Fur trappers, when first gazing upon the Teton Range, dubbed the South, Middle, and Grand peaks “Les Trois Tetons”, meaning “the three breasts”.
With less than three days to explore one of nature’s finer creations, Grand Teton National Park, we knew we would be leaving much for another time. A day of hiking and one dedicated to exploring the park’s beauty through a lens seemed the best approach. Fortunately this wasn’t our first visit so we didn’t feel compelled to maintain a crazed, frenetic pace.
Waiting in a long line at the entrance station, hubby turned to me and said “remind me why we decided to visit a national park during peak season and while the National Park Service is celebrating their centennial year”. Yes, probably not our most prudent decision. Shoulder season is typically our time for exploring these treasures but a planned visit to friends in the area and another adventure already scheduled for the fall found us rubbing elbows with hordes of tourists.
With map and park newspaper in hand we pulled away from the entrance station and were immediately reminded of why we are drawn to this park. Without any rolling foothills to soften the visual effects, Grand Teton’s massive, craggy peaks rose dramatically off the Jackson Hole valley floor, a sight likely to leave most breathless.
The 2.7 billion-year-old rocks found in the core of this range are some of the oldest in North America, but these magnificent mountains rank among the youngest in the world.
After passing a couple of full campgrounds and another long wait, we quickly set up camp at Colter Bay. With map and newspaper in hand we charted our course for the next two days.
The Forks of Cascade Canyon Trail at Jenny Lake became our hike of choice. Instead of taking the boat shuttle across the lake, an option for many as it shaves about four miles off the hike, we opted to start our trek from the String Lake trailhead. It made for a nice 12.5-mile hike, with a 2000’ elevation gain.
We even got a peek at a moose feeding in the willows across a meadow, a wonderful treat. They have been known to dive up to 18 feet under the water’s surface and stay there for up to a minute, in search of aquatic plants, which makes for a rather uncooperative photography subject.
The next morning found me rubbing sleep out of my eyes at 4:30 am, heading out in the hopes of capturing sunrise shots without the crowds. Tucked into a warm bed, hubby graciously declined the offer to join me.
Both artists and photographers flock to the Tetons. With her sagebrush flats, wet and alpine meadows, lakes, ponds, and forests, there is plenty available for a creative mind.
A favorite stop to complete a wonderful day of sightseeing was the Laurance S. Rockefeller Preserve Center. This plot of land south of the village of Moose offers 8 miles of trails and showcases Mr. Rockefeller’s vision and his legacy of conservation stewardship. A small circular room allows you to quietly sit, enjoying the sounds of the park: crickets chirping, owls hooting, wolves howling, male ruffed grouse flapping his wings in courtship, an elk’s mating call, wind blowing through an aspen grove, a thunderstorm…ahhh!
Wind speaks through pines. Light animates granite. An eagle soars – it’s shadow crosses over us. All life is intertwined. ~ Anonymous
This is the connectedness felt when we quiet ourselves in nature.