Happy Travel Tuesday my loves! I’m so excited to start talking about my travel itinerary for Jackson Hole over the next few weeks. But before I do, there is one thing I’d like to say. Grand Teton found itself in the news last week when a hiker went missing.(My thoughts and prayers are with his family in this very difficult time.) I just want to stress that it is SO IMPORTANT that if you’re going out hiking you let others know where you are going to be. I don’t care if you’re hiking alone or with a group, let people know your trail plans. Send someone a photo of what you’re wearing, just in case. And, if traveling alone, it is especially important to wear some type of personal locator. It could be the one thing that saves your life, if something unfortunate were to happen. Always know your trails and the area. Take a map and bear spray, and ALWAYS be alert. Don’t take off without water, a small amount of food, and layers to put on in case you get stuck in the woods at night. Hiking is one of the greatest adventures in this world, but it can also be very dangerous. It is important to always take precautions before heading out on any trail.
Okay. I feel better having said this, since my next few Travel Tuesday posts will involve some serious hiking. Even though all you hikers have probably heard these things zillions of times, I always feel better reminding you again! (Just like my students. I feel better knowing I’m the little voice inside their head reminding them to make good choices! HAHA) Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s move on to the fun stuff!
Ahhhh Jackson, WY, how I love thee.
Our first full day in Jackson Hole had us up bright and early for our first hike in the Tetons. But, before we could hike, we HAD to stop at the Visitor’s Center. I highly recommend this! The building is so pretty, and there is some seriously cool stuff inside! I mean, how many times can you say you’ve held an elk skull? PS… this thing was insanely heavy. Like, I totally couldn’t hold it up myself. Or maybe I’m just weak. Thats a possibility too. HAHA
After a quick stop by the visitor’s center, we headed over to the Taggart Lake – Bradley Lake Loop trailhead. This hike is only 5.5 miles round trip. But let me be the first to tell you, this hike is definitely not an easy 5 and a half miles! However, it is SO worth the hike.
From the second we started out on this trail, we were greeted with insane views of the Tetons. I kind of walked with my mouth wide open for the first half mile. No joke. Not far into our trek, we came to a fork. Here, you need to take a right to head towards the lakes. You’ll continue on and reach yet another fork (this one looks more like a road and a trail). But don’t worry! You take another right here. Just remember, Right is Right!
We kept walking until we made it to Taggart Creek. There is a super cute little bridge to get you to the other side. Just across this bridge, is when you start to notice that you’re beginning to climb in elevation. However, the hike uphill doesn’t seem so bad… yet. There are still pretty views of the Tetons peaking through the trees, and there are some great chances at seeing wildlife along the way! Speaking of wildlife…
A little past the bridge, we were stopped dead in our tracks by a momma moose and her baby! Oh my goodness. I was SO EXCITED. Have you ever seen a baby moose? I hadn’t. And it was so dang cute. They actually weren’t bothered by us, and the other hikers that had been stopped by them either. We climbed up a small hill next to the trail to be sure we stayed out of their way. (Don’t approach the wildlife… no matter how cute they are!) We stood around and watched them eat for awhile before we walked on.
After walking a little bit further, we reached the Bradley Lake Junction. Here is where we made our biggest mistake… We went left to Taggart Lake first. I do not recommend this AT ALL. Bradley lake is the harder of the two lakes to get to. You pretty much climb uphill for 2 miles and it is pretty dang brutal if you aren’t used to the elevation of the rockies. So… learn from my mistake, head up to Bradley Lake first, then hit Taggart on your way back. You’ll thank me later :).
We turned left and headed over to Taggart Lake. This lake is so stunning you guys. I really loved this place! We found a huge rock just off the shore, so Trev and I took off our hiking shoes and waded out to the rock. Not only did it make for great pictures, but the water felt so great on our feet! It was FREEZING cold. It was the most perfect place to sit and enjoy a snack and rest.
From here we walked back towards the Bradley Lake Junction and began the uphill trek. (Yeah thats right… we back tracked. We totally didn’t do the whole “loop” thing right. Insert eye roll emoji here!) These 2 miles uphill are NO JOKE. Seriously. I was exhausted by the time we finally reached Bradley Lake. However, the view when we got there was totally worth it. So beautiful!
