnotized by this group of mountains. We barely made the last boat back.” They’ve continued to come ever since.
Several years ago, Chris and Holly arranged a bequest for the Foundation that will help others experience Grand Teton’s sights and sounds that have meant so much to them. “Setting up a legacy gift is an act of gratitude—it’s my way of being grateful for what I have,” Chris says. “It’s also a way of influencing things in a positive way for the future and helping the park continue to be as great as it is today.”
Chris remembers catching only one small rainbow trout on that trip long ago, but there was plenty of fried fish for dinners and time sitting under the stars. He can’t recall the stories the men told, though, the camaraderie he felt that week underscores one of the best memories of his life. “My gift is also a memorial for my father. This is a posthumous thanks to him for introducing me to this place.”