Sunday, January 5, 2014

Pancakes to Wide Lakes in the Tetons

July 13, 2013

Tetons National Park
and Jackson, Wyoming

Melinda drove in last night to join us at the condo and be our guide for exploring the grand "But remember," she says, "It'll blow over."  Hum, O.K.

So it's off to the Tetons, over an impressively steep pass.  We take her jeep since she's the expert.  She's been coming to the area all her life so her knowledge and enthusiasm for the place was intoxicating.  She showed us the points of interest in Driggs (the Spud Drive-in), Victor (the Victor Emporium with the BEST huckleberry shakes), and Wilson (a huge net to catch brake-burned-out vehicles hurtling down from the 8500' pass...just kidding, sort of).  And it was still lightly raining.  But it'll blow over.

The Spud Drive-In.  Yup, that's a huge potato on a truck.
 It's fuzzy, but, yes, that says 10% Grade.  Weeeeee!

Gordon had searched for a place to have a hearty breakfast before our hike, and found a pancake place near the entrance to the park.  Dornam's Original Moose Chuckwagon is all-you-can-eat and reportedly very good.  What wasn't reported (by Gordon), is that it's an outdoor facility.  The kitchen is under a shelter, but it's open on all sides, as is the seating.  Did I mention it was raining?  And since we were now at 6000'+, there is a little chill in the air as well, even in July.  Luckily, there was a teepee there with a few tables dragged inside.
I did not take the photo above, because, as you can see, it isn't pouring rain.
But that's the chuckwagon.

Alex, Gordon, Anna and Melinda seated in the teepee.
Hot chocolate and coffee needed for internal thaw.

The large puddles did add to the ambiance and adventure.
The Native Americans must have built them better. 
I can't imagine that they put up with regular flooding.

Possibly it really is "blowing over"?  Or just hiding between the peaks.
Must admit it's a great view regardless.
Full of pancakes, and Melinda full of all our bacon since we don't eat it, we head for the trail.  As if on cue, the rain stopped, or blew over (to somewhere else and some other poor soggy souls).

I'd like to say we're going to the top, but, no.
Close up of the waterfall from the snowmelt, still there in July.

Positively glowing red berries.

Butterfly, drying out.

Cool moss.

The money shot.

Getting closer (I can't believe the telephoto range of this little camera).
Our host and guide, Melinda.  She claims credit for creating the
'hiking boots with a skort' fashion trend.  What, you haven't heard of it?
So what happens when a member of the party wrecks her knee?

Someone has to carry her, while the rest of us
go bouldering along the stream.

Monkey boy was born for this.
When hiking through the woods here, always stay with the group
and make noise, because:

...this.  There are bears, and they want our protein bars. 
I love how after it states "no trash" to "use a trash can."
Probably should have paid attention to this before the hike.
Back at the Ranger Station we attend a program about bears.
We learn the importance of giving them space, and how to use bear spray.  Another thing we maybe should have done this before the hike.
Oh, and Alex earns another Jr. Ranger badge.
It's made of wood, not plastic.  Very classy, Tetons.

With a few hours left, Melinda suggests we head to Jenny Lake.
We rent kayaks for a little upper body workout.
As soon as we're in the water, Alex has to pee.  So working our way to the shore, the rustling shrubs make us stop.

Aw, it's just a young buck.  And, I am little disappointed it isn't a bear.
Alex is my rowing partner.  However, we have trouble keeping up.

Anna and Melinda seem to have it down. 
Of course, Melinda has lots of experience.

Gordon is left to his own power.

Oar high-five!

Seems my first mate is growing tired of my instruction.
Upon further questioning, I realize he thinks he is the captain,
thus the reason he's disregarding my orders.  No wonder we're going circles.  Fortunately for him, there's no plank to walk.
We manage to make it over the shore for a lunch break.

Plotting our next route.

Ah ha, my front seat is empty.

No, I did not leave him behind, but traded him for the backpack.
Bonus, he gets instruction from Melinda now, which he takes without issue.

Now this looks like a lot of work.
If you get a magnifying glass, you can see Gordon and Anna,
way back by the shoreline.  Don't know how they got way over there.

I could get used to this.

On the way back home, we stop at a special place.
Now if I can get my auto-focus to work...

...dang it...

...AH!  There.  That's all we could see of Mr. Moose, but it's proof enough.

Another spot, a little further away we see a Mama,

and her baby in the background. 

Oh these wacky westerners.

And of course there are bison!

Off to dinner in Jackson Hole.  Every year they collect shed antlers
and build these gateways around the square.  They are auctioned for charity.

After some pizza, we do a very quick tour of the local shops.
Alex was very impressed with this geode as big as him.
I also saw some fish fossils, much like the ones we dug, priced at $250.
Now back up and over the mountain, for a much needed night's sleep.  For tomorrow we go to the crown jewel of National Parks, Yellowstone.

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