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June 9, 2012 / mws

2012 Grand Tetons May/June

May 22 2012  Tuesday  After spending a week in Utah, Nevada, and Arizona, we arrived in Jackson, Wyoming on Tuesday afternoon.  Our first stop was at Albertson’s to get bearspray, supplies and food items including our picnic cooler.

We drove north to Signal Mountain Lodge for our three night stay.  Signal Mountain Resort is one of our favorite areas in the Jackson Hole area.  It has lodging, restaurants, a gas station, a gift shop, and a general store. It is the only place in the park that has wifi and TV reception, although the electronics are available ONLY in the lounge area.  By far, the best aspect is the gorgeous scenery with the Tetons rising up from beautiful Jackson Lake.
We drove down the Moose-Wilson Road and then walked along the canyon ridge to absorb the mountain air  We expected to see moose but none appeared.  In the evening we drove over to Oxbow Bend and saw an area with lots of cars on both sides of the road.
I knew right away…bear jam!!   
It was a grizzly Mom and 3 cubs.  The cubs were greatly entertaining.  They wrestled and ran and played to entertain all of the bear watchers. It was a great event!  What a wonderful way to end a day in the Tetons!

May 23 2012 Wednesday 
We were very comfortable in our little cabin at Signal Mountain Lodge. The staff was helpful, the food at the restaurant was wonderful and the scenery was magnificent. We greatly enjoyed sitting in front of the stone fireplace this morning while it was snowing and blowing outside.  If you ever have a chance to visit or stay here, I highly recommend it. 

This day was rainy and snowy most of the day.  We spent some time in the park and some time at the lodge.  In the evening we drove up the Signal Mountain Road to the summit.  Along the trail we spied a sage grouse.
May 24 2012 Thursday
This morning we drove the inside Park road from Signal Mountain Lodge to Moose, Wyoming.  Along the was we stopped at Lupine Meadows and did a short hike to look for moose, but once again, we did not find any.  Almost everyone we encountered along the trail asked us if we saw any moose.  I told them the moose are away for the holiday weekend. 
As we continued south, we found a cinammon colored black bear along the road.  He was eating the yellow wildflowers along the road and was very cooperative while we were taking his picture.
 The Jenny Lake scenic drive was along the way, so we took that in.  At that point we were happy to see that the sun came out and the skies brightened for our mountain photos. We drove south to Wilson, Wyoming to have lunch at our favorite restaurant, Nora’s Fishcreek Inn.  The food is delicious and the atmosphere is perfectly western.

We returned to our cabin and checked the weather for our drive to Yellowstone tomorrow.  It did not sound good, so we formulated a Plan B.  In the evening we drove up to Oxbow Bend.  Along the way we spotted another smallcinammon colored black bear.  At the Willow Flats overlook, we spied a coyote trotting along a path in the distance.  All in all, a great day!

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June 1 2012 Friday   It’s always sad to leave Yellowstone and make that last drive through the Lamar Valley and over Dunraven Pass. It was a little dreary and rainy this morning as we packed up to leave Yellowstone.   As we drove into the park the sun came out and a rainbow greeted us on our last day in the park.  After a wonderful week in Yellowstone, we arrived back in the Grand Tetons to explore for a few more days.

We stayed at a condo in the Aspens area off Moose-Wilson Road.  This was our first experience staying at the condos, and it was a good one.  We had plenty of room, a very nice view, and all the furnishings of home.   In the evening we took a drive into the park and spotted a moose on the Moose-Wilson Road.  Further up the road, we stopped at the Taggart Lake Trailhead. There were 2 momma moose here with their babies. Fun to watch!

June 2 2012 Saturday 

We started the day with a drive on Moose-Wilson Road. Along this road is the turn-off for the Rockefeller Preserve. Visiting the Laurance Rockefeller Preserve was definitely a trip highlight. The Preserve is a gift from Laurance Rockefeller…he envisioned a place where visitors could experience a spiritual and emotional connection to the beauty of Phelps Lake and the Teton Range. The Preserve has sagebrush meadows, forest, wetlands, creeks, and beautiful trails which lead to Phelps Lake. Bears are common in this area. We hiked the 3 mile loop trail enjoying nature but also carrying our bear spray.The Phelps Lake Trailhead is most easily accessed from the Rockefeller Preserve. If you go, be sure to get there in the early morning, as parking is limited and after 10AM, it is likely that you will have to wait for a parking space.

