Sunday, July 7 – Grand Teton Revisited

Last weekend summer continued happening… with a vengeance. Daytime highs got well into the 80s and nighttime lows hung in the 50s. It was almost like being home in Florida except not as hot. Or humid. Or crowded. And much prettier.

Ok, it wasn’t like being in Florida.

Last weekend we went on a hike I’ve wanted to do since last year: Uncle Tom’s Trail. This is kind of a unique Yellowstone experience in that it’s really not a trail. It’s a short walk to a VERY long stairway, consisting of some 384 steps down to the base of the lower falls in the canyon. So, of course, the trip down is pretty easy. And the view of the falls was spectacular! We were so close to the falls we were in the mist. Awesome!

small fall

About the same time we had arrived in the parking lot, I had noticed a large tour bus pull into the lot and a vague concern had drifted through my mind. Now as we soaked in the breathtaking view and took some pictures, the stampede hit. At first it was frustrating how crowded the little viewing platform quickly became. But then it turned entertaining. Every individual in this group wanted, not just photos of the falls, but to be in the photo and to pose just so. Many needed several takes to get the exact pose in exactly the right spot. Wave after wave made their way to the platform and struck their individual poses.

Eventually we made the loooooong climb back up those 384 steps and headed back to the campground. But that meant traveling through Hayden Valley which frequently means being held up by cars stopped in the middle of the road as drivers snap photos of wildlife. This time was no exception. Mary Ann spotted the jam a quarter mile before we reached it and, as usual, put me on notice that a photo stop might be required. Sure enough, it was a single male elk munching away along the riverbank.

We stopped and Mary Ann grabbed her camera and joined the throng circling the furry-antlered buck snapping photo after photo. And then came our friends from the tour bus. And once again, it wasn’t enough to just get a photo of the elk. They had to pose in front of the elk, which frequently required getting in Mary Ann’s way. And, oh, the silly poses they had to strike. One went as far as to squatting a few feet in front of the animal while making finger antlers. This went on for 20 minutes.

small elk

We were finally back in the truck headed home when a very humorous photo opportunity struck. The park is home to about 4000 or so bison. Our friend and neighbor, Jim, once joked there are actually only about 25 and they just keep moving them. Jim, this photo is for you: proof that you were right –

Proof that the bison are trucked from location to location...

Proof that the bison are trucked from location to location…

Monday we made a trip south to visit Grand Teton National Park. We had visited this amazing place last year but had not done everything we’d wanted to. Specifically we hadn’t visited Jenny Lake nor climbed the trails at Hidden Falls and Inspiration Point.

This year the 80 mile trek took a tad longer than it had last year. The gubmint decided to spend some of their sequester money on a little roadwork. Wait a minute… the sequester is taking money away from park projects. This must have been money they found on the road. Whatever. Someone in charge decided about a 1 mile stretch of the main road through the park was just intolerably smooth and needed some roughing up to bring it in line with, say, Fishing Bridge in Yellowstone, which has a cheese grater texture and definitely should NOT be repaved.

As soon as we entered the park we began seeing signs warning of 30 minute delays. “Ha!” I shouted. It’s not even 9 AM. No self respecting road crew will be out this early. Then we stopped moving. And sat there. Not moving. For something on the order of, I don’t know… maybe 30 minutes. We were only a few cars back from the front of the not moving line of cars. Finally a truck with a flashing light on the roof came in the opposite direction, turned around in front of the front not moving car, and lead us onward. On the tailgate of the truck was a big orange sign with black letters, “Pilot car. Follow me.”

Now I’ve had some time to think about this and I’m not really sure how I feel about it. I understand things are tough in the airline business. I really do. But do we seriously need pilots driving trucks to lead people through construction zones? Just saying.

The rest of our visit was uneventful. We took the boat ride across to the Hidden Falls and Inspiration Point trail heads and enjoyed those hikes before making our way back to Yellowstone.

Note to pilots: get a REAL job.

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2 Responses to Sunday, July 7 – Grand Teton Revisited

  1. George Tucker says:

    Awesome Nat Geo quality pics as usual and some humor dispersed among them as well. Thanks John and Mary Ann for sharing.

  2. Maggie says:

    Enjoyed the commentary as usual. Forgot your sense of humor.