Home Away From Home, National Park, Wyoming

Hidden Lake and Inspiration Point Hike

It was our last day in the Tetons so we tried to make the best of it. As usual, we got a late start and then had to return to the campground not once but twice for things we forgot. We finally headed out to the Jenny Lake Visitor’s Center to catch the shuttle over the lake for the hikes.

We were planning to hike to Hidden Lake and then Inspiration Point, just a one-mile hike one way. Easy peasy. Right? Wrong! The hike to Hidden Lake was all uphill and though for the most part, the path was not difficult to walk the climbing was another story. We met a ranger who encouraged us to take it slow and take plenty of breaks because of the altitude. We were going to gain about 600 feet! The hike was nice. We had sun and shade and an occasional breeze which helped tremendously. We saw the turnoff for Inspiration Point but headed for the very lovely Hidden Falls. Situated near the mouth of Cascade Canyon, Hidden Falls drops roughly two hundred feet in a series of steps, thus easily making this the best waterfall hike in the park. As a result of its popularity, the waterfall is one of the most visited destinations in Grand Teton National Park.

When we got to Hidden Falls, we just sat by the falls enjoying the beauty and the sound of the rushing water plus we got to rest a little bit and catch our breath. Little did we know how much we would need it! After all, it was only a half-mile up. Right?

A pretty treacherous path
We began climbing along a very rocky and rugged trail stopping often to catch our breath and have some water. Near the Point, we passed over a short section with a fairly steep, narrow ledge. Of course, there were people going both ways but most of the time people would take turns on the more treacherous parts. It was however so worth the effort as we had an outstanding panoramic view of Jenny Lake, the second largest lake in the Tetons.

We made it!

The lake was named after a Shoshone Indian named Jenny Leigh who helped with the initial survey, the 1872 Hayden Survey. Another lake in the Tetons is named for her husband. As I researched Jenny Leigh, I learned that in 1876 Jenny and her six children all died of smallpox. What a sad ending for an outstanding woman.

The hike back to the shuttle was mercifully mostly downhill. We still had to stop for breaks but not as often. That was when I understood why the people we had met on our ascent had looked so ragged. I am sure we looked pretty ragged by then too. The shuttle ride back was blessedly cool.

After the return to shore, we headed for the car and hopefully a nice cool picnic area. I saw the sign for the Teton Village so told Jerry to turn there. I had not researched the village but I had read that it was a point of interest so off we went. We didn’t find any picnic areas so since it was after 2:00 Jerry just pulled off of the road and we did our usual, picnic lunch in the car. We rode right past the village and into Jackson Hole and did some light grocery shopping.

We returned to the campground for a little rest as we were both pretty exhausted from our hot, difficult but rewarding hike. A bit later we decided to ride out to Mormon Row. As we left the campground on Gros Ventre Road we saw a lot of cars pulled over and we all know what that means – an animal of some sort. It was a moose! I had been so disappointed that I had not seen a moose during our visit despite having been told that they were around. There he was, a huge bull moose. Of course, Jerry had left his good camera at the campground so we jumped in the car, rode back to the campground, returned to the sight of the moose and he was still there. He stayed until he was frightened by some guys entering the river to fish.

T. A. Moultan Barn
We continued on to Mormon Row. Mormon Row was a village started by members of the Church of Latter-Day Saints to sent out to establish new communities. They clustered their farms together to share labor and community which was in stark contrast with the isolation typical of most western homesteads. There are only a couple of houses there now and two barns which highlight Mormon Row. The T.A. Moulton Barn draws photographers from around the world to want to capture the barn with the majestic Tetons in the background.

Despite the fact that we only hiked a little over five miles total today we were pretty tired when we got back to the motor home. Jerry grilled pork chops and I prepared corn, peas and Mac and cheese knowing we’d have leftovers for dinner tomorrow night. Tomorrow morning will be an early start as we begin our trek back to North Carolina via Lawrenceville, Ga for some RV repair. It’s been a grand trip, more wonderful than I even anticipated but it is time to go home. The best part of every trip to me is returning home. It’s time to see our grands!!!!

