Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Hiking Lake Solitude in Grand Teton National Park

Oh these windy winter days make me long for the summer!  I look back at last summer and vividly remember my dream hike to Lake Solitude in Grand Teton National Park.  It's an adventure I'm so glad I stayed around an extra day in Jackson Hole to do!

A little recap.  My dad, his girlfriend Kim, my brother, and my friends Marlee, Katie and Byron all planned to do the 19 mile round trip hike to beautiful Lake Solitude during my trip to Wyoming in September 2013.  The entire trip was planned around that hike, and I messed up my knee just a day before we were supposed to hike while I was taking a morning jog in Teton Village.  So dumb.  Anyways, my dad, Kim and I couldn't catch a flight out of town (we were flying standby) so we got to stay an extra 2 days, and it was decided, the hike would go on!

The night before, I was stressing over work and nervous about my knee.  Dad and Kim said that we shouldn't set our alarm and just decide in the morning if we would go on the hike.  Well, I wasn't going to have anything to do with that, so I kept my alarm and let them turn theirs off.  My grouchiness wasn't going to get the best of me.

The morning came, and I woke dad and Kim up with the alarm and we all anxiously got ready for the hike we were not sure we were prepared to take.  I knew I had to do it, it was after all, my dream hike!

7:35 am:  We hit the trail head of Jenny Lake.  Day packs prepped with trail mix, cheese, salami, and sandwiches from the Jackson Hole Mart.  We had water, coconut milk (just me!), and a purifier to quench our thirst.  Also included was the safety of a first aid kit, bear spray, and OH S*IT I forgot my rain gear!!!  Now...everyone should know, always bring your rain gear on a hike as the weather in the mountains is totally unpredictable.

Note, I recommend going BEFORE Labor Day, as the shuttle at Jenny Lake isn't running as early in the morning, so we had to hike around the lake, the boat would have saved us an hour or two! 

The steepest part of the trip was at the beginning going to Inspiration Point into Cascade Canyon. 

View from Inspiration Point

Mount Owen from Inspiration Point

While going through the canyon to the Fork you have absolutely amazing views of the Tetons, especially Mount Owen.  There's a glacial river flowing through the canyon for ample water supply as well.

Be sure to take it all in.  From the rocky mountain side, the willows along the river and the
beautiful canyons waterfalls across the river on the mount Owen Side.  Seriously this is such beautiful land. Breathtaking and awe inspiring!  I could just stay here forever (if it wasn't for my amazing husband and cuddly mutts!)

The first view I will always remember as we stepped into Cascade Canyon!

3hours and 25 min:  We hit the fork! My excitement and anticipation were building as I was so focused, only an hour to go until I'm at my dream lake! 

I was so overcome with excitement to find the lake, that I would have missed the moose sitting there had it not been for Kim and her spotting abilities.  A Bull and a Cow just 75 feet off the trail right after the fork! 

We tried to take pictures but all of us were super shaky with a combo of needing to eat, being tired, and excited all in one.

Shortly after seeing the moose, the forest opened up into a stunning valley floor of boulders and vegetation.  This part of the hike was a little tiring as the trail does some switchbacks across the boulders.  But the views are just stunning!  So be sure to pause and turn around.  At this point, you not only see Mount Owen, but you can see the Grand Teton if there's not clouds in the way.  The top of the Grand was where my dream hike initially stemmed! (see that adventure, here).

A look back after we had gone over the boulders to the right and some switchbacks
A beautiful stream flowing through this area provides great water supply!

As we continued getting closer to Lake Solitude, we looked back and saw some looming clouds and heard rolling thunder as a rainstorm over took Cascade Canyon.  A few drops got us, but the storm didn't quite make it our way.  Phew!

I took a little rest while waiting for dad and Kim to catch up after taking a snack break.  At the time, I didn't realize how close to the lake we really were!

Finally, after the above beautiful waterfall was spotted and I took my rest, we hiked some more and BOOM!  There it was! I was skipping with joy as I sang out to dad and Kim behind me, "We're here!  I made it!!!"

4hours and 19 min:  Oh. My. Gosh. I can't believe we are here!  The views are ridiculously amazing!

The lake was smaller that I had anticipated, but every bit as gorgeous as I had dreamed!  I'm in love!

I have already decided that this will not be my last trip to Lake Solitude.

We took photos and sat down for our lunch of sandwiches.  Just as we were happily digging in, the skies opened and not only rain but icy pea sized hail came pouring down.  Again, remember mindless me forgot her rain gear, so I took shelter as best as I could beneath and pine.

The storm was quick and after it passed we packed up, took a few more pictures and headed on our way back. It was now 4 hours and 50 minutes into our trip.

We took 30 minutes to fill up on water when were back in the rocky meadows.  

In the same spot we had seen the moose earlier, we looked to the other side of the trail and saw a little log cabin we hadn't noticed before!  It was beautiful, but I didn't snatch a picture, drats!

Our hike back was blissful for me.  I was a chatterbox of excitement and a face full of smiles!  I love my mountains and it was like they had just embraced me in a hug and said, "We love you too, Tamara!"

The lovebirds, Dad and Kim, my hiking companions!

We weren't expecting it, but we had hiked back in just enough time to cat the last ferry across the lake!  Just as we were about to board though, the skies opened up again! Pounding us, and 50 or so other park visitors with nickel and quarter sized hail!  One hit my ear so hard and I of course shrieked like a baby!  

The weather eventually subsided and we officially boarded the boat and crossed the lake ending our adventure with a round trip total of about 8 hours and 50 minutes.

I did this with the adventure to the top of the Grand Teton, and I'll do it again here.  These are my few tips/lessons learned:
  1. Always bring rain gear on a hike
  2. Bring layers, we experienced 50 degrees to 70 degrees
  3. Have your own filter to save on pump time
  4. Remember to pause and take in all the beauty around you!

No comments:

Post a Comment