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Yellowstone Park Grand Teton Park

14th June 2010

A 40 Mile Drive to the Bank and a Delightful Walk in the Tetons

Panoramic View from Colter Bay Campsite Across Jackson Lake to the Teton Range      (please use scroll bar)

Panoramic View of the Teton Range with Jackson Hole in the Foreground      (please use scroll bar)

    The morning was not as chilly as those up in Yellowstone. There again I've gone down 1300' to 6,200' above sea level. Close to my pitch was a group of motorcyclists who had camped en masse for the night. The old chap who owned the gleaming, red Harley Davidson was the grandfather. His son was leading the column, the two grandsons were squabbling, and I never did find out who the rest of the tribe were. They all lived right across the States, but had come together to do a cycle tour, which pretty much looked like mine in reverse. The old man asked me what the roads were like up in Alberta and British Columbia, to which I said as long as he stuck to the main roads he wouldn't have any snow problems. I told him specifically which roads I had found to be still snowbound. Best of luck to them.
    Today, I killed two birds with one stone, I put my washing in to the launderette on site, and the shower block was in the same building, so I enjoyed a long shower while the washing was in progress. While it was drying I checked in at the on site visitor centre about the hikes around the area. I mentioned to the official about the long ones I had planned, and he commented that I would need an ice axe as well as superb snow hiking skills. He more or less said any of the routes up the valleys into the mountains were out of bounds. I wandered down to the lakeside, and a wonderful view that was. I met a couple there who were here last September, and told me that you couldn't see the mountains for smoke. There had been numerous forest fires here, and in Yellowstone too.
From the Left: South, Middle and Grand Tetons, "Les trois tetons"
    After filling up with fuel, my next objective was exchange some traveler's cheques. This was when I learnt that the region was a wilderness; the nearest bank was 40 miles away in Jackson. So off I went. I stopped off at a pull in to admire the view across the Snake River to the Tetons. A chap was there doing a panoramic shot of the peaks, but he was having to wait until there was a suitable gap in the clouds covering the peaks. I got chatting with him, Bernie Clark, he was a fellow countryman from Lincolnshire. He had lived in San Francisco since 1983, but had traveled the world prior to that. He was comparing the view in front of us with similar views in New Zealand. I was surprised when he said that the place where he felt most at home was the Lake District, but he was most adamant. He was a good guy, and kindly gave me his contact number in San Francisco in case I got into difficulties over here. We shook hands, and I carried on my way, only to pull in again a few miles down the road for more spectacular views of the peaks. After a few minutes a cheery voice shouts out, "Hello Dave Douglas, fancy bumping into you here". It was Bernie, he too had decided to move down to a better viewpoint.
Jackson Boardwalks
Jackson Street
    Jackson was in a lovely setting; a skier's paradise. Some of the hills around the town would not be out of place in Dovedale in the Peak District. The buildings had overhangs with wooden boardwalks, to keep the snow off I presume. They reminded me of cowboy films from my childhood, and it was purely a tourist centre with all the trappings as far as I could tell. I sorted out my money and had a short walk around the town. There was even a stagecoach being pulled around town by a couple of horses. Kids were dangling out of the windows wondering what on earth this contraption was that mam and dad had plonked them in.
Hidden Falls
    I headed back up the valley to Jenny Lake, the scenic heart of the Grand Tetons and the epicentre of Teton's crowds. The lake was named after the Shoshone wife of the early guide and mountain man Beaver Dick Leigh. Jenny died of smallpox in 1876 along with her children. When French Canadian trappers first saw the Grand Tetons, they exclaimed, "Les trois tetons!", meaning "the three breasts". The Teton range is relatively young in geological terms. They are actively being pushed up, whereas the valley in front of them is dropping, hence the name of the valley, Jackson Hole. The valley is full of glacial moraines which have in turn formed a series of beautiful lakes. Through this valley snakes the Snake River. The valley is wide and flat, with the occasional 200' embankment indicating where the river course was in times gone by.
    Jackson Hole was named after renowned fur-trapper and mountain man Davey Jackson, in 1829. The Hole was simply a broad river basin, hemmed in by the Gros Ventre Mountains to the east, the Snake Range to the west, and the Tetons to the north. It measured 48 miles north-to-south, and between 5 and 10 miles across. In the 19th century, "Hole" was a name often employed to describe this type of geographical feature, and indeed the Rockies was peppered with "Holes". The term fell out of favour once its derogatory connotations outdistanced the descriptiveness of the term, but in north west Wyoming, it has grimly hung on. Unkind visitors to the town of Jackson are known to remark that the word "hole" now neatly encapsulates the mash of cowboy/ski-bum/billionaire/vacational cultures upon which the town has grown.
View from Inspiration Point across Jenny Lake and Jackson Hole
    It was 4pm when I reached the southern end of Jenny Lake, but that didn't deter me walking round the lake and doing a detour on the mountainside end to two beauty spots, Hidden Falls and Inspiration Point. The hike was a pretty good work out. The scenery was outstanding all the way around, fellow walkers were friendly; it was just a fabulous walk in the sunshine. I had noticed a sign in Jackson give the temperature down there as 62 degrees F, and it felt like it when I was walking. I was glad I took plenty of liquids with me. Apart from birds and squirrels, the only wildlife I saw were a couple of marmots, though I understood moose lurked close to the mountainside pools. Lodgepole pine was in abundance around the lake. The trunks of these trees served Indians as tipi poles. I did hear an enormous crack like the sound of lightening when I was on the mountainside of the lake. There were blue skies, so I put that down to huge chunks of ice calving off higher up in the snow capped peaks.
    I left the lake and headed back to camp, pretty shattered after my hike, but glad to have been out in the sunshine enjoying the Tetons. This region really is a beautiful sight and it deserved to be featured high on my agenda.
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Yellowstone Park Grand Teton Park

Uploaded from Jackson Lake Lodge, Grand Tetons, WY on 16/06/10 at 09:30

Last updated 3.1.2013