Summer’s last hurrah in the Grand Teton National Park
09.20.2013 - 09.20.2013 72 °F
My favorite place to have a beer: the deck of the Blue Heron Lounge, Jackson Lake Lodge, in the Grand Teton National Park.
It’s silent majesty sitting there. Almost no sound of civilization. No rumble or roar of traffic. The highway is far enough away. Just the euphony of muted conversation and the clinking of glasses as hikers, bikers and over-nighters at the lodge toast a grand view of the Tetons.
The deck looks out over willow flats to the Teton Range. Mount Moran and Skillet Glacier sit in the middle of this panorama.
The Blue Heron’s website claims that it’s been voted the “best watering hole – human division” by the National Park Foundation. Human division? Is there another division for moose and elk?
Last week I began to panic. It dawned on me that we had not made