We were obviously a little disappointed this year (2008) when our traditional August summer vacation had to be rescheduled for the first half of September. Still, we were looking forward to the lighter off-season crowds and milder temperatures for three days of climbing and hiking at Grand Teton National Park.
With the temperatures still mildly warm in Colorado, we underestimated the onset of the fall season in Wyoming. Our first morning in the park, at the Signal Mountain Campground, was cold! As I shivered and tried to warm my hands around my four-shot camp-brewed espresso, I took a walk down the slope to the shore of Jackson Lake to check out the view. The thin layer of clouds developing around Mount Moran added a harsh kind of beauty to the scene. We were planning to climb Symmetry Spire early the next morning though, and the cold unstable looking conditions across the lake were not encouraging.
Suzy had spent some time looking over the map the day before, and wanted to check out Paintbrush Canyon, so we packed some extra warm clothes and hit the road. Practically right off the trailhead, I had the camera pulled out. This shot, from the east side of String Lake, looks up at the northeast side of Teewinot Mountain, as clouds continued to move in around the peaks.
We made it up to Holly Lake by noon, and immediately put on our wind resistant jackets; even in the sun, the breeze off the lake was cold. After a quick lunch, we left. Back down out of the wind again, I stopped at the Holly Lake camp area to get this shot looking down at Leigh and Jackson Lakes.
The next day, I suggested a hike up to Amphitheater Lake. We had been most of the way up this trail by mistake back in 2003 - having taken a wrong turn to Garnet Canyon - so we knew how beautiful the view of the Grand Teton was along the upper trail. With that in mind, I was a little frustrated when after arriving at the lake, the sky was completely overcast. Suzy brightened my day though, when she noticed some movement in the rocks at the southeastern corner of the lake. We walked around the shoreline and watched the marmots and pikas scampering around for about 30 minutes before we got cold enough to start heading back down.
As we zigzagged down the switchbacks below Amphitheater Lake, we came across this buck feeding off to the side of the trail, obviously comfortable around hikers.
A little further down, we ran across a couple of discouraged East Coast climbers. They had been camped out for a couple days waiting for the weather to improve around the Grand Teton summit, but it hadn't. While we sympathized with them, it made us feel a little better about our decision to give up Symmetry Spire.
On our third and final day in the park, we hiked around at Colter Bay, in the area of Swan Lake. This is supposed to be a great area for wildlife viewing, but while we had hoped to catch a glimpse of a moose, or even a bear, our only sighting, besides all the goofy squirrels, was a distant view of a Great Blue Heron. This pond full of lily pads was my best photo subject of the day.
Teton Classics: 50 Selected Climbs in Grand Teton National Park
Climber's Guide To The Teton Range
Guide to the Wyoming Mountains and Wilderness Areas: Climbing Routes and Back Country
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