West Thumb Campground to Flagg Ranch Campground, WY
Monday, August 28, 2006 … 27 Camper Miles – Total 6,228
38 deg am, bright sunshine all day, hi 80s
This morning we headed out the south entrance of Yellowstone after checking out the West Thumb area’s thermal pools. We stopped and set up camp at Flagg Ranch Resort, just outside the park. It’s an expensive, commercially operated campground, by our standards, but we could plug in and recharge the batteries, etc. After all, we had not been hooked up for five days!
Sandy fixed a salad for lunch and we headed into Grand Tetons National Park on a day trip. We stopped by the Colter Bay Visitor Center for an orientation and listened to a ranger present the background geology of the park which is quite different than nearby Yellowstone’s. Here, the west side of the park was uplifted, quite recently, and eroded by glaciers. The young, jagged peaks border the telltale “U” shaped valleys of glacial erosion. The east side of the park is now quite level except for the shallow meandering valley cut by the Snake River and a few glacial moraines and potholes.
Taking the advice of our ranger/presenter, we drove the US-191 route south down the east side of the valley and then Teton Park Road north through the west side of the park’s valley, nearer the mountains. The two viewpoints give very different perspectives on the park. Along the way, we stopped at many viewpoints and did a few short walks to park features. We also stopped at Jackson Lake Lodge, a huge place set up for conferences, etc. with nice (real pricey) shops. It was busy with lots of folks in crisp, clean “back woods” dress who may never have stepped onto a dirt path during their visit. We checked out the patio to see if there were any moose feeding in the marsh off the lake. There didn’t seem to be any but it was hard to tell with the setting sun shining in our eyes.
Arriving back at our campsite, we put together a sausage stir-fry with tomato, zucchini, green olives & capers, for dinner. Mmmmmm!
Flagg Ranch to Signal Mountain Campground, Grand Tetons National Park, WY
Tuesday, August 29, 2006 … 25 Camper Miles – Total 6,253
Bright sunshine, high 30s, mid 80s late in day
Batteries charged, propane tank filled, we headed south to Signal Mountain Campground in the middle of Grand Teton National Park. Along the way, we stopped at Colter Bay Village and made a few gift and clothing purchases from among the end-of-season bargains that just couldn’t be passed up!
After setting up camp, we took the concession ferry across Jenny Lake and hiked the trail to Inspiration Point and went on from there to Hidden Falls. We had intended to turn around at that point but decided to head a little way up Cascade Canyon, a large, glacial valley. After a mile or so we heard that there were moose feeding along the way and decided to try to see them for ourselves. As we walked we continued to hear about the moose, seemingly farther away and fewer in number. Finally, we got to the place where a bull moose was lying down in the grass, chewing, about ten yards off the trail. He seemed unperturbed by our presence and we took as many photos as we could in the deeply shaded, late-afternoon lighting. It was a longer walk out than we’d intended, but we’d finally seen a bull moose close up!
After the boat ride back to the parking area, we checked out Jenny Lake Lodge. It is a lovely, cozy lodge with fine dining. A bit pricey for us, though, starting at $450/nite. We then stopped at Signal Mountain Lodge for free WiFi access and headed back to the camper. We’d heard that another place to see moose feeding was the Ox Bow Bend Turnout. We decided to load up our folding chairs and some wine to head out to watch with the sun at our backs, today. Well, there was no need for the chairs or drinks. Approaching the “bend” we got into a “moose jam” with stopped cars along the road. We, too, parked illegally and joined the crowd and a park ranger as two big bull moose contentedly munched away right next to the road.
Back at camp we watched a nice sunset over the mountain as Bill prepared another chicken stir-fry. We also talked to a group of young people in the next campsite. One of the couples was getting married in two days and, since they loved this area, they were having the ceremony in nearby Jackson Hole. It was a lovely evening, warmer than it had been for a few days, so we sat outside for a while, watching a bright orange first quarter moon.
Signal Mountain Campground to Lazy J Corral, Hobacck Junction, WY
Wednesday, August 30, 2006 … 48 Camper Miles – Total 6,301
Clear blue sky, warmer, 75 at noon
Right near our campsite is Signal Mountain with a scenic drive to the summit. We took the drive early for a view of the lake and the valley east of the mountains. Then we drove to a trailhead and hiked the loop around Leigh Lake and String Lake. Both lakes are beautiful. The west side of String was burned a few years ago so the views are longer. The forest seems to be recovering nicely.
Hitching up the camper, we left the park and headed for Jackson. There, we got showers at the Anvil Hotel hostel right downtown. The facilities weren’t fancy but they were spotless. Afterwards, we shopped for new light hiking shoes for Bill. Jackson is a really neat place … it’s no wonder that people like to come to Jackson Hole to ski!
That night we found an inexpensive campsite at the Lazy J Corral in Hobacck Junction, a few miles south of town. Yup … another chicken stir-fry for dinner!