One of our favorite things to do is to have a meal at the premier dining room of the main lodge in each National Park we visit. Although quite expensive, it has always proven to be some of the best dining we have experienced anywhere. So, Sunday I made lunch reservations at the Mural Room of Jackson Lake Lodge in Grand Tetons NP. We left about 10 AM, drove the pass, stopped at the Jackson visitors center and then drove the main highway through the park, stopping at all the marvelous view points.
Originally the Grand Tetons were called les trois tétons (the three breasts) by the French Voyageurs. They had good imaginations, and must have needed more women in their lives!
The lodge itself was more modern than the ones in other National Parks we've visited, but was elegant in its own way.
The glaciers on Mt. Moran and the other Tetons were softened by a bit of haze, but the view was still exceptional from our window table in the Mural Room.
Anyone can see the view. This day was all about the food!
Craig had the Chef's Special Seared Ahi Tuna,
and I had trout. The roasted tomatoes were unlike any I have had before. I wish I had asked what they were seasoned with, but one can never really duplicate a master chef at home.
We rarely eat desserts, but Craig could not resist this warm Huckleberry Crisp with fresh homemade vanilla ice cream. We did get two spoons. Yummy!
The drive back was also very scenic and on the way we saw a turn off for Death Canyon and wondered if there were any easy hikes up that way.
The next day, after doing a little reading, we decided the hikes to Death Canyon might be too much of a challenge for Craig's knee, and planned to take the 3 mile hike from the Laurance Rockefeller Preserve in the Southwest part of the park instead. We have not hiked for some time, and Craig is favoring a strain in his knee, so we wanted to keep it "easy." The weather played a part in our decision as well. Although a bit cooler than in the valley, the afternoon temperature ended up near 90°.
We never have been, and probably never will be, early risers. We both know the best time to see wildlife, catch cooler temperatures, and avoid crowds is early morning. But knowing and doing is not the same thing. We arrived at the Laurance Rockefeller parking lot just before noon, and were greeted by park employees who told us the lot was full, but we could stand in a car queue and wait for a space. There were six cars ahead of us. We decided to wait. At Arches we played the "circle the lot slowly and watch for someone who looked like they were about to leave game". At one lot I got out and followed some people to their spot on foot, so we could claim their parking place. Standing in a car queue, with the engine off is somewhat better. People either waited their turn, or left. The park staff was there to see to it no one pushed ahead.
We waited about 45 minutes to park.
Would it have been better early in the day? Who knows? As it turned out there was plenty of empty spaces at 3 PM when we returned from our hike, and still hours of good daylight left.
Something to think about next month in Yellowstone. If we can't park early, we might try going in late.
Once we were parked, on the trail there were no crowds. Close to the Visitor Center, we encountered a few families and other hiking couples, but the further up the path we went, the more alone we were. I have a book about hiking in Yellowstone that suggests if you want to get away from the crowds, take a hike. But there were a few, which was good because the more people, the less likely it is to run into a bear on the path.
Some of way was along a roaring creek fed by the glacier snows on the mountains above.
The trail was a loop, with the farthest point being an overlook of Phelps Lake. There was a nice bench and stone landing that provided a comfortable place for our picnic lunch. After lunch we walked along the edge of the lake and saw one family wading and swimming in the (presumably) icy water. There were no boats on the lake, and as far as we can tell from the maps, there is no road access. Fishing is by permit and catch and release only.
|No sign of man!|
I don't like to end this post with a negative feeling, but as we walked in this beautifully peaceful Alpine forest, surrounded by these dainty flowers, my thoughts went back to the tragedy of that school day in Columbine Colorado, when two boys with their rifles killed so many of their classmates.
I will write no more, just that I remember.