Monday, July 25, 2016

Phelps Lake, Take 2

Today's plan was to do laundry and grocery shopping in preparation for our move north to Colter Bay tomorrow. I didn't think those things would take all day so thought we could try again to hike to Phelps Lake while the morning was still cool. This was a great idea, on paper.

The preserve opened at 9. We got there at 9:50 and waited over an hour for a parking spot. But, we got one and took off down the trail. Mom started with us, but the terrain quickly became too much for her and she turned back. Dad quickly caught up with me and we continued on to the lake. Phelps lake was lovely, however Taggart and Bradley Lakes were more dramatic. We sped walked the 1.5 miles back to the visitor center since Mom was waiting and it was getting close to lunch time. The trail was smooth (smoother than yesterday's rail trail!) which made it easy to walk fast.

 

On our way back to the campground we went through Kelly to get sandwiches again! Once again they were awesome!

Then it was time for laundry and shopping! We found the Missing Sock laundromat and I was able to shove everything into one super size washer and they have wifi, that actually works! Got my blog updated and did some school stuff!

 

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Crazy bike rides

We did two bike rides today, both of which were a bit insane.

Before we left home both Dad and I had found the Ashton-Tetonia Rail Trail. It was in Idaho and provided views of the "back" of the Tetons! I knew from driving that way to West Yellowstone with Backroads that the views on the Idaho side were pretty nice. This was also going to be a great way to beat the crowds in Grand Teton!

We headed out WY22, up and over Teton Pass! It was an impressive mountain pass! Looked a lot like Colorado with the trees, steep grade and windy turns! There were great views from the top, but the sun was wrong so we'd catch them coming home. We dropped down into VictoR, ID, which is where the Kate's bars Dad and I have discovered are made! We passed through severaL small towns on our way to Tetonia, the southern end of the rail trail.

I should mention that we didn't have much guidance in figuring out where the trailheads/road crossings were for this trail. The Trail Link app had a good map, but for some reason I couldn't purchase it. The trail didn't exisit at all on Google Maps. That should have been our first clue.

By linking together the trail end point from Trail Link and Google Maps we were able to find a well marked trailhead with parking and told Mom that's where she was going to meet us. We then continued on down the road to Ashton.

We found a visitor center and picnic area in Ashton, but it was closed and there was no mention of the rail trail in the literature available. We visited the nearby gas station for bathrooms and had lunch at the picnic table, then again used Trail Link and Google Maps to locate the beginning of the trail. There was no parking so Dad just pulled off the road. We got ourselves together and headed out. Mom was going to drive back to Tetonia to meet us.

The entire trail is 29 miles long. We'd planned to ride it all. That plan started falling apart for me about 5 miles in. The trail surface was really rough. Soft sand, big rocks, ruts, grass, deep gravel, some smoother sections, but it was slow going. At 5 miles my "map my ride" app informed me I was going 6 mph. So, 30 miles was going to take a lot longer than I'd planned. And, it was blazing hot. There was no shade. The trail was put in farm county - lots of potato fields and other crops we weren't sure about. No trees. No shade. No clouds. Middle of the day crazy hot sun. And I wasn't moving fast enough to get a breeze.

 

I did kinda get into a groove where I was worrying less about flat tires and riding a bit faster, the trail was more solid. And then came the detour. There was a detour around a section of the railroad that is on private property and we had to go around. The detour included a rutted, soft dirt road that had several huge steep hills (the rail trail stayed fairly flat because trains don't do up and down.). In most places it was too soft for me to ride so I walked. One hill was so steep we couldn't see the bottom from the top! Then we came to the gravel road. This road was better, but the gravel was loose and deep and the hills were steep. I did a lot of walking.

When we finally got back to the rail trail it looked to be in worse shape than when we'd left it. Idaho Route 32 was only a few feet away and looked so smooth and inviting. Never mind that there wasn't much shoulder, it was windy and uphill and the speed limit was 65, we were riding the road.

