Tuesday, June 12, 2007

More Grand Teton

Can't get enough of this park. I took the historical loop through the community of Moose, where a lot of the early settling of Jackson Hole took place. The park has recreated Menor's Ferry, which was the only way across the snake at the time. Maude Noble took over the ferry, and it was at her cabin that the push for GT as a NP took place. Some interesting photos and memorabilia in the cabin.

Next, a hike around Taggart Lake, which was formed by the Morraines of the teton glaciers. Beautiful country up here and a great place for a picnic. On the way back, I got read the riot act from a woodpecker in a tree, trailside. Closer inspection explained why. A beakful of morsel for it's young, which was safely inside a knothole on the other side of the tree. Sorry mama.
Springtime in the moutains, and nature is running its course with all of the wildlife offspring. Later in the trip, I would come across a moose with a new (colt?). The youngun was so shy, I could not get a clear picture. It was funny to watch, as mama was feasting on the willow shoots, and youngun just wanted to feast on mom :).
I planned a day of kayaking String Lake and a portage to Leigh Lake. On the way there from camp, I ran into some old friends, the grizzlies... They were rooting in a meadow just to the side of the road, and really tilling the soil! A much more comfortable up-close view than the first encounter. I really give the rangers a lot of credit for balancing the protection of the wildlife with allowing visitors a chance to experience it. The ranger on scene here was really cool in his multi tasking of monitoring the bears and crowd control. Everyone followed his requests, and it was kind of fun to watch him move the throng of people and cars, first a hundred yards that way, and no, back over to this side, as the bears mosied through the meadow. All the time, he was approachable and chatty. Hats off to him. After the bears moved deeper into the brush, I headed out for the lakes. Just around the corner from the bears (same spot as my first sighting), I caught sight of movement through a meadow. I knew it wasn't the bears, so I slowed up to get a better look. Out of the meadow trots the mangiest looking wolf you could imagine! It was so brown in color, I was not believing that was what it was. It came out to the roadside behind me, and I just threw the van into park and got out to see it as it mosied across the road. Did not grab the camera, and by the time I retrieved it, the wolf was well out into the next meadow. The picture I posted was just to confirm the sighting. Funny thing was that there was an elk in this meadow. I expected it to flee, or maybe see some type of interaction, but other than a wary look, it never fled and the wolf was indifferent to it! Hmmm.
So, I finally made it to the lakes, way later in the morning than I had hoped. Still, great day so far...String lake is very shallow, and most of the kayakers and canoes just use it as a passage to the portage to Leigh lake. I, on the other hand, chose to explore the farther shore. Very pristine, with log strewn bottom, aquatic plants, exposed logs with soil and flowering plants. Glad that I did that loop. The portage is a real hoot. A few hundred feet up and over a morraine. The trailhead is posted as being a high traffic bear area. Wonderful. Just what I would want, toting the kayak through the woods and having to deal with a bear encounter :'). They have bear lockers at either end of the portage, so that you can stow your food during portage. Whew!, that was a long tote!
Immediately onto Leigh lake is Boulder Island. Very impressive 60' or higher boulder as its landmark, I was surprised not to see any climbers out there. Perhaps bears swim to it? This area is experiencing high bear activity, with the eastern side of the lake being closed to camping due to an overly aggressive, camp raiding black bear. The rangers chuckle about it when queried, and I guess that a lot of campers have had high adventure with it, returning minus many goods or with tents and gear in disrepair. I would later have a mild encounter with this guy, to note in another posting... Leigh lake is a couple of miles end to end, a mile and more across with arm that goes back another mile and a half. I went up to and out that arm, which has most of the creels that supply the lake entering here. I could hear the water from a mile away and was sure there had to be waterfalls up here. On the way in, I saw a moose wigging out on the shoreline. It was a good half mile away so I could not figure out exactly what it was doing, but it was splashing and romping up a storm! A very nice setting up in here, with a number of paddle in camps. I did find a waterfall, but it was barely visible, several hundred yards into the brush, and I could not find a devloped path to it. It did not seem wise to try bushwhacking in through bear country, so I had to pass on it. Some rangers later told me that, even with bear spray, that would not have been a good idea to do...

So, about 8 miles of paddling and over a quarter mile of portages, and I was pretty much done for the day...

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