This whole experience with Dave has been its own special gift. And now I have three days, on my own, in this special place. I have no specific plans for this unexpected lagniappe, just some general ideas — so we’ll see what happens!
The mountains are covered from top to toe in clouds — just as they were on the day we arrived. Seems an appropriate bookend for the vacation. It is not even light enough to go look for animals at Oxbow. So, on to our favorite Plan B: breakfast in town. We pass Mr. Fox with his mouth full of squirrel at the stop sign.
This is a hike on a large peninsula on Jackson Lake. The trailhead is at a busy marina where folks moor their big motorboats for the season, as well as put in the smaller pleasure craft like canoes and kayaks. The hike starts off with the usual warning to be alert for bears. The path is shared by horses and follows the shoreline south. Thick trees go down to the water’s edge and so screen the water from view for much of the going. Every once in a while we get a nice break and a spectacular view of the water and mountains beyond. There is a pairs of people paddling in bright red canoes across the reflection of Mt. Moran in the bay. It must be magical to be out there on the water right now!
… for now we have dappled sunshine and a soft breeze, and fifty minutes to hike north. The trail is very busy today — we see countless kayaks, canoes, inner-tubes, and paddle boards being dragged up the trail, looking for a good place to put in. Lots of families obviously arrived earlier in the day and have been picnicking lake side. A far cry from the last time we were here in winter gear — was that really just three weeks ago?!?! By the end of the hike it is warm enough that I am ready to jump in too!
Thunderstorms are expected this afternoon so Dave is off quickly to get his daily hike in. This time he starts in Lupine Meadows. An innocuous sounding name that means straight up! I remember it well and I remember being quite mad about the false advertising years go when I got talked into the hike. From there Dave continued on to Garnet Canyon until the snow was too deep on a scree field to safely traverse and turned around. The 7.5 mile hike ascended 1800 feet of elevation. Along the way he met a very curious marmot that came to his feet until Dave reached for the camera, then he’d scamper away, but come back to his feet as soon as the camera was put away. Not so camera shy was the black bear (colored brown) Dave and a pair of hikers saw on the trail. “She was just being a bear,” Dave said.
Out the window Fred and Rickie have brought their cousins — there is a small herd (100 adults and calves) in the sage brush north of the barns and the flower meadow. Most of them are laying down, so look to be enjoying themselves. The male bluebird is on sentinel duty, perched on the top of the nest box outside the window or observing from the slightly higher vantage point of the nearby snow marker as it sways in the rising wind.
During the night I discover that my height is exactly the same as the distance from the front seat-back to the back hatch door. Headlights from a few late arriving campers shine in the car during the night, and we could have used more padding but overall the night wasn’t too bad. We were very lucky, the forecast low did not verify — we stayed near 40 degrees. As Dave says, “It could have been worse. We could have been trying to sleep sitting in an airplane seat.”
Let’s go to Lamar. We’ll ride through Hayden Valley and see what we see. Along the way, we pick up ready made sandwiches from the vendor in the Canyon area, scope out where the campground is located and resume the trip. The last time we had been in this area was December 2014 — it was novel to see it without five feet of snow. And with people.