Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Scary Name–AMAZING Place!!!

I can’t tell you the number of people who would come in to get a backpacking permit and would be too nervous to ask for a permit to stay in Death Canyon because of it’s name.  It doesn’t sound like a very welcoming place though, does it?  I have to admit, the name of it made me want to never go there………..until I got my first glimpse inside it!!  IMG_2875

Actually, the first time I got a glimpse was the summer of 2010 when we hiked around Phelps Lake and we could just see the very beginning of the canyon and it looked so beautiful! I had wanted to get back in there ever since, but wasn’t able to last year with my knee surgery mid-summer and all, so this year was gonna be perfect for it!  WOW!  If I had only known what I was missing!!  IMG_2881




It ended up being one of my very favorite places in the park once I did find it!  IMG_2896





There’s a Patrol Cabin that sits up within the cabin that was built back in 1935 by the Civilian Conservation Corps. It sits at the junction of the Death Canyon Trail and the Alaska Basin Trail. It briefly held a seasonal park ranger office in the 1950s.






A little further up into the canyon, the views just continue to amaze!  It sure made it hard to imagine why they would ever want to call this beautiful place DEATH Canyon!!  IMG_2939

I mean, how serene is this scene??!!  It doesn’t look like a place that would or could cause such a thing as death, does it???  IMG_2946









I hated to have to turn around and hike back out, but I had to be sure I’d be out before it got dark.  On my hike back out, at least I was lucky enough to have a bit of company from these little Yellow-Bellied Marmots (Marmota flaviventris).  IMG_2990




And then on my drive back to the office, I stopped over by Jackson Lake to check out a backcountry site and I got to see these Canada Geese with there little goslings too!  Aren’t they adorable????!IMG_2991



And like I mentioned, I stopped at one of the backcountry sites along Jackson Lake to check it out on my way back to the office.  This is a campsite called South Landing. For only a half mile hike from your car, you could stay the night and wake up to this view outside of your tent.  Not bad, don’t ya think?  IMG_3000

I think I’ll end this post even though it’s a relatively short one for me.  But I will end it with this beautiful view of what I was lucky enough to get to see each morning on my way to work.  Is this incredible or what???  Check back again soon!  IMG_3006

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Blame the Computer!

No, I haven’t already given up on catching up on this blog! Although some of you might have been convinced otherwise by now! I swear, computers just DO NOT like me!!  Shortly after posting my last post, my computer decided that it didn’t want to allow the touchpad (or built-in mouse) to work any longer!  I was in the middle of downloading a program to my laptop and all of a sudden, the touchpad just froze up!  So, for a few days, all spare time was spent trying to fix it!  Poor Sal.  He spent hours, and I do mean HOURS, on the phone with people from the Geek Squad and then people from Toshiba trying to reload the driver for the touchpad, over and over again.  Never worked!  Then more time was spent resetting the hard drive to an earlier time, as in before the program was installed, in case it caused the problem.  And then, actually reset the entire computer back to it’s original state from when we purchased it!!  Still didn’t work!  So, now my computer has been shipped to Toshiba and I’m still waiting for it to come back to me.  In the meantime, I am having to use my old laptop, which has a VERY messed up monitor and since I include so many photos in my blog posts, it makes it very difficult.  I’ve given up waiting for my laptop to miraculously come back to me earlier than expected and decided to just do the best I can with this computer.  So, if my photos don’t look quite as good in this post as they usually do, BLAME THE COMPUTER!!  Ha! Ha!  Open-mouthed smile
I took this picture of the log-on screen of this computer, just so you can see what I’m dealing with!  It gives ya a headache after a short time!

