Monday, September 29, 2014

Utah Lake State Park, Provo, UT



With another day of rain predicted for the Park City area, we took advantage of a break in the thunderstorms yesterday to hook up and drive a short 42 miles to Utah Lake State Park in Provo, where we also stayed in June 2009. There were only a few people there so we had our choice of sites and chose one with a nice view of the lake and mountains.



This was our second driving day since we replaced the cruise control part, and it seems that was the solution to the problem, since it is now working flawlessly every time. Having the cruise functioning properly, and with the recent brake light fix in Spokane, Jim commented that this is the first time in several years where everything we have is actually working the way it should. That probably means something else will go wrong soon.

After we set up yesterday we hopped on our bikes and took a 12 mile ride on the Provo River Parkway, just across from the state park. It’s a really nice trail along the river and we didn’t have to cross a single street.


They built these strange low, narrow underpasses, which can be a bit dangerous if you’re not careful.


We had an incident with a skateboarder who nearly ran us down and soaked us with water as he flew through a big puddle in one of these tunnels, barely missing us. We both stopped and reflexively screamed profanities at him, which will probably be on YouTube since his friend was at the other end with his phone recording it. Kids these days!


Got back just in time to take the cats out while the thunderstorm skirted around us. Sophie freaked when it started raining and ran for the door. She’s not as tough as she likes to pretend.


After the storm.


There are still some thunderstorms in the area but we’re hoping to get in a hike and some leaf peeping today. We forgot how pretty it is in this part of Utah.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Jordanelle State Park, Park City, UT



Looking ahead at the weather in Grand Teton National Park, with rain and colder temperatures approaching, we decided to begin moving south on Friday. Debbie’s brother is in Dubois to hunt so she is hanging out a few more days to visit with him.

We don’t usually drive 265 miles in a day, but we knew the storm was approaching and wanted to be somewhere on pavement and with electric. We stayed at Jordanelle State Park near Park City, Utah in June 2009 and remembered it being a nice park, although it rained most of the time.

Leaving Gros Ventre campground we saw the usual morning gathering of photographers looking for moose down by the river.


At one point along the way while I was driving, four deer ran out across the highway, then less than a mile down the road a bunch of cattle crossed in front of us. Sure did make me nervous!


We arrived around 3 on Friday hoping there wouldn’t be a problem getting a site, and had six to choose from. Ended up with a nice view of the reservoir in a water and electric site for $25/night. There was also one site with sewer for $28 we could have had. The bathrooms and showers are really nice, but the shower heads can’t be adjusted and the pressure was so strong I felt like I got a concussion trying to wash my hair. Also they are the push button type where the water temperature is pre-set but luckily it was plenty hot.

We managed to get in a walk before the rain started. Jordanelle Reservoir and dam.



This was a new one on us, the hula hooping pedestrian crossing?


It rained buckets all day yesterday so we went to Park City to do some shopping and eat lunch at Freebirds World Burrito, our favorite fast food restaurant. It’s been a long time since we’ve eaten at one and it was as good as we remembered.

While looking back at photos from our first time at Jordanelle, it brought back memories of our favorite cat of all time, Oreo. We were never successful at leash training him in his old age, but he sure did enjoy sitting outside in a chair or laying on picnic tables. We miss that little guy.

Jordanelle State Park, Park City, UT

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Garnet Canyon, Grand Teton NP



We wanted to do one last big hike here in the park in preparation for our meeting up with the Box Canyon bunch next week, and decided on trying to make the 3.8 mile trek into Death Canyon. Apparently the name came about in 1899 when a member of a survey party disappeared and was never found. Besides the intriguing name, it had been highly recommended by a friend. But when we got to Moose-Wilson Road yesterday it was closed due to grizzly activity, and would have meant a 25 mile driving detour just to get to the trailhead.

Not having another trail in mind, we were near the visitor center so decided to stop and ask for advice. The ranger we spoke with suggested a similar hike in Garnet Canyon, just a few miles up the road at the Lupine Meadows trailhead. This is a 4.1 mile trail, but we failed to ask about the elevation gain, which was probably just as well that we didn’t know. Our goal was to make it to the end, but with out and back trails it’s nice to have the option to turn back at any time.


The trail is rather innocuous for the first mile or so through the forest, then begins climbing in earnest. Of course climbing along a ridgeline makes for nice views, which gave us a good excuse to stop frequently. We were both having a real problem catching our breath and feeling lightheaded on the way up, and even considered turning back a few times, but persevered and tried to take it even slower. Jim joked that if we walked much slower we would be standing still.



It was a hazy day but we had great views of Bradley and Taggert Lakes.


And Blacktail Butte, where we did a hike last weekend.


We spoke with several groups of people who were coming down the trail and told us about bear sightings at Surprise and Amphitheater Lakes, but that was a different trail than the one to Garnet Canyon. We decided to take the left fork to the canyon, 1.1 more miles, and skip the possibility of seeing bears. Besides, the trail to the lakes was another 1.8 uphill, longer than we wanted to hike. And it appeared that most of the other hikers opted for the lakes, so we were all alone in the canyon.

Yes, that is the trail, all rocks for the last half mile or so.



The ranger said her favorite part of the trail was near the end when the Middle Teton is “in your face”. And it sure was!


This is what we came to at 4.1 miles.


And this is what we saw.



Jim just had to climb up some of the boulders to see if he could see a trail continuing on, but I had to remind him we had a long walk back to the car. He said it was just getting interesting, but reluctantly came back down. This is actually the route many climbers take to the South, Middle and Grand Tetons, but not us. I was just happy we made it to the end of the established trail. Especially when Jim checked his GPS and found that we had come up 2,400’.