We'd texted Mom (how in the world we had cell signal out here I'll never know, but we had full signal the whole time) and she had come back up the road and parked in a pull out at Mile Marker 8! We were at mile marker 12! Only 4 more miles! We'd be climbing gently, with small brief downhills since we got on the road, but just after mile 10 was a huge downhill! Ahhhhhh! Followed by a very steep uphill. Ugh. But, as we coasted down the next downhill, I saw the pullout, Mom was waiting at the bottom! 19 miles, over half on the rail trail.

As we drove back toward Jackson Dad and I hatched a plan to ride down from Teton Pass! This morning we'd noticed a bike path at the top and bikers coming up! It reminded us of Vail Pass! We decided this would be our reward for putting up with crazy rail trail ride. When we arrived at the pass we got our bikes and headed down.

 

The bike path was actually the Old Pass Road and it was seriously steep, with tight hairpin switchbacks! We had to grip the brakes the whole way down. There was no coasting until the last mile. It was on pavement thought, even the part that was on a gravel road was smoother. However, it was not a fun ride down.

We came close to 30 miles on the bike today, but the 7 miles down Teton Pass don't really count since we didn't pedal at all!

After we got the bikes loaded back up we headed to Bon Appe Thai in Jackson where I got some of the best Pad Thai I've ever had! It was all veggie with just enough kick! So yummy! Then of course we had to stop by Moo's for our ice cream fix! I got chocolate chip this time. The other night I got some of Moo's sorbet at Albertson's and I think that's my favorite, it's only strawberries and sugar and has 45 calories per half cup. You could eat the entire pint for less calories than a small serving of ice cream. And it has great strawberry flavor!

Then back to the campground to run our generators!

 

Phelps Lake Attempt & Rodeo

Our plan was that Dad and I would ride our bikes to the Laurence S. Rockefeller Preseve - Dad had mapped it as being 21 miles - then Mom would meet us for lunch and a 3 mile walk in the preserve.

The morning was still cool and nice as we headed out of the campground! We zipped right down the Gros Ventre Road to the bike path! The bike path was a nice ride, great views, mostly flat, paved! Once we got to Moose we turned onto the Moose-Wilson Rd, which was narrow and windy, but the speed limit was low and it was shady! Almost immediately we came to a big hill! It was really steep too! I had to go down to 1st gear! But the rest of the ride was downhill. We stopped at Death Canyon Rd and Dad said it was another 6 or 7 miles and we had some more elevation to gain back. As we headed out it was a nice, coast-able, downhill. And then, there was the preserve! Turns out it was only 16 miles.

Laurence Rockefeller, son of John Rockefeller, gave the park his ranch in 2001 so that it could become part of the park. They tore down buildings to return to land to a more natural state. There is a visitor center there, but it was built to be fully green and a very elaborate composting toilet system. The whole place is dedicated to Laurence Rockefeller and you can tell the visitor center and toilet system was very costly to build. Supposedly it's part of the park but it seems very different from the rest of the park and doesn't really fit. It's a nice place, but I don't think it's going to be my favorite place in the park. If it had been me giving my ranch to the park service I would have demanded that they just install some trail heads and let it all be wild, without the glitzy visitor center and constant reminder of who gave it to the park.

Parking is very limited at the preserve. There were about 10 cars waiting for a spot to open up when Mom got there. We waited a little while, but there are no picnic tables to eat on and it was going to take a long time to get a spot. We did learn that this weekend is "Pioneer Days" in Utah and then entire state of Utah gets a 3-day weekend, so there are more people up here than usual. So, we gave up our spot in line and went to an overlook to eat.

From the overlook we could see a creek and it's probably a great place to spot a moose at the right time of day, but not at noon. There were lots of birds and Dad got out his spotting scope and spent nearly an hour looking at stuff.

