This morning the temperature was a little chilly and as the campground did not have showers we headed into Coulter Bay for our morning shower. It is a little odd that they didn't have any showers in the campground and when you add the cost of showers to the camping fee it made it not a cheap place either.
Then we were off to Jenny Lake and Grand Teton National Park http://www.nps.gov/grte/index.htm proper. The magazine describes the drive as follows:
The Jenny Lake Scenic Drive skirts Jenny Lake and provides spectacular views of the peaks; the scenic drive is one-way and begins just south of String Lake.
Well the views we had this morning were enhanced by the mist/fog on top of Lake Jackson as we were driving to Jenny Lake.
The purpose of getting to the lake so early was that there is a Ranger led walk to Inspiration Point that is on a first come basis. With this we were at the Rangers Office at 8:30am to get our ticket for the walk. With our tickets secured we had a quick bite to eat and organised Clancy and ourselves for the hike.
Inspiration Point with walk into back country and hike back.
To get to inspiration point involves a ferry across Jenny Lake before you start the hike up to the point. We decided that we would do the hike back and so bought only a one way ferry ticket. Jenny Lake is a large glacial lake, which unfortunately has been stocked with non-native fish in an earlier time. The lake itself is of course wonderfully scenic.
On the other side of the lake we start our ascent to Inspiration Point, the walk is at Ranger pace, which means that it is as fast as the slowest person in the group with regular stops to see the scenery, discuss history and geology. The track is not difficult but is going up most of the way, at one of our stopping points we were lucky to spot a Marten in the rocks given the size of our group and the noise we were making.
We got to look in at Hidden Falls, a waterfall tucked into the crevices of the mountains. It was interesting as a waterfall, but not spectacular. The walk then continued up to Inspiration Point, this part of the walk involved following a path on the side of mountain that was not wide but reasonably safe. For some in our group the path represented a challenge due to its steepness and the drop off to the side. At the end of the walk was an amazing view out over the valley. The point certainly deserved its name!
Having completed the guided part of the walk, we decided to continue further along towards Mt. Teton. As it was now late morning the temperature was rising, thankfully we were on a partly shaded path. The path followed a river between the peaks. After walking till lunchtime we spotted a lovely spot near a pool and decided to sit and have our lunch. The path was quite busy with other hikers going on or returning but was quite enough to enjoy the vistas.
After lunch we decided that we should turn back as it was quite warm and we had a long walk to get back to the visitor centre and wanted to do some more activities today. The walk back was along the same path as we went out until the point where the marten had appeared earlier. Along the way back we bumped into some groups with very elderly people who were trying to make it to the point. It was inspiring to see these people getting out and having a go, one of them was nearly blind but was travelling with their partner just to achieve.
The remainder of the walk back was punctuated with views of the lake through the trees along a well-travelled path. There were a few others walking back at the same time but we were relatively undisturbed.
Upon our return to the visitor centre, we stopped in for a quick look around before driving to the main centre. Here there was a large well apportioned centre with displays, theatrette and facilities. While there we did our ranger thing and asked what was happening and what we could do in the park. There was a wildlife caravan heading off that evening that we could join. Given that this was only an hour away we decided to hang around and take the tour.
Visitor centre guide
The Caravan involves ten cars following a ranger to find the wildlife in the late afternoon and dusk period. We met up with the guide got our briefing and then it was back to Clancy for the journey. We were excited as the trip had a high moose probability index score and so we were keen for our first sighting. The first stop was a known moose hangout, however on this night the moose were not doing this, ! To get to the viewing point we needed to negotiate the bison who chose this point to cross the road. Now it is amazing to see these animals, with their horns, thinking as to whether they will walk around the car or into it. Thankfully they decided to walk past.
We learned at our next stop that the reason the Bison were hanging around is that the Elk Sanctuary across the river has supplemental winter feeding which the bison learned about last year. Thus they were both plentiful, well fed and waiting for the winter to arrive so as to get more easy food. I imagine the average elk would give way to a bison.
Nest on the journey was to see the pronghorn, a distant relative to the giraffe and one of the fastest mammals alive. As none of their natural predators still exist the speed ensures that they are not disturbed by the wolves, coyotes or mountain lions. We saw a number in the distance standing in the grass - the look a little like antelope.
Next we travelled to Snake River which involved a drive down a steep rocky path, we were thankful that we had a 4WD. It was now getting dark and the temperature was dropping. Where we stopped there had been beavers building dams, unfortunately none were out this evening so we saw a few ducks and nothing else so we headed back to the cars. We were off to our final stop to see if we could catch the Elk trumpeting.
We were heading to this viewing point when what should pop out but a MOOSE!!!!!
We finally got to see a moose and get the photo to prove it. It was however a little disappointing as in the dusk light it was difficult to appreciate the size of the animal. But we were happy just the same. On we went to the site where it was hoped to hear the Elks.
Now it was getting quite dark at this point and so we were making these elks out standing on the ridge. Then there was the trumpeting, the calling of the harem to him. It was an amazing sound and sight to see this elk silhouetted on the ridge against the setting sun with this calling/challenge to all that this was his harem and to leave them alone. We watched transfixed for ages, listening and observing the behaviors of the herd.
Now comes the really interesting part of the evening. It is nearly 8pm we have not had dinner, its dark, and we have not booked accommodation. Our options were a little sparse at this point as most of the parks were full or a long drive away, so we headed into Jackson to find some food and to search for a sleeping place.
Food was problematic, as we didn't want a restaurant or to have take-away. After much driving up and down through town we stopped at Bubba's Bar-B-Que Restaurant http://www.bubbasjh.com/ Bubbas is located in Jackson Hole, Wyoming and has been a locals favorite for decades. Bubba's is sure to have something to satisfy your hungry appetite after a day of Jackson Hole Adventures.
Now from the blurb you would have thought yes this will be fine, unfortunately it was a bit like a poor man's Sizzler and while the service was fine the food was ordinary. So after a meal in which we got no closer to an accommodation solution, it was late and Shoeleh was not sleeping in the car on the side of the road. We made the decision to go to the Snake River KOA which was supposedly just down the road.
The drive was a lot longer than expected, and 'precious' kept assuring us we were on the right path, then it appeared, darkened but available for visitors. We undertook the night time check in then preceded to the campground which was down a narrow dirt path amongst the trees in the dark.
We set ourselves up and went to bed with the sound of running water nearby. Stating once again that we are not going to do this again.
Animals Spotted: Marten, Elk, Pronghorn, Moose, Bison, chipmunks, brown trout, birds, ducks, and squirrelsDay Sixty-six