From Yellowstone we made our way south towards the Grand Tetons, hoping to get in another backcountry hike amidst some of our nation’s most scenic peaks. We stopped at the ranger station to get some hiking recommendations (we’ve learned this is a must-do – no matter the guidebooks in hand, rangers always have firsthand information about trail and weather conditions). The ranger informed us that the Tetons received an exceptional amount of snow this past winter – as in 700 inches rather than the usual 300 – and therefore most of the backcountry trails were closed due to avalanche concerns. In the park’s northern section, the open trails would be impassable due to high and fast flowing rivers from the snowmelt. Relegated to short, tourist-filled day hikes, we decided this would be a perfect opportunity to escape the crowds and check out the much less famous Sawtooth Range a moderate drive away in Idaho. The Sawtooths had been recommended to me by a friend, but I initially dismissed the possibility because they required a detour from our original route.
We soon decided we’d backpack in this range over the weekend, which left us with a couple days to explore what we could of the Tetons. We left the ranger station and planned a short day hike around the popular Jenny Lake, considered the pinnacle of Teton scenery. We hiked with many other people to Inspiration Point and Hidden Falls. We originally intended to hike all the way around the lake but the sky was darkening quickly and we were not in the mood to get caught in a rain storm. Not long after we reached our car, the skies opened up and we were glad we’d cut the hike short. We found a free campsite just outside the park in the Teton-Bridger National Forest and made ourselves comfortable with the awning and mosquito net. We were looking directly at the towering Tetons, with only fields of wildflowers between us and their wilderness. Happy with our site and excited by the idea of staying in one place for two nights (something we had yet to do), we decided we’d stay another night even though there was no hiking in the park for us. Rather, we made plans for a 25 mile bike ride the next day and another shot at Jenny Lake.