Fortunately it was almost all downhill from there, but it was a long 4.1 miles back with tired legs. At least we could breathe and talk on the way down.  It took us almost three hours (including a lunch break) to hike up but only an hour and forty five minutes to get back down.

Another road block on the way home.


And now for a sad wildlife story. Our friends Ron and Jane had been here at Gros Ventre while cleaning and getting moved into a condo they purchased in Jackson. They’ve sold their Lazy Daze and left yesterday to head back to Arizona. Just as they were getting ready to pull out of their site, a bull moose and a bunch of photographers surrounded a cow and her calf. In trying to get away the cow fell and broke her leg right behind their car. She managed to get up and they were able to drive away, but the moose had to be shot. The rangers have since closed off the site and posted signs around the campground. Such a tragedy for a photo op.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

More From Grand Teton NP



Besides doing some hiking, we’ve also done a little work since we got here a week ago. Our new window track arrived and we spend three frustrating hours installing it. In case anyone is interested, here is the link to what we bought. It wasn’t as easy to put up as we had hoped, but it works well so I’m happy.

For years now the cruise control on our Lazy Daze has only been working intermittently. A friend had the same issue and spent a couple hundred dollars having it diagnosed,  just to have a simple $25 part replaced. After much research, Jim decided to order the part because he thought he could easily replace it himself. The new cruise control cutout switch, which he found on Ebay for $16, arrived in the mail the other day. A simple 5 minute job removing the old one and screwing in the replacement, right? Not for us!  After we both tried for about thirty minutes I finally got lucky and was able to get the threads to catch and screw in. Another frustrating do it yourself project. And since we haven’t driven yet, we don’t know for sure if this was the defective part. We will find that out when we leave, but I have high hopes.

One day we went to visit Brian and Leigh at their great boondock site just outside of the national park. We would definitely stay there another time but just didn’t want to be that far from town. They have such a nice view.


On Saturday morning we went to Jackson and wandered around the town square for the final farmer’s market of the season and checked out some of the shops. Ended up spending quite a bit of time playing with the cats at the Animal Adoption Center, just a couple doors down from the Lotus CafĂ©, where we ate an excellent lunch. Everything on their menu can be made vegan. We would highly recommend it and will probably go back before we leave.

We did several short hikes, one in the late afternoon to the Phelps Lake overlook and down the trail to the lake.



Another from the campground along the Gros Ventre River, which goes a couple miles to the small community of Kelly.



Another about 5 miles up the road to the Gros Ventre Slide.



Lower Slide Lake, a five mile long lake created by the landslide.


And we hiked up Blacktail Butte, just across the road from the campground. If you want to hike alone in the Tetons, this is the place.


It is an extremely steep climb up, 500’ of climbing in half a mile, but we found a longer and gentler way back down. There are animal trails going every which way.





We haven’t seen any wildlife on our hikes except for a few grouse and insects.


But we’ve seen plenty in and near the campground. In fact every morning the wildlife tour vans drive through our loop.

Pronghorn hang out just across the road.



Yesterday between rain showers Debbie and I walked her dogs around the loops and saw two moose. Gros Ventre Campground is so huge we clocked over four miles of walking one day. When we got back Jim was up on our roof with the camera watching as a herd of bison walked right behind our site.




We are so glad we came here.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Gros Ventre Campground, Grand Teton National Park



On Tuesday another 100+ miles detouring around Teton Pass took us on a gorgeous route along the Snake River with fall colors at their finest. This is a perfect time to visit Grand Teton National Park, especially this year with unusually warm temperatures. It is still a crowded and popular place, but with kids back in school and mostly quiet mature folks (like us) around it is quite pleasant.

I just can’t  express how happy we are to be back in the land of wide open skies.


We really liked Gros Ventre Campground when we visited the Tetons in 2010 and decided to stay here again, although we had a very kind invitation from Brian and Leigh to join them at their dispersed site up the road.


We had packages and mail coming to Jackson and didn’t want to be that far away from town so here we are. With the senior pass it is $11.50/night. Water, dump, flush toilets and trash dumpsters. Nice to have those amenities nearby but the bonus is having wildlife wander through the campground coming and going from the Gros Ventre River, just a short walk behind the campground.


This handsome fellow walked right behind our site this morning and I had a close encounter with his sons yesterday.


Another reason we wanted to stay here is that it just so happened our Fort Bragg, CA friends Tom and Nancy were heading to Iowa and decided to come through the Tetons, coincidentally at the same time we were getting here. They arrived a few hours after we did and got a site nearby.

It was great to see them again, and since they could only spend two nights we decided to take them on one of the classic hikes in the park at Jenny Lake, to Hidden Falls.


Grand Teton National Park September 2014


After the falls we wanted to make the loop hike all the way around Jenny Lake, but they were working on the trail and had the bridge closed, so we ended up taking the horse trail back, which took us higher and gave us even better views.


After intersecting the main trail some other hikers told us about a moose and her baby off the Moose Ponds trail, so we went down to take a look.

Only saw this youngster in the pond although we kept a close watch out for mama in case she didn’t like us being so close to her little one.



Then yesterday after I got up I went for my usual early morning walk and just around the other side of our loop spotted a bunch of people standing around watching the antics of these two.


They were fascinated by this satellite dome, and yes, you know where this is heading. Apparently the owner was still in bed, but the rest of us watched the drama unfold and did not try to stop it.




Finally the owner came out and started yelling at them to get away. The spectators, including myself, hurried away also. An interesting study in human nature, don’t you think?