One of the loveliest hikes anywhere in the world is of course, a hiker’s highway; Hidden Falls above Jenny Lake in the Grand Teton Range is serviced by a boat ride, including complimentary hiking sticks for the 1/2 mile hike to the Falls. How lucky to hike it twice; the first time with Steven, beyond the Falls up to Inspiration Point, and around the lake in full daylight.
A week later I hiked it and Cascade Canyon with my pals Karen and Nancy in two hail/lightning/thunder storms, and nearly in the dark; no tourists were on the trail with those conditions. The glaciers are shrinking and will be gone from this range by 2040. Visit now; the jagged Tetons are just stunning.
While Steven is called to sample the hot springs of Idaho, Sally enjoys a gals-only hiking week near Jackson Hole, Wyoming. We’ve been hiking together since 1978; I am so grateful we have the motivation to meet once again for a week together. The gals had an extra 24 hours of driving (diverting through Nebraska!) due to epic flooding in Colorado where they both were trapped, and out of communication with each other; they found each other and got out (with their car) only with the aid of emergency personnel and a tractor. We are all saddened at the loss of life and homes as flooding effects 4500 sq. miles, about the size of Connecticut.
There is a lot to learn about bears here in the Tetons to be safe on the less touristed trails or after dark. On our first gals’ hike we chose Darby Canyon for a short “warm-up” hike close to our comfy condo in Teton Valley, on the Western side of the Teton Range in Driggs, Idaho. However, with a late start (extended catching up with coffee mugs in hand), and a longer than planned hike due to our need to spelunk Wind Cave below (featured image photo credit: Nancy Buell), we walked out with headlamps, in the dark…and with no bear spray.
A very kind local mountain man heard from other hikers that passed us, that 3 women were coming out in the dark, and he walked up trail to find us and ensure we got out safely. We felt monumentally foolish when we learned that bears approaching hibernation are especially hungry, desperate, and active on full moon nights, and guess what? Yep, we had been congratulating ourselves on doing a night hike, under a full Harvest moon.
The only smart thing we did was stick close together, and belt out show tunes like Ethel Merman as we exited the forest, so as to avoid the highest risk, the surprise factor. We really appreciated our good luck when our mountain man informed us that a fishing guide and his customer were mauled by a black bear the day before while hiking in the Tetons during daylight hours. The bear did not retreat until being shot with a gun 4 times. I bet they weren’t belting out “Hello, Dolly!” before the attack. Being armed just with bear spray hardly feels safe anymore, but as American Express says, “Don’t leave home without it”.
I think being on a 17 hand Buckskin with my cattle dog, like this horsewoman we met on the trail, would make me feel a lot safer, and also fulfill my cowgirl fantasy. We appreciated the sentiment expressed by the bumper sticker on her truck/horse trailer in the parking lot.
Fine sentiments…even better if you are lucky, and find one like Steven that does both…and more. (I am going to enjoy watching him blush as he reads this).
“Pillow Talk” is what the elk are doing now…rutting, bugling, and fighting for female attention. We can hear them bugle, but have to rely on paintings from the Wildlife Museum in Grand Teton National Park, to convey wildlife images as we only see from afar, their white butts at dusk.
To ensure that Karen gets to see a moose, we booked a ranger led, wildlife driving tour to the places in the park where elk, moose and bears have been hanging out all summer. Just our luck, this was the first night during the entire summer that NO wildlife was sighted. The rainbows however were stunning.
Our last hike, the Aspen Trail in the Western Teton Range, revealed lots of fresh bear and moose prints along our trail, and even bear claw marks. That close proximity, sharing the trail, was the most exciting thing this week…and I walked with the bear spray primed and out in front of me like some cop stalking a bad guy in a small space…hoping that the bears didn’t saunter up the trail behind us. Once again, the camp songs and rock n’ roll impersonations probably made the wildlife (and other hikers) flee the area.
Finally, we are leaving Driggs, Idaho and the home of the ‘Spud Drive-in’, still showing outdoor movies. I just miss out being ordained a, “Seasoned Tator” for a senior discount, yet too old to be a “Tator Tot”. What’s that make me…a “Spec-tator” or a “Spud-nik”?