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June 15, 2010

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Grand Teton National Park

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Waking above Jackson at 6:30 during a pause in the rain I didn’t bother with breakfast and began breaking down my camp.  All my food was in one of my panniers which now doubles as a bear box at night.  One problem solved, but I now had double the usual amount to move and pack.  Add in finding ways to separate the wet gear from the dry and it’s good I started early.

It became apparent that I was ahead of the next rainfront so I slowed down, ate breakfast, and finished loading the motorcycle.  I was headed to Grand Teton National Park and Jenny Lake to get a campsite.  Jenny Lake usually fills early with 50 tent only sites located in the middle of the park.

I’d actually done a little bit of research on the park ahead of time for once.  The park service runs a ferry across Jenny Lake to Hidden Falls making it one of the busier sites.  I decided to walk around the lake instead and outside of that direct area the rest of the lake is peaceful.

I will probably be bitching about the repeated rains and lack of sun for an indeterminate period, but it is a great time of year for water flows.  Snow is melting off the mountains creating streams that are dry most of the year and filling the banks of the rivers.

Approaching Hidden Falls I got my first glimpse of what was to come about 1/2 mile from the falls.  Standing 100 feet away from the stream I could feel the cold air it was pushing downstream with the torrent of water.  Heading uphill I kept hearing rapids thinking I was getting close only for it to be a stream crossing.  Negotiating a snow covered path for the last 100 yards its obvious when you have finally arrived.

Somehow the only sun from my time in Jackson was on this hike.  I finally got to see the mountain tops once I was right below them.  Planning a strenuous hike to Ampitheater Lake the next day I didn’t continue further up Clayton Canyon.  I continued around the rest of the lake seeing yellow bellied marmots and one martin who stopped to pose for a while.

I got on the motorcycle and traveled north in the afternoon.  Even with a rough agenda of points to look for the sings at the park weren’t always the most helpful.  On my return I saw a gathering of cars pulled over and quickly followed.  There I saw my first wild bear ever.  A Black bear with two cubs.

I went back for my binoculars when the cubs became hidden.  I still got to watch the mom for a while and at the very end one of the cubs climbed up a tree before coming back down to follow mom.  I was hoping for that experience and happy to get it so early on.

Back at camp I ate dinner and said hi to my neighbors.  “We are a bit curious what you ate out of the bag?”

“Oh geez.  Um, if you really want to know it was cold pancakes.”  They felt lukewarm after being in the bear box in the sun this afternoon.  I had my stove setup with no good idea of how to warm them without burning them or turning them into a soggy mess.  Still easily edible and far from the worst meal attempt I’ve made this trip.

After a moments pause, “Well bring a cup over and have a Bloody Mary if you want.”  That I can do.  Worked out great as they had a cover for their picnic table as the rain returned and didn’t stop for 36 hours.  Rob and Briea were traveling from Tenessee since he had the summer off from teaching and she’d just finished her Master’s in art.

“Art you say?”  Well I’ve got a project for you.  I’d bought a silver marker to put my website on the side of my panniers.  I’d been waiting for the rain to let up then decided maybe I should get a pencil to sketch it on with first.  Now I had an artist too!

Off came the cases and I fired up my netbook to show Briea what font I was using on the site.  Away she went as Rob and I made a fire in the rain.  “How’s this look” she asked a bit later.  Great, awesome, I’m excited!  A few minutes later, one was done.  Sketching a template she transferred it onto the second as I thought to get my camera.

Taking a few shots I stood to watch her work.  Just about anything artistical is a wonder to me.  As she gets to the S in BikeandBoots in goes a .  About to start on the next letter, I butted in.  “Hang on a sec, it’s Boots not Boot” as I looked down seeing Boot on the first case.  D’oh!

Uh, I’ve got a black marker too.  We can cover over the end and fix it.  By the time I got back I also had plan B.  Buy BikeandBoot.com and redirect it to the right page.  Briea had already fixed the second case and marker worked for the first too.  Whew, I like that solution much better and they still came out looking great!

I moved my tent over to their site the next morning to split the $20 fee as they changed plans from the hike I did the day before to going to Jackson for rain gear, maybe a new tent, and a movie.  Despite the continuous rain I wasn’t adjusting my plans.

I was headed up to see Ampitheater lake and test my fitness level.  The hike is almost identical to the one I did in the Grand Canyon, about 10 miles and 3,000 feet of elevation change, with two changes.  You walk uphill first here, a good thing, and you go from 7,000 to 10,000 instead of 8,000 down to 5, not so good.

Only a few cars were in the parking lot as I set off in my rain gear with my backpack under my jacket.  I was lightly layered as it was in the 50s and soon had a sweat going as I advanced up the mountain.  Passing one couple along the way I paused during the only partial cloud clearing of the day at a picturesque spot.

Continuing up snow began to cover half the trail and soon enough all of it.  Ok, three differences from the Grand Canyon.  I continued on following what footprints were already there.  1.8 miles out the snow was 1-2 feet deep, but passable.  Still following the tracks I stopped for some trailmix discovering my snow cap had fallen out of my bag.  I didn’t need it then, but do about every night.  When I took my camera out of my bag I’d forgotten to zip it back up.

A minute later, I saw the guy half of the couple I’d passed and waited to ask him about it.  “Yup, its on a rock in its bag a ways down”.  Sweet!  We continued up together as the snow deepened.  Soon there was only one set of tracks to foolow and they turned straight uphill.  This didn’t feel like any of the other part of the trail, but where did the main trail go?  We really couldn’t say for sure that the trail was under where we’d been for a little while anyway.

Following them up the hill some of the tracks were now a bear’s and boots.  Neither of us had our hearts set on seeing the lake that much and we weren’t sure this path was going to take us there anyway.  Despite the conditions and altitude my legs held up great until I strained my right knee on the way down.  Finding a makeshift walking stick we continued on.  My boots were soaked through and squishing out water with each step.  The knee didn’t slow us down too much and we made it back to the bottom.  Him to a warm car and me to the V-Strom.

Back to the tent for dry clothes, crawling in the sleeping bag, and reading for the rest of the day.  I prescribed myself three days of rest for the knee and began thinking about Yellowstone tomorrow as the rain continued throughout the night.

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1 Comment Post a comment
  1. Mama Setz
    Jun 17 2010

    Rain, strained knee, rain, almost warm pancakes for supper, rain . . . and you still have your sense of wonder. Way to go.

    Reply

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