The next stop was a return visit to the Visitor Center - Dad wanted to look around and Mom hadn't been with us. Then we went over to Dornan's in Moose and walked out a short trail to the river where Mom had heard that there might be hummingbirds. There weren't. Next it was back to the campground so we could run our generators early since we were planning to go to the Rodeo in Jackson tonight.

We had a great dinner at the Merry Piglets in Jackson, checked out 2 nature photography galleries and headed over to the rodeo arena.

The rodeo was really fun! I'd never been to one before and this was the real deal! They did a lot of "bucking" events where a cowboy rides bull or bucking horse and tries to stay on. They also had some roping events where a team of two tries to rope a calf around the horns and around one leg. Seemed like more of the Cowboys weren't able to accomplish the task than were so it was an excersise in accepting failure and figuring out how do better next time.

 

In the middle they he the "Sheep Scramble". This is where they invite all the kids 12 under into the arena, they then release 3 sheep, two with bandanas, one without. Whichever kids get the bandanas win. There's no way that could end badly. None at all. LOL. There were a lot of kids down there - more than 100 for sure, maybe more, some were so little they could barely walk! No one got hurt and they all seemed to have fun!

They also had kids competing in the bucking events! Tiny little kids, under six, getting on sheep and getting thrown off! The kids also did the bull riding, but those Bulls were pretty little and very tame! The kids had to wear helmets, but the adult didn't!

It was definitely a fun way to spend the evening!

 

Friday, July 22, 2016

Whitewater Rafting on the Snake River

Today's plan was to go whitewater rafting on the Snake River! We'd signed up for the 12:45 trip so we had a nice low key morning. I read a lot of my book and then went into Jackson a bit early so I could get diesel and propane. Although I wasn't able to get the propane until after the trip.

I met Mom and Dad at The Bunnery for an early lunch/brunch! The Bunnery is a great local breakfast and lunch place with yummy omelets and baked goods!

After lunch we made our way over to Dave Hansen Whitewater to wait for our trip to depart! Promptly at 12:45 we boarded a school bus to get to the put in spot. Being on the school bus brought back flashbacks of school and constantly reminding kids to behave. Luckily all the adults followed the rules and I didn't need to use my teacher voice!

Once we got to the put in spot we met our guide Sandy (who was awesome! So passionate about rafting and really had fun taking us down the river!) and got our PFDs, paddles and piled into the boat! The river was seemingly gentle in many places, but the rapids were fun! They were class I & II so not very big, but big enough!

My favorite part of the trip was when the guide let us get out and swim! There were a few others from the boat who got in, but mostly it was the kids! The water was cold and it was moving a lot faster than I thought it was! It looked calm on the surface but it was moving fast! I was just floating along and the current was carrying me down the river! I did get a bit far from the boat and the guide wanted me closer and I tried to swim upstream and I couldn't get anywhere! I was barely even able to stay in one spot! Soon we were getting past the swimming spot and I had to get back in the boat! That was harder than it looked! Dad pulled me up by the straps on the PFD and it was hard getting up high enough to get my leg over the side of the boat! But I made it back in, ready for the last rapids!

Soon we were at the take out! I kinda wanted to jump in again, but with the fast current I didn't dare! Then it was up the hill to the bus and back to Jackson.

The ironic thing about the rafting trip - it's been hot and sunny in Jackson the last two days, it was hot and sunny when we left Jackson and when we returned. But when we were on hand river....clouds. Seriously?

After rafting we visited Lucky's, a local grocery store that features lots of whole foods. Then I got propane. The guy who filled it was the 1st who'd asked me to turn off the propane! I'd turned off the fridge, as I always do prior to filling up with diesel also. So, I'd thought I'd turned everything off, but I was happy to shut off the main propane shut off. It was later that I realized the hot water heater is running on propane and I haven't shut it off since I left home! So much for being "safe" and turning off all propane devices before refueling! Doh! I guess I should flip the main shut off switch before refueling to ensure that everything is off.

After the errands, it was back to the campground for dinner!

