Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Saturday, Sunday, and Monday - Intro to Grand Teton NP

We came down from Chief Joseph Pass, through Jackson, and north through Jackson Hole to Moose, the junction where we entered the fee area of the National Park.
The Grand Teton Adventure Begins
Although we had planned to camp at Lizzard Creek, at the extreme north end of the Park, we stopped at Signal Mountain Campground (middle of the Park) to see what was available.  We joined the morning mating dance of incoming folk looking for the "right" campsite and, lo and behold found one that we regretted leaving eight days later.
Signal Mountain Campground
Signal Mountain Campground lies along the southeastern shore of Lake Jackson, at the foot of Signal Mountain.  We were to find the location to be convenient, adjacent to the Signal Mountain Lodge, store and gas station, a few miles south of the Colter Bay store, laundry, showers, and restaurants, a few miles north of the very popular Jenny Lake at the base of Grand Teton Mountain.  Our campsite was well protected from wind and rain by the trees.

As we were putting the tent up, I managed to fall off the tent pad and broke a finger, but Nurse Joan pulled it into place where, a month later, it is almost healed.  That wasn't our only adventure at the campground that day.  As we were finishing setting up camp, the staff came by making lots of noise, stopping long enough to explain that there was a bear - probably a cinnamon colored black bear - that they were trying to drive away from the campground.  We were told that she was the "friendly" bear, but that we should be really cautious with the black black bear, since she had two cubs.  Welcome to bear country - we quickly learned to put everything back in the car, leaving a naked campground whenever we weren't there.

Once we'd set up the campsite, we started exploring.  Signal Mountain was a good start - we could have taken the three-mile (one way) trail from the campground to the summit, gaing about 1000' in elevation.  Or, we could take the road up.  Being lazy, and not quite acclimatized to the 6500' altitude, we drove. 
Jim and Joan on Signal Mountain
It's a great place to see the layout of the park.

On the west side of the park is the 40 mile long Teton Range, of which Grand Teton Mountain is the highest peak at 13,770'. 
On the east side is a lower range of mountains.  Looking south from Signal Mountain, the broad Jackson Hole valley (that's redundant, in this context, hole = valley), get squeezed by the two ranges.
Looking Southeast from Signal Mountain
Lake Jackson is a big reservoir, naturally formed but enhanced by a man-made dam.  The lake plunked into the flow of the Snake River (that we've jet-boated at Hell's Canyon, Idaho, and that eventually winds it's way to the Columbia River in Washington.  From Signal Mountain we could look down on the Snake as it flowed toward Jackson.
Snake River from Signal Mountain

Sunday, we found the Chapel of the Resurrection, where we joined an overflow crowd that could look at Grand Teton if the preacher bored them.
Chapel of the Transfiguration, built in 1925
View from the First Pew inside the Chapel
We introduced ourselves as coming from The Sea Ranch and after the service a guy introduced himself as having been best man at the wedding of two of our Sea Ranch friends (now divorced but both living at The Sea Ranch and quite active in the community).  We also met a couple who live less than a half mile from where we lived in Palos Verdes (although we didn't overlap).  Small world.

Sunday afternoon and Monday we wandered along Teton Parkway, oohing and ahing over the views.
Grand Teton in the Morning
Looking across Lake Jackson in Late Afternoon