Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Grand Teton National Park

After a brief stop at the Moose park entrance, I made my way to Jenny Lake and picked up a season boat permit. Kayaking my way around the shoreline of the lake, I made my way to the landing at Cascade canyon. A short ways up the trail were a pair of Yellow Bellied Marmot playing hide and seek with passer bys... The trail soon comes creekside and follows it as it cascades down out of the canyon. About a mile up is Hidden Falls, which is definitely so. Very nice. Another 1/4 or 1/2 mile brings the hiker to an overlook over the landscape of the park and Jackson Hole. I could have cntinued up canyon, but saved that part for another trek. Returning to the kayak, a Bald Eagle came into view, cruising the tree line. it was immediately met by a raven who was harassing it as it flew. I would later inquire about this repeated scene, and it is indeed about protecting territory and nests.

The Tetons are as awesome in person as pictures would lead you to believe. I slowly made my way through the park, as I had to stop and take in the various perspectives of the range as I moved along. A number of alpine lakes, forests, sage and willow terrains. (The park is another unfinished chapter for me, as I will be heading back in for more kayaking, hikes and camping, and to explore "boulder city" a rock scrambling paradise that some climbers told me about.).

I saw Elk and Pronghorn Antelope as I made my north through the sage terrain. After a tour of Jackson lake resrvoir, its dam, and a stop at Oxbow Bend where in addition to so many waterfowl, there were a number of otter at play. I made way out into the NF at Pacific Creek, to camp for the night. Being at the continental divide, pacific creek carries a lot of meaning, as does two ocean creek (splits at a junction and leads to both oceans) and a lake of alike name. The crrek splintered into a variety of waterways as it made its way around a bend, and I happened upon a half dozen beaver at work and play here. A magnificent dam sat in on pond, while another sat out in a stream. A passerby said one of the beaver had been up at the roadway earlier... Further up the road were a dozen elk. Wow, what a day for wildlife viewing. Oh, but wait, there's another Moose :).

On my way out of camp in the morning, I had a quick glimpse of a black bear, a couple of more moose, some sandhill cranes and a redtail (?) hawk taking it all in. A drive out to Two Ocean lake very early in the morning, and I was rewarded with the bellows of trumpter swans from the far side of the lake. Wow, now I know why their name :) The lake had a nice trail around it, which was inviting, but it also was posted as a high traffic grizzly habitat, which it indeed looked. I chose not to wander too far in...

Back into Grand Teton. I'd been told of a grizzly bear group (mom and 3 yearling cubs) in the oxbow bend area, and as I passed through, there was a group of cars on the side of the road. I asked what they were watching and was told the bears had been in the area, but were now gone. I went down around the corner so that I could park and watch the backside of the willow line for them, and sure enough they showed up. As they dissapeared into the thicket, I went back to the other side to look for them from there. They weaved in and out and it was hard to get a good view of them. I decided they were moving towards the meadow near the other road, so I drove there and climbed on the roof of the van for a better view. And here they came :). It turned into a "Yellowstone moment", with a traffic jam of cars in the roadway to get a view. And here I was perched up on top of the toybox with the best (and safest) view. As my bear luck would have it, Momma decided the grass was greener on the other side of the road, so she led the way across and just behind the van! I was durn glad to be on the roof at this point. I do not know about the folks in the outback that the group walked right up beside to make the crossing. I assume they did not have heart attacks. Hope they had a video camera... Momma looked up at me as they passed, kinda of a look of "what the heck you doing up there", although I swear that I heard her murmur "Chicken"! :).
After a trip back into Jackson for provisioning, I made a quick pass back through Teton, watched a silly moose buried in the willows, nibbling the sprouts off branches, and then up through the Rockafeller prkwy to Flagg Ranch for the night, with Yellowstone planned for the morning...

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