Jenny Lake Loop
August 23 - Grand Teton NP
It was surprisingly cold was we awoke on the morning of the 23rd, in the Gros Ventre wilderness east ot the Tetons. I was looking forward to visiting the Teton mountains again, as I have always been impressed with their abrupt and rugged aspect, especially when seen from Jacskon Hole (Valley; "hole" means valley in Wyoming). I last visited the area on a 3-week long road trip in 2003
We packed up early, sans breakfast, and headed west back into Grand Teton National Park. My thinking was that if we arrived early enough, we could snag a spot at super-scenic Jenny Lake Campground, under the towering crags of Teewinot Mountain. Unfortunately, even though I arrived around 8 a.m., we were still too late. Apparently the sites that had become available for the day had already been snapped up nearly two hours before!
Busyness = parking lot breakfast
So, no campground. We weren't going to let that ruin our first day in the park, though, and we put the idea of nighttime accommodations out of our minds for the next part of the day. We had breakfast in the Jenny Lake Visitor Center parking lot, then prepared for a nice, easy and short hike around Jenny Lake - a medium-sized body of water nestled right against the foot of the Teton Range.
Busyness = parking lot breakfast
A variety of trails form a connectable loop around the lake. We started off going clockwise, around the bottom of the lake, initially on flat valley floor trail but soon reaching the edge of the slopes of the range. We took a small detour to some smaller ponds and marshes, getting a nice look at the towering crags of Teewinot, noting the spot on the mountain where friend Ewart had taken his unarrested snow slide and hit - butt first, into rocks - during our 2003 climb of Teewinot
Today we were just looking at Teewinot, not climbing it - and we soon turned around and returned to the main trail, which soon climbed up and traversed high above Jenny Lake in a very scenic manner.
Easy trail, big mountains
After traversing along high above the lake for about twenty minutes or so, we began a gradual descent down to lake level, reaching it right at the mouth of a major drainage that came down from the heart of the Teton Range: Cascade Canyon.
Descending towards Cascade Canyon
The mouth of Cascade Canyon also marks the spot where the public Jenny Lake shuttle boat system docks, and as a result there were a lot of people here. We quickly had a look at Hidden Falls, then made our way up towards a high lookout called Inspiration Point - except we couldn't via the most interesting and direct way, because the park service had closed it for reconstruction work. Instead, we hiked up to it via a much longer horse trail route. By this point in time, the others were starting to realize that my casual "five kilometre hike" assessment from earlier was going to be way off.
Inspiriation point was pleasant, but perhaps not spectacular enough to have warranted all of the extra time and distance. Still, a good spot for a rest and for lunch. We watched young park service works grunt and sweat as they moved boulders and mortar nearby.
We retraced our steps back down to the lakeside loop trail and continued clockwise. This next section, along the northwest shore of the lake, was quite scenic. A past forest fire burn had left much of the terrain relatively open, and there were excellent views south down the valley and back to the central crags of the Teton range.
Footbridge over connector stream
A stream empties into the north end of Jenny Lake. This stream contains the waters of String and Leigh Lakes, which lie upstream and to the north. There was no bridge across the stream here, and that meant another detour from the shoreline, and added another increment of distance to our hike estimate (I really should have looked at the map more closely that morning).
However, the trail was mostly flat and we were making great time, so... it wasn't really that big of a deal. In no time we had hiked north to the bridge crossing and all the way back down to the shores of Jenny Lake again.
Meadows and Mountains
Pu has always been a fan of water - as in, swimming in it. On virtually every trip we go on, his thoughts soon turn to taking a dip in whatever body of water is nearby. Often with trips of mine, this means he has to endure some pretty chilly swims. No matter, Pu was determined.
We found a beautiful little secluded pebble beach along the northern shoreline of Jenny Lake, and we stopped for a rest break and for Pu to have his swim. Although it had become fairly overcast and windy, and there were some angry looking clouds to the southeast, at this particular spot and time a brilliant bit of sunshine warmed us.
We basked in the sun as Pu took his frigid dip, whooping both with joy and with discomfort as he took a quick back-and-forth swim in the lake's choppy waters. Those darker clouds seemed to becoming closer, I noted, and recommeded that we soon head off to complete our hike, hopefully ahead of whatever weather those clouds were bringing.
Approaching Visitor Center area
A nearly perfectly flat and smooth trail and the threat of rain resulted in a near power-walk pace, and we fairly flew down the trail, closely parallelling the eastern shore of Jenny Lake. We didn't quite make it however, and a fairly strong shower started with half a mile remaining. Our raingear got its first use of the trip as we finished up our loop hike around 4pm. My original estimate of 5-ish kilometres of total distance was only off by... er... 12 kilometres... with our final total being about 17.5 km. Oops!
Interactive trackmap with photo points - Jenny Lake Loop - click map to view
Jenny Lake Loop - Hike Data
* : +/- 75 feet
Total Elevation Gain:
Total Elevation Loss:
* : +/- 75 feet
Not having secured a campsite and with this heavy rain shower, and with not having had a shower in five days, we started to muse about getting something with a bed... and a roof... and a shower. We did some quick internet searches and came up with a promising spot: a hostel located at a ski resort not far from Jackson. Jenn gave them a ring, and - lo and behold - they had a four-bunk room available for the night - and at a very reasonable price. Eclipse chasers finally moving out of town?
The hostel... which, by the way, was literally called "The Hostel", was quite nice. Good rustic vibe, clean rooms and shower. A nice break from last minute, at-large camping. The right call for today.