We are posting this blog as we are leaving Grand Teton. We have been here since May and it’s a bittersweet moment because we love this area along with all the adventures we had this season and we leave knowing that we do not feel complete here and want to return…..someday. But we are ready to leave before it gets cold (it’s going to be 14 tomorrow, yikes!) and we are excited for the next stop in our travels.
This summer went by too quickly but we took advantage of the warm days by exploring new areas and getting in lots of hikes. This is a breakdown of the most memorable hikes we did:
Death Canyon: This hike name sounds scary but the hike is anything but scary. After driving 40 minutes, we took an unpaved road to the trailhead and that’s usually a good sign that it’s a good hike and this hike did not disappoint. Up we went into the forest until we were at an overlook for Phelps Lake. Since it was so early in the morning, the lake was smooth as glass and very blue in color. Down and down we went on the trail to go back up again all while following an awesome waterfall. The trail took us to an old patrol cabin and just past that about 100 yards is Death Canyon. It was so quiet and peaceful being surrounded by towering mountains, multiple waterfalls and a small stream. The view was well worth the hike and we both realized how much we enjoy canyon hikes. As we finished up the hike, we rounded the corner to see a Mom black bear and her cub. The cub was climbing a tree and Mom stood there starring us down. This was the first time we encountered a bear on a hiking trail with just the two of us but we knew what to do: back up slowly, talk in a calm voice, and got our bear spray out. Mom and cub quickly left the area, which we were very grateful for.
Lake of the Crags: A 4.2 round trip mile hike shouldn’t take all day, right? Wrong! With 2,893 feet elevation gain in 2.1 miles on top of already being at 6,800 feet above sea level, this hike does take all day. Add rain into the mix and it really was a long, miserable all day hike. We went with a group of friends and since the trail starts at Jenny Lake we took the boat across to the trailhead to save about 4 miles worth of hiking. The trail to Lake of the Crags is unmarked and unmaintained and goes up in elevation quickly. We saw views of Jenny Lake from above and were close to an impressive waterfall. The dirt trails ended and we climbed over a large boulder field and a snow field that was a bit slippery. We made it to the lake but saw that the sky was getting darker so we headed back down quickly. The weather showed cloudy until 3:00, then it would rain. The good news was we were done hiking before 3:00, the bad news is the rain couldn’t wait that long so the whole hike down was in a downpour of rain. Unmaintained trails mean over grown bushes so we were soaked and cold by the time we finished the hike. Luckily, we always bring a change of clothes when we go hiking and we were lucky to get free hot chocolate refills.
Webb Canyon: Only a few people hike this trail each year as it’s one, not on any trail map and two, the only way to the trailhead is by boat. Luckily for us, Brad works at the marina so getting boat access was easy enough. A group of us took the 15 minute boat ride to the less popular West side of Jackson Lake to the trailhead, only marked by a pole in the ground. We had to wade through water to actually get to the trail and it was deep and slippery in spots. Once on land, the trail goes into a valley to a very cold glacier stream that we had to cross. From there, the trail is parallel with a stream where multiple small waterfalls are seen until we reached the canyon. The interesting part of this area is all the fire damage from the Berry Fire in 2016. That fire was the largest fire in Grand Teton history and burned over 20,000 acres. The fire started from a lightening strike and park services decided they were going to monitor the fire instead of putting it out. The fire spread slowly and a week later crossed the lake, which lead to the evacuation of Flagg Ranch, another village at Grand Teton. No one was injured and a few buildings were damaged but overall the results were good as fire is a necessary for the ecosystem.
Delta Lake: We were fortunate to find this hike last year and this year we were lucky to hike this trail twice, the second time taking my co-workers with us. The hike to Delta is not easy, lots of elevation gain and the last mile is unmarked and unmaintained through two boulder fields and is a steep incline up loose dirt but the reward is the most stunning glacier lake. Even along the way the views are impressive: Bradley and Taggart Lake, wildflowers, open meadows, canyon view of Jackson Hole. Once at Delta, words cannot describe the beauty of the lake and photos do not do justice. Delta is a stunning turquoise color lake that is nestled in between evergreens and is under Grand Teton, the highest peak in the park. This hike used to be a secret hidden gem within the park but because of social media, it’s becoming a busy trail. Which is good and bad. It’s good because people are getting out and enjoying nature but it’s bad because it’s not a maintained trail and the trail is eroding. Also, search and rescue has been called out because people attempting this hike have been injured, not realizing how difficult it is or they get lost. This part of the Tetons is suppose to be for hikers looking for solitude but with the increase in popularity, it’s often busy and can be noisy. Point taken, keep Jackson Hole wild, respect the land and the other hikers and do research before embarking on a hike.
Now for the fun part. Can you guess which hikes goes with each of the four sections of the title?