Anyway, off of my rant and on with the blog!  Let’s travel back again to the peace and tranquility of Grand Teton National Park3.Tetons.Colter.Bay.Marina.05.12.12

We were lucky enough to be there for the solar eclipse that occurred on May 20, 2012.  Being in a National Park for such an event can be really cool!  People show up with huge telescopes like this one with special filters so you can still view the event.  12.Solar.Eclipse.Willow.Flats.GTNP.05.20.12
I tried to get some good photos of it, but really didn’t have the right technical equipment.  I tried taking one while holding up a filter that you could use to see it with your eyes.  But it seemed like the best pics I got were of the reflection of the eclipse on someone’s jacket!  7.Solar.Eclipse.Willow.Flats.GTNP.05.20.12

We did still get there early enough to have a few more snow storms hit before we really got summer.  It does make it so beautiful up there when it snows though!  7.Snow.GTNP.morning.05.27.12
So, shortly after I started my park ranger job for the summer, I was lucky enough to have a patrol day.  These were the days that I got to go hiking for work!  So, I decided to hike up to Surprise Lake.  It was a beautiful day for a hike and allowed for some beautiful views of 10,741-foot Jackson Peak along the way!  11.Teton.Vu.Lupine.Mdws.Trl.05.31.12

The view down to Taggart & Bradley Lakes from the trail was incredible as well!  Both of these lakes were formed over 9,000 years ago by glaciers.45.Bradley.Taggart.Lakes.05.31.12

It was still early enough in the season though, that before I got to Surprise Lake, I was hiking through quite a bit of snow.  Arriving at the lake told me what I had already assumed; the lake was still frozen over.  It was so peaceful and quiet there though.  I just stood there a while and took it all in……….

37.Teton.Views.Surprise.Lake.05.31.12 A few days after that, on the morning drive to work, I had to make a stop to see the new baby Moose that had been born!  This little baby was only two days old at this point!  Good thing I always left early enough just in case things like this came up that I needed to stop for on the way!  IMG_2692Isn’t it precious?


I decided this summer that I was going to hike as many miles and as many trails as I possibly could. So, I made it a point to try to get on some trails that I’d never been on before.  Blacktail Butte rises 1,000 feet above the valley floor.  It definitely allows for some amazing sweeping views of the Tetons.  IMG_2728And the wildflowers up on the top of the Butte were all in full bloom! 

Along the hike, I saw this pest hanging out along the trail.  I’ve seen these multiple times along multiple trails.  They are called tent caterpillars.  They form these tent structures out of silk and they can defoliate the tree they are on if they are in large enough numbers.  The tree usually will recover and put out a new set of leaves though.  They just kind of always creep me out!!  IMG_2798

Geologists are still uncertain how Blacktail Butte was formed.  One theory is that this steep, isolated hill might have been created by a separate uplift independent of the Teton Fault.  Fault lines have been identified at the base of the east and west slopes.  The views on the other side show some of the old hayfields below.  IMG_2803Well, I think I will end this post with the end of my hike up and over Blacktail Butte.  I’ll pick things up on the next post when I take my first hike into Death Canyon!  Sounds like a scary place, but it’s really not!  It’s actually incredibly beautiful!  Hopefully, I will have my own laptop back soon so I’ll see better the photos I include!  LOL  Happy Trails everyone!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Happy New Year

As I’ve been reading and catching up on the blogs that I read regularly,  I realized everyone is recapping their 2012 year.  I also realized, for multiple reasons, that I did a horrible job of keeping up on my blog this past year!  This makes it about impossible for me to just try to recap the whole year in one blog post at this point!  LOL  I’ve been thinking for a little while what the best way was for me to get back into blogging again, and I’ve decided that even though it has all already happened I am still going to cover all that happened and what we saw and did over the summer of 2012 in the Tetons in the blog!  Who says that just because most everyone else writes about what is going on right NOW in their blogs that I have to do it that same way?  It seems I spend much of my life doing things differently than many others do anyway, so why stop now, right????  Besides, we had all kinds of wonderful fun that I still want to share!
A lot of the reason that blog posts didn’t get done over the summer was because we were spending all of our time, especially me, having so much that it took up all of our (my) time!  Winking smile  It was, by far, the most fun summer I’ve at with work since we hit the road almost 6 years ago!  I was lucky enough to get my dream job of working as a park ranger for Grand Teton National Park in the backcountry office.  I got to help people plan their backpacking trips and also got paid to hike!  How could I ask for anything better??!!  IMG_5083
Sal worked for the concessionaire again as an electrician.  So, for him, it was pretty much business as usual.  I did manage to get one blog post done fairly early in the summer on all the animal updates.  Be sure to check it out if you missed it.  There’s a lot of photos there for your viewing pleasure. 
We arrived in very late April this year.  The winter was a fairly dry one for the Wyoming area so there was a lot less snow up on the mountains than we were used to.  5.Teton.Reflections.Turnout.Jackson.Lk.05.08.12This allowed me the ability to start hiking the trails pretty much right after we got there and I still had a few weeks before I had to start working!  Woo Hoo!  So, my first hike, I hiked out to Trapper Lake by way of Leigh Lake.  Leigh Lake is named after “Beaver Dick” Leigh, a colorful mountain man who made his living trapping in the area canyons in the late 1800s.  It was a gorgeous day for my hike!!  25.Leigh.Lk.Reflections.05.08.12

