Day 31 – July 9, 2016
Mileage – 80,130
Hiked – 10.71 miles
Outside Teton National Park, WY
The ranger yesterday promised us that the Jenny Lake parking lot fills up by 9am, so we jump out of bed early. We are there by 8am having successfully spied wildlife on the way. The park seems to be gurgling to a start with a few straggling visitors just arriving; oh and another giant bus of foreign tourists. We have made the decision to take the ferry across the lake, which cuts 2.5 miles off the trip, but then to hike back. Our goal is to get to inspiration point an then to hike back through Cascade Canyon until our heart (or the potential rain) tells us it’s time to turn around. Often moose, not common in the park on seen on this trail.
It’s early so the light is good and the temperatures are cool. Quiet and just coming to the day, we tourists seem a bit disappointing to the high-energy boat driver; he certainly has a passion for the park. Though the trip is less than 5 minutes we get an enthusiastic flight attendant style lecture on where the floatation devices are and on departure and given instructions on how to stay safe in the park around wildlife.
We hike up to inspiration point and can see why it gets its name, a few hundred feed above Jenny Lake it looks across the valley with an expansive view. We are quick, so we have gotten to this point before the tour bus. We share the experience with a few other families and then head on our way into the Canyon. The trail is quiet, but not desolate. We catch up to a few hikers and are overtaken by others, mostly happy quiet souls.
Soon we find ourselves surrounded by the walls of the tall Tetons on both sides and look straight into a glacial basin. Waterfalls run down the jagged peaks in many directions fueled by the still melting snow. We banter softly as we go searching for new topics of conversation in a quest to avoid startling a bear. Teryn discusses just how she thinks we should accomplish the Long Trail and it isn’t in bits and pieces. We keep our eyes peeled for wildlife, but when none appears are just as pleased with the babbling river and wild mountain flowers.
We have timetable in mind and when hunger hits the youngest members of the crew we decide to turn around with the next view of basin, a compromise between Jenney and the girls. Two and three-quarters of a mile from Inspiration Point we climb to the top of a boulder, look at the view and call it as a backpacker comes around a corner. She immediately asks if we want her to take a family photo, a rare occasion immediately accepted. Likely in her 60s and 2 days on the trail she looks like she just stepped out of an AARP yoga magazine. As with many people we have met along the way we chat for a bit. She has 2 adult children she dragged out for day hikes as kids who are now long haul backpackers. Her son having hiked the Pacific Crest Trail is hiking the Appalachian Trail this summer. She picked up backpacking as an adult. Fitting following our conversation up the mountain. The backpacker’s companion, who passed us a while ago, backtracks and pops his head back around the corner. They are obviously very content with each other. They start out down the trail first and we turn around, following them back down to inspiration point as we look for a lunch spot. We dine riverside in the shade of the trees and refueled spring down the trail overtaking the backpacker and her companion who have stopped to chat with other hikers. Now pushing after 11am the park has woken up and we are by no means alone on the trail. A steady stream of people heads in the opposite direction. We are glad we bot up early. Teryn has gained steam and loves to run downhill. She skips past visitors to inspiration point the rest of us struggle to navigate the obstacle course of people. Jenney chuckles as a man with a New York City or New Jersey accent lectures his son, about the girls’ age, on slowing down (as if kids don’t know how to walk in the woods) just as the three of us jet by him.
We veer off the inspiration point trail to go back around the lake. It gets less congested, but there are still parties of folks making their way down the trail. Slowing down we cut around edge of the lake. It’s a beautiful day; warm, but not too hot with a blue sky and puffy white clouds. We are privileged and fortunate people. Along the path a kid comes bounding out of the woods, excited to let us know they found a moose still visible in a pond below, just off the trail. Sure enough a bull moose sits below munching on the lake bottom. We pull in passing hikers happy to partake in the view. One older hiker is almost in tears saying she came out today to find a moose, something she has never seen in her life. We are happy we shared; come to find out the Lake below is moose lake.
We round the last corner of the lake just in time having emptied the water in all of our packs. All told we walked 10.75 miles. Jenney loves the Tetons, what a great way to spend the day.
It’s 2pm, time for a well-deserved shower and laundry. Another reason to love the Tetons, showers are only $13.50 for an entire family and a wash is only $1.00; far less than the other commercial operations. Washed, scrubbed, dumped, Junior Ranger status bestowed, and route negotiated we sadly leave the Tetons and start the trek to the Black Hills of South Dakota. It’s a pretty but long drive; we opt for a Walmart parking lot late into the evening.