Grand Teton National Park – Part One!

Hi All,

Happy news! We finally managed to scrounge up enough internet to put up a blog post about the fun that we’re having so far this week 🙂

We’ve been having an excellent time already as my Aunt, Uncle and Parents are visiting, which is a treat of the highest caliber! They got here at the start of August and so far have been exploring Fort Collins and the surrounding area. Much fun was had, but sadly Rob and I were at work for most of this fun so were not there to document the experience! We are assured that all the top Fort Collins experiences have been checked off though – they toured New Belgium, hiked around Estes and the Rockies, saw the Lions, Tigers and Bears near Greeley and were forced to play a few games of Shuffleboard!

Now though we have moved on to explore wider America, specifically the Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks! The plan is to do five days in each since both are beautiful and relatively close together, and they’re only about a seven hour drive from Colorado. The mountains are puny in comparison to the Colorado Fourteeners (named because they are over 14,000 ft tall) and it does mean travelling across Wyoming, but we are promised that it will all be worth it.

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So puny!

The drive to Grand Teton was not actually that bad – it’s a very long way and there is almost nothing of any value along the route, but there is no traffic and the views from the car are pretty spectacular. The landscape is very flat, so you can see quite a long way and we were often treated to big hills or small canyons!

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We also saw the occasional crazy cyclist riding along, at least 20 miles away from civilization of any kind, but we were too concerned for their safety to take any pictures. The few populated areas that there were only contained five or six buildings, and looked way too creepy for us to be willing to stop there! Instead we managed to find what I suspect is the one and only Subway in Wyoming in the town of Rawlins, about three hours away from Fort Collins, and so stopped for our first refreshment break.

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This would turn out to be last time that we had phone signal and wifi simultaneously for quite some time. After our lunch we continued our drive, and saw literally no humans except for each other for about two hours. We then quite unexpectedly arrived in the town of Lander, which was really pleasant and by far the most built up place we’d seen. It also seemed to have the same hippy vibe that we love so much about Fort Collins, and we stopped for coffee at a chill Café with a Bouldering Wall built into it.

Refreshed, we continued on the last stretch, stopping only briefly to fill our beer cooler with ice at a Gas Station that contained a surprisingly varied range of guns and leather saddles. It also had potato chips, so we were happy bunnies 🙂

At last, we arrived at our magnificent log cabin! We are staying in a group of cabins in Coulter Bay, just at the edge of Jackson Lake. The authentic log cabins are very impressive, and the lack of internet is made up for by the comfy beds and hot shower. There are at least power outlets thank goodness, so Rob and I aren’t in danger of going completely insane away from the gentle glow of computer screens 🙂

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We spent quite a lot of time initially walking around with our phones out desperately hunting for signal, so to distract us from this the family suggested that we all go for a walk down to Coulter Bay.

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It is extremely beautiful, and the Tetons could not be more picturesque. It’s also a really nice change to see so much greenery, since there are very few trees like this in Fort Collins. We walked around the lake a little keeping our eyes open for bears, but no big animal spots so far sadly!

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Lots of little animal sightings though!

After a lovely night sleep in our cabin we decided that we needed to see a little more of the lake, so we rented some canoes and off we went! Canoeing is far more tiring that I remember it and co-ordination in a three person canoe can be an issue, but we got organized and I think did pretty well! We also enjoyed some great views and amazing wildlife:

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Mr Pelican!
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Whatever this is! I’m going to guess Osprey…
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Such awesome views!
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Go team 🙂

 

It was a really good time, although by the end of the trip my arms were basically useless noodles. In the spirit of embracing the holiday (and getting the legs to match) we followed this up with a Ranger led hike around the nearby Swan Lake. The aim was to learn a few more interesting facts around the park and maybe see a little more wildlife, which happily we did!

Ranger Reva taught us a little more about the ever changing geography of the park, as well as about the make-up of the complex eco-system. We also learned a little more about the formation of the Grand Tetons and their Glaciers – part of what makes these mountains so picturesque is that it is not accompanied by foothills and a wider mountain range. The mountains pretty much stand alone, so can be viewed from lots of locations without much effort.

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Apologies for wonky horizons!

We also saw Swan Lake as promised, which is covered in an impressive number of lilies with a few ducks stuck in the middle. It’s also changing its geography extremely quickly – silt is flowing in with the water and being deposit to form a growing island, and then grass is slowly growing on that and soaking up the moisture, at which point trees can start growing and eventually the whole thing just becomes more land. That was a pretty heavily over-simplified, but you get the idea!

As well as this we saw a few birds, including a Bald Eagle which was too far away for pictures and a few Grey Jays that were trying extremely hard to get photographed! Here is one blatantly posing:

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Possibly it was nailed there?

Eventually it started to rain so we had to make our way back to the cabins, at which point we got a chance to relax and dry off a little. We bought plenty of beer and movies with us so got to spend the evening moving around as little as possible, and we’re now bouncy again and looking forward to the second part of the week!

More soon!

 

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