And for those of you who like wildflower photos, there were quite a few colorful blooms waving in the wind.  IMG_4950


Even a couple of Flutter-butts decided to stop by and enjoy the day with me!  IMG_4975
And then on my way back home, I was even lucky enough to see good old Grizzly 399 and her cubs a ways off the road.  59.399&Cubs.Pacific.Crk.Rd.05.09.12What an awesome day!!!


So, the next day, I decided on a hike out to Hidden Falls.  Because of the angle of the chasm holding this 200-foot fall, it truly is hidden until you are just about right at it.  This is the most popular hike in the entire park, which is why my favorite time to do it is as early spring as possible, before it gets crowded.  76.Hidden.Falls.GTNP.05.09.12LOL

On my way back out I got to hang out with some Ruffed Grouse along the trail.  Each spring, they engage in very elaborate rituals aimed at trying to help them find a mate.  Unlike other grouse, the Ruffed Grouse uses a non-vocal acoustic display, known as drumming, to try to entice their significant other.  The drumming is actually a rapid wing-beating display that creates a low frequency sound, starting slow and speeding up (thump-thump-thump-thump).  You can hear this drumming up to a quarter mile away or more.  I saw a few of the females running around.  102.Ruffed.Grouse.Jenny.Lk.Trl.05.09.12

But I really felt lucky when I got to watch a couple of the males doing some of their thing.  They also strut around and do a little dance.  Successful males are able to mate with many females, while the less dominate males typically mate with a much smaller number, if any at all.  So, basically, it is Mother Nature’s version of “So You Think You Can Dance?” Contest going on.  94.Ruffed.Grouse.Jenny.Lk.Trl.05.09.12

So, then the next day,I took a hike up to Grand View Point, which was a new hike for me.  From the top, you could see down to Jackson Lake with a great view of the Tetons on the other side.  Beautiful!  14.Teton.View.from.Grand.View.Pt.05.11.12


If you walk over to the other side of the hill, you’re then looking east towards the Gros Ventre mountain range, and Two Oceans Lake.  17.Two.Ocean.Lake.Grand.View.Pt.05.11.12

And then as I was ending my day, I was pleasantly surprised to see a couple of Trumpeter Swans hanging out in Christian Pond.  They are the largest of all North American waterfowl, weighing up to 30 pounds!  Their wingspan stretches 7-8 feet, and they can fly at speeds up to 50 mph!  Magnificent creatures!!  58.Trumpeter.Swan.Christian.Pond.05.11.12Well, I don’t want to overwhelm you with too much all at the same time, so I’ll stop this post at this point.  I need to pace things for myself too!  I’m more apt to get more posts done that way.  Open-mouthed smile  I hope you’ll continue to hang out with me while I relive our wonderful times of the summer of 2012 through this blog.  Happy Trails!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

What a Birthday! Good & Bad………

So, as my birthday was approaching, Sal asked me what I wanted to do to celebrate, and I responded pretty much the same way that I always do; I said, “Let’s go backpacking!”  I don’t always get my wish, but this year, Sal said yes!  Although I had hoped for a two night trip, Sal agreed to an over-nighter and I took what I could get and we headed off to Death Canyon.  Don’t let the name fool you!  It’s an incredible place!!!  First, the hike takes you past Phelps Lake, formed by retreating Death Canyon Glacier 9,000 years ago.  It’s a mile and a half long and about 525 acres in size.     IMG_3441




