Consistent Incompetence As long as we attempt to fly into tiny airports like Jackson, we will be stuck with Delta Airlines. So we are going to stop complaining about them, and look at their most positive asset: they are consistent. Consistently incompetent! Nonetheless, consistent! We can't web-checkin on their lame website because THEIR OWN ticketing site has assign us to the exit row seats! Lame. But it doesn't just disallow the whole trip; it gives us partial half-ass boarding passes! Great! Now we have to go to the airport super early to deal with this and our checked luggage (from which we are forced to remove a book, one SINGLE SOLITARY BOOK, so it meets the weight requirements! Again, lame). And good thing we do go early: the first thing the dude asks us is if we would like to be bumped off of our super-over-sold flight! No, thanx. Uneventful flight change in Salt Lake, and we enjoy the spectacular flight into Jackson. The Tetons are magnificent from the air and the pilot is nice enough to take a couple loops so both sides of the plane can enjoy the view.
Complimentary Bikes The airport is tiny and adorable and adorned with a bjillion private jets! I get "Ma'am"ed by the security guy when I attempt to take a photo of the terminal door with all the elk horns. I took a photo anyways… showed him! Looking for the rental car we realize that their office is in town - 20 miles in the opposite direction - so we ask Hertz if they'd match Dollar's price and they actually beat it by upgrading us. So we dump Dollar! After a quick lunch and 3:00pm coffee at Dornan's in the adorable town of Moose we head to Jenny Lake Lodge. Quaint lodge with spectacular views. It is a couple of miles to Jenny Lake's overlook and we use the complementary bikes to get there and look over the lake (yes, even Assana, and we have proof). Our dinner reservation is at 8:15 and every night's dinner is consistently fantastic! Five courses of gourmet food with spectacular views if you sat by the window. More on this later. Helen, the lodge's hospitality gal, welcomes us and spends some time giving us advice on which hikes not to miss. Love her!
The Appalachian Trail Jackson is an odd combination of pick-up trucks with ram horns tied to the grill, and Porsches! Not much in between. We spend a morning walking around town, but there really isn't much to do, so we head back to Dornan's for lunch and afternoon latte. By the time we're done the fog has evaporated and the sun is out. Yeay. Off to hike. Can't wait to see some moose! We walk from String Lake, up to Leigh Lake and back down. There is also some - ahem - Appalachian Trail hiking too! :) Unfortunately the off-trail mosquitos do a number on Dan's butt. Saw no moose.
Mary Catherine Clark By now we have suspected that some guests are "more equal" than others. Tonight we are convinced. We arrive a few minutes early and let the hostess know. She is an older woman with a very stern look. She does the whole slow-motion stare from our heads to our toes and back up to our heads. She does it all without moving another muscle other than her eyelids, or heaven forbid, cracking a smile. And proceeds to seat people who arrived AFTER we did in the window seats with the fabulous view. We, once again, get a lesser seat. Fortunately her "weekend" falls in the middle of our stay and we get treated fabulously by Helen. Later we find out that she used to be a elementary school principal. Should have guessed! Hate her!
Helen's Recommendations We catch the boat to Cascade Canyon Trailhead which seems to gain a foot of elevation at each step through Hidden Falls and Inspiration Point. Views are grand, and fortunately we lose the slow pokes blocking our trail after the first mile. We hike another six serene miles into the canyon, hardly seeing anyone else on the trail, and eat lunch at the junction of Lake Solitude. Makes for a 13-mile difficult hike. Saw a grizzly, and the most adorable pika, but still no moose. Next is Laurance Rockefeller Preserve Center. The preserve and its visitor center were donated by Laurance Rockefeller and the Rockefeller family. It is an amazing center, albeit content-free, and a great confirmation of what private money buys! Wish all national parks had such money.
Bear Spray Heading up to Phelps Lake we pass a ranger who warns us about a black bear and her two cubs. We are excited for the possibility of seeing them. Scene folds, next scene: we are yappity yappity talking when Dan hears scratching noises to his right. What is that? Whooooa! Mama bear about 50 feet away. We freeze. Should we go back? Should we stay? Where are the cubs? We see a couple with a video and tripod casually filming the bear, so we decide to stay, knowing not to ever find ourselves between mom and her babies… we watch mom shake and scratch the bark on trees for the babies to pick the insects. At one point one baby runs across the trail. Where's the other one? Doh! Right behind us!! We hustle back and out of the way. All in all, it is a fantastic 20 minutes! As we continue and pass the filming couple they scold us "where's your bear spray!?" What bear spray?! We move on. Still no moose.
Huckleberry Point We have walked for hours by now, the sun feels warm and it would be nice to sit down. We climb on the rock that juts into the lake at Huckleberry Point. The lake is like glass. Then comes a breeze, and within seconds it turns into wind, and within seconds more, our glassy mirrored lake has white caps and a gale force wind hits us! It picks up Assana's floppy hat from UNDER the backpack and throws it into the lake!! And then equally fast it dissipates and the lake is calm again. WTF??? Dan rescues the hat. Crisis averted… phew. Moving on we finish the loop around the lake and move thru a fabulous swamp complete with wooden walkways and benches. Definitely moose country… but still no moose.
Done with another long and beautiful hike, we clean up at LRPC visitor
center, and before heading back we give lot's of unsolicited advice on
how NPS could make more money! Up the road, annoyed by cars stopped
on the road Dan turns to see what the fuss is about -- moose!
There's a juvenile moose blowing bubbles in a swamp! Whoo hoo! We add
to the clutter on the road and join the rest of the gang. Moose,
Tom & Cinemax By the last day we have hiked over thirty miles. We are pooped and want to spend the last day relaxing. We spend the morning riding horses with a few lodge guests and the two wranglers at the lodge: Cinda, and the grumpy gal who keeps getting Cinda's name wrong. Assana's riding Tom, whose brother Jerry is also in the group, and Dan's riding Cinemax. They are both such good boys! We ride around String and Leigh lakes and it is particularly interesting for us because we have already hiked the trail but from the opposite direction. Nice to have the other direction's views too. Then off to Jackson Lake for lunch, a short visit to Colter Bay, and vistas and views of Snake River, A nice last day.
Bison Crossing How many times does your trip to the airport get delayed by a herd of bison crossing the road? Maybe sometimes for my friend Shreve, but realistically, not for anyone else I know. It is a fabulous last day treat. We watch the ginormous two ton dad block the traffic while the babies and the rest of the gang cross. How chivalrous!