Bob and Rigamarole at Texas Canyon Rest Area, Arizona, September 30, 2017

Bob and Rigamarole at Texas Canyon Rest Area, Arizona, September 30, 2017
Bob and Rigamarole at Texas Canyon Rest Area, Arizona, September 30, 2017

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Sticky Wickets and Slippery Slopes - Wed., June 14, 2017

Be still my beating heart. When the park ranger at the Discovery Center in Grand Teton National Park told me yesterday that the Cascade Canyon Trail is open, I was ecstatic. I thought it was closed as part of the upgrades to trails at Jenny Lake and Hidden Falls. The ranger said in order to get to Cascade Canyon, we had to park at String Lake and take the equestrian trail to Cascade Canyon. That is because all trails on the southwest side of Jenny Lake are closed for major renovation. The Jenny Lake Visitor Center is also closed. You cannot go to Hidden Falls. If you wanted, you could take a 0.6-mile hike to Inspiration Point from the equestrian trail. We decided against that. 

On the drive north to String Lake parking area, Susan exclaimed, "Wow! Look at that!" 

I said, "What?" thinking she had seen a moose or elk.

"The mountains! There are mountains today!"

The Grand Tetons in all their splendor
Oh, yeah, that's right. When we drove down yesterday all we saw were clouds. They were getting their first glimpse of the Grand Tetons.

We were on the trail by 7:50 a.m. The temperature was 37 degrees and was supposed to go up to 61 degrees. 

I wore long jeans, heavy winter socks, waterproof boots, a warm winter hat with ear flaps, a sweatshirt, and a light windbreaker.

Rushing water coming from String Lake into Jenny Lake made a great first impression. The volume of the water and the sound was sweet music to our ears.
First view of the Tetons over Jenny Lake
String Lake Outlet flowing into Jenny Lake
Darren and Susan, fresh as daisies
Blue Virgin's Bower; Blue Clematis
String Lake Outlet flowing into Jenny Lake
The equestrian trail followed Jenny Lake's northwest side and was mostly level. After a mile, the trail ascended steeply. I was stopping to breathe about every two minutes. Keep in mind, our elevation was around 7,000+ feet. 

The trail overlooking Jenny Lake
Part way up the trail, a young lady named Victoria from Minnesota was hiking alone. We invited her to hike with us if she'd like. She stayed with us for quite a while.
Resting (photo by Victoria from Minnesota)
We made it to Cascade Canyon
(Photo courtesy of Victoria from Minnesota)
In the photo below it is hard to tell but we had to walk through a stream. It wasn't very deep. In the middle of the stream was a trail sign pointing to the right, up a bank of snow and past big broken trees. No trail was in sight, so we followed the footprints of other hikers who went before us.


Darren posing to show big, snapped trees
in a field of snow
Snow and downed trees
We found out later from other hikers that this "snow field" had been an avalanche (we don't know how long ago it happened). This is my title reference to a slippery slope. We had to be very careful with our foot placement so as not to slide off the snow field. Sticky wickets are some spiny plants that stabbed Susan's hand.
Hiking along Cascade Creek
The attraction of the Cascade Canyon hike is the scenery. The Grand Teton range towers over you as you walk. Waterfalls cascade off the canyon walls. The grade of the trail at this point is negligible. We made lots of noise as we hiked in case any bears were lurking about. I think we scared them all away!

Susan and Darren in Cascade Canyon
Victoria from Minnesota
Silky locoweed (Oxytropis sericea)

A cascade coming off the mountain
How's this for trail scenery?
Another cascade 
So much dramatic scenery
I was having trouble with my brand new hiking boots. They don't seem to fit properly and I was having trouble with calluses on the bottoms of my feet. The gel inserts I had kept sliding around and I had to stop to readjust them. A pain in the neck foot!
Hiking boot issues


We hiked into the canyon until we had hiked long enough, then we turned around and headed back down the same way we had come in. A lot more people were coming up the trail as we hiked out. We were glad we started early!It was cooler AND less crowded.

