Thursday, September 1, 2011

How I Spent My Summer--Travelogue: Part VIII

Trip #8--Jenny Lake
When Nick's friend, John was here, he showed me pictures of the sun setting behind Jenny Lake in Grand Teton National Park.  I was stunned.  Growing up, spending my summers in West Yellowstone, I spent alot of time in Yellowstone but hardly ever ventured into Grand Teton.  I never had time.  When I'd go to the park I'd usually have to be back by six o'clock to get ready for the show.  Grand Teton was just too far.  I had always viewed Grand Teton as the awkward kid brother to Yellowstone anyway.  I was wrong.

Yellowstone has many things that make it unique, and there is alot to see there, but the views in Grand Teton are magnificent.  I will be spending more time in that park in the coming years.

We planned to caravan to the park with our friends, the Airths and then hook up with some other friends, the Whitings for a picnic in the park.  The Whitings had camped there the night before.  After the picnic we planned to hike to Hidden Falls on the west side of Jenny Lake.

Jenny Lake is a glacial lake that was formed about 12,000 years ago at the end of the last great glaciation.  The receding glacier left a terminal moraine which defined the banks of Jenny Lake.  The lake is considered by many to be one of the most picturesque lakes in all of North America.  I would tend to agree.  From the east bank of the lake, the view of the Tetons is spectacular.  There is a viewpoint on the east bank that centers the lake between Mount Teewinot and Mount Owens.  Great photo op.

We left between ten and eleven o'clock in the morning and drove along the Moody Highway, then through Driggs and Victor before heading over the pass into Jackson Hole.  While in Driggs, we stopped at a grocery store for some supplies and there was a bear exhibit with a bunch of taxidermied bears and a ranger talking about what to do in case you run across a bear in the wild.


The Tetons from the Idaho side
Random taxidermied bear
When we arrived in Grand Teton National Park, we used a minor entrance near Teton Village to enter the park.  We drove through about ten miles of a beautiful mixed forest of Aspen, Douglas Fir, Lodgepole Pine and White Pine.  Wildflowers were abundant even at this late date in the summer.  As we drove past the three Tetons, the sun struck them in a spectacular way and I regret we didn't stop for photos, but we were on a schedule and had to make the picnic area because our friends had been waiting there for a few hours.


The view from the picnic area
Friends sharing a meal
We picnicked at the north end of Jenny Lake next to the south shore of String Lake.  Jenny Lake and Leigh Lake are connected by a long skinny body of water called String Lake.  String Lake is very shallow and is used for swimming, poling, canoeing and boating.  It was fairly busy when we first arrived.

Back in the 1800's at the end of the fur trade, there was a colorful trapper beloved around here named Richard Leigh.  He went by the nickname, Beaver Dick and there is a park near here named for him.  He was from England and according to accounts had bright red hair.  He was second only to Jim Bridger as far as fame and knowledge of the surrounding territory goes.  He married a Shoshone woman and by all accounts was very much in love with her.  Leigh Lake is named for him while Jenny Lake is named for her.  All through Wyoming and Idaho, mainly the Teton range and basin there are features named for Richard Leigh.  He must have been quite the character.


Recreation at String Lake
The hike from String Lake around the northwest side of Jenny Lake was spectacular.  Everything was green.  There had been a fire in the last ten or fifteen years and there were standing blackened tree trunks around but the new growth of both trees and underbrush were beautiful.  As we started across the trail, it threatened to rain and a few drops fell.  All the revellers at String Lake packed up and left.  It was an exodus. 


Fire and rebirth
The hot chick
Friends on the trail
The trail was beautiful from start to finish.  Often when I hike, the trail is okay with moments of WOW but this one was fantastic the whole way.  There was something to see every foot of the trail.  From mountain vistas to wildflowers to mini waterfalls to sweeping views of the lake, this trail had it all.  I will hike this trail again.

About a mile and a quarter along the trail the heavens opened up and we were hit by a torrential rainstorm.  Huge raindrops were coming down.  We stood in the shelter of some large trees for fifteen or twenty minutes waiting to see if the rain would stop, and just when we were about to decide to abandon the trail, we saw the sun peek out from behind some clouds and the rain stopped.  We continued down the path.


Random mini waterfall along the trail
Caught in the rain
Spectacular view
We made our way to Hidden Falls and climbed up the trail a quarter mile or so to see the waterfall.  This particular waterfall is a series of steep cascades that go on for about 80 feet.  This is one of the most popular hikes in Grand Teton National Park.  There weren't many people on the trail today because of the rain.  The storm had hidden advantages.  First it drove all but the most adventurous people away, and it cooled us down on an otherwise hot day.


Hidden Falls
The trail back was slow going because we had a few little children that were tired.  I took up the rear and stopped often to take alot of photos.  When we got back to String Lake, the kids decided it would be the thing to do to wade in the lake.  It's a very shallow lake, so the sun warms it pretty well during the day.  It was pleasant.  Next time I'll bring my water shoes and trunks.


Mount Teewinot, my new favorite mountain
I loved the line and texture here.  I'm a designer, what can I say?
Kids in String Lake
The Whitings headed for home after the picnic and before the rain.  The Airths decided to go home via the pass, and we decided to head home through Yellowstone.  In retrospect I wouldn't do it that way again, it was alot of nighttime driving behind bad drivers pulling trailers, and it added about three hours to the trip.  On the bright side, though we did get to see the sun setting on the Tetons and we added another waterfall to our list.  Just inside the southern border of Yellowstone is a beautiful waterfall called, Moose Falls.  It drops off a cliff for about 35 feet.  Another great day.


Jenny Lake from the east shore flanked by Mount Teewinot and Mount Owen
Sunset in the Tetons
Moose Falls, Yellowstone

2 comments:

Ashley said...

Oh wow! These pictures are gorgeous! I'm so wishing that I had gone with you guys! It looks like you had an awesome trip!

Bascombe said...

I'm kinda surprised you didn't comment on my labelling your Mother as, "The Hot Chick"