We headed back down the mountain to the parking lot. We were ready to grab some lunch before we headed out on another hike. Again… a fatal mistake was about to be made. But I’ll get to that in a minute!
We headed to Dornans in Moose to grab some lunch. The food was good, but honestly, the view was the reason we were there. The entire restaurant has massive windows with sweeping views of the mountains. You couldn’t have a bad seat in the place if you tried. While we rested, recharged, and scarfed down our sandwiches, it was time for my family to start pumping me up for our next hike. We were heading to Phelps Lake because my crazy family wanted to jump off the jumping rock.
YOU GUYS. THEY WANTED ME TO THROW MYSELF OFF A ROCK JUST FOR FUN.
I was so freaked out the entire ride from the restaurant to the Death Canyon trail head. I’m not afraid of heights, but I’m definitely afraid of launching myself off a freaking rock with a 40 foot drop into the water. By the time we got to the trail head, I honestly thought I might throw up. But there was no way in hell that I was going to hike all the way there and not jump off the dang rock.
So off we started towards Phelps Lake. Okay. Here is where we made our next big mistake. We clearly hadn’t done enough research on this trail. If we had, we wouldn’t have tried to hike it after already hiking almost 6 miles that morning. I’m not joking when I say it is literally almost 2 miles straight up hill. We honestly thought we were going to die. But we kept trucking. I kept saying “we’ll start going downhill soon” because I knew we had to get to the lake at some point. So we kept going. And going. And going. Trev was ahead of my parents and I and soon disappeared over the crest of the hill. All we heard? His favorite F word, yelled at the top of his lungs.
When we got there, we realized we were only at the Phelps Lake overlook, and were literally standing ABOVE the lake we thought we were almost too. We saw some fellow hikers and they told us we still had a ways to go to get to the jumping rock. We talked about it and decided it just wasn’t worth it. We were already exhausted and we knew getting to the rock would be easy (it was all down hill from where we were) but the climb back up would be miserable for us.
So we headed back to our car.
Looking back, I’m definitely a little bummed with this decision. However, I don’t regret it. I think that if we had kept going we we would have been way too exhausted to get our butts back to the car after visiting the rock. Next time, we will 100% do this hike on it’s own, rather than trying to cram it all into one day with another hike. So many people LOVE the jumping rock, and say that it’s really easy to reach. You can reach the jumping rock two different ways. One, from the Death Canyon Trailhead (which really is a beautiful hike, we were just exhausted) the other from the Preserve trailhead. While the Preserve trailhead is a much less strenuous hike, it can get crowded and noisy. They say to get there early too, because each summer the parking lot fills up quickly with thrill seekers looking to jump off the infamous rock.
After our defeat at Death Canyon, we headed back to our cabin to clean up (we were so dirty!) and rest. I crashed instantly and took the world’s longest nap! We headed into Jackson that evening for some pizza (I don’t know about you, but I like to have pizza at least once whenever I’m on vacation. We had Pinky G’s and it seriously rocked!), and to shop. You guys. The shops in Jackson are so freaking awesome. You won’t be able to see them all in one night. So we got our priorities straight and started at Yippy I-O Candy Co 🙂
We had an amazing first day hiking in Grand Teton National Park. Looking back, there were some things I would have changed, however, we were lucky enough to see three stunning lakes all in one day. This was the first time any of us had ever done any type of hiking in the mountains. So we really didn’t know what to expect. I think that’s why the hikes seemed so crazy. However, by the time we left, we had the whole hiking thing down pat! Besides, lucky for us, the next day we had planned a driving tour of the national park. So it was totally okay we over exerted ourselves! HAHA
My number one take away from my first full day in Jackson Hole? Don’t underestimate the elevation change. (When you’re not used to being in the mountains, it can really take your breath away!) And don’t overestimate your hiking abilities. Stick to just one “easy” to “moderate” hike your first day. You’ll be able to feel out your abilities, and be able to gauge your limits much easier for later hikes in your trip!
Even though I was EXHAUSTED after our day, I was head over heels in love with Wyoming. Grand Teton National Park quite literally stole my heart within minutes. Next week, I’m talking about a pretty scenic drive, where to get the best margaritas, and where to take an iconic picture of yourself swimming in a lake surrounded by the Tetons.
I hope you’re all staying cool on this Tuesday! It’s 90+ degrees here. Come on fall weather… where you at?!