Thursday, May 29, 2008

May 26-28, 2008--Beyond Grand Teton

Saturday and Sunday were also lousy weather days. We rode into Jackson on Saturday to see the big Western Days events, but they were rained out. Sunday we drove to Colter Bay and Jackson Lodge. Colter Bay visitor center was open as were the store and the rv campground. Cecil, the marina is now full of water and the ice has all melted. It looked normal. We walked around Jackson Lodge and went in all the stores, but nothing struck our fancy so it was back to the campground for us.

Monday we left Grand Teton National Park and headed for Bear Lake State Park in Idaho. According to the weather channel it was warmer in southeast Idaho! Well, after driving in rain for most of the day, we arrived at Bear Lake State Park—we were the only ones to arrive! We had the place to ourselves.
It was a nice park, but the lake was low so you had to walk about one half mile to get to the water from the boat ramp!

Tuesday we left Bear Lake and rode back to Montpelier to visit the Oregon and Pioneer Trail Museum. It was an interesting stop. We were the only ones on the tour. We just missed three bus loads of middle schoolers who toured the museum!

From Montpelier we headed for Craters of the Moon National Monument. We planned to camp there and then go on to Mountain Home AFB near Mountain Home, Idaho near the Oregon border.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Fri., May 23, 2008--Hiking Jenny Lake

Friday was a promising day for hiking. The weather was in the 50s so we dressed warm and headed for Jenny Lake. We stopped in the visitor center which just opened! The ranger said the trail on the east side of the lake should be okay, but the west side with Hidden Falls and Inspiration Point was still over 80% snow. The shuttle boats were in the water and running, but they were giving tours of the lake unless you were properly attired to hike to Hidden Falls--then they would let you disembark!
We started off on our hike with plans to stop at Jenny Lodge for coffee and dessert at our halfway mark. First obstacle on the trail--steps. We are accustomed to the elevation and don't get as winded when we climb.

The lake had too many ripples for a good reflection, but it made a good picture break.

There was some snow on the trail, but nothing like the Taggart Trail! We even saw some animal prints in the snow. These prints belong to a big cat.

We saw them in several places along the trail--but no cat!

We passed the observation overlook and kept on going. As we neared the north end of Jenny Lake, the snow deepened and we began to posthole as not many people had walked before us! We found a spot free from snow to take a picture of the north end of the lake.

We continued on toward String Lake and the road to Jenny Lodge! The snow was even deeper and Joyce was postholing with every few steps. It even looked like one of the last hikers was on skis! Not really, someone slid down leaving marks that looked like cross country ski tracks.

By this time we were both cold and pretty miserable--we decided lunch at Jenny Lodge would be better than coffee and dessert. Ah!!! There was the road and the lodge was in sight! But oh, no! It couldn't be! The lodge was not open for the season! We sat on the front porch and ate our protein bars, thinking of chocolate cheesecake and hot coffee!

There was no way we were hiking back the way we came so we started off down the road. It was much faster and shorter. By the time we returned to the car, we had hiked 5.65 miles!

And the sky was darkening the mountains as the rain started to fall. Back to the rv to warm up and dry our shoes! Tomorrow is another day.

Wed., and Thurs., May 21-22--Lousy Weather

Wednesday was as the weather channel foretold--snow and rain all day long with the high temperature in the low 40s! We stayed in the rv to keep warm and dry.
Thursday was another dreary day, but the rain was off and on. We went sightseeing in the morning. We stopped at all the turnouts we had missed before! You could not see the Tetons for the low clouds!
We visited Cunningham's Cabin. Cunningham was a rancher in the early 1900s. It was an interesting place.
This mountain bluebird stopped on the saltbrush long enough for Joyce to get a picture.
After all the rain many wildflowers started to bloom. These were blooming at the entrance to a ground squirrel's hole.
Then we stopped at Deadman's Bar boat launch on the Snake River. It was the first time the road was open since we arrived at Grand Tetons!
We drove into Jackson to visit the local K-Mart and other stores. The clouds were still hanging low over the Tetons!
Not much we could do in the way of sightseeing in the afternoon! We were able to walk around the campground in the evening, but thunder clouds made us head back indoors!

Tues., May 20, 2008--Hiking Taggart Lake

Tuesday was another beautiful day. We headed out to Taggart Lake Trailhead. Surely by now most of the snow on this trail would be melted! There have been several days with temperatures in the mid to upper 70s!

On our way to Taggart, we drove through Antelope Flats. Monday must have been calving day because this was the first day we saw bison calves! There were about 20 of them with the herd. Some of them still had shaky legs. One calf ran into the road and the cow chased him off the road quickly.

The parking lot at the Taggart Lake Trailhead was full! Everyone was ready for a good day of hiking.

Our first stop was the bridge crossing the creek that takes the overflow from Taggart Lake to the Snake River.

The creek was rushing with all the snow melt from the previous few days!

We crossed the creek and made our way toward Taggart Lake. Several groups we passed said there was still snow on the last quarter mile to the lake, but with our walking sticks we shouldn't have a problem. We did encounter snow on the last portion of the trail before we saw the lake. We also met several people from UCF along the trail! One young lady graduated last year and two in another group are still students!

The lake was beautiful with the Tetons as a backdrop.

As we were walking around the area near the lake, we noticed a very friendly yellow belly marmot. This is the closest one has gotten to us! He must have been fed by someone, because he did not shy away from the crowd of people around the lake!

Bob took pictures of the lake from every vantage point. It was a gorgeous day!

Then we decided to take the path less traveled--of course! We took the loop by Beaver Creek to get back to the trailhead. Well, the path was not too bad after we left the lake, but by the time we got about one half mile away, there was snow! At the peak of the hill, Bob took another picture and I took a phone call from Jennifer! Yes, cell phones work on trails at Grand Teton!

