I have a confession to make:
I have not actually done much hiking in the Tetons.
It sounds so wrong, right? I have lived here for almost two years and another summer before that! But, with the majority of that time spent teaching student groups, I didn’t have a lot of time to get “amongst” the Tetons. Leisure time was mostly spent back in the Gros Ventres, close to home and away from tourists. Aside from my graduate backpacking trip (four days on the Teton Crest Trail), my Teton adventures have been contained to about 50 runs of the Bradley-Taggert loop – a hike any TSS grad can do in their sleep by the end of the year – and a few days canoeing on String Lake.
So, my ongoing mission this summer is to put more time into actually hiking this mountain range that I love. Last week, Chris and I had some time off together and decided to make a big day of it. Although we started driving without much of a plan, we settled on hiking into Cascade Canyon above Jenny Lake, the sapphire crown jewel of Grand Teton National Park.
We started at the north parking lot on the lake, a little more secluded and quiet than the south parking lot – where the ferry launch point is. We made our way north, slowly curving west around the edge of the lake, before we crossed the run off between String Lake and Jenny and started working our way south towards the canyon.
As we were looking at standing dead trees from a fire past, Chris noticed an osprey nest. Driving through Wilson and Jackson there are plenty of nests on man-made platforms, but we don’t often see full on natural nests. It was a good spot. About 30 seconds later, we saw one of the owners of that nest fly back home, stick in talon. I can think of fewer perfect spots for a fisherman’s nest than on the edge of Jenny Lake.
Hitting the Cascade Canyon trail, we worked our way up the series of switchbacks until we came to the junction for Inspiration Point. It gave us a beautiful view of the lake and valley below and the Tetons above. After eating our lunch there, we adventured up the canyon for another mile or so before dropping down and continuing our loop.
About 10 miles and 5 and a half hours later, we made it back to the car. The wind had picked up as the afternoon weather rolled in. This was my biggest day in a very very long time, and I ended up crashing into a power nap when we made it home. I can’t wait for a summer filled with well-earned sleep!