I started my morning in Jackson Hole, with a stop at the visitor center. I wanted to talk to the information desk to see what hikes they thought I could do alone. It was early spring, so the bears were out and about. Rangers had reported so many, I wanted to err on the safe side. I knew I had all day to cover 60 miles of road, and I was really looking forward to it after the preview I got on the way in!
After stopping at the Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor center, and lucking into a Ranger talk (Have I mentioned I have the biggest crush on NPS Rangers?) I took my first road less traveled and walked around the back of the building. Literally NO ONE was out there, and I snagged this picture, which I will always remember.
Grand Teton National Park is just surreal. One of my friends said I was living in a postcard, and I couldn't have put it better myself. The volunteer from the visitor's center had told me not to miss The Chapel of the Transfiguration, so I made this stop next.
(No words can even capture this place, so I'm not going to waste my breath trying.) Just across the way was a hike to Menor's Ferry. Absolutely NO ONE was taking this hike. It said it was 0.3 miles, and I said to myself, "Eh, why not, it will be a short walk."
Past the closed ferry and past the Maud Noble cabin, where the thought of a National Park first started, was a mercantile shop. I thought it would be a replica and I would just cruise through.
However, inside the small building was a real store with things for sale. I cruised past them, but being as it was early morning, empty, a bit chilly, and most importantly, since I was BY MYSELF, the volunteer in there chatted me up. He gave me a bit of a history lesson on the building, and as we walked into the second room, which had a working wood burning stove, he said, "I just pulled cookies out of the oven. Would you like one?"
This photo is horrible, but I love this man.
Would I like a warm gingersnap? Uhhhh yes. As we ate cookies by the stove, he gave me some great tips on trails that would be busy enough, I could hike them alone with ease. We talked about education, and politics, and Grand Teton and Yellowstone. And then, on my way out, he gave me the ginger snap recipe. Which was, of course, from the original owner of the mercantile store. Be still my heart!!
One hike he recommended to me was Jenny Lake. I stopped at every scenic turnout, the entire day, but was excited to get my boots dirty. ;) The hike to Hidden Falls turned out to be the highlight of this day. If I hadn't made the decision to take the 0.3 small hike detour... Well, you get it. I befriended a couple of couples I kept passing back and forth on the trail up to the falls. They could hardly believe I was alone and also seemed amused by me. =)
Hiking, hiking, I love hiking!!
Hidden Falls turned out to be even more hidden because of some trees that had fallen, but it made the adventure even more fun. I sat on a rock and just watched for a while, and breathed in that amazing mountain air. As I left the couple of couples, they shouted, "We'll look for you again!" And I fell in love with them. =)
At the end of the hike, I stopped in the store at Jenny lake and bought some ice cream. (Hey! I'm on vacation!) I nibbled on Dibs as a chipmunk came and circled my feet... I felt like a damn Disney princess. A group of hikers at a nearby picnic table who were watching the chipmunk, got a big kick out of me when I froze and asked them, "You guys would tell me if it was climbing up my leg, right?!?" I later gave them the Dibs I couldn't eat, which they kindly accepted. =)
Next I went to Signal Mountain. The views of Jackson Valley from the summit were marred only by the fierce mosquitos, who, despite two layers of insect repellant, hovered around me, trying to get a bite.
At this point in my day, I'd had exactly: 1 bowl of cereal, one granola bar, and one half package of Dibs. ;) I decided it was time for dinner, and remembered from my map that Jackson Lake Lodge was coming up and on my way. The Lodge, while not my style, was an amazing pit stop. I circled the place to check out all my options and saw plenty of outdoor benches that were wide open. So, I grabbed dinner to go, took it outside, and just enjoyed the view!
With a view like this mostly to myself, I felt like I was robbing people blind. I looked back behind me into the Lodge and I saw people having their fancy dinner on the other side of the glass. I chuckled, and felt so content.
Timing, as you can tell by the turn of events in my day, was everything on this trip. As I finished dinner, a storm started to roll in. I took that as my cue to leave Grand Teton National Park. I made it to Grant Village in Yellowstone (my stop for the night) after an easy drive, with only the mosquitos standing in my way.
I said, "Wow!!" a lot more than I have in a long while. The Tetons are truly amazing. I must admit, I have quite fallen in love with their jagged peaks, and can hardly wait to go back to do more hiking. A quick repack of my pack, and an exhausted sleep lay ahead of me... until Day 4! =)