August 2017 – We closed out our visit to Wyoming by returning to Grand Teton NP for the last two nights. After the crowds of Yellowstone, we were grateful to escape to this quieter park and enjoy some hiking. We had been feeling a little under the weather due to the altitude, so we took it easy the day we drove back from Yellowstone. We revisited Moose-Wilson Road, did a couple of short hikes in the area, and then headed out to the Mormon Row area. We lucked out this time and saw two moose by a pond near the road. We spent quite awhile here taking pictures and enjoying the sight of these huge, somewhat elusive (at least for us prior to this) creatures.
Around sunset, we took a scenic and very rough drive up Shadow Mountain. We had rented a four-wheel-drive, small SUV for this trip instead of the usual compact car. Otherwise, we would not have attempted this drive. The views from the summit were beautiful, and there were a ton of pretty wildflowers growing along the roadside.
The next morning we set out with one purpose: to hike to Delta Lake. We started later than we would have liked, so we had to park further out and walk to the Lupine Meadows trailhead since the parking lot was full. There was a restroom at the trailhead and several bear-aware signs. We began by following the trail that leads to Amphitheater Lake. The first mile or so was easy walking with pretty scenery. After this, the incline increased and a few nice viewpoints presented themselves. Then we reached the switchbacks and had a nice view of Bradley and Taggart Lakes. We passed a junction with Garnet Canyon trail continued up the next switchback. At the end of this one, we left the more popular route and took an unmarked, unmaintained trail.
Although the trail is not maintained, it was not hard to follow. There are a few spots in which we had to go under or around fallen trees. It was nice and quiet on the trail by ourselves, and we soon saw our first pika. We saw tons of them on this trail, sunning themselves on rocks and sometimes letting out a high-pitched squeak.
The trail continued to gain elevation, and we had to scramble over two different boulder fields. In total, this trail is around 7 miles in length and 2400 feet elevation gain. The hardest part for me, however, came in the last few yards. It was a fairly steep climb and slightly muddy, so it was hard to keep traction. Topping that section, however, we forgot about any struggles we had and were blown away by the beauty of the lake.
We put up a hammock we had brought and spent a couple of hours at the lake, enjoying the views and resting. The temperature had been dropping steadily, and we realized a storm was moving in. Reluctantly, we packed up and started back down the trail. We wanted to get past the boulder fields before it started raining in case they became slippery. Once we got back to the proper trail, we made good time coming down the switchbacks as the first drops of rain began to fall.
We were a mile or two from the parking lot when came across the bear. He (or she?) was a fairly young bear, just enjoying snacking as he walked along the side of the trail. We took several pictures, and he paid absolutely no attention to us.
Finally, we continued down the trail and out to our car. This was by far one of my favorite hikes ever. The trail itself goes through beautiful areas, and the glacial lake is amazing. The color of the water is something I have rarely seen before. Topping that off with seeing pikas and a black bear, this is one hike I will not forget.