A little while later you can see the mouth of Death Canyon in front of you on the trail.  IMG_3448



It’s that time of year where the flutterbutts are all out and about too, which I always love!  It’s fun to watch the different colors flying around and landing on the wildflowers!  IMG_3438








The fault that formed the Teton Mountains, followed by glacial erosion of softer rock on top, is what eventually formed the narrow canyon portals of Death Canyon. It is so beautiful to see!!!  You are just surrounded by rock in every direction!!!!  IMG_3465The trail follows along lively Death Canyon Creek, which is fed by snow melt above.  The sound is creates is so loud that you have to almost yell to be able to be heard by anyone.  So incredible!!!  IMG_3492





After a while, the canyon opens up and continues to parallel the creek through some meadows and forest areas.  We found an outstanding place to stop and take a break to eat some lunch.  Can’t you just picture yourself sitting here on one of these rocks?  IMG_3496



Shortly after lunch, we came to the NPS Death Canyon Patrol Cabin.  The structure was built in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corp to provide shelter for the young men building the park trails at that time.  IMG_2905



Today it is still by crews maintaining and patrolling the trails. They use it when they stay overnight in the area, or to just take a break when they are out and about.  It’s all pretty cool!  IMG_2908





After about a half mile past the Patrol Cabin, you begin to see the first glimpses of the upper end of the canyon.  IMG_3513On both sides of the canyon as you’re hiking along, there are side streams cascading down as waterfalls.  This particular one is the outflow stream from 9,916-foot Rimrock Lake above.  It is a favored destination for many with mountaineering skills. 




Below this, we spotted a couple of cow Moose and a calf wandering around.  Although they were quite far away, it was still very fun to sit and watch for a while anyway!  IMG_3530a



Of course, when you take more time to just look around, you certainly can’t blame them for wanting to hang around in this area.  To say that it is gorgeous still just seems like such an understatement!!  IMG_3532









Unfortunately, shortly after I took these photos, I fell while hiking, directly on to my kneecap.  It hurt like H#$L!  And then we couldn’t get it to quit bleeding, but I refused to let it ruin my birthday backpacking trip!!  So, on we pressed after cleaning the wound and applying the best first aid that we could at the time.  We did take it much slower and also took the time to stop for breaks more often.  At least the scenery continued to cooperate and give us amazing sites to look at!!!  IMG_3541








Although I truly wanted to hike quite a bit further before stopping, Sal got me to see reason with my knee still bleeding, and we found an exceptional place to stop and set up camp for the night.  IMG_3558







After spending quite a while sitting next to this beautiful creek cleaning and soaking my wound, we thought we had gotten it to a point where it might be okay for a while, so with my coaxing (I’m sure those of you that know me will find this hard to believe Winking smile) I talked Sal into day-hiking a bit further to see what we could see.  IMG_3565It was definitely worth the effort!  We got stupendous views of the impressive limestone bench of the Death Canyon Shelf!  The upper layers of limestone and sandstone along the over three mile wall were incredible!!  IMG_3569



We just stood there turning around in all directions with out mouths open saying, “Wow!”  Trust me when I say, these photos do not do this canyon justice!  IMG_3573








No matter how much we thought we put into taking care of my knee, we hadn’t been able to stop the bleeding and it was now dripping down my leg, so we decided to turn back around and head back to camp, no matter how much we both wished we could continue to venture further up canyon.  The views back towards where we had come from were still just as amazing!!!  IMG_3591We still had a wonderful time even having to deal with my fumble.  We enjoyed a great dinner, and since it was my birthday after all, we shared a freeze-dried peach-vanilla pudding “pie.”  I’d like to say it was delicious, but at least it was a lot of fun!!  We hiked back at the next day and for the first time, I was happy that we hadn’t planned another night in the backcountry.  It took us a very long time to hike out, but it was still so much worth it all and so much fun!!  In the backcountry is truly where I find my own peace and serenity.  IMG_3632HAPPY BIRTHDAY to me and I hope you’ve enjoyed virtually coming along on our trip!  It was a BLAST!!  Happy Trails until next time……