Thursday, July 14, 2011

Family Summer Trip Day 5 and 6 -Teton Village and Jenny Lake

After a long day of driving from Estes Park, we arrived late in the evening to the Signal Mountain Lodge in Moran, WY near Jackson, in the heart of the Grand Teton National Park.  We checked into our cabin and made some dinner.  The weather in the Tetons was cold and drizzly and the outlook was pretty much the same for the next few days.

Our plan was to stay two nights in the Signal Mountain Lodge and then camp two nights between the Tetons and Yellowstone in Lizard Creek Campground.  However, upon checking into the Lodge, we were told that the Lizard Creek Campground was closed for another week due to heavy snow pack.  This set off a big scramble to find a place to stay, near Yellowstone, over a weekend, in Summer, that would sleep 6 semi-comfortable and not cost a fortune.  That's a tall order my friends.  While doing laundry at the Lodge, I scoured the internet for deals on hotels, motels, and cabins.  I wasn't having much luck and the wi-fi at the Lodge was a bit sketchy.

Finally, around 2:30 am I found a place on Vacation Rentals by Owner (VRBO).  I'll tell you more about the place we found when we get to around Day 8 or so.

The next morning we awoke to what looked like a nice day, giving us hope for some clearer weather.  By the time we were all dressed and ready to go, the skies had darkened and the drizzle came back.  But we set out anyway, carrying all of our cold weather gear and rain parkas.  We were heading over to the Teton Village to ride the Tram to the top of Rendezvous Mountain.  We were told there was about 20 foot snow drifts on top and knowing we would climb to almost 11,000 feet, the temps would be be in the 30's and the winds would probably be gusting.

We arrived at the Teton Village and as hoped, the weather was improving.  It was still cloudy, but very little if any rain.  We bought our tickets for the Tram and hopped aboard. If you're ever up here, always check around at your hotel or in the newspaper for coupons for the Tram.  We got $3 off each person from the Lodge, but later found $4 off in the local paper.

With the greater than normal snowfall this year, apparently, tourism was taking a hit.  There was too much snow to hike on and not enough to ski on.  We were the only ones on the Tram headed up, so we got our own personal tour guide.


When we arrived at the top, it was a winter wonderland.  The kids had a blast climbing on the snow drifts and playing in the snow.  My oldest son even built a small snow cave as seen in the picture below.  My daughter decided to roll all the way down the hill and found out just how cold the snow actually is.  We also made some snow angels.  Us Texans don't get to see snow like this very often.



At the top of Rendezvous Mountain, there's a small cabin called Corbet's Cabin.  It's a great place to go in and warm up with some hot chocolate or coffee (plus some liquor if you'd like).  They also serve home made waffles.  These are served fold-over sandwich style with your choice of toppings including strawberry jam, maple and brown sugar butter, or Nutella (a chocolate/hazelnut flavored spread with a peanut buttery texture).  We got some with jam and the butter.  They were quite tasty.  My personal favorite was the jam, but my wife preferred the maple and brown sugar butter.  Both were really good.

We hung out on top for about 2 hours or so, then caught the tram back down and then headed over to the Jenny Lake area.

Our original plans were to take the boat across Jenny Lake and then walk up to Inspiration Point and Hidden Falls, but due to the heavy snows, they were not allowing the boat to drop off on the other side of the lake.  So, we set out on a short little hike around the East side of Jenny Lake.  We were just going to hike a few miles and then turn around and going back to the Jenny Lake Visitors Center.  The entire hike around Jenny Lake is around 7.7 miles and is fairly level.  


We hiked in about 1.5 miles admiring the views of Jenny Lake and the base of the Tetons the whole way.  The tops were still covered by the clouds.  I was pointing out to the family where Cascade Canyon and Paintbrush Canyon were and I was trying to describe the wildflowers you would normally see, but they were completely covered in snow.  Below is a panoramic view of the Tetons across Jenny Lake.


We saw a lot of signs of wildlife along the trail including tons of elk tracks, an eagle's nest and even a bear print where he had been digging.  After about 45 minutes, we turned around and headed back to the Visitors Center.  We made a quick stop over at String Lake.  There is a special place in my heart for this area and I look forward to coming back... many times and sharing it with my family.


String Lake is where I began my backpacking trip in 2008 and I was getting that itch again.  I plan to someday soon take my wife and kids into the backcountry in the Tetons.  I feel the Tetons are all about the backcountry.  The frontcountry here is beautiful, but it pales in comparison to the backcountry.  It's a lot of work to get into the Tetons backcountry, but the payoffs are huge.

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