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Dave and Jan's travels, day 97:
Grand Teton National Park

24th August
In summary: it's gorgeous. French students will understand the name that French Canadian fur trappers gave the largest mountain in this range. It's not a large range of mountains, but it is quite beautifully formed. Jackson Hole is a flat bottomed valley about twenty miles wide. Its bottom is about 6,800 feet, and the western side soars over 13,000 feet. The southern end of the range houses the ski resort named for the valley, but the most spectacular part of the range is further north in the national park. Tall, jagged peaks are separated by deep, narrow canyons. Young, fast flowing rivers tumble down into Jackson Hole, where the Snake River wends its leisurely way along the floor.

We had two visits to Grand Teton, before and after the trip north for Yellowstone and Montana. Two 3 day/2 night trips into the backcountry, three day hikes and a lot of driving around viewpoints, and there's still a lot more to see...

Our first backcountry trip was into Open Canyon. As well as the spectacular mountain scenery, we encountered thunderstorms that spring from nowhere on sunny days, a riot of wildflowers, and plenty of wildlife.

The last included a moose cow and calf, that cropped up three times in thirty six hours in Open Canyon. The first time we were forewarned by an alarmed single hiker, then rounded the corner to see - at about 100 feet range - what is definitely the most intimidating creature we've seen yet. The calf ignored us and carries on grazing. The mother stops, rises to her full and terrifying height, and proceeds to stare at us right between the eyes. The expression on her face is not unlike Robert De Niro delivering a line like "Do you want a piece of me?" Bears look positively cuddly by comparison.

The second encounter was much the same, except that the moose was about twenty feet from the trail. A few rather tense moments followed (!). The third encounter was at about one hundred yards, but the moose cow was still watching us pretty darned carefully.

One positive aspect of this trip was our most successful attempt yet at hanging food. Our first attempt was on the River Hoh, and if you read that, you'll realise that this hasn't been an easy act for us to master. The general idea is to dangle the food from a rope both a long way above ground and a long way from the nearest tree trunk. Our latest attempt included two magic ingredients. First, we now know to stretch one piece of rope between two trees and dangle the food over that, rather than look for the largely mythical branches that the National Park Association leaflets tend to feature. Secondly, we have some non-stretchy non-tangly nylon rope.

No more to say about the trip: a couple of pictures speak louder than words, and some of you may be becoming bored with mountains and trees, no matter how splendid.


   (click thumbnails for a larger picture)

Wetland view

Sunset in the mountains

Alpine flowers

Grand Teton view

Cascade Canyon

Lake Solitude