How can I explain the beauty of a place that cannot be captured in a single photo or sentence? The Grand Teton Mountain Range is one of my favorite places to just sit and stare at the scenery. The cloud shadows constantly morph the perception and the angle of the sun changes their shape.
Below is the Teton range on a rainy afternoon.
For those of you who don't know why it's called Grand Teton the name means "large nipple" in French. Grand Teton is the highest peak you see here. It basically looks like a giant boob. Or at least the explorers who named it felt that way....
There is a glacier in the Tetons and it’s nestled right between the main peaks.
We took Teton Park Road from the southern part of the park to Colter Bay on Jackson Lake. We secured camping without any wait and promptly turned around to drive the Jenny Lake Loop.
This one way road provides views of the lake that cannot be seen from the main road (highway 191). The vistas only reinforced that we had to hike the loop around the lake.
Parking at Jenny Lake was a bit of madhouse so we parked out on the main road and walked in. As we were walking we saw a G Adventures van!
G Adventures is an ethical and sustainable tour company that takes groups of people on tours all over the world, including much of the US. Amy and I used G Adventures when we hiked Machu Picchu in Peru and were really impressed with them. I highly recommend them to anyone reading this for any adventure (ps: yes I can book it for you for free!).
We started our trek around the lake. We met a lovely couple from Santa Monica, California. They were yogis in their 60s and were headed to India next month for a yoga retreat. They provided some lovely conversation and told us they had seen a mama bear and 2 cubs on the trail earlier that morning. I was shocked to hear that they were on the trail! I thought for sure the bears kept off the trails because they are scared of people (which IS true- black bears…not necessarily Grizzlies…will usually run away from you quicker than you can run from them!). But I guess the bears go where the berries are 😊
We saw an Osprey nest and had some gorgeous view of lake on this hike...
Shortly after parting ways with Maureen and Ira (the couple from Santa Monica)- we started hearing reports of bears on the trail ahead. I spotted some gents that were avid wildlife photographers and they led the way. They seemed pretty confident the bears wanted nothing to do with us. We started forward and were joined by this petite blonde girl who said she had just seen a bear around the corner. Another group of people joined the crowd and we forged forward together.
The bears were up on the hill eating huckleberries. They would randomly started running down the hill and across the trail to the other side where their were more bushes. It was hard to predict if they were going to cross our paths, or us theirs. To make the situation even more dramatic there was a group of guys one a boat yelling “BEAR!” and trying to give directions on which way we should walk. But, no one could hear them clearly so it caused a bit of chaos.
Eventually we all settled down and gathered our wits. Clearly, the bears had zero interest in us. They didn’t even look our way. We strolled by calmly while making lots of noise and everyone survived.
The blond girl I mentioned earlier is named Danielle. Turns out, she works for G Adventures! It seemed meant to be that she hike with us (plus, she didn’t have bear spray so she needed buddies!) I started asking her about how she became employed with G Adventures and basically I think I found my dream job. More on that to come in the future. But, seriously. She works April- Oct and gets to take people on tours all over the country. I would LOVE to start my own tour company but this would be a great way to dip my toes. There are a lot of logistics for me to work out, but who knows. I never thought I’d be traveling around country for 40 days in a van, and look at me now 😉
We finished our hike and man was it worth the 6+ miles. We ventured up Inspiration Point at the end of the hike for bonus points. The Jenny Lake boat transported us back to the starting point. We got Danielle’s contact info (friends on the road are great!) and hoofed it back to our car.
The drive back to Jackson Lake and our campground was quick and we made our way to the swim beach. We have discovered this beautiful fact of van life- want to go swimming? Great our suits are in the car. Need a snack? Let’s pull over at a scenic spot and make some food. Cold? Jackets are available. It’s quite convenient.
Chef Amy made us a nice cheese and charcuterie plate (these have become part of our daily afternoon routine) and we took it down to the beach with a beer. We’ve been splitting an afternoon beer because the altitude causes one beer to feel like 2 and then we are sleepy. So half a beer with our tapas is just right.
We had showers available, but honestly when you have to pack a bag to shower sometimes it doesn’t seem worth it. There’s a wipe for everything 😉. Plus, we knew we had showers at our campground reserved for the next night. Instead of bathing we had a nice fire and ate cheeseburger and macaroni and cheese. Amy is killing it with the camp cooking and we are starting to get a system down.
We went to bed full after I nearly broke my toe on the van ceiling trying to change into pajamas. Sometimes I forget the vertical limits of the van. Also- van life has proven to give me at least two new bruises somewhere on my legs every day. I have no idea how it happens but they just appear. Update: Amy’s black eye now looks like full makeup. Good thing it brings out her eyes!
Tomorrow we head to Yellowstone and I am BEYOND excited. Yellowstone is such a magical place for me. I was lucky enough to spend 1.5 days there a few years ago and I am really looking forward to spending some extended time in the park.
Rachel (RNRN) Roaming with Rachel Travel