I am almost ashamed to say that I knew little to nothing about the Grand Tetons and Teton National Park growing up. Of course I was aware of Yellowstone, which made Wyoming somewhat recognizable for me, but beyond that it was wide open spaces and, much like Colorado, pretty mountain ranges. A coworker of mine mentioned the absolute grandeur and awe-inspiring vistas the Tetons illicit, but it’s hard to comprehend without being there.
I arrived yesterday to prepare for the conference, knowing the Tuesday flight from Denver would get me in far too late. This gave me an afternoon/evening and morning to kill before our first session today at 2:00pm. Last night, a few coworkers and I surveyed the town of Jackson Hole… on foot… without much success of local assistance. Finally we had to rent a car, realizing quickly this was not Colorado with a shuttle to everywhere.
We acquired our epic, and useful, Sienna minivan by 6pm, 3 hours behind our intended timeframe, and headed straight for Teton National Park. It was fortuitous for many reasons, but primarily for the fact that the park was practically deserted. It felt like this vast piece of heaven was solely ours. I felt akin to Lord Byron as he traversed the Lake District and professed its beauty in perfect prose.
I’ve never seen anything quite so beautiful that it elicited this urge to cry because of its beauty. I realize there is so much world to see, but for me, this was a profound moment of discovery. Our group wandered through the park, encountered a herd of elk, a few grazing bison, and some adorable pika along the way. We started by the entrance to Death Canyon, drove up towards the trailhead for Taggart and Bradley Lakes, and wandered up past numerous lookouts to North Jenny Lake Junction. Suddenly a mass of vans, SUVs, trucks and folks with professional cameras swarmed the side of the road. We were told by an amiable park ranger that a a grizzly had been spotted with her cub only 10 minutes prior. We waited no more than another 10 minutes and realized she wasn’t emerging for an encore performance, and carried on to Jenny Lake. I’m glad we did!
We left the park by 8:30am, with the last rays of sun just disappearing over the Tetons. We had scoped out options to hike the next morning, and we were ready for the adventure ahead. We had an early breakfast in town, and headed straight for the Grand Teton National Park Visitor Center, and were aided on picking the right trail for us. We took the Taggart Lake loop up to the base of the Tetons, overlooking a stunning alpine lake. Much of the terrain was dry, with the snow having melted, but the last half mile leading to the lake was covered in 4 to 5 foot snow pack. It was traverse-able, but we knew we wouldn’t make it around the entire loop of the trail and headed back the way we came. Luckily we were out early, and we heading back to the car by the time most groups were heading up the ridge. Even better, we spotted a full-grown moose standing in a stream on our way out of the park!
The rest of today was spent grabbing a quick tasty lunch at the Merry a Piglets (great name!) and attending a phenomenal pre-conference session to get us back into work mode. That is, thankfully, why we are able to be here, and I personally couldn’t be more grateful! What an incredible first day and a half here in Jackson Hole!
Have you ever been to Grand Teton National Park? Do you have any vistas or views that you find utterly awe-inspiring? Aren’t conferences in amazing places the absolute best? Do you like to explore while on work trips, or only keep your eye on the professional development prize?