Den & Kath's Vacation '99 - Day 3

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Taskmaster Kathleen rolled me out of bed bright and early on Tuesday to get out hiking. We decided to hike Cascade Canyon from the Jenny Lake trailhead. Along the way we had time to stop and shoot a couple of pictures at the Jackson Lake Marina. Driving from the campground to Jenny Lake, we came upon a traffic jam, which was a sure indication that there was wildlife near the road. We managed to squeeze into a turnout on the road (a concept many of our fellow campers had trouble with) and walked back to see a cow and calf moose feeding only 40 yards off the road. I immediately started snapping photos while the moose were still deep in the brush. We sat amongst the crowd watching them for some time, and our patience was rewarded when they grazed their way out of the brush and into the sunlight. As was to be the case too many times throughout our trip, we were both disappointed to hear remarks such as "Oh, it's just a moose, we've already seen one of them" from people around us.

From the Jenny Lake Visitor Center, we took a boat ride across Jenny Lake to the Cascade Canyon trailhead. In addition to offering a great view, the boat ride saved us 2 miles of walking on what would come to be our longest hike of the trip. The hike started out with a quick climb to Inspiration Point. Along the way, we saw several climbers, both on the mountains and taking lessons along the trail from Exum Mountain Guides, a well-known guide service and climbing school. Once we got past Inspiration Point (which was inspiring by the way), we got away from the casual hikers and the crowd thinned considerably. Though the trail climbed continuously from Inspiration Point, it was a fairly gentle incline.

When we got about 3 miles up the canyon, we stopped for a trail lunch of chewy granola and apples. The view down the canyon was just amazing - while the canyon was at about 7,000' altitude, the surrounding peaks were all 11,000' or better. We passed an avalance area along the way. We were both shocked to see two-foot tree trunks snapped off like toothpicks in an area about 300 yards wide and a couple thousand feet down the mountainside. It was clear how much work the National Park Service had done to clear the trail. The thought of having to carry chainsaws and other equipment to a spot like that made our hike seem lots easier!

Another mile up the canyon and it was time to head back. Neither of us could bear the thought of missing the last boat of the day and having to walk an extra two miles to the truck. On the hike back down the canyon we met a number of people who told us there were a cow and calf moose on the trail ahead. We had the camera at the ready, but didn't see the two moose. We finally met someone that told us there was a bull moose ahead. We soon spotted the bull near the trail and got a couple of good pictures. We then saw a woman and two young boys coming up the trail. After pointing out the moose, we moved on, assuming that the noise these people were making would scare the moose away. We stopped a few yards down the trail to put the camera into the backpack only to see the woman walking off the trail towards the moose. I walked back to let her know how dangerous it was to approach a wild animal like that. She followed me back to the trail, but by the time I walked back to Kathleen she was heading towards the moose again. This time the moose corrected the woman by running in her general direction. Judging by the way she and the boys were giggling, we suspect she still doesn't realize the power of wildlife.

We finally made it back to the boat dock, and had to join a line of people waiting for boats. We were thrilled to finally get on the fourth boat and make it back to the Visitor Center, with cool running water (we had used up the last of our water on the trip down the mountain). We had to spend some time at camp recovering from the walk, but did manage to get out in time to see an incredible sunset from Signal Mountain.


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