July 3, 2014
Last night after we left Jackson Lake Lodge, Zach made some tortellini with his new Jet Boil. It was good! Then we both slept really well ready to take on today. This morning we made some oatmeal and got our stuff organized and then drove over to the South Jenny Lake Junction. We stopped to gawk at the Teton Range on the way. My photos just can’t capture the way you feel when you’re standing in front of them. It’s breathtaking.
Our first hike of the day was to Hidden Falls and Inspiration Point. Since we wanted to be able to fit in a second hike, we caught a boat across Jenny Lake ($9/person one way) so that we could knock off 2 miles of the hike. From the boat we trekked up to Hidden Falls and then on to Inspiration Point to eat a snack.
We hiked back down the mountain and were going to take the trail back to the car instead of catching the boat. But about halfway through the hike we encountered a bear. He just appeared around the bend directly in front of us on the trail. He was huge. He noticed us but didn’t appear to care. We stopped dead in our tracks and began backing up until we made it out of his view. Then we turned around and headed back down the trail in the direction we had come from. There was a man and his elderly father not too far behind us so we told them about the bear. Sure enough he was still coming down the trail so they high-tailed it back the other way too. As we met more people going toward the bear we warned them. Most people seemed to scoff at us for turning around. I can’t say what they were thinking, but now that I’ve encountered a bear in the wild I can say with full assurance that it’s not fun and it’s not something to take lightly. We did everything we were supposed to and luckily the bear wasn’t interested in being aggressive toward us. It could have easily gone the other way. He was only 30 yards away from us and we were the only two people on the trail at that point. We did have our bear spray and Zach had it out and ready very quickly so I felt comfortable that we would emerge unharmed, but it’s still terrifying to see such a gigantic animal. So with all that said, I don’t have a photo! That was the last thing on my mind. I’ve included a video Zach took. In the last second of the video the bear is coming around the corner. Too bad Zach didn’t keep filming!
We ended up walking back to the boat dock and paying to take the boat back to our car. We took a little break at Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor’s Center to use their free wifi. It was a little spotty but I was able to get the first post of the trip up finally! As we sat in the center we watched the afternoon rain storm blow in across the Teton range. And then we realized that we had intended to put the rain cover on our tent before we left in the morning and hadn’t! So we jumped in the car and raced back to our campsite. Unfortunately it was pretty well drenched. There were puddles forming on our sleeping bags! So we put the rain cover on and of course, the rain soon stopped. We pulled everything out and dried them as best as we could with a ShamWow and a microfiber towel. We put our sleeping bags in the car so they could dry and we set our sleeping pads up inside the tent to do the same. We left our things to dry and walked over to the Colter Bay café to eat and re-fuel.
After eating we walked back to our site and decided to go on our second hike. This time I chose a nice 3.9 mile loop to Taggart Lake and then through a sagebrush field and some forest. The hike was gorgeous and bear-free! I think we were both a little traumatized from our earlier encounter so this time we made a lot of noise as we hiked – especially when coming up to a blind corner or over a hill. I’m glad we went on that hike – even though the trail head warned of black bear encounters – because we were able to walk through stunning scenery and had fantastic views of Grand Teton.
After our hike we drove into Jackson, WY to walk around the town and have some beers at Snake River Brewing. We left after sundown so it was pitch black on the way back to Colter Bay. The bartender had warned another patron about moose and elk crossing the road at night so we kept our eyes peeled. We ended up seeing a mule deer, a gigantic moose with about 5-6 females, and a mama fox with a baby near our campground. It was the most wildlife we’ve seen so far!