Monday was going to be a different sort of beast. The rest of the family had scheduled a rafting trip from which we had to be excluded due to the kiddo (we later found out the river was actually quite calm and she’d have been fine, but oh well). So while they were out and about, we decided to take another trip back to Grand Teton.
This all began with a fair amount of driving around the park. We took a back road that had been recommended to us as a less-busy area to spot wildlife, but that turned out to be fruitless. After a stop at the visitors center again to get the kiddo’s passport stamped and to look at the displays again, we got back out to the park to wander.
First we hit a short trail that actually starts at the visitor’s center. This one ran back to the small Murie Ranch, a small older set of cabins where the Muries had lived, a couple who were important in setting the trend of environmental conservation. As we neared the ranch we overheard a hell of a lot of children: it turned out that a couple of fans of some sort of kid’s tour group had pulled up and were sitting in the small parking area playing some sort of game. We ignored them and moved past. As we went past the main house someone poked his head out and asked if we were there for the tour, then invited us inside with another family of three. This was Dan, who gave us the tour of the small cabin and its contents and talked about some of the importance of the Muries. Very interesting, though the kid of course was bored out of her mind. After that discussion he left us to wander the house: when we had had a short look around, the tour group had moved onto the porch where one of the guides was telling an unrelated story about a caterpillar, and we had to get through their chaos to wander back to the trail. On the way back a helicopter flew by, which would prove important later.
More driving followed. Eventually we spotted a particular trail that looked interesting, the Lupine Meadows trail. It was a couple miles of driving back to the trailhead and most of that was on gravel and one-way so we carefully crept back. Along the path was a particular large, flat meadow where we spotted the helicopter from earlier which had just landed. There appeared to be a small rescue HQ there, though it looked quiet aside from the heli. We went on and got to the trail, and got climbing.
Although it was quite warm out it was mostly a pleasant hike. There were a lot of insects but most didn’t seem interested in us which was a rare treat on this trip. Instead as we climbed we got the odd glimpse of this or that interesting natural feature. A high meadow with a few rocks and loads of wildflowers, or an open view into the valley below. And a helicopter overhead again.
At one point along the trail I spotted an unused can of bear spray which I suppose had fallen unnoticed out of someone’s pack. We picked it up and carried it along for the hell of it, though we didn’t see anything worth using it on other than some of the other hikers that kept passing us. Hiking with a 7 year old and an asthmatic doesn’t get you far. Still, we made it a goodly ways before deciding to start tromping back. Part of this decision was helped by the extra-gloomy clouds that had started rolling in over the mountains. It likely wouldn’t be more than an hour or so before we had some major rain.
When we got back to the start of the trail and saw all the bear warning signs again we decided to leave the spray there for someone. Good karma and all that. But after getting in the car and deciding on some lunch, we started back. Out in the meadow by the rescue HQ there were now two choppers: the previous yellow rescue one (which spun up and departed), and another white one. While we’d thought it might just be a training exercise or a regular surveying activity, we later found out that the second was in fact a medical heli from a nearby hospital. It turns out that earlier that morning there’s been a climber who fell to her death climbing a route that started at the end of the trail we’d been on. Rather sobering to consider.
Regardless, lunch was needed. We didn’t find anything worthwhile at the park so we headed back to town as the first bit of the rain started falling. We popped into a sub shop literally seconds before the very, very heavy rains began and had a lovely meal there while the open front door let in all the sound of that torrent. And moments after the rest of the family called to tell us they were back, the rain stopped, letting us get to the car unmoistened.
But the rest of the day was quiet and uneventful, and everyone needed a break from vacation. Later on we piled into the minivan and went for dinner at a BBQ place called Bubba’s which was alright. After that it was back to the hotel to get backed. Tomorrow was the day we hit the road again.