Denise Goldberg's blog

Thursday, August 23, 2012

a long (good) day

Today started before sunrise and ended after the sun dropped behind the mountains. Busy, long, good...

It was still dark when I left the B&B this morning heading for the Moulton barn on Mormon Row. If you've seen photos of a barn in Grand Teton National Park it's probably one of the two Moulton barns. That's one of the places that it's best to see in early morning light. The mountains were a little smoke-obstructed; I guess I'll have to come back when there aren't forest fires in Idaho.

Looking back on it, my early morning was a bit crazy. I started at the barn that sat a little bit past the right turn I took onto Mormon Row. When I finished up there I headed to Schwabacher Landing to see morning reflections of the mountains in the Snake River. And then, I headed back to Mormon Row to play in another set of buildings reached by turning left instead of right. I know, I know, it would have made more sense to visit both barns at once. Sometimes sense doesn't work!

I don't know where the time went. By the time I finished my early morning stops it was 9 AM. I had a banana and an energy bar before I left the B&B - not enough for a full morning of activity. Before heading to the trailhead for my hike I stopped for coffee and more food. Fruit and another energy bar got my energy levels back on track. Phew!

I thought about hiking the Phelps Lake trail. When I first looked at the trail the Moose-Wilson Road was closed between park headquarters and the trail. The closure was because a group of bears was feasting on berries by the side of the road. Rather than have a confrontation between bears and people the park service closed the road. The road was reopened yesterday afternoon. I checked in with a ranger this morning and was told that while the road was opened there are still bears in the vicinity, including near Phelps lake. I asked her about some other trails that I was thinking of and she told me those are clear (as far as she knew). The trails are more heavily traveled by people too making it a little less likely to have a bear encounter. Still possible, but...

I hiked a loop to Taggart Lake and Bradley Lake, adding an out-and-back section along the shore of Bradley Lake. This was relatively short as trails go in this park - but really not short since it was 7 miles in total. It's funny, there were other people on the trail when I started, but there was a long stretch between the two lakes where I didn't see another person for a while. Then I thought I heard something and my imagination ran wild. Ah, good - it was another person that I heard, not an animal.

I stopped for a good half hour on the side of Bradley Lake, sharing stories and conversation with two women from Utah. They confirmed that when I return it is very reasonable to drive to Jackson from Salt Lake City. There are a number of routes, all beautiful, and all about a 5-hour drive. (I know, it's a bit early to start planning a return visit, but you know me, don't you?)

A good hike ended with another snack, more food...

Mid-afternoon, I was tired but not quite ready to stop. I decided to drive the road in the National Elk Refuge. The elk (and other animals) winter there; they are wandering in Grand Teton National Park right now. People are allowed to drive the single road through the refuge but are not allowed to set foot off of the road. The land there belongs to the animals. I'm used to that from my visits to Parker River National Wildlife Refuge so it wasn't a surprise here. I'm glad I drove through - it's a beautiful place. Oops! I keep saying that, don't I?

I had an early dinner then headed back into the park.

There was a bison gathering next to the road about a mile south of the airport. The big animals were on the bike path and the fields next to the path. I guess I wasn't surprised to see people stopping their cars and getting out that close to the big animals. I just don't understand why anyone would stand next to a wild animal that is very large and has the ability to run very fast. Yes, I would have loved some photos but I didn't stop.

As I headed down the road towards Jenny Lake the sun dropped behind the mountains. It was just after 7, with the sunset called for 8:13. That's quite a difference the mountains make! I walked a bit on the shore of Jenny Lake, enjoying the (very) late day light on a quiet lake.

I'll sleep tonight dreaming of my last day at Grand Teton.