Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Moose, Hiking, and Bears . . . Oh My!

We often try to route ourselves to maximize nature and minimize human contact. We did want to visit three of the beautiful parks on our route: Grand Teton, Yellowstone, and Glacier. We knew they would be busy, but we dove in (drove in actually) anyway. We camped at Gros Ventre (translation Big Belly) campground in Teton National Park Sunday (7/25) night. It was full, but I’m happy to report that the campers were good people - pleasant, respectful, and friendly. We often find that the vast majority of people out in nature are the kind of people you would love to have for next door neighbors.

 In the evening I enjoyed a nice bike ride around the campsite. Overnight the temperature dropped to 47ºF and our van interior dropped to about 60ºF. No need to turn on the heater -- it was great sleeping weather. When I woke up early to take Bebop for a walk, I spotted a mom and calf moose a few campsites down. I returned Bebop to the camper and grabbed my camera. They were still around when I got back, and I watched them eat for a while.

Big and little moose

Look both ways

Full stride

Little moose

The wildfire smoke obscured the Tetons from our campsite, so we headed in close for a couple of hikes. They were still a bit ghostly through the haze, but you could at least see them. Elena is a good horizontal distance hiker, but she doesn’t like vertical. I let her pick the first hike and she surprisingly picked the 5 mile RT, 500 ft elevation gain hike to Hidden Falls. She may have been delirious from altitude or fire smoke. 

The Tetons - slightly better visibility up close
On the trail to Hidden Falls
 
It was a lightly trafficked trail until we came to the place where the Jenny Lake boat drops off passengers. It looked like the Tom Sawyer ride at Disney with all the people pouring off the boat. The last 1/2 mile of the trail up to the falls also merged with other trails and it was a constant stream of people. I’m really happy to report that 90% of them seemed to still understand trail etiquette. We made it to the falls and there were many people there so we didn’t linger too long. We headed down and once we got past the boat loading ramp (with a sign that said 45 minute wait from this point, a la Disney) it cleared out again. On our way up and back, we apparently just missed a momma bear and cubs in one forested section. As we got less than a mile from the end of the trail, we spotted the bear and cubs splashing in the edge of Jenny Lake. We watched them for a while, then Mom quickly ran up the hill and crossed the trail right behind us. The cubs were lagging behind, as children often do.

Mom and cubs

Pair of cubs

Mom on log
 
Cub inspects flowers

Dogs aren’t allowed on the National Park trails, so we had turned on the A/C and left Bebop in the van. She was just fine 3 hours later when we returned. The van was cool and our big battery had only dropped 10%. We enjoyed lunch in the van and rested for a bit, then set out on another hike in the afternoon. We are really enjoying having our house available in the parking lot.

After some lunch and rest, we hiked the trail to Leigh Lake. There is a chain of lakes between Leigh and Jenny called String Lakes. On our return trip back through in a couple of weeks, we’ll get a permit for Elena to use her stand-up paddleboard on them - glassy smooth water. We then went to our campsite at Colter Bay. After dinner, we walked along the edge of the bay at sunset.

- Paul

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