Oh, they did open 191/189 today at Noon. That's the road we wanted to take from Pinedale that was closed. They closed it Sunday afternoon and it didn't re-open until Friday at Noon. So glad we went around.

 

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Taggart & Bradley Lakes Hike

Hiking in the Tetons is interesting, the hikes are all really long backpacking trips or super short strolls. We found one that looked pretty good - we combined two hikes to make one 6 mile hike.

On our way to the trailhead we stopped at the Moose Visitor Center so I could get my passport stamped and get one for Mom. It's a very nice visitor center, but we didn't take much time to look around, the trail we were headed to is very popular and we wanted to get a parking spot!

There were already many cars in the lot when we got there, and a line at the outhouse! A Ranger led hike had just departed, so we headed around the other way.

The trail was very nice, rolling, with ups and downs, none very steep or long. We had some views of the mountains, mostly framed with trees!

Taggart Lake was really nice! The sun was hitting the mountain and making a perfect reflection on the lake! We continued around the edge of the lake and up to Bradley Lakr. This section had a bit more up, but it was still pretty gentle. As we climbed we got views of Taggart Lake.

 

Bradley Lake was a smaller lake but it was closer to the mountains so the view was slightly different! We had lunch on the rocks by the lake and I put my feet in - it was cold, but not as cold as Cathedral Lake! There were people swimming in it and expressing how cold it was!

The hike back was mostly down, but it was more exposed, and since it was now 1:00, the sun was intense and it was hot! Part of the trail went through a burn scar from 20 years ago, and there were no tall trees, which made for great views, even though it was hot!

 

The wind shifted while we were eating lunch and smoke started blowing in, creating a haze. Interestingly, the wind shifted again and by 4:00 there was no smoke in the valley! Oh, and the road we wanted to take from Pinedale on Sunday....*still* closed! So glad we drove around!

It was 2:00 when we got back from the hike, so we got Mom (who is feeling a lot better!) and went into Jackson. We ran some errands, got ice cream (I had strawberry this time and I liked it better than the huckleberry!). Then we secured our spots on a whitewater raft trip for tomorrow!

After dinner Dad and I went back up to North Jenny Lake area to hike to Leigh Lake. This was an easy, mostly flat hike, and we thought it might provide us an opportunity to see some moose and other big wildlife. We'd also seen something about the top 6 Nationak Park Beaches to visit, and Leigh Lake was mentioned. What? Beach? In Wyoming?

It was definitely a flat hike, and there were several beaches along String Lake. Leigh Lake was harder to get to - further from the parking area! We only looked at it, didn't go around it. But, when combined with visiting Taggart, Bradley, and String, we visited 4 glacial lakes today!

 

The only big wildlife we saw were a few deer, but we did get to see the setting sun hitting the Catherdral Group again, this time with the lake in the foreground and the reflection!

 

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Big Teton Bike Loop

I biked a huge loop all around Grand Teton National Park! Mom hasn't been feeling well and Dad spent the day with her! She's got good media and should be feeling better soon!

I started at Moose and headed up US191 toward Moran Junction. The first mile or so was on a bike path and after that I was riding on the shoulder of the road. The shoulder was wide and paved and smooth so it wasn't bad, even though cars and big RVs were whizzing by at 60+ MPH (speed limit is 55!). The valley looks flat, but it's not! The road climbed gently, then had a steep descent, followed by more rolling hills. None of the hills were all that big or long which I liked, I like more rolling terrain with variety!

 

18 miles in US 26 continued east to DuBois and 191 turned left to continue into Yellowstone. This is where the entrance station to the National Park is. I'd left my park pass in the van. I did have $20 I was going to use to buy lunch so I figured I'd be able to get in. However, once I got to the entrance station the Ranger told me they had a power outage and she couldn't do any sales. It was free admission! YAY! Turns out a big power substation in Idaho went down and most of Jackson Hole was without power for a long time! Things you don't know when you dry camp!