Cascade Canyon in the Grand Tetons
Cascade Creek
Back to re-cross the avalanche snowfield
Wildlife sightings today were limited to marmots, but we saw quite a few of them. I was disappointed we did not see any moose; moose droppings, yes; moose, no. When Bob and I did this hike in August 2012, we saw three moose on the hike.
Hi, marmot!
Another snapped tree
There were two marmots playing around here,
but I could only capture one of them in my photo
Cute and curious yellow-bellied marmot
Looking back at the trail along Jenny Lake
Susan and Darren had headed back to the car. I was bonking, so I sat down for a couple of minutes, rested, and drank some water. I needed the port-a-potty, so I quickly finished up the last 1/2 mile back to the parking lot. 

The parking lot was packed. Susan and Darren were raring to go because we had a seven-hour drive to Cheyenne, Wyoming ahead of us, and people were waiting for a parking place. It was 11:30 a.m. I wanted to change my shoes outside so I would have room to put on my comfortable shoes, but they insisted I do that in the van as we had to leave! Now!

Off we went, leaving the Grand Tetons in the rear-view mirror. The van nose was pointed first to Moran Junction and then on US 26/US 287 through the Bridger-Teton National Forest on our way to Dubois, Wyoming. Again, the scenery was stunning. I took photos from the back seat of the van, so they may be a little blurry.

Gros Ventre Mountains

On the east side of the mountains, the landscape changed to painted hills with no trees. These hills lasted all the way to Dubois, Wyoming and beyond.






Remember how much we like to eat after we hike? Well, it was about 1 to 1-1/2 hours before we ordered lunch at Cowboy Cafe in Dubois, Wyoming. I had their lunch combo which is a burger, fries, and a piece of pie for dessert. Lunch was very good and service was great considering every table was full. I had to get my warm boysenberry pie a la mode to go so we could get moving again.


Dubois, Wyoming downtown
Inside Cowboy Cafe
Lunch over, we were back on the highway. Again, there was more in the way of interesting geological scenery. 









I kept oohing and aahing from the back seat. No one was listening. Darren had his headphone earbuds in and Susan was engrossed in reading a book. Oh, well, to each their own. 

We crossed the Continental Divide again and were in an area called the Great Divide Basin. I have no idea what that is, so I had to look it up. Here is what I found on Wikipedia: 
"The Great Divide Basin or Great Divide Closed Basin is an area of land in Wyoming's Red Desert where none of the water falling as rain to the ground drains into any ocean, directly or indirectly. It is therefore considered an endorheic basin, and it adjoins the Continental Divide in southern Wyoming. To the west of the basin is the Green River watershed, draining to the Gulf of California/Pacific Ocean; to the east is the North Platte watershed, draining to the Gulf of Mexico/Atlantic Ocean...
"The basin is a high desert dominated by sand dunes, bluffs and alkali flats. Flora and fauna include small trees in some ravines and the occasional shrub, along with many birds (e.g., sage grouse and pheasant) and pronghorn, mule deer, feral horses, and the occasional elk."
Very interesting. 

Our next stop was a rest area which had all kinds of interesting signs. If you'd like, you can enlarge and read them, otherwise disregard the next few photos.


Sandhill cranes summer along the Sweetwater River


More cool stuff to look at on the way to Cheyenne. 



 

In Cheyenne, we stayed in officer's quarters at F.E. Warren Air Force Base, home of the 90th Missile Wing. Both Susan (Army) and Darren (Air Force) are retired officers. Our lodging was wonderful here. The rooms each had full living room, full kitchen, bathroom, and bedroom--all completely furnished. It was a whole apartment! Very nice, indeed! Thanks, guys.

My apartment was on the bottom right.
Antelope are protected on base
because "they were here first."
Our lodging for one night
At the entrance to F.E. Warren AFB in Cheyenne, WY
 Another jam-packed day has come to a close.