Grand Teton National Park

Grand Teton National Park

Wyoming, USA

Jun 25th - July 1st, 2018

This is a blog post about my trip with my best friend Lara, her husband Gary, their son and my awesome little godson Max (who had just turned 1 a couple of weeks earlier) and his nanny Pearl. I had flown to New York from Singapore a few days earlier and spent two days in the office there. The five of us got on an early Monday morning flight on Delta from JFK to Jackson Hole with a stop-over in Salt Lake City. We arrived at the small Jackson Hole airport in the early afternoon.

Lara had arranged a very nice and large house through a company called Luxury Properties Jackson Hole. The house was fantastic, located close to the airport, and it had great views of the Teton Range from almost every room.

The next morning we went on our first hike around Jenny Lake. We entered the park at the town of Moose. You have to pay an entrance fee to drive into the park, but it's not very expensive. 35 Dollars gets you a week-long permit for the car, irrespective of how many people are in it.

We started at the String Lake car park and walked around Jenny Lake counter-clock wise. The weather was perfect and we had amazing views over the lake and the wide valley behind it. After about an hour we reached the turnoff to Hidden Falls. It's only a short walk up to the falls, which are absolutely stunning. There were quite a few people at the waterfall, since you can reach this corner of the lake via boat from the Jenny Lake Lodge.

After the falls we continued the hike around the lake, briefly stopping at the Jenny Lake Visitor Centre. It was very busy here, but it seems most people just come for the lodge or the boat ride, since we came across only a few people on the trails. The hike in total took us 4.5 hours and we got back to the car in the early afternoon. My GPS told me that we had hiked for nearly 17 kilometers. 

About Grand Teton National Park:
Established in 1929 Grand Teton National Park is located in the Northwestern corner of Wyoming, just south of Yellowstone National Park. The main landmark in the park is the Teton Mountain Range and the park is named after the tallest mountain in the range - Grand Teton Peak, which is 4,199 meters high. The Tetons are the youngest mountain range in the Rocky Mountains, which explains the sharp edges of the main peaks. They rose along a tectonic fault only 6 to 9 million years ago. The rocks themselves however, some of which have been dated to 2.7 billion years, are among the oldest found anywhere in the US.

The first human settlers entered this area at least 11,000 years ago. The first white explorers arrived in the early 19th century and the region attracted many followers mainly because of the lucrative beaver pelt trade. The first permanent white settlers came here in the 1880s. In the evening we went on a short drive to nearby Mormon Row, where we took some pictures of the famous historical barns here and where I saw my first Bison.

On our second day we drove a bit further North to Jackson Lake, which is 24 km long and the largest of the many lakes dotted across the park. We did a walk out onto a narrow peninsula called Hermitage point.

Along the way we passed two small ponds, Heron Pond and Swan Lake, which were covered in a dense carpet of waterlilies. We saw some Pelicans, which somehow looked out of place here in the mountains, put turned out to be quite common. The American White Pelican is a migratory bird that moves to more Southern coastal areas in the winter months. We also saw several Ospreys, including this one that had a large fish in his claws.

In the evening we went to the Jackson Hole Rodeo. It was my first every rodeo and it was a lot of fun.

We had an early morning the following day for our hot air balloon flight. We met with the guide from the Wyoming Balloon Company in Teton Village and took off in two balloons nearby. There was very little wind, so we did not move very far, but had stunning views of the whole valley, the Snake River and the Teton Range.

The flight took about an hour and we landed in a nearby field where we were treated to orange juice and champagne.

After a short rest back at the house we went for lunch with Max into the town of Jackson, not to be confused with Jackson Hole, which is the name of the valley. Jackson is a small town of about 10,000 people. It was established in 1894. It still has a few historical buildings, but the most remarkable landmark are the large arches entirely made of antlers at each corner of the town's main square.

In the afternoon we did a family photo session at Schwabacher's Landing, which is one of the best scenic spots where you get great shots of the mountains reflected in a side arm of the Snake River.

On Thursday, Lara and I went off alone to another small lake called Two Oceans Lake, briefly stopping at Schwabacher's Landing again for some shots in the morning light. At the car park before we started the hike, someone warned us that this is an area were bears hang around and we probably shouldn't hike here without bear spray. We didn't have any with us, but decided to risk the hike anyway. (We read later, that this was probably not a great idea.)

It was a beautiful hike, that started through forests and meadows. Halfway around the lake we started to climb up a fairly steep but short hill to a lookout called Grand View Point, the name of which did not disappoint. We had stunning views over Jackson Lake and the mountains from up there.

We returned via a trail along Emma Matilda Lake. And just when we entered into a small clearing, we did indeed see a bear. It was black bear that came out of the woods about 40 meters in front of us. He looked at us briefly, but immediately disappeared in the bushes on the other side of the trail.

Saturday was my last day in Wyoming, and it was the first day with some rain in the morning. So we decided to skip our planned hike up to Amphitheatre Lake and instead did two shorter walks. In the morning we went to Bradley and Taggart Lakes, which are two smaller lakes near the Southern end of the park.

This was another beautiful hike with some extra excitement in the form of three moose. The first moose we saw was walking along our trail towards us. And shortly after that we saw a baby moose in the woods next to the trail. We observed it for a couple of minutes when suddenly mum came out into the clearing and we watched the baby moose nurse right there in front of us, before they both slowly trotted off into the woods. It was an incredible sight.

In the afternoon we went to Leigh Lake, and did another 10 kilometer out and back hike along the shore of the lake.

It was a wonderful and very relaxing trip to one of the most beautiful and pristine National Parks in North America. I left Wyoming on Sunday morning for my long trip back to Singapore, via LAX and Tokyo.

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