I stopped at Oxbow Bend overlook, one of the most popular, I was disappointed though because Signal Mountain blocked the view of Grand, Sout and Middle Teton. I continued around to the dam that created Jackson Lake. It was about there that I saw the mileage sign. I'd gotten it in my head that this was a 38 mile loop. So I was surprised to see that Moose was 20 miles away. I'd already ridden more than 20 miles. This was going to be a 40+ mile day!

Soon I came to Signal Mountain Lodge, the was a general store there and I got a sandwich, some chips, a drink, and another "Kate's" bar like the one we got in Leadville - I decided I like them! I was really glad I hadn't had to pay the entrance fee because lunch was really good!

After lunch there was more climbing, and then on the downhills, the headwind got going and it was fierce! As soon as I'd start to go up the wind would stop, but on the downhill side it was so strong I couldn't coast, had to pedal! A few times I even almost stopped with just the wind holding me up.

 

A few miles after lunch I met up with the only other cyclist I'd seen on the loop. He was from the Netherlands and was riding the Continential Divide Trail. He and I joined up after Jenny Lake and chatted the last 8 miles. He seemed really nice and it was fun to ride with him!

The total ride ended up being 44.5 miles. After I got back to Moose and got a drink & changed out of my bike shirts I headed into Jackson. I'd figured out how to get to Moos Homemade Ice Cream without going through the square. I even found a great place to park!

Yesterday when we were exploring we saw that Moos had a kind out the door. Always a good sign! Turns out they are all organic, no junk, and the huckleberry had won "best desert in Wyoming" from the Food Network! I thought it was ok.

Since I was parked next to a shady picnic table and I had signal, I decided to spend an hour or so updating my blog, then I ran over to Albertson's so some stuff we needed for dinner. I discovered that they sell Moos ice cream in pints! I picked up some strawberry sorbet. It's just strawberries and sugar and has only 45 calories per 1/2 cup! And it's really good!

Then it was back to the campground for dinner & blogging.

Something I realized....there is probably just as much, if not more "money" and rich people living in Jackson as in Aspen, but Jackson is a much nicer town! Some of it that there's a lot of tourists, more than in Aspen, but it's also just a nicer place! People are friendlier, the town is very "outdoorsy" and they embrace it!

 

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Jackson!

We finally made it to Jackson!

I was up early and dumped and put on water then headed out so Dad could have my makeshift site so he could dump.

Once I got to Alpine there was a lot of smoke! The road was very scenic and remote going up the valley with the snake river, a lot rougher than where it flows in front of the Tetons. The smoke had settled in and was very thick, obscuring the views, but adding to them as well!

When I got to Jackson there was less smoke, but it was still obvious there was a large fire burning nearby. When I drove out of town toward the campground I was surprised when I looked up and saw just the very tip of a "Teton" sticking out of the haze! The mountains were *right* there, but you could hardly see them for the haze of smoke!

I was able to secure two sites at Gros Ventre Campground. It's "first come, first served" and every day many people leave and more people come, which is why we wanted to get here early to ensure we got sites, and now that we are here the sites are ours until we want to leave or 14 days whichever comes 1st, we just have to make sure we have paid by 11am (checkout).

After Mom and Dad got here we went out exploring. We drove out Gros Ventre Road to Kelly, where there is a neat store with awesome sandwiches! Then we continued around to the Antelope Flats road where the barn is that everyone takes pictures of with the mountains in the background. We hung out there for awhile taking pictures, the headed in to explore Jackson.

We walked around the square, checked out some outfitter stores and got information on things we might want to do while we are here. Then we came back to the campground to make & eat dinner!

After dinner Dad and I went out to Jenny Lake. We were going to walk to the moose ponds, but it was too far! We walked a bit around Jenny Lake and the drove out to some trailheads and saw alpineglow on the Catherdral Peaks - Tweeinot, Grand Teton, and another I can't recall the name of.