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A day in the Tetons

July 18, 2012 | Travel, USA | 10 Comments
Dave, Inspiration Point

After a fun but exhausting few days in Denver for a travel blogging conference, Dustin and I hired a car and headed out of town.  From Colorado to Wyoming we crossed, leaving our cares – and cell phone service – behind us in the dust.

The skies were huge and the roads were long as for two days we made our way westwards, beginning an eleven day Road Trip of Awesome that seemed to take in every scenic location on the way to Seattle.

First stop: Grand Teton National Park.

View of the Tetons

Printing brochures is something the US National Park service does very well, and the one we’d picked up from the visitor centre assured us that the drive over Togwotee Pass into the park would be impressive.  And it was.  The jagged granite peaks towered into the blue sky, starkly contrasting with the flat plains we had been driving through for hundreds of miles beforehand.
Building and Tetons view

Arriving in Teton Village mid-afternoon and checking into the only affordable accommodation for miles around, we found a short hike to do for an hour or two in preparation for the real test the following day.

We were going to Cascade Canyon.

Recommended as a ‘moderate’ 10+ mile hike, we spotted a hot air balloon slowing rising into the sky nearby as we drove to the trailhead.  I’ve long worked on the theory that if you are awake in time to see balloons taking off, you should go back to bed…

The boat ride across the lake was pretty, in a I-can’t-believe-this-costs-a-buck-a-minute kind of way, and we were soon striding uphill in the most strenuous part of the day, the climb up to Inspiration Point.

I’ve no idea why they call it that…..

Dave at Inspiration Point

It was the perfect day for hiking, the morning chill slowly replaced by warm sunshine as we walked into the canyon.  The well-formed trail meandered through the trees, a burbling river our constant companion for several miles.

Cascade Canyon trail

The scenery changed dramatically throughout the day, from lush forest to exposed cliff faces.  The soft crunch of pine needles under our feet was replaced by exposed rock and swirls of dust for a while.  Onwards we continued, the trail welcomingly level after the early elevation gain.

Cascade canyon river

After five miles or so we hit the proverbial fork in the road, the path leading both north and south.  We had been warned there was a high chance of snow no matter which way we went, and indeed had already walked over a couple of small patches a little further back down the trail.

North it was, for no particular reason except that it was apparently a little shorter that way.  I don’t carry hiking boots with me these days, and my running shoes aren’t exactly designed for hard-core alpine trekking.

It wasn’t long before the predictions were proved correct.  Initially the snow was hard and fairly easy to walk across, but as the trail opened up and we crossed large sunny areas, that all started to change.  My walking pole was called on several times to help me avoid creating unplanned snow angels.

Snow in Cascade Canyon

With wet feet and a disappearing trail, it was time to admit defeat.  Not that it mattered – the joy was in the hike, not the final destination.  Cheeky marmots skittered around nearby as we paused on a rocky ledge, the peace and quiet of this beautiful spot disturbed only by the greetings of the few other hikers who had made it this far.

Maybe the heat of the day had accelerated the snow melt, or perhaps it was just my imagination, but the roaring rivers and splashing waterfalls seemed much more impressive on the way back down.  I had to stop every few minutes to take yet another photo of raging rapids or powerful falls.

Cascade canyon waterfallCascade Canyon river

Roaring river, Cascade Canyon

Footsore and tired, we were nearing the end of the road when we came across a small cluster of other hikers looking off the trail.  There had to be something worth seeing, we thought, and indeed there was.

I finally got to see my first moose.

Damn those things are big.  I kept a respectful distance from my new friend Bullwinkle, but he seemed happy enough to quietly chew his cud amongst the trees as we clicked away.

Moose

And that was pretty much it.  Somewhere around 13 miles, seven hours, two sore feet and one t-shirt tan later, we were back in the car and headed towards the hostel for a well-earned shower.

If this was an example of what a day in America’s national parks was going to be like, the next week and a half was going to be amazing…

The Friday Photo #119 – Wildfires in Montana
Snow and streams in Glacier National Park

10 Comments

  1. Reply

    Sunee

    July 2, 2012

    That *does* look amazing! People go crazy for beaches but it's mountains and rivers and photos like these that make me seriously want to reconsider my lifestyle choices.

  2. Reply

    Nigel D

    July 2, 2012

    There is little to compare with the mountains and the bush - always my favourite scenery. And you friendly (?) moose - up close and personal. I can imagine he would have been the highlight of the day.

  3. Reply

    Ayngelina

    July 2, 2012

    Despite being Canadian I have never seen a moose. I`ve eaten it but never seen it live.

  4. Reply

    Amanda

    July 2, 2012

    Wow, looks like an amazing day!! There are so many national parks out that way that I need to eventually see.

  5. Reply

    dtravelsround

    July 2, 2012

    You have truly had an amazing time!! That moose shot is incredible. And, holy crap?!!? SNOW!!!!

  6. Reply

    Lauren

    July 2, 2012

    I'm sad I wasn't with you for this. Even though I suspect I would have made the entire experience much less enjoyable with my whining and sudden onset of arthritis.

    MOOSE!

  7. Reply

    ava apollo

    July 2, 2012

    Seeing a moose in person has been very high on my list for as long as I can remember. Seriously. I'm jealous.

  8. Reply

    If you ever head back, you should check out Devil's Canyon, it's a great hike in the southern part of the park.

    Also, I am also intensely jealous of your moose sighting.

  9. Reply

    Gillian @OneGiantStep

    July 5, 2012

    We just came down that way! Four days and three nights of hiking in the Grand Tetons...amazing! I recognize every picture you took...except the moose...I am SOOOO jealous of the moose...we saw nothing but marmots the whole time!

  10. Reply

    Absolutely beautiful pictures! We were at the Tetons a couple of years ago during Fall but didn't quite spend as much time as we wanted. This looks like an awesome hike despite the terrain and distance. We were desperately on a lookout for a moose but never spotted one. So, love the moose picture!


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