We got an early start this morning and decided to begin by going to the grocery store and buying some things for the kitchen. Lots of water, Gatorade and beer. The three essentials. After dropping everything back at our room we filled up with gas across the street and made our way to Grand Teton National Park.
It's not very far from Jackson and along the way we had our first major animal sighting. There were some Moose on the side of the road but we had cars right behind us and decided to keep going to Jenny Lake. Unfortunately this would be our last Moose sighting of the trip. I had the same thing happen in New Zealand with Penguins. We saw one early and I did at least try to get a quick picture but wasn't too upset when it disappeared quickly in some shrubs. Same thing happened on that trip though too. We didn't see another Penguin the entire trip.
When we got to the entrance booth we had to laugh at the truck in front of us a little bit. The rear end was covered with "cause" stickers. Park entrance for a car is currently $25 for 1 weeks entrance to both Grand Teton National Park and Yellowstone National Park. Believe me $25 is a bargain and with all the financial problems the National Parks are having doubling that rate would still be a bargain and I doubt they would have any drop in attendance.
Jenny Lake is on the southern end of Grand Teton National Park and we were happy to see that there was not very many cars in the parking lot. We stopped at the Jenny Lake Store and bought some cold water for the hike since we only had some warm water that we had just purchased.
I was so happy that I got serious about losing some weight and working on my conditioning for this trip. I probably weigh about 330 pounds at the time down from probably 400+ in November when we booked the trip. I knew if I actually wanted to see anything I'd have to really work on it and was very devoted to my walking routine and diet from November to May. It was well worth it.
I thought I was doing a smart thing before we left and had Scott split the car keys from the key chain so I could have one and he could have one. I guess it eventually was a smart thing because my reasoning was I knew he was going to go farther and longer than I would and I wanted to be able to get in the car when I got back and if he made the entire loop of Jenny Lake I could drive to pick him up at a different spot if need be. Luckily I did have him split the keys instead of just have him give them both to me. I'll get to why a little later.
We started out from the Jenny Lake Visitor Center towards South Jenny Lake and the East Boat Dock. We had talked to the Jackson Hole Visitor Center Information Desk yesterday and they had told us the trail wasn't passable yet. But we decided to go as far as we could at least because it still seemed like the best option.
The trail really wasn't that bad up until about the spot where you got to the Moose Pond cut off area. There was snow on the ground but not that deep and usually spotty to the point that you could always walk around it on the ground. I let Scott forge ahead and took a lot of pictures. The lake is still 90% frozen which really makes it neat looking. People have walked across and those trails are emphasized more on the lake making it look really cool.
I caught up to Scott again at about the Moose Pond trail where we ran into a Red Snaped Sap Sucker Woodpecker working on a Wyoming Birch Tree. It was a beautiful bird with a red head with black and white stripes highlighting its eyes. Scott left me again while I snapped a bunch of photos.
The next place we met up again was a little down the way near the beginning of the Valley Trail. The snow started getting deeper now and it was the ratio of snow to ground had reversed. Scott had stopped where some guys had showed him an Osprey in it's nest in what was left of a tree on the Jenny Lake shore.
This would be the last time I saw Scott until we met up again back at the Visitor Center probably 5+ hours later. He left as I got there after showing me the Osprey. I stayed and watched him for about 10-15 minutes. He would fly away then return almost immediately. I got a lot of great pictures.
I head back up the Valley Trail towards Inspiration Point. A little ways away from the Osprey sighting I stopped to have some water and found out why now it was a good thing I didn't take both keys. When I stopped I was standing and felt my money clip fall out of my pants pocket and hit my foot. At least I still had my money because to my horror when I grabbed at my pocket upon feeling the money clip hit my foot I realized that my key was now gone.
Un "Freaking" Believable. I'm such a moron. I had my camera back pack, why didn't I just put those things in the backpack. I backtracked some to see if had just fallen out but realized quickly that was a lost cause. I did still have my cell phone and quickly called Scott. Needless to say reception on the West Shore of Jenny Lake is a little spotty but I did get him long enough to tell him he can't loose the 2nd key or we were in deep trouble. At this time I once flashed back to our New Zealand trip again when he had the keys to our camper and decided to climb up and walk on top of Franz Josef Glacier. If he disappeared there in a crevasse I would have been stuck hundreds of miles from nowhere without keys to the camper. This time if he get' eaten by a bear I'm stuck again. Yes, at this point it's all about me even though I was the one who lost the key.