Irrespective of hour or season, whether viewed on clear days or stormy, the Tetons are so surpassingly beautiful that one is likely to gaze silently upon them conscious of the futility of speech.

Fritiof Fryxell – 1958

Home Away From Home, Montana, National Park

Hiking in the Canyon

We headed for the Canyon area this morning and our first stop was the Visitor’s Center. It was a very different center in that it seemed to focus on the volcanic activity more than the geysers. We did get to see the 9,000-pound globe that showed the hot spots in the world. Just by touching it you could move the globe in a different direction.

Our first stop was Lookout Point. We walked down to the observation point where we could have a clear, though distant view of the Upper Falls. They were so beautiful and powerful that against our better judgment we decided to take the Red Rock Trail. It descends about 600 feet and the path is a little rocky at times. But the end result was so worth it. What majesty and power we observed as the falls rushed down the mountain. We took a lot of breaks going back up and in spite of Jerry’s doubts, we made it.

Our next stop was the trailhead for Inspiration Point. Now, in all honesty, I must admit that if we had known that we could have driven just a little bit further and arrived at Inspiration Point we probably would have done that. Instead, we took the trail. After we’d walked just a short distance, I told Jerry it should be called Inspiration Points – with an “s” because there were several spots that had breathtaking views. We continued walking and entered into a forested area. I was feeling really assured because I knew that for once we had the bear spray. Wrong! Jerry had the holster for the bear spray but he had taken the spray out and forgotten to put it back in. Oh well, I just kept making noise. The bonus was smelling the wonderful firs along the way. It smelled just like Christmas.

We finally made it to Inspiration Point after a somewhat rocky path to the overlook. The views at Inspiration Point were indeed worth the hike. Again, we saw the majestic falls tumbling down to the viciously bubbling stream below. We then realized that some of the people we had seen on the trail were only hiking one way with someone in their party picking them up at the end. No such luck for us. We turned around and headed back to the car. Interestingly, neither of us thought the hike out was nearly as far plus it was a lot more pleasant. It took us about 30 minutes.

We returned to the Visitor’s Center and in lieu of a vacant picnic table, we had our lunch in the car – again! We rolled down the windows and there was a very nice cool breeze.

Since we were on a deadline to return to the campground, we decided to ride into Hayden Valley to see if we saw any animals. Suddenly we saw a great many cars parked but couldn’t determine what everyone was looking at. People had chairs set up and some had a long-distance lens. We parked and as we were getting out of the car someone asked if we wanted to know what we were looking for. Certainly, because it surely wasn’t obvious. It was a bear eating a dead bison! With the binoculars, I could barely make it out and only saw the rump of the bison and the bear’s head. It didn’t take too long to decide that we had seen enough.

That was the end of our touring for the day as we had dinner plans for the evening. Our older son Trent had arranged for us to have dinner at the posh Spanish Peaks Clubhouse in Big Sky. It was only 47 miles away but took longer than an hour due to some mountainous roads near Spanish Peaks. It is called “Peaks” for a reason. Our dinner was delicious. Jerry had an elk chop and I had a petit filet. We topped it off with a yummy dessert of flourless chocolate cake and ice cream cover with crunchies and caramel sauce. Wow, I was hoping that the button on my jeans didn’t fly off and hit someone across the room. After dinner, we walked out on the deck to look at the beautiful surrounding. Marring the view but still beautiful in its own right was a crane being used for building. It was boasting an American flag and a Montana flag. Both were floating gently in the wind.

We stopped for gas before we left Big Sky as it is less expensive than in west Yellowstone and we knew we’d be driving a lot tomorrow. The road back to West Yellowstone was desolate, to say the least. We met a few cars but saw none going our way. There was no cell service so if there was a problem we were on our own. Jerry spotted two deer on our way back and despite the warnings, we didn’t see any other wildlife.