The Tetons, September 2020, Part 3

We really enjoyed our time at Gros Ventre, we have been there a couple times now and would go back.

We did check on reservations for next year in the Colter Bay RV park. The entire 2021 season is already sold out. The demand is very high.

For this year we do have another week at the Colter Bay RV park and that is where we are heading, just 40 miles or so away.

They put us in Row D towards the lake end. This row is just over the ridge in the middle of the park and we were surprised to get a cell phone signal, not great but sufficient to stream TV on occasion. Other times, even sending a text message was hard. I have no idea where it was coming from but at times demand was high and service minimal.

Snow

Most of these days were in the high 60s and low 70s. There was a cold front that came through and brought with it high wind warnings. 60 mph winds were expected, below freezing temps and snow was possible. Park folks came through and let campers know to secure their awnings and equipment. We put up the big patio awning but left the smaller ones down. They have never been a problem in the wind. I didn’t consider snow.

It got down to the upper 20s that night and the next. We were warm and cozy. There really wasn’t much wind at all. I turned on the porch light and opened the door about nine to check out side and much to my surprise it was snowing.

Sort of a yellow tint from the porch light, maybe an inch. I retreated to where it was warm, turned off the light and went back to another good book.

In the morning the sun was out, it was about 30 degrees. I grabbed my camera and a warm jacket and went out into a gorgeous winter scene.

The small awnings were covered with snow. This day was supposed to get into the upper 40s so melting was already under way in the warm sun.

I walked down towards the lake.

The mountains were covered in fresh snow.

The highest peaks of the Grand Tetons were trailing the last of the clouds.

Up in the marina the boats were covered with snow as well. It was very quiet as it is at home when we get fresh snow. Most had not ventured out yet, almost no other people or cars.

Susan got all bundled up in her Lake Superior gear for a walk later in the morning. Me too and we went for a walk.

It doesn’t get much better than this.

Fishing

I got two more one day fishing tags. They send them to your phone, no paper. I thought I would try on the Snake River again closer to the dam.

When I got there a fellow was across the river fly fishing. Only a few minutes later he had a pretty good sized trout on his line and spent a good bit of time bringing it in and netting his catch.

There was smoke in the air from fires in California, Oregon and Idaho. We have not seen it like this before but it only lasted a day and a half.

I was encouraged. The fish were not. When my arm got tired from casting we gave up.

We tried fishing another day further down the river at Dead Man’s Bar.

This sign says it all,about the drive down to the river.

It is a popular fishing spot and launch point for float trips and fishing boats going down to Moose Junction. It is listed as a section of the river for boaters, kayakers and rafters with considerable experience. I talked to a pair pf Park Rangers setting off who told me that at this time of the year it was a good time to learn. In June and July the flow is much higher and the section of the river was much more challenging.

Likely someone will get wet.

Lots of two and three person dory boats like this, one rows and gets paid, the others fish and pay. Several hundred bucks for a half day.

These guys seemed to know what they were doing.

It looked promising. I caught a very nice stick, a couple rocks, lost one lure and was further humbled by the fish and the skills yet to learn.

Susan waited patiently while I tried desperately to prove myself worthy of a fish. They were in their schools, distance learning, laughing.

I am determined to try again if for no other reason than the pleasure of being outside. Well, there is a limit to that, the sound of the rushing water has a certain effect that becomes hard to ignore after a couple hours.

Pacific Creek

There are two high mountain lakes on the eastern side of the National Park, Two Ocean Lake and Emma Matilda Lake. You get there by following a dirt road several miles up into the mountains to a small parking area. There is a picnic area, trailheads leading every which way and a rugged path down to Two Ocean Lake to launch a canoe or kayak. No motors allowed.

Two Ocean Lake is named because it is on the Continental Divide. Pacific Creek flows out the southern end and down towards the Snake River which eventually gets to the Columbia River and then to the Pacific Ocean. It wasn’t clear where the outlet on the other end of the lake went.

It was a nice ride up. Trails go around this lake and over to Emma Matilda Lake and up to a high overlook a couple thousand feet above the lake level. Just around Two Ocean lake the Moderate to Difficult rated trail was almost 30 miles. Back country permits required for overnight camping. And bear spray too.

The lakes and Pilgrim Creek are supposed to be good for fishing. The creek maybe more so in the earlier season.

Pilgrim Creek

Pilgrim Creek comes out of the Bridger Teton National Forest from the east and flows into the Snake River downstream of the Dam. We cross it every trip going south and see the gravel road heading off to points unknown. Where the highway crosses the gravel wash of the Pilgrim Creek is the only place we think we have seen a bear in the Tetons.

Points unknown no longer, off we went following the Pilgrim Creek road. It was maybe three miles to the Park boundary. Several turn offs, not much that looked very fishable at this time. There was a cabin at the end of the road, probably in the National Forest and two large steel structures maybe 20 ft high. The sign said to hang game animal at least 10 ft above the ground. So this was likely bear country, big bears who could almost reach 10 ft. And if you are hanging game from these would not that just attract anything interested any way?

I have never been a hunter, not at all likely I ever will be.

So we explored and saw Pilgrim Creek Road.

Lakeside Trail

One of the really nice parts about the Colter Bay area are the number of trails to walk on without having to drive anywhere. One is the Lakeside Trail which has two parts. One is about 2 miles and the other add another two miles. These trails go out along the side of Colter Bay and around the point.

You can cross a gravel bar to another island and continue on. The island loop adds a couple miles but gets you up into the woods and out further into the lake. We brought our bear spray but all we saw were deer. There was still snow in the woods.

This walk was full of amazing smells. Normally the warm dry pine smell is dominant. On this trail it was mingled with wet earthy smells. Quite a contrast. At the lake end of the island there are several small beaches and new views across Jackson Lake to the mountains.

From some of these perspectives it is easy to see the deep glacial valleys. This is one of the few places on the planet where mountains and lakes were formed in this way. The mountains literally rise up right out of the lake.

Near the end of the trail as it headed back towards the beach on Jackson Lake on this same hike 5 years ago we came across a decaying stump covered in brightly colored mosses. It is worth anothers look.

It is now long gone. Look carefully, there are so many things that are only in that moment,

Packing Up

This week went by fast. We are heading next to Custer State Park in the Black Hills. We did laundry, emptied our waste tanks, added enough water to get to Sundance, WY, our last stop before Custer where we emptied the waste tanks again and filled fresh water to 98% of capacity. We are going to be in The Game Lodge Campground in Custer State Park for two weeks. Electric only. So the challenge will be to last the whole time with what we have so we don’t have to move. We have done it before, it takes some care.

We are sorry to leave, we like it here.

More Later, Much Love,

Roger and Susan

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