The Tetons are so breathtaking to look at because of the geological forces at work in creating them. Many of the National Park roads we have driven on have been winding roads on cliff edges, even in parks not known for having mountains, like Mesa Verde and Arches. In Grand Teton, it is the opposite. Despite being next to a tall mountain range, the road through the park is really flat and the mountains seem to rise out of nowhere. Why? Because there is a fault line running right along the edge of the Tetons, and earthquakes over the last 10 million years have caused the mountains to rise while the valley floor falls. For any (3rd grade level) math buffs, you can see a good explanation in the Grand Teton Junior Ranger book. A and I worked on the equation on page 12 (I just helped with the very last equation – because we were dividing a bigger number into a smaller number). If you want to solve it yourself – the first number you need,the elevation of Grand Teton, is 13,770.
Hopefully I haven’t bored you with all the words – quick here is a picture to hold your attention (I’m talking to you, mom! 😉 ):
But before we get to the hike, let’s talk about the lake we visited. The lake was named after Jenny Leigh and another after her husband, Richard “Beaver Dick” Leigh (yes, for real). As if the name wasn’t enough, “Beaver Dick” married his wife, a Shoshone woman, but didn’t know (or care to know?) her real name, so he called her Jenny. Nice guy, right. But alas, history isn’t always fair and so Beaver Dick got a lake named after him (Leigh Lake), and his poor wife has a lake (kind of) named after her (Jenny Lake). Also, C says to not forget he did a lot to help expedition members in discovering the area that would become the National Park, but I think he is just biased because Beaver Dick was British.
Despite the questionable history of the lake’s name, it was a really nice trip. After rain most of the prior day, we got up early to head to the lake. As we arrived, it started to rain 😦 . However, it didn’t last long, and gave us this nice rainbow:
We took a quick 10-minute shuttle boat ride across the lake.
Then headed on a just-over 2 mile round trip hike to Hidden Falls and Inspiration Point. The hike to Hidden Falls took just over a half-mile and largely followed along a rapidly flowing river.
Hidden falls was a nice waterfall – it was a bit cold from the water spraying at us from the bottom, but fun to see.
A quick funny story about the boat ride over (but I held it until now because you have to see C’s hat below to know what I’m talking about…). It was fairly cold so C was wearing the Minnesota Vikings hat below. As we were getting off the boat, a lady that looked to be about early 60’s looked at C with a straight face, pointed to her baseball cap (which said “Green Bay Packers”) and, completely deadpan, said “Watch yourself on the trail”. The rivalry is on, even in Wyoming!
Back to our hike – we continued on past the waterfall, and headed up to Inspiration Point. It is indeed a beautiful overlook of Jenny Lake.
We walked back to the shuttle and rode across the lake and back to the parking lot. By the time we got back, things were really busy and there was a long line for the shuttle boat, so I’m glad we got going early.
After Jenny Lake, we drove to the nearby Leigh Lake and took a nice flat hike for a few miles towards Leigh Lake. The walk takes you along String Lake, with the ever-present Tetons in the background.
The next morning, we headed out early to try to beat rain forecast for later in the day. Our hike for the day was the Grand View Point trail.
C’s friends, who we met earlier in the week, had recommended this hike to us, and while most of the other hikes in Grand Teton had been fairly busy, with lots of people coming and going, this hike was much quieter. We were pretty much alone on the trail, just the five of us….and our bear spray (yes, they strongly encourage you to have bear spray with you at all times – not to be used like bug spray, fyi – it is a super strong version of mace that you should spray directly at the bear if it charges you). We were also warned to make noise, so as to not surprise a bear. Luckily, we had N with us, so surprising anything – bear or otherwise – was fairly unlikely 😉
Other than the slight apprehension about bears, we were excited to be a little more off the beaten path. Plus, we felt well-protected by the boys and their bear clubs/walking sticks.
The steep uphill climb was worth it when we started coming across views from all sides. To the east, we saw distant mountains and a meandering river.
To the west, we had views of the Tetons (though they were covered by low clouds from the pending storm)
Once we got to the end of the hike, we stopped for – yep, you guessed it – a snack! We explored the area at the top of the hill while we snacked, and found some animal tracks in the dirt.
We headed back down the way we came, and had a nice easy, downhill stroll, enjoying the views as we went.
C and A actually took the trail all the way to Jackson Lake Lodge (another 2 miles), while the little boys and I drove the car to meet them. This was another beautiful hike in the Grand Tetons. Next stop…Yellowstone!