Thursday: We were on the road by about 7:15 a.m., with Julie driving. I was happy to let her do most of the driving on the trip, though she had added me as a driver, so I was able to provide relief at times. Yigal was satisfied to sit in the back seat. The drive south through Yellowstone to Grand Teton National Park took us about 2-1/2 hours.
9:46 a.m.: We arrived at Jenny Lake, elevation 6783′. Jenny Lake, and Leigh Lake to the north, were named for Richard and Jenny Leigh. He was an Englishman who trapped beavers, and she was a Shoshone Indian. Tragically, Jenny and their six children died of smallpox in 1876.
Before walking to the boat dock, Julie and I stopped at the restroom, only to be called out immediately by Yigal announcing there was a bear outside. I dashed out, and sure enough there was a bear about 50′ away, but by the time I brought my camera up, the bear had turned tail and was heading away from us into the bushes, so I didn’t take the shot. I didn’t have much time to study the bear, but am almost certain it was a small black bear, though Yigal insisted it was a grizzly.
We walked to the boat dock, where a park ranger asked if anyone had seen a bear. We reported our sighting. She asked how many cubs we had seen with the bear (none) or if the bear had a yellow tag in her left ear (we didn’t see that). A board on the dock listed a few recent bear sightings, all of them black bears. We rode the shuttle boat about a mile to the western shore of the lake, which saved us from hiking 2.4 miles around the lake’s perimeter.
The last boat was scheduled to return to the eastern shore at 6:00 p.m. (the schedule changes frequently, depending in part on when sundown is), and we wanted to be sure that we didn’t miss that.
9:52 a.m.: Another view of Jenny Lake, as we grew close to the dock below Inspiration Point:
10:11 a.m.: We began climbing the trail to Inspiration Point, detouring very slightly to visit Hidden Falls, about 0.5 miles from the lake.
Here Yigal and I pose at the falls. Yigal had gotten sunburned the day before and decided that it would help if he wore a garment over his head. It wasn’t very fashionable, but protected his skin. He doesn’t use sunscreen, whereas I didn’t mind applying it in the high-altitude sun:
My Auburn baseball cap had been ignored most of the trip, but this day I ran into a number of Southerners. I saw a family from Vanderbilt who were not at all friendly. I ran into another man wearing an Auburn cap at this point, and greeted him with a “War Eagle” cheer. Shortly afterward I ran into a woman who greeted me and who said that she was a Florida Gator, and then a while after that a man greeted me and said that his party was from Alabama, and that he himself had gone to graduate school at Auburn. [I also exchanged waves one day with people from Clemson, and at the airport on my way out of town, one of the TSA men introduced himself as being an LSU fan, from Baton Rouge.] Yigal was impressed that my Auburn cap drew so much attention.
10:29 a.m.: We continued our climb to Inspiration Point. We noticed hikers stopping to pose in front of a boulder overlooking the hills below, and we stopped to take our own photos there:
10:31 a.m.: Right afterwards we reached Inspiration Point, which provided a modest view of Jenny Lake. The majority of the hikers stopped at this point, after a one mile hike that gained 400′. We were just getting started, though.
10:55 a.m.: After leaving Inspiration Point, we entered Cascade Canyon and began our hike to the west. Here’s Julie posing in front of the mountains:
11:08 a.m.: Hikers told us that they had seen one male and two female moose on the trail, and we finally came to a clearing where the Cascade Creek included a small island on which the two cows were sitting. We didn’t see the bull moose at that time, though we saw him on the return trip.
A close-up of the moose:
A detail of one of the moose:
The Cascade Canyon Trail ran due west for 3.6 miles, climbing only 640.’ However, we then reached an intersection which provided the choice of going northwest into North Fork Cascade Canyon, or southwest into South Fork Cascade Canyon. We turned northwest onto the Lake Solitude Trail into North Fork Cascade Canyon, and the trail climbed steeply, gaining about 1300′ over the next 2.4 miles.
12:39 p.m.: A fused High Dynamic Range image of Cascade Creek (or one of its feeder streams) crossing the trail:
12:53 p.m.: A fused HDR shot of the Cathedral Group from within North Fork Cascade Canyon.
After hiking for 7 miles and gaining 2300′ in elevation, we arrived at our objective: Lake Solitude, at 9035′ elevation. After enjoying the lake for a while, we would return the way we came. The trail did continue, forming a loop through Paintbrush Canyon before returning to Jenny Lake, but that loop would entail something like a 19 to 21 mile hike and 3800′ gain in elevation, as opposed to our 14 mile round-trip hike gaining 2300′ in elevation. Thus, the loop hike was more suited to backpackers doing the hike over the course of two days. I wish that we could have done it, but we didn’t have the equipment or experience for backpacking.
As it was, Yigal had been complaining bitterly for days about our plans to hike 14 miles. I had pointed out to him that he had hiked 8 miles with me on a number of occasions in New York, and he responded that his muscles had been sore for days afterwards. I also mentioned that the 14 mile hike had been Julie’s idea, though she responded that if she hadn’t suggested the hike first, I would have found it on my own–and that’s likely true. In the end, Yigal enjoyed the hike and was probably the strongest of the three of us.
1:32 p.m.: Lake Solitude:
Fused HDR image of Lake Solitude:
After eating lunch and relaxing at the lake, where Yigal actually went swimming, we began our return hike. This would be an easier 7 miles, as it would be downhill.
3:11 p.m.: This is another shot of the Cathedral Group, taken from roughly the same location as before:
3:18 p.m.: This adorable little creature is a pika, which is related to the rabbit. There are quite a few of them at Glacier National Park, but I don’t believe that I saw one there, so I was very happy to be able to see and photograph one at Grand Teton.
4:49 p.m.: Passing by the island in the stream, the two moose cows were gone, but other hikers pointed to the bull moose resting nearby:
5:41 p.m.: A raven posed for a photo at the end of our 14-mile hike. We returned to the boat dock shortly before 6 p.m., making either the last boat or next-to-last boat for the day, and thereby saving ourselves from having to walk an extra 2.4 miles around to the western part of the lake.
The boat brought us back to the eastern shore of the lake, where we walked the short distance to the parking lot. I drove back north toward Yellowstone.
At one point we saw a coyote in a field, but naturally my camera was in the trunk of the car, so that’s yet another photo that I missed.
By the time we returned to Yellowstone it was dark, and at one point we had to wait patiently for bison to get out of our way. Even though we arrived back at camp late, the showers were still open at the Camper Services building, for which I was grateful.