July 16-17, 2018; Day 23-24
Bryce Canyon to Salt Lake City
Salt Lake City to Grand Tetons National Park
Lodging: Turpin Meadows Campground, Bridger- National Forrest
A short stop over outside Salt Lake City on the way to The Grand Tetons National Park. The most exciting part was driving out of town and seeing the Winter Olympic ski jump ramp up on the side of the mountain. We quickly left the dry, arid desert of southern Utah for lush valleys and blue mountains. With snow and ice on top! Wyoming is truly big sky country with cattle ranches and farms nestled in between mountain ranges.
It was harder than I thought to leave the desert. The open, scrubby landscape reminded me of Moses and the Israelites wandering for 40 years. It was a difficult time for His people- they were following this crazy man who heard the voice of the Creator out into the vast unknown. It was dusty, not much water, a no-mans land. But as I traveled into a similar desert, I did not see the desolate wasteland. I saw color and movement and life. Budding bushes and flowering cacti, birds singing in the early morning, lizards and jackrabbits scurrying about. The heat was tolerable, even enjoyable in the shade, which there is surprisingly more of than you’d think. I often view the Israelites experience as a long, drawn out punishment. But even though it was not the Promised Land flowing with milk and honey, it had it’s own beauty and purpose.
July 18-19, 2018; Day 25-26
Park City to the Grand Tetons National Park
Lodging: Turpin Meadows Campground, National Forest
Once at the Tetons, The Snake River runs through the valley and spreads out into many wide creeks. A wide, shallow, and cold creek runs just outside our camping area. We chose to camp outside the national park in the surrounding national forrest. It’s a bit more rustic but also significantly cheaper and spacious. All the campsites have bear boxes for food and cooking gear. It is also recommended you carry bear spray, which we had to purchase at the camp store.
In all my travels I have not seen much of the Northwest or Rocky Mountains except from the window of an airplane. The Grand Tetons are jagged, massive structures towering over rippling brooks and lakes with wildflowers all around. There are no foothills or gradual landscape shifts- the Snake River valley winds its way through the valley, connecting to snowmelt pools at the base of the mountains. Hiking through the forests and meadows reminded Ben and I of the movie Heidi or the end of Sound Of Music when they leave Austria over the Alps.
We took a 3 mile hike around String Lake, one of the smaller pools just below the mountains. There had been a mama bear and cubs spotted just half an hour before we got to the trail. Good thing we bought the spray! Keith was armed and ready. In the heat of the afternoon we opted for the interpretive centers. Along the way we spotted two MOOSE taking a cool dip in one of the creeks! Now I’m on the lookout for those bears…
On the south edge of the mountain range is a ski resort that stays open even in summer. There are shops and restaurants, and even some mountain biking down the slopes. We rode the gondola (enclosed lift) up to the top for an early evening view of the valley. Bison burgers from a local cafe on the way back to the campground made a wonderful ending to a lovely but tiring day.
On Thursday we opted to get up early to beat the crowds to another popular hike around Taggart Lake. Some beautiful views of the peaks reflected in the lake below. And believe it or not we interrupted a mama moose and her calf having a bit of breakfast on the trail! A small black snake, chipmunks, and white trumpet swans were added to our wildlife list. We took one last drive along the mountain range, taking our time at turnouts for pictures and soaking up the majesty of the landscape.