October 17 - 19: Our Time in the Tetons
Mountains. Wildlife. Lakes and rivers. You could say the Tetons are almost like home (smile)!
Before we even entered the Park proper, wildlife put in an appearance. A bull moose was bedded down among the cottonwoods along the Gros Ventre river, and a cow moose grazed nearby. The animals were encircled by a crowd of onlookers, so we did not add to the melee. So, no photos, I am afraid.
Inside the park, a pull-out provides a stunning panorama of the Teton range, along with a helpful plaque explaining the source of the names of various features. French Canadian trappers referred to the Grand, Middle and South Teton as "Les Trois Tetons", or "The Three Breasts". Since the vista was so expansive, I decided a video would be the ideal way to capture it.
At 9.30 AM, we began our hike to Surprise Lake and Amphitheatre Lake. Clouds scudded across the face of the mountain, and the 48-degree temperature suggested we might encounter a snow shower or two at the higher elevations. It was a Saturday, and it quickly became apparent that the locals had turned out in droves to do this hike before winter truly sets in. In the first hour alone, we saw 22 people. In the meantime, the chipmunks were fully occupied collecting food - so adorable skittering away with mouths crammed with pine seeds. At this elevation, autumn color was splotched on the hillsides as though a five year old had been let free with the paintbrush.
We headed back to the trailhead, and were rewarded with expansive views of the valley along the way. Also, we spotted a pine marten crossing the trail ahead of us. This is only the second time on our lives that we have seen one of these elusive creatures. It is always amazing to me that is possible for such a sighting on a popular trail - we encountered at least 30 people headed up while we descended, but I suspect we were the only ones that saw the marten.
The full parking lot was additional testimony to this well-liked trail, and so perhaps we should not have been surprised when a fox showed up there, looking for abandoned food or even a handout. I was sitting on a rock, changing out of my boots, when it sauntered past me, not more than 10 feet away. You could have knocked me over with a feather! Spousal Unit caught this gorgeous creature on video, and several hikers with large sandwiches can be heard telling it "No" quite firmly as it eyed up their food! Check it out - you have to see this jaw-dropping beauty!
Fortified with some Starbucks coffee, we turned to the GPS to lead us to Mountain Green, Utah, the home of one of my brothers and his wife. After six nights on the road, we licked our lips in anticipation of their hospitality, which is renowned in our family. We had no doubt that good times and good cooking lie ahead. For now, I will leave you with a Utah sunset as seen from the deck of the house. Glorious!