We are here working at Grand Teton National Park making this our second full season with a half season squeezed in first making this 2.5 summers here. The added bonus this season is having Buckley. Pets are allowed on any paved area or road so he’s been to a couple of our favorite places: the Colter Bay marina and Oxbow Bend. We plan to take Buckley to a few other spots and a kayak ride might also be in his future.
It’s been a busy summer already and we are just over a month into the season. I (Jennifer) work at the campground, which has been booked since opening day. Brad is at the marina and rentals are non-stop all day long. We get out as often as we can to hike, watch sunsets and look for wildlife. To date, we have seen black bears, grizzly bears, mule deer, foxes (and kits!), bison, pronghorns, marmots, a weasel, an otter, eagles, deers and a wolf. We also heard a pika but those little guys are quick to hide. Not a bad list, right?
We have been hiking every weekend and the weather has been unusually warm. The trail conditions change quickly due to the fast snow melt making waterfalls plentiful and the rivers flowing fast. Here is a quick rundown of our recent hiking treks:
Blacktail Butte: This is not a popular trail but it should be. One sees views of the Tetons on various parts of the hike along with pano views of the Gros Ventre mountain range. In the summer, wildflowers bloom in the meadows, though we hiked the trail early so we just experienced lots of snow patches. Definitely a worthwhile hike for someone looking for a unique hike in the park.
Huron Pond and Swan Lake: This is an quick hike and is great if one is looking for cool views on an easy trail. We always see bears on this trail so be prepared, bear spray and talking are a must. We have heard of moose being on this trail but have yet to see any. From the trail, the Tetons reflect nicely in Huron Pond and Swan Lake is filled with lillypads and waterfowl.
Grandview: The view from Grandview isn’t grand anymore due to tall trees but the views along the way are pretty grand. The Tetons stand tall with blooming wildflowers in the foreground and Jackson Lake in between. Another quick hike but with enough elevation gain to get the heart pumping. This trail does continue on to Two Ocean lake but we enjoyed seeing the lake from afar.
Death Canyon: This is a favorite hike, though, the name of the trail sounds scary. This is a beautiful canyon hike that follows a raging river that opens up into a field of waterfalls and flowers. See, not scary! The drive is about 40 minutes from Colter Bay and the last mile is on a gravel, unpaved road. Once on the trail, up we went into the forest until we were at an overlook for Phelps Lake. We encountered a marmot and grouse at the lake and they were not bothered by us. Past the lake, down and down we went on the trail to go back up again all while following a stream. A weasel crossed our path as we went over a snow field. 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. No mom black bear and a cub encounter this time on the hike, no complaints there!
Delta Lake: This is still our favorite hike to date. Not only are the views awesome, it’s the perfect amount of challenges on a hike. Lots of elevation gain, the last mile is unmarked and unmaintained through two boulder fields plus a steep incline up loose dirt. The reward: 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. An added twist this year to the hike was seeing search and rescue, as they were looking for a lost hiker. Twice we saw a helicopter land at the lake and we saw multiple search and rescue hikers on the trail. Sadly, to date the hiker is still missing. As always, tell someone where you plan to hike/bike/run or whatever adventure you embark on! It could save your life.
There will be quite a few more blog posts about our hikes and experiences here but until then happy trails!
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