17 July 2020
The journey to the Tetons from Casper was geographically fascinating as well as stunning. Another journey of 250 or so, this time we were mostly not on one single carriage highway and not interstates. One road the whole way!!! It was the kind of route where it was 80 miles to the next nearest services and no cell phone signal. Keeping our fingers crossed we didn’t breakdown or get a blow out! Luckily the journey was uneventful, but the last 25 miles or so the Tetons teased us with their snow capped peaks. Apparently, it had only snowed in the mountains a couple of days ago. Brrrrrrr!
We arrived at our campsite with the Tetons looming over us, abruptly out of nowhere. We made our reservations around April time when to our dismay, we could not find spots in any of the campsites we liked. So we had to split our week long stay in half between two campsites. The first half at Buffalo fireside RV, located 4 miles from the National park and the second half at Headwaters at Flag staff, located in the National Park.
On our first day at the Grand Teton National park we purchased our annual interagency pass (courtesy of my Colleagues as part of my leaving gift). We headed towards Moose entrance. Along the way we saw Buffalo and stopped at a beautiful vantage point of the whole range. Once we reached Moose we headed North on Teton Park Road. Our first stop was Jenny Lake to check out the boat we planned to take the next day. Aviana enjoyed paddling in the icy cool waters that lay at the foot of the actual Grand Teton. We quickly learned that the area became packed and parking was overflowing by 11AM and so figured we had better leave super early the next day for our hike around Jenny lake.
Around the Jenny lake visitor center (which of course was closed, thanks COVID-19) there were brass figures next to benches that represented various wildlife of the park. Aviana enjoyed touching and learning about these animals, in particular their footprints in the concrete and the occasional brass poop on the floor!! Sometimes it’s the little things you don’t expect to be the most memorable!
After Jenny Lake we got back on to Teton Park Road, heading North for signal mountain. Apparently (according to our National Parks secrets book) this area is often skipped over by visitors. We turned over the Park road onto signal mountain road that headed straight up the mountain that would give us a grand vantage point of the Teton range. Along the way up the mountain we found a small turnout to stop and have our picnic lunch. A little pathway led us to a secluded lake filled with Lillypads that had just finished flowering their giant yellow flowers.
After lunch we continued up the mountain (driving of course!) where at the summit we parked up and finished the finals steps by foot. The vastness and unspoiled mountainous land went for miles around, it was breathtaking! We also found a painter who was painting the stunning view of the Tetons. Unsurprisingly his skin was like a brown leather from his clear passion to be outside painting without any shade. Much Kudos to him.
Aviana had a hard time listening to us whilst we tried to keep her safe. It’s a hard balance letting her explore and roam free in the outdoors versus staying safe, not running down Rocky paths Willy nilly with steep edges!! So eventually I had to carry her down the top of the mountain back to the car practically over my shoulders as she kicked and screamed. Fortunately she seemed to have learned her lesson and listened better at the next walk. Hopefully this lasts more than 24 hours!
After a long morning being out in the sun we headed back to the tiny house for some coffee and bubbles (obviously not at the same time!!). Plus some exercise (trying to keep up!!).
We decided after seeing how busy Jenny lake was to get up early the next day for our boat trip and 4.5 mile hike. We prepared everything the night before so we could get up, get dressed, hop in the car and drive to the national park to have our breakfast. We gave Aviana a small pot of Cheerios to keep her from hungrumpy whining and I made myself a tea to go (because a morning without a tea = grumpy Dani). After I was rudely awoken by howling (or laughing?) wolves at 4AM, we were through the park gates by 0630 AM. It took us a while to find a good spot for breakfast because we wanted to park up with somewhere in the sun as it was still bloody cold outside! (40 something Fahrenheit) Eventually we cooked our breakfast at Jenny Lake visitor center car park. It was the weekend and we had promised Pancakes to Aviana earlier in the week. So true to our word, we had pancakes in Grand Teton National Park at 7AM!!!
By the time we made it on to the boat (thanks COVID-19) it was 0830. It was a beautiful short 5 minute boat ride over to the otherside of Jenny Lake where we took the 1 mile trail to hidden falls and inspiration point.
Hidden falls was spectacular, just half a mile from the boat – a huge fast water waterfall from glacier melt that caused the surrounding air temperature to dip by about 10F. It was a little busy so we masked up. Aviana was more interested in climbing the boulders and other rocks more than a anything else. But she impressed us by hiking almost the whole mile all the way to inspiration point with a 900ft climb. The last few hundred feet Aviana wanted to be carried in the carrier, which was just as well because there were sheer drops along the path! Aviana still has a lot to learn about sticking to paths. The climb was totally worth it, an aptly named view point.
After the dramatic views of hidden falls and inspiration point we descending back down to Jenny lake where we opted to hike around the lake back to car. The trails were starting to get really busy and it was hard to keep 6ft away, so we were constantly pulling to the side and donning our masks. There were a lot of rude people who did not seem to appreciate us stopping to let them past (which we would have done regardless of the virus). Despite the business of the trails we had a good hike along the lake. Aviana remained in the hiking carrier for most of the way and I carried her in the soft carrier for the last part of the hike as Chris needed a break. Aviana is over 32lbs now so that plus the framed hiking carrier and all our lunch is a pretty heavy load!
After making it back to Jenny lake car park we spotted the little beach we paddled at the day before and decided to eat our lunch there. One really couldn’t complain about the views and tranquility. It was fascinating to experience a sudden change of wind over the lake. It went from calm and warm to windy and cold in 3 seconds. So we decided not to hang around for too much longer and headed back early.
What an amazing day. How can we beat that?