Wyoming Vacation – Day Four

An Image to Last a Lifetime

Sunday, September 21st

Started the day with (as they’d say in a western) a slab of pie and a cup of coffee.  Dropped Anne off at Cottonwood Creek for a few hours of fly-fishing while Karen, Jenny and I took the hike up to Bradley and Taggart Lakes.

What began as a totally spontaneous idea for a way to pass the morning became one of the best hikes that I’ve ever taken.  A portion of the area around Taggart Lake was burned in a lightning sparked forest fire in 1985, so much of the forest in this area is either charred (logs laying on the ground in various states of decay, or burned poles with stick branches, still standing tall among the new pine growth,) or looking like the perfect young pines on a Christmas tree lot.

The aspens in this area were further along in their color, turning varying shades of yellow green. Apparently aspens are the first to grow back after a fire, so there were many of them here.

This was beautiful, hiking through colorful aspens on both sides of the trail.  Some shrub along the trail was turning red and smelled sweet and wonderful. Taggart Lake was deep blue (gotta love those deep glacier lakes) with the pines dark green and the aspen on the hill above a bright yellow. The snow-capped Grand Teton was the backdrop, with a pair of bald eagles soaring above it all.

Other parts of the hike took us down through forest dappled with sunlight, and reds and yellows of the turning shrubs set off against the green of the pines. As we walked along, grasshoppers in our path made quick click click sounds, like a child’s tin clicker toy, as they’d hop out of the way.

Wildlife seen:
Bald eagles
Nuthatch
Garter snake (gimme a break, I’m a city kid)
Osprey (eating lunch on a dead tree limb)

A fantastic hike through terrain as varied as the colors.  I didn’t want it to end.

Picked up Anne and had lunch at the Jackson Lake lodge.  The view from the floor-to-ceiling windows in the lodge was gorgeous, but the whole set up was too touristy. Smelled like an airport, and there were just way too many people around.

Dropped Anne off for some more fishing, this time around Jackson damn.  We took a quick hike up to Heron Pond, supposedly a good place for birdwatching.  Probably is, but we didn’t have enough time to sit by the lily pad-covered lake and observe. Had to head back, as the sun was starting to set.

We did see two big beaver lodges (and one beaver), some red-headed ducks, some more gray jays (aggressive little buggers,) as well as a number of unidentified ducks. We saw three ravens flying around together on the far side of the pond. Ravens look huge compared to crows, the city-cousin birds we’re used to. You could really hear the beats of their wings as the ravens flew around.

On the trail back, we saw a blackheaded grosbeak, which had some striking coloring and markings.  The last “bird” seen was a bat flying around the trailhead catching gnats.  This thing was flapping and darting around like crazy, stopping on a dime to dart in the opposite direction.  It was flying around in circles, buzzing our heads.  The most amazing thing was the silence of its flight. Especially when compared with the loud sounds of the three ravens we’d seen—and those from a distance!

Picked up Anne, marveling at the fall color in the setting sun along the way. Had a good meal at the Gunbarrel, which is a vegetarian’s nightmare the minute you walk through the door.  The building used to be a museum of nature and taxidermy, and all the stuffed animals are still there, littering the walls.  While the food was good, the place definitely has that huge, theme restaurant/food factory feel to it.

Back to the cabin for a bourbon, postcards and reading.

Tomorrow, on to Yellowstone!

Photos from the trip can be found on my Flickr site.

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