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Grand Teton National Park

 

For sure Teton National Park is my favorite national park!

The perfectly flat valley floor suddenly jumps straight up into the sky, becoming these magnificent, jagged string of mountains.  I could look up at these mountains every day of my life and never, ever tire of it.

A fault line exists along the edge of the mountains.  Millions of years ago the mountains went up and the eastern side of the fault went down.  Then the erosion from the mountains simply filled in the valley to make it flat.  Many glaciers flowed down the mountains coming to rest at the base on the edge of the valley where over the years erosion filled in around the base of the glaciers forming lake beds right along the mountains after the ice melted.  This flat valley floor, the lakes and the jagged mountains make this area one of the most unique in the world.

The Snake River winds through the valley losing elevation to provide gentle rapids and a full, fast flow of beautiful blue-green water.  There are many whitewater and float trips offered on the Snake.  We rented a canoe and launched it at the Jackson Lake Dam.  We found the Snake to be very fast moving and we exited the river 5 miles downstream and 4 or 5 hours later.  We saw several Bald Eagles and dawdled with four moose for more than an hour along the way.  It was a great time.  If you want to see some photos from the river trip just click on this link to the River Canoe Trip photo album.

The canoe also provided a second day of adventure.  We launched it on String Lake which is just north of Jenny Lake along the base of the mountains.  It is a small, narrow, "string" of a lake that is only about 2-4 feet deep and crystal clear.  It was just gorgeous and there were only two other canoes out there.  At the end of String Lake we portaged a quarter of a mile to Leigh Lake.  The canoe got a little heavy, but we made it.  Leigh is a fairly large lake that is right at the base of Mount Moran.  It too was as calm as glass when we paddled the length of it and came ashore on a beautiful sandy beach.  Because of the portage and lack of road access Leigh Lake was pretty much desolate.  We had lunch on the beach and then started reading and looking up every 2 minutes at the mountains.  At around 12:30 we began to hear wind up in the mountains.  It sounded like a train or an airplane.  Thirty minutes later that wind hit the lake.  It turned the glass calm into a steady set of waves hitting the shore.  The entire lake was full of white caps.  So much for the calm lake.  We read for another 2 hours until 2:30 and then we decided that we had to do something.  It was either walk out or paddle the canoe.  Our only option for paddling was to head straight across the fat part of the lake and straight into the wind.  By keeping 90 degrees to the waves we might be able to control the boat.  We headed out and found, to our surprise that we could make headway.  It took us a good 45 minutes to make it straight across and near the end we lost control and ended up sideways to the wind.  Although the waves were pretty big for a canoe, we were able to ride them and paddled the rest of the way sideways to the far shore.  Once we lost our heading into that wind we could not turn he canoe to get it back into it again.  Luckily we made to to the shore where there was little wind so we could follow the shore around to the portage again.  What a day.  There is a Lakes Canoe Trip photo album.

My favorite mountain is called Mount Moran.  It is very distinctive because of a black stripe running vertically right up to the peak.  The stripe is made of lava which filled a crack in the granite even before the mountains rose.  Also Mt. Moran has a big white glacier facing the front and  finally it has a tan colored sandstone cap.  Every time I turn the corner around here I see Mt. Moran and it looks like a new picture.  The changing light from morning through dusk and the different angles of view seem to combine to give the ever-changing scene.  I took so many pictures of Mt. Moran that I sorted out a few and put them in a Mount Moran Album.

Jackie's favorite mountain is Grand Teton.  It also changes constantly as you travel along the roads and it is characterized by several, very pointed, jagged peaks that move relative to each other as you move.  We also went way over-board with photos of Grand Teton and put the best of them in a Grand Teton Album.

The park offers hiking, boating, scenic drives, whitewater rafting, mountain climbing, horseback riding and just plain relaxing all under the watchful eyes of those surprising mountains that stand at attention along the entire valley.