Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Grand Teton

Grand Teton - 13770ft of Jagged Mountain
The journey from Yellowstone to Jackson Hole and Grand Teton is relatively short, the two National Parks are adjacent to each other but could not be more different. The caldera of Yellowstone provides a flat landscape with bright sparkling rivers, dense conifer forests and smoking geysers. Grand Teton is like Switzerland in miniature with near 14,000 ft mountains springing up from the sagewood flats of Jackson Hole. The jagged mountains were formed by the Teton fault only 10 million years ago, "they look like they were drawn by three year olds," I was told by a totally enraptured American hiker and I could see what he meant.

Unlike Yellowstone which had served us two days of rain and grey skies, Grand Teton was etched against a cobalt blue cloudless sky. We stayed at Jackson, a prosperous Wyoming town that is miles from anywhere. Judging by the shops and restaurants it caters for a wealthy clientele during both the ski season and the summer.  Jackson has spread rapidly like all small American towns but retained a quaintness and vibrancy that gave it an unusual self assurance. The statues around the square, the ice cream shops, craft breweries, nearby Elk reserve, excellent Tourist office, well stocked shops and wide variety of restaurants give the impression of a place that people come to stay rather than pass through.

The ski resort of Jackson Hole is a dozen miles away and has been rated the best ski resort in the United States for the last few years. The awe inspiring scenery is allied with steep challenging slopes, excellent uplift facilities and reliable snow cover. The airport has been recently revamped which makes Jackson Hole one of the most accessible resorts for the cities and has helped create a summer base for exploring the Grand Teton.

We had two superb walks in the foothills of the Grand Teton, one round Jenny Lake and the next day up the trails to Taggart and Bradley Lakes. The excellent trails wound through the sage bush, pines, alongside sparkling streams and took us to vantage points only a few miles from the summits. There is a 45 mile ridge walk along the Grand Teton range but, like much of wilderness Wyoming, it is bear country and the equipment and permits required made it impossible to sample the walk during our couple of days.

Grand Teton had not been high on the priority of places to visit on this trip but, if going back, they would be a number one attraction. The clear mountain air, gurgling streams, abundance of wildlife, whirligig of raptors and relative solitude were in marked contrast to the crowded and commercialised honey pots of Yellowstone.

American tourists at Jackson Lake Lodge
Grand Teton from Jackson Lake
Taggart trailhead meadows
Taggart trailhead ranch
Trail to Taggart Lake

Across Taggart Lake to Grand Teton
Turkey Vulture
Trail to Bradley Lake
Grand Teton above Bradley Lake
Jackson, we're going to Jackson

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