Thursday, December 3, 2009

Jenny Lake

After leaving the pronghorn alone--OK, not alone since there were several other folks there watching--we finally reached Jenny Lake. We parked in the lot near the ranger station/giftshop at South Jenny Lake and shouldered our packs. I had packed a day-pack, into which we loaded snacks, lunch, lots of water, rain gear, down get the idea. Everything we'd read warned of the sudden changes in the weather that often come about up in the mountains. Even though there wasn't a cloud in the sky, I wasn't taking chances. Lisa carried my camera gear, so that I could easily get to it when I needed it. I needed it a lot.

Walking east from the parking lot we first came to Cottonwood Creek which flows--I believe--out of Jenny Lake and eventually to the Snake River. This area at the base of the Tetons reminded me a lot of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, with its spruces and firs and rocky terrain.

Past Cottonwood Creek the trail crosses the access for the boat launch and continues along some fairly flat terrain with awesome views of the lake. I don't know which peaks these are--the bare slopes to the right are on the north side of Cascade Canyon.

Stunning views were everywhere, and it was impossible not to be awed at every turn of the trail. I believe the peak in the background is Teewinot Mountain.

This is moose country, and while we didn't see any on this hike we saw evidence of their presence. That's a quarter in the photo for scale.

Butterflies too were everywhere, and I spent a fair amount of time chasing them around. The one below I believe is a White Admiral.

This one is in the Fritillary family but I haven't figured out which one. Lovely though, even if I don't know its name!

I do love my birches. Beautiful sights in the Tetons don't always have to involve mountains!

We rounded a bend and came upon a tall, 50's-ish man standing still in the middle of the path. Not sure what was going on we stopped too. He turned to look at us and grinned, told us a black bear had just crossed the trail in front of him and ambled off into the woods not more than a minute before we'd arrived. He showed us a fuzzy picture on his digital camera. I was bummed and grateful all at the same time. Not sure I want to be that close to a bear, but I did want to see one. However, try as we might, we kept missing them by just a few minutes throughout our trip. Ah well, next time.

As we made our way around the south shore of the lake, the trail turned north and the elevation began to rise sharply. The Tetons are unique among mountain ranges as they to not have any foothills to speak of. They rise suddenly out of the sagebrush flats and wet meadows some 5,000 to 7,000 feet. By the time we reached Hidden Falls we'd gained about 500-700 feet in elevation.

There is a ferry that one may take east across Jenny Lake to the base of Inspiration Point. I am not much for crowds and rather enjoy taking the long way around so we had elected to hike. By the time we reached the overlook it was time for a snack and to rest a bit. Since this seems to be a great picnic spot, the ground squirrels are quite tame. This one thought my pencil eraser looked like a peanut.

I did a little sketching, took some photos, we caught our breath, and then pushed on up into the canyon, escaping the crowds, but not before one last look over Jenny Lake.

Next: Into the canyon!

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