Friday, August 24: Tetons to Jackson
The haze is liberating
This is our last day in the national parks. We got up and packed up. Since Michael was so tired yesterday, we let him sleep as long as he wanted, so we didn’t get an early start. Originally, we had planned to check out and drive to Jenny Lake and have breakfast there, but I called and found out that they closed for breakfast in 20 minutes. We weren’t sure we could get there in time, so we just had breakfast in the Mural Room at the Jackson Lake Lodge.
In a sense, the haze from the fires was liberating. I have in my mind a classic picture of the Tetons at sunrise, with the Snake River in the foreground. I would have loved to have tried to reproduce that photo, but with the haze, even if I could find the right spot to take the pictures and the right time of day, the picture would be terrible, so there was no need to try.
After we left the lodge, we drove to Jenny Lake, got some stuff for lunch, then took the boat across the lake. Taking the boat saves a 2-1/2 mile hike each way, so it was easily worth it.
At the other end, we hiked to Hidden Falls, about 0.2 miles. Unfortunately, they were in bright sun, so my pictures were so-so. We then hiked past the falls up to Inspiration Point, which is the crest of a small knob sticking out from the valley. This involved climbing a trail in the side of a cliff. But as opposed to Angel’s Landing, this only had a fall of dozens of feet, so I wasn’t freaked out. It was, however, like a wind tunnel. A gusty intermittent wind blew for the rest of the afternoon.
After Inspiration Point, the trail goes back relatively levelly though Cascade Canyon. Amazingly, the floor of this canyon didn’t rise very quickly at all. We continued an unknown distance up the valley. We hid in the lee of a boulder to have lunch, but it didn’t block the wind all that much.
We decided to continue a bit further before heading back. That was fortuitous, as we found a little spot in the stream that was rather pretty.
We found this to be a good spot to turn around. We retraced our path back out. Unfortunately, the falls were still in the bright sun, so I couldn’t get any better pictures. I did get some hopefully decent shots of a small cascade under a bridge.
While I was doing this, I saw this oriental guy climb out into the stream on a rock, then fill his water bottle and take a big drink. Better him than me, is all I could think.
The boat ride back was uneventful, and then we headed out. We stopped at the visitor’s center, which is a really neat combination of modern material and rustic touches, surrounding an almost zen/oriental courtyard. I was wondering how long it took to climb Grand Teton. It turns out it is similar to Rainier--you climb up to the base on the first day, then crash, get up at sunrise, summit, and hike out the second day.
The ranger went on to say that a guy just set a new record--up and down from the parking lot in just under three hours! He apparently ran on all of the trails and free-climbed all of the rocks.
We drove down to Jackson and got lodging at a non-name-brand hotel. The only thing they had available, and which we got, was a two-room cabin.
We then wandered down the street looking for dinner. We ended up eating at a Mexican restaurant called the Merry Piglets. It had a neat ambiance and some cute murals, but unfortunately we hadn’t brought a camera. The food was pretty good and more reasonably priced than inside the parks.
In a sense, being in Jackson is sort of like being in Moab. There is more things available, more variety, and more reasonable prices.
Unfortunately, next door was a Ripley’s Believe it or Not museum, which fascinated Mike. So after dinner, Amy went back to the hotel, while I accompanied Mike through the museum. He liked it. I could have easily lived without it.
The hotel turned out to be not that great of deal. Amy tried taking a shower after dinner, but there was no hot water.
A while later a guy showed up and said to try running the water. It was shortly hot. It wasn’t clear whether he had done something, or whether the water just needed to be run a long time to get the hot water all the way to our cabin.