June 3 2012 Sunday                                  In 2009, Lance hiked to Hidden Falls on his own, since I has a foot injury.  Ever since then, we kept trying to get this hike scheduled again since Lance raved about it. Finally, this year, we did it!

Hidden Falls is the most popular hike in Grand Teton National Park.  It is on the far side of Jenny Lake, at the base of the beautiful Teton Range. For a nominal fee, a shuttle boat transports hikers across the Lake to the trailhead.The trail to Hidden Falls is about 1/2 mile and is not too difficult.  There are a lot of rocks and tree roots, so there are loaner hiking poles for those who want a little more balance. Along the hiking trail are lovely wildflowers and fast flowing creeks surrounded by majestic mountains. Hidden Falls in the spring is really beautiful.  When Lance did this hike in September, the water was not running so fast and furiously.
From Hidden Falls, the hike becomes more difficult as you hike over bigger rocks and steeper upgrades. At Inspiration Point, the view of Jenny Lake brings inspiration to all.

“The thrill of tramping alone and unafraid through a wilderness of lakes, creeks, alpine meadows, and glaciers is not known to many. A civilization can be built around the machine but it is doubtful that a meaningful life can be produced by it.… When man worships at the feet of avalanche lilies or discovers the delicacies of the pasque flower or finds the faint perfume of the phlox on rocky ridges, he will come to know that the real glories are God’s creations. When he feels the wind blowing through him on a high peak or sleeps under a closely matted white bark pine in an exposed basin, he is apt to find his relationship to the universe.” WILLIAM O. DOUGLAS, Supreme Court Justice and avid hiker, 1898—1980

June 4 2012  Monday 
For our last day in the Grand Tetons, we wanted to just relax and take it in.  We drove our favorite roads and sought out the places we liked best. Of course, it is always wonderful to see the animals in this wild and glorious park.

          In Grand TetonNational Park, the moose is the most seen animal. In the springtime, the males are just starting to regrow their antlers.

 We also went back to the Taggart Lake Trailhead and once again were treated with a spotting of the Momma moose and her baby.
Just outside the park on the way to Dubois is Buffalo Valley. We like to drive through there and stop at the Buffalo Valley Cafe.  Lance especially loves to go to the cafe, since it is the only place he knows that coffee is 10 cents.  We made a stop at the Church of the Transfiguration.  This small church has to be in the most scenic location ever!  I took a picture from inside at the altar with the window view of the Tetons.  Then I walked around the back of the church and took a picture of the reflection in the window.

The chapel itself is built of logs and is only 22 feet by 50 feet. The most striking feature of the chapel is at the front of the sanctuary behind the altar. A clear glass window gives worshipers a glorious view of the Teton Mountains. If there is any question about the unspoken message of the chapel and its location, the view of the mountains “speaks” of a majestic Lord who has given us a majestic world in which to live.

Today was the most glorious day in the park.  We had gorgeous weather and sunny blue skies.  When we drove past Jackson Lake, we had to stop and try to capture the scene.Grand Teton National Park…it renews the spirit and refreshes the soul!!

June 5 2012 Tuesday  Last morning in the Grand Tetons. Our drive southwest thru parts of Idaho and into Utah took us through canyons and small towns.  We left early to get into Salt Lake City before the major afterwork rush.   What we never anitcipated was a power outage at our hotel!  We had planned on eating at the hotel restaurant when we arrived.

We arrived about 3PM after we dropped off our car at the airport. The courtesy shuttle brought us to our powerless hotel checkin.  They offered us cookies and apologized. The estimated power-on time was 5 PM.  At 6:30 PM with no power yet, I strolled through the very dark hallway with my hotel provided glowstick. The new estimate for power-on was 8PM.  I purchased some stale snacks from the hotel mini-market.
Finally, at 8:30PM every applicance and light came on in our room. Woo-hoo, back in the twenty-first century!  All of my chargers (phone, kindle, computer) were immediately plugged in. I was able to print our boarding passes and relax to the PBS Andrea Bocelli special.I forgot to mention that the power outage was caused by high winds over the Great Salt Lake. When you travel, you just never know what you may encounter!
June 6 2012 Wednesday Flying day.  To the airport at 7:30AM for 9:30 fllight to Dulles.

It’s so sad to leave.  Lance and I both love to read.  Leaving the west is like finishing a good book.  It lingers in your mind and heart and brings melancholy feelings.  The trip photos help and then the happy travelling memories take over and you start planning the next trip.

To see more photos of our 2012 Grand Tetons trip, click here

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