Well…this was the big one we had been waiting for. Not necessarily a massive hike but actually being in the NP and seeing the iconic Grand Teton mountain range from the front. We entered the park on the Moose-Wilson road which is a twisty, narrow little road that winds into the park from the south side. We immediately interrupted six young elk bucks gathered by the road. We were so startled ourselves and then realized we didn’t even have the camera out! We completely missed a great photo opportunity! Even though we did react quickly, so did they and loped into the trees. That potential photo went into a file with big fish that got away…
For a few miles the road continued through the forest in its lovely, wandering, narrow fashion. Just as the road widened and opened, there was an outlook point where a dozen or so cars were gathered and groups of people were lined along the ridge. Hmm, what could be so interesting? Drivers had begun to take notice and stopped on both sides of the road, parking in all directions and then running across the open space, totally forgetting the paths. Being somewhat non-conformists we paid attention to the waterfowl feeding just in front of us but joined the throng when a moose cow came waddling through the end of the marsh. We spent a little time watching a moose wading around in the marsh eating moose biscuits or whatever moose eat in the morning. We hung around for a little while after she wandered off but the biscuits must not have been very tasty that morning as no other mooses came by. 🙂
Shortly thereafter, we went through Moose Junction entrance and began to see the magnificent beauty of the range. The trail head we were planning to use had a full parking lot and no parking is allowed on the actual Park road. Activate ‘Plan B’…my navigator found the Lupine Meadows trail head where the parking lot was filling fast but spots were available. One thing about these National Parks…lot’s of folks! This particular trail goes up Grand Teton connecting to other trails allowing deeper access to the park. Although it starts off fairly moderate and paved, it shortly becomes a rocky, pretty aggressive, heart-exercising climb of 1.7 miles to a trail junction. There are a couple of choices, the first one continued up at the same aerobic pace for over 2 miles. The second, a more leisurely 1.5 mile route rising mildly (still aerobic!) and across the mountain to Bradley Lake. The forest, mountains, trails, were simply fabulous and no lousy mosquitoes or flies either! We agreed this particular hike would have to rate at the top of our list of “Most Awesome Hikes Ever”.
We had to make a descent to reach the lake but it was worth it. Crossing the inlet on a wonderful sturdy bridge at the bottom of the decent, we found a tree bench where a hot, glistening RHonda immediately went wading! I wanted an unobstructed view of the peaks and the snow melt running down them, so we circled around to the back side of the lake for the view and lunch. Perched upon a big bolder, watching the melt we had a nice lunch (if some trail mix, an apple, and a protein bar can be considered a ‘nice’ lunch) while her feet dried out and then started the ascent to the ridge. We had only seen a few others down this path which was great, it was so quiet.
It was 3.2 miles to the lake and exactly the same amount going back out…fancy that! Our feet were a little sore by the time we got to the bottom and my poor Keen hikers had bitten the dust. The soles were coming off with the rubber completely separating from the leather. We tried to replace them before we left Colorado Springs and that resulted in adding another pair of rejects to my shoe rack. I am still on the search for the perfect hiker! Montana has sporting goods stores, I am hopeful.
A stop at our now favorite burger place in Victor and it is the end of a fabulous day. Another check off on the bucket list. Grand Teton hike, check!