We made it back from Grand Teton yesterday. We left at 6:30am and got home around 4:30pm, so now we know it's a 10-hour drive to the park. We weren't sure about that before, since the last time we went to GTNP was in 2003 and we came up from CA. Now that we know we can drive it in a day, we'll probably go more often. Our first night was spent in West Yellowstone, Montana, which is just on the outskirts of the west entrance to Yellowstone National Park. I had Internet there, but it sucked. I think I made one update on Facebook and then finally gave up. The next morning we drove through YNP and stopped at the Old Faithful area. It was raining, so we just looked around in the inn and had lunch in our trailer. We had hoped to take a bike ride there, but that didn't happen because of the rain.
We got into our campsite in Grand Teton later that afternoon. People told us it had been raining for 6 days straight. Some hadn't even seen the Tetons yet because of the clouds. I was expecting it to rain the entire time we were there, but we lucked out. That afternoon there was a break and the sun came out for a bit, so we jumped at the chance of getting the kayaks in Jackson Lake. It's the biggest lake in the park and not necessarily the one we wanted to kayak in, but we took advantage of the break and went in. The next day the weather was even nicer, so we took the boats down into String Lake. Then we wanted to go into Leigh Lake, which is only open to hand-powered boats. You can't get to Leigh Lake by car. There's a portage between String and Leigh, so we had to get our boats out and walk. We have big tandum kayaks and they weigh about 80 pounds each. It was tough, but worth it. Leigh Lake is pretty big and it was incredible kayaking at the base of Mount Moran. The weather really agreed with us that day. We got in the boats around 10am, got out for lunch, and then got back in. I think we finally pulled them out around 4pm. I thought my arms were going to fall off -- dang.
There was a chance of rain the following day, but it didn't begin until the evening. So that day we took advantage of the weather and went on a 4-mile hike around Heron Pond. It was so pretty in there. We were hoping to spot a black Gray Wolf, who has been seen a lot in the area. He's injured so the rangers think he might have been kicked from his pack. However, we didn't see him while we were in there. It sure was a pretty hike through the woods though, with views of ponds and lakes all around us. Thursday we heard it was going to rain the most, so we had planned on going to a new Visitor Center that wasn't there the last time we went. On our way down, there was a break in the clouds and we got some great views of the Tetons. We also stopped at Cunningham's Cabin, which ironically, we'd never been to before in all our previous trips. That was fun. I got some cool shots of the cabin along with some of a mountain blue bird that was fluttering around. Then we went to the new Visitor Center down in Moose, which was really cool because it's all interactive. After that, we had lunch in our car. We had hoped the weather would hold out for a bike ride, but there was a good thunderstorm going on. There's a brand new bike path between Moose and Jenny Lake, so we really hoped to go on that. But with all the lightning, we decided against it. We'll go on it next time for sure.
We didn't see any bears this trip, but we came across a bear jam that was just breaking up. I knew it was a bear because there were 4 rangers on scene. They usually don't show up like that for other animals. We did see a lot of wildlife though. Rick & I were walking on a trail by Jackson Lake when a huge moose walked right out in front of me. We followed her through the trail and then watched her munch on grass by a picnic area. After we had left, that was when the break came and we took the boats out on the lake. When we pulled our boats out, she was back by our van munching away, so we had to wait for awhile before we could get the kayaks back up on the van. We waited and waited. Finally, we just took our chances and got them up. She didn't seem to care. We also saw bison, deer, elk, pronghorn antelope, a yellow-bellied marmot, a coyote, bald eagles, osprey, Peregrine falcons, squirrels, chipmunks, and about a million different kinds of birds. On our way home I saw a little red fox running through some grass. So cute!
I put some of my pictures onto a slide show, so I hope you enjoy seeing them. You might want to click refresh so it starts from the beginning. I think my favorite, of all of them, is of the mountain blue bird on the fence post. That was taken near Cunningham's Cabin. Like I said, we really lucked out with the weather. Some people we had spoken to had been there a week and hadn't even been able to see the Teton range because it had been raining so much. We had lots of breaks in the weather and it was never really cold. Then I heard it was supposed to snow there today, so we lucked out. I can't believe it had been so long since we were there last. Oh, and the boys also became Junior Rangers while we were there, so that was fun. Now that we know it's only a 10-hour drive, I'm sure we'll go back more often. Grand Teton is my favorite of all the parks I've seen -- I already want to go back!