Fire Cloud...
An irregular marking on the exterior of Native American pottery: usually resulting from burning fuel coming in direct contact with the vessel during firing

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

The Grand Tetons

Jackson Hole, Wyoming

It's one of those wonderful places that grow exponentially. Winter sports for half a year and rafting, fishing and horseback riding the other half. It's kind of like Key West that way... not what it was 30 years ago (sleepy and rustic). The traffic is bad and everything is way too expensive... Still...we love it.

Nine million years ago the continental plate split here along a 40 mile line running north and south. The western edge was uplifted and formed the newest and most jagged mountains in the US. They run to about 13,000 feet. The eastern plate sank and formed Jackson Hole, elevation about 6,000 feet. The Jackson Hole valley has a number of large lakes that abut the mountains. The Snake river flows along the valley and there are numerous moraines where glaciers piled up rucks like conveyor belts. Another feature of the valley is kettles or potholes where blocks of ice slowly melted forming ponds.

We did a hike here in the Spring 31 years ago. We walked about a mile and a half around the back side of Jenny Lake and then did a steep climb up a canyon into a lovely meadow filled with wildflowers. Part of the hike was along a ledge about three feet wide with a 300 foot drop to the rocks below. We held tight to our son while traversing that. Tomorrow, we'll do the same hike but cut out three miles of hiking by taking the jetboat across Jenny Lake to the trail head.

The park is heavy on recreation, as it should be. There are numerous campgrounds, lodges, marinas, restaurants and dude ranches as well as many great hiking trails. You can rent canoes, kayaks, and motorboats for reasonable cost. The fishing is good.

The lighting conditions have not been optimal for photography, with continuous overcast, and smog seems to be everywhere in the west these days, dimming far vistas. It would be very cool to come out in January, when the Tetons are coated with snow and ice. You could get up on a clear day at dawn with no wind and see the mountains painted bright orange at sunrise and reflected in the lake. I can see it...yeah...

Maybe we'll rent a canoe one day....Yellowstone is just up the road...we may be here awhile.

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