Tuesday, August 28, 2007

(23) Jackson Hole, Teton, Wyoming

Jackson Hole Wyoming

Teton National Park, Jenny Lake, Colter Bay and Jackson Lake


What a day it’s been. I was going to drive in real early into Teton National Park, it’s almost across the street from where I’m staying, but I didn’t get up until about 8:00. Ok, call me lazy. It’s soooo wonderfully cool at night, I sleep very well. But I did get to the park, after a quick stop for a cup of coffee and a piece of banana bread on the way, as I headed towards Jenny Lake.
It’s tucked right up against those huge mountain peaks. I got on the little fairy boat to cross the lake, now isn’t that a great way to start a day. The water is so crystal clear, I could see the bottom of the lake, filled with round fist sized river rock. Crossing the lake, the mountains seem to shift as you see them get larger as we approach the other shore. Once on the other side, there are a couple options for hikes, and I took the most scenic trail, up to hidden falls. The hike wound along the roaring crashing stream leading us up to the falls. Mountain peaks and huge spruce and fir trees lined the granite rock canyon which was like a very deep sharp V. The tiniest wild flowers peaking out from between the rocks. Rock climbers were learning their craft on all the boulders, as the park has a professional rock climbing association in the park for teaching and for extensive climbs.

Of course I was one of the slowest hikers, but my gosh, how can you rush along a climbing path with such awesome sights along the way. Oh, they have tons of thimble berry bushes up here, but they are just in bloom and only about half of the bushes have the berries forming. Still green. It won’t be till late summer before they’ll be ready to eat. We had them in Northern Michigan and my sisters and I would pick them along the railroad tracks as young kids. The berries are in the shape of a thimble when you pick them and we used to put one on each finger before devouring them. And the birds were singing from one tree to the next sounding like a concert in quadraphonic sound. I got a couple pictures of a thrasher (I think that’s what it was called), very colorful, all black, bright yellow and red splashes of feathers. And the tiny striped ground squirrels were so cute eating some small red berries. Truly the picture of nature in it’s happiest form.

On my way back and forth to the campsite, was quite a herd of buffalo along our side road grazing in the sage fields. And tonight, as I took my bike for a ride through the campground, two huge, and I mean huge buffalo were right in the park! They ambled on eating shrubs and grasses, in between all the tent campers. Suddenly a dog barked and both of the bison went thundering through all the campsites. Most everyone frozen in disbelief at seeing them running so swiftly. Stopping again in an open grassy area to graze once again. Believe me, they look really dossal munching on grass, but when they want to move, you don’t want to be in their way! Well that was the excitement for the day so far.

I’ve been going into Jackson Hole regularly, it’s about 6 miles from the campground. Interesting town with the ski hill trails leading right to the edge of town. This must be one great place for people who love skiing. Oh and you know the property must be outrageous, since they have no less than 4 Sotheby’s International Realty locations. Two are in the Teton Village, which is mostly very expensive condo’s next to the ski lifts. I wasn’t impressed with Teton Village, and the gondola ride ($18) wasn’t worth the trip up the side of the mountain. There are tons of major art dealers in town, so one can see the best nature sculptors and painters in the whole U.S. Sorry, I wasn’t permitted to take any pictures, but you could check on one of the art studio’s web sites: http://www.mtntrails.net/ to view some of the local art work. Very expensive, starting in the mid teens on up to the $30 and $60 thousand dollar range. Of course they have some great bars like the Silver Dollar Bar and the Million Dollar Bar, lots of shops and some of the best eateries anywhere. It’s called Fine Dining you know. All the buildings are very well maintained, many with a log cabin feel, large pole construction and carved bears climbing them. Very western looking. The antler arches and huge spruce trees add to the look. Even the local K-Mart and Albertsons look like expensive lodges.

For campers there are plenty of campgrounds in the National parks, forests and Jackson even has two or three campground right in town. Pricey to be sure, but if you want to be close to the night life, it would be worth it.
So I could buy more T-shirts, I went through my collection and donated about 6-8 to the local charity, the Episcopal Church of the Transfiguration . When you live in a camper, you absolutely have to get rid of something before you buy something new.

Remember how I’d read the book on the Oregon Trail. Well in their local western museum in town, they had a beaver skin, beaver skin hats and the trinkets that the trappers used to buy the skins from the Indians until they began trapping themselves. You know the west was really first explored by the trappers, who basically decimated the beaver population between 1810 and 1840. Of course that was because everyone in western Europe had to have those beaver skin hats. By then the trappers had explored about every inch of the north west and when the trapping dwindled down to nothing, they started guiding all the wagon trains across the west into California and Oregon. It’s really neat to have read about the western movement and then see articles that relate to it.

Oh and a bit of local history, Mr. and Mrs. Robert Miller purchased a homestead from a horse thief (there was a lot of that going on back then). Mr. Miller then became the first banker in Jackson and back in 1923 both Grace and her husband ran for Mayor. She won. The west especially Wyoming had strong women who were able to do things like that, including being able to vote way before the rest of the country caught on.

Back in Teton National Park, I’m staying in Colter Bay Campground. The campsites are old with an interesting format. Each campsite is a pull-thru, on one way loops. The pull-thru’s are right next to the road itself, but if you get a campsite on the outside loop, your patio side faces the woods. Which I might add are the healthiest and thickest forest I’m see in a long time. Lots of lodge pole pines (those are the ones the Indians used to make their TP’s), fir trees and the prettiest Christmas trees I’ve ever seen.

Took a boat tour on Lake Jackson, the largest lake hugging the Grand Tetons. It’s over 450 ft deep. We had a Park Ranger onboard who gave us lots of information on the link between the geology of the region, what plants and animals live in the area etc. Pretty cool. Lots better than just boating around the lake, between the islands and viewing bald eagles and ohhing and awhing over the mountains and glaciers.

I drove over to the Grand Teton Lodge to check e-mails and the sites. The lodge has the most awesome huge windows overlooking the Tetons, huge comfy lounge area with cushy chairs and couches. Funny to see all of us intently working on our lap-tops (it’s a wi-fi hot spot), occasionally feeling guilty and looking out though those huge windows at a scene one seldom sees in life. The grand lobby is where Reagan and Khrushchev signed the ending of the Cold War Treaty. Yup, right between the women’s and men’s bathrooms. An Indian guide shared that with me.

Later in the day, I visited the American Indian Art Museum here at Colter Bay. The Indian guide shared some stories about their art forms, keying in on the porcupine quill decorations and bead work, bring us into today’s Indian art work. A collection of peace pipes and highly decorated moccasins were really awesome. One of the things he’s hoping for if they every build a new museum is a retrospective of Indian art from the past into present day Indian arts. He says it’s disheartening to hear people look at the Indian artifacts and say things like that’s what it was like back when the Indians were around. Relating only to the past. Forgetting that they are here today and continuing to expand their culture and art forms.

There’s something completely magical about this place. I don’t know what it is. I wish I could put it in words for you. I know, I know, after writing over 1,500 words. I guess the pictures will have to do for now.

No comments: