June 8-15, 2014

The Three Nipples, otherwise known as the Grand Teton National Park is such a wonderful and soul-refreshing place. In fact, it is one of our favorite places in the world!  The Tetons are a mountain range just south of Yellowstone National Park and they are just as wild now as they were in the past.  Fur trappers originally came here for the wildlife and luckily for us they didn’t trap and skin everything. The French fur trappers were the first to arrive, thus the name Tetons, which translates to nipples from French.  This is one of the few places left in the continental US, or the world for that matter, where you can hike with the wildlife. The animals know the park is a sanctuary, even though just outside the park hunting is prevalent.  It is amazing to walk deep into the forest and see black bears, moose, herds of elk, deer, grizzly bears, otters, and water fowl all in the same day. In Grand Teton National Park this is not only possible, but also probable.

We stayed in the northern half of the Tetons, just two miles from the south entrance of Yellowstone National Park so obviously we spent the week enjoying aspects of both parks. We both felt that on our previous visit to Yellowstone (see our posts here) we saw most of what Yellowstone has to offer.  So by choice we decided to spend a little more time in Grand Teton National Park.

The first day we decided to take a scenic drive through the Tetons and have an easy day.  However, once we arrived at Colter Bay and started hiking the Hermitage Point trail the driving day idea went out the window. We ended up hiking about ten miles but it was worth every step. The trail took us out around a peninsula in Jackson Lake and afforded great views and beautiful photos.  In fact, it was one of the most picturesque hikes we have ever been privileged to hike!

 

The following day we decided to explore Yellowstone.  Our destination was the Lamar Valley.  Of course we stopped by the Mud Volcano and Sulfur Caldron on the way.  Then we spotted a wolf pack in Hayden Valley!  Next we ascended Dunraven Pass amongst a hale storm.  We finally made it to the Lamar Valley and we were greatly rewarded.  We admired more bison than we could count, scoped out an osprey’s nest, and watched a black bear and her three cubs descend a tree.  We also saw elk, pronghorn, mountain goats, and two grizzly bears WAY up in the mountains frolicking on snow banks. We both agree that although it is a lot of driving it is one of our favorite things to do in Yellowstone National Park! Bison, elk, and pronghorns galore!

 

Because of the previous day’s long drive we decided to hike Jenny Lake and Cascade Canyon in Grand Teton next. After visiting Inspiration Point, which is a fantastic viewpoint over Jenny Lake, we decided to walk a small portion of Cascade Canyon.  In fact, we followed a red fox for the first ¼ mile.  He was as interested in humans as we were in him.  But we both respected each other and kept our distance. First we were just going to go into the canyon a mile or so, but we ended up hiking all the way to a fork with a huge waterfall. The hike was beautiful mostly because we were walking amongst the Teton mountains!  We even stumbled across a young bull moose lazily eating his dinner.  We did have to walk on snow banks, but it was mesmerizing so we continued on.  All this would have been no big deal but we needed to catch the boat back across Jenny Lake to our car and the last boat left at 7pm. Since we didn’t start the hike until 3 pm we ended up running the last mile or so to catch the boat. We made it but after a fourteen-mile hike our bones were worn out.

A day of rest was needed to recuperate after our amazing hike, but as fate would have it the following day was a full of work.  Bummer. Without cell phone signals, Internet, or motivation, workdays are more difficult here than in many other places, but that’s life. I work on East Coast time so with the time change I can get things done early and still enjoy most afternoons. Don’t feel too bad for me because I forgot to mention that in order to get my cell/internet up and running we spent the day at Old Faithful. There is a ‘connected’ village at the old geyser, so that was where I chose to work.

 

The following day we drove to Jackson Hole to enjoy city life, in the form of restaurants (i.e. breweries), groceries, and coffee. Actually we’re beginning to realize that the further away from civilized life we are, the more content and happy we become. Strange is the world of a traveller.  On our way back to the campsite we were very privileged to come across a black bear and a grizzly bear!  The Grizzly bear was about 200 feet away from the road.  We stopped with nearly 50 other people just watching this great beast digging up his supper.  Super Cool!

 

On our final morning in Grand Teton National Park we drove on an unpaved road behind our campsite.  It was a nice drive, but the best part was seeing a moose grazing for breakfast in the river!  Next, we decided another Grand Teton hike was in order.  This time we chose the Two Ocean Lake trail between two beautiful and remote lakes. The hike was amazing. We were immersed in nature and didn’t see a single human on the entire three-mile hike, although we did see a fair amount of elk that decided to stroll through the wilderness with us for the duration of our hike. It was as if they were as curious about us as we were of them. We kept hearing them traversing near the wood lines and once in while we caught a glimpse of our fellow hikers. What a great time.   After finishing our hike we were standing by the edge of Two Ocean Lake, when we heard loud breathing noises.  At first we thought it was going to be a moose, but it turns out it was two frolicking river otters!  I forgot to mention that on our way to the trailhead we encountered a passing vehicle.  As the road was gravel and slightly narrow, the passing vehicle chose to drive along the shoulder of the road.  Unfortunately for her, she ran into a large ditch causing her rear driver tire to become elevated off the ground as the front passenger tire was stuck in the hole!  We promptly got out of our car and helped her.  She had two young boys with her, so Wade and I pushed her out of the hole, after Wade showed her how to use four-wheel drive in her rental vehicle.  All in a travelers day’s work!

 

That sums up our stay at Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks. We love this Wyoming area and will return again!