We stopped for a rest before continuing on our way.

The snow on the rest of the trail was deeper than we had encountered on the first part of the trail, but it wasn't over 3-4 feet in any area. As long as we followed the previous hikers' footsteps, we didn't posthole. We saw areas where others had tried to go around and postholed! They must've sunk to their thighs because the holes were deep!

Our hike was a bit over three miles. We returned to the rv to rest and think about dinner. Later that evening we walked by the Gros Ventre River near the campground. A critter was playing in the fast moving water. After a few sightings, we determined it was a beaver.

The weather forecast for Wednesday was not promising. It foretold snow and rain. We packed the rv, left the car in the campsite, and headed to Jackson for gas. We would need a full tank if we had to run the generator. Solar does well as long as there is light, but the weatherman was not promising any of that for a few days!

We got gas at a Loaf 'n' Jug for $3.59 a gallon. We had gotten gas in the car two days earlier in Jackson for $3.44! We are watching gas prices to see if we need to go to Plan B for our trip. We will keep you posted!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Mon,. May 19, 2008--Yellowstone National Park

Monday was a nice day, but the trails at Grand Teton were still frozen so we drove north to Yellowstone National Park. The further north we drove, the more snow was on the ground! We arrived at Yellowstone and stopped at the store in Grant Village to do the Cheez-It test--they failed miserably! The cost of a 10 ounce box of Cheez-Its was $4.39. The other boxes we priced at other national park areas were 16 ounces!

We planned to drive to Madison to check the campground, then head east to Canyon and then south back to Grand Teton. We drove to Old Faithful and were pleasantly surprised to see a lot of people. After parking we walked to Old Faithful Inn and then out to the geyser walkway.
We had an hour and twenty minutes before Old Faithful showed off again. We missed her as she erupted just as we entered the parking area. We spent our time eating our picnic lunch and walking around the geyser field. I never realized how many geysers and boiling springs were in the same area as Old Faithful. Here are some pictures of just a few!

Here we are across the geyser field from Old Faithful Inn.
Both Old Faithful Inn and Old Faithful Lodge were full. There were many tour buses in the parking area.

We made our way back toward the seating area for Old Faithful. We crossed the Firehole River. The colors along the bank are from the water draining down from the geyser field.

As we waited for Old Faithful to erupt, we saw another geyser across the way erupting! It is in the center of this picture.
Old Faithful finally erupted at the latest time posted that it might erupt! It was quite a show! We could see the water spraying up in the air, but the steam kept drifting our way preventing a good picture.
After leaving Old Faithful, we drove toward Madison Campground. That is one of the places we would like to stay when we visit for a while. We passed Gibbon Falls which was raging due to the snow melt! Bob wants to know if any of his family remembers what you did at Gibbon Falls when you visited in 1969. Please post your answers in the comments.The drive back to Grand Teton was uneventful, just long! We stopped at Colter Bay to see if the campground was ready to open. It won't open until the last week of May.

Sun,. May 18, 2008--Driving West

The trails are frozen at Grand Teton NP. The only trail semi-open has people using snowshoes and cross country skis to get around! Sunday was a sightseeing day!
We drove through Antelope Flats (area to see animals) and Mormon Row. The first Mormon settlers crossed Menor Ferry to stake claim to the land. Five houses remain on Mormon Row, and one of them is still a private residence. No they did not have indoor plumbing--the only house without a privy is the one that is occupied.

After leaving Mormon Row, we stopped to get a geocache at one of the park turnouts. To claim the cache, we had to take a picture of the sign with the mountains in the background.
Our next stop was a staircase we saw while driving. Many people were parked there and were hiking. We hiked a small portion of the trail, but since we didn't know where it went, we turned around and headed for Menor Ferry. While at the top of the staircase we had a great view of the road and the surrounding area.

Menor Ferry is an historical site. Menor was the first to build a cabin along this portion of the Snake River. He built a store and ferry on the site.

As we were walking toward the ferry, I heard a woman shout to Bob and say, "Those things can kill you, be careful!" Bob started walking away from the ferry! He whispered to me in a stage whisper, "There's a moose!" Sure enough, resting between the restored ferry and the bank was a huge moose!

She watched us as we walked by going to the transportation building. We hope the next people who came along had someone to warn them!

The transportation building houses some of the carriages used when dude ranches became the rage before Grand Teton was a national park.

From the transportation building we walked to Maude Noble's cabin. She purchased the ferry from Menor and doubled the prices hoping to make her fortune. Her cabin has historical information inside. We were lucky enough to be there when a ranger was escorting a man who repairs wood through the cabin. We were able to go inside and look around. Maude's cabin is famous for the meeting that took place among the politicians and locals who wanted the area to be a national park.

From Menor Ferry we decided to drive to Teton Village and check out the ski area. Along WY 22 there is a great bike path. The ski area looks like most areas with condos and hotels. There was not much going on there so we drove to Idaho. The drive took us over the Tetons. The state line was at a pass about 7000 feet in elevation. We took advantage of the location and took pictures of both state signs.

Near the turnout for the state line there was a rushing creek.
There was information at a wooden kiosk about Idaho scenic drives. We left the car at the state line to go view the sign and choose a different route back to Wyoming.

We drove through Victor, ID to Swan Lake, ID and back to Alpine, WY which is south of Jackson. The scenery was gorgeous and we both thought the area would be a nice place to live. No, Jennifer, we aren't selling the house and moving just yet!

As we drove along the Snake River back to Jackson, we saw a few people taking advantage of the warm, sunny day as they floated down the river.

We decided to give the trails at Grand Teton NP another day to warm up (hopefully the snow would melt), We planned to drive to Yellowstone NP on Monday.