May 22, 2003
Jenny Lake Campground

Wildlife count:

  • 3 mule deer (one through our campsite; two on the trail)
  • 2 marmots (both on the trail; one just a few feet away; turned his head sideways quizzically at me)
  • 2 coyotes (one in someone else’s campsite; one crossing the road)
  • various herds of bison and antelope (in the sagebrush plains)
  • countless small alpine butterflies

Last night the sky was the sort of cloud-gray that’s almost white, blending with the snow on the mountains. This morning was pale blue instead, just a few wispy clouds (though I’m wary of those wisps–I can tell this is the sort of place where they develop into storms startlingly fast).

Beneath that blue sky, the mountains are stunning. Tall gray jagged peaks, still thick with white snow, towering over the campground.

Apparently there was a snowstorm up here Sunday, but today, after some initial chill and breeze, the weather warmed up fast.

We hiked partway around Jenny Lake, with those towering peaks to one side, the expanse of lake to the other, over trails that alternately consisted of packed dirt and packed snow.

Some of the thickest snowpack led to Hidden Falls, a vigorous waterfall amid the pines and aspens and snow-covered rocks. Lovely.

This entire place is lovely, the sort of stunning landscape words can’t do justice, nor any photos short of those taken by professionals. Think windswept sagebrushy plains leading straight up to steep, foothill-free mountains; think broad rivers and lakes. Think western skies huge skies to go with both.

Though I do think that if I lived here–at least if I lived here as a rancher or trapper or anyone else whose living was outside a town–it would get achingly lonely at times, too.

I took the ferry back across the lake after returning from Hidden Falls, while Larry continued the rest of the way around the lake. Crossing that lake lake, I could see clearly the site of a rather spectacular land/snow slide in the 1930s, one that dammed up the river and flooded/destroyed the town below.

The snow we hiked over was clearly beginning to melt, especially at the lower levels away from the falls and nearer the lake–we trodded through bits of slush, and saw springs beginning to run. The aspens just have their first leafing buds, too. Clearly, it’s early spring. The day felt near 70; the night is now swiftly chilling up once more.

Miles hiked: 3.5

Books finished: The Princess Diaries (they cut out a lot of good stuff for that movie)

Camp food: Canned corned beef hash and instant mashed potatoes

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