Well I repacked the money clip and phone in my backpack and headed on. The snow was really getting deep now. I was sinking in spots as deep as my knee. I figured Scott didn't weigh quite as much and was probably not having the same problem. I made it to the Cascade Canyon Trail that led to Inspiration Point and the Hidden Falls and started making my way up.
Jenny Lake is at 6783 feet and I could definitely tell the difference between a walk in Rockville and a walk here but I still felt good even though I was battling the snow every step now. Walking up in elevation made the walk more difficult along with the fact that it was now past noon and the sun seemed to be working on the snow pack more now making me sink on every step I took. I got really close to Inspiration Point and Hidden Falls. I could hear the falls in the background but I had to make a command decision. I really needed to turn around because I was getting tired now and it was going to be twice as hard to make the walk back with the snow getting increasingly softer.
I tried to call Scott but we could only talk for a few seconds. I finally texted him that I was heading back. After getting back and later talking to him I was probably about 100 yards from Inspiration Point but I still made the right choice because at about this time I found out the second major stupid move of the day. I had brought 2 water bottles with me and finished one earlier. When I decided to turn around I reached for the second bottle in a side area of my back pack it was gone. Somehow it had fallen out along the way so I hoped I would see it on the ground on the way back but never did. I was probably about 2.5 - 3 miles from the Visitor Center which usually would take me less than an hour. This would take me about 3 hours with me constantly breaking through the snow and having no water now.
I had always been skeptical of how people could not deal without water for such a short period of time until now. My mouth was so dry it was almost unbearable. My lips dried out terribly and would be chapped the rest of the trip.
I made my way back and want to emphasize here that through all my stupid moves and complaining I've been doing this was a wonderful day and I'd do it all over again even under the same circumstances. It was incredibly beautiful throughout the whole walk. And it's amazing how quiet it could get when I would stop and not have the crunching of snow underfoot.
About a third of the way back I had my final mishap. It's just not a trip for me unless I get hurt and on the west shore of Jenny Lake on Day 2 of our trip is where it happened on this trip. I took a step and broke through the snow.....again.....but this time when I broke through I jammed my shin into a boulder that was in front of me covered by the snow. I had a nasty gash on my left leg now. I'm probably really lucky I didn't break my leg.
After lots of stops for rest I finally did make it back to the Visitor Center. I never found the water bottle and the whole time back I kept worrying about the keys to the car and if someone had found them they could have stolen it. Sure a long shot but I had lots of time to think crazy things on the walk back as I was dehydrating with every step. The first thing I did was check the parking lot to see if the car was there. Of course we had a cooler of Gatorade and water in the car but I couldn't get to it. I did still have my money though and sucked down two large bottles of Gatorade in what seemed like seconds. I asked the people at the store if anyone had turned in my keys but they hadn't. Again here I made another mistake which I'll get to again in a little bit.
I spent the next 3-4 hours waiting for Scott now. He ended up walking the entire 4.5 extra miles of the Cascade Canyon Trail. This with the snow getting deeper and deeper. He told me he got to a point where his were the only tracks on the trail and when he finally turned around was when he broke through snow where his feet didn't touch the ground after going in past his waist. He's is out of his mind. According to the map he almost made it to about 8000 feet in elevation as well.
When he got back we went to the car and this is where I found out my mistake from earlier. There was a note left on the car by someone that said said they found my keys and they left them at the Visitor Center. I had asked the people at the Jenny Lake Store and hadn't gone in the Visitor Center. Also I had just checked that the car was there and didn't actually walk up to it where I would have seen the note. My keys were the ones that had the rental car tag on them with the license number which is how the people found the car and also why I was worried it could have been stolen. Oh well live and learn.
We made our way back to Jackson and stopped and had a few beers at the Merry Piglet Mexican Restaurant and The Silver Dollar Bar & Grill again before getting a Pizza to bring back to the back to the hotel.
I had a great day though despite all the setbacks. The whole area is just absolutely amazing and I'm so happy I lost all that weight so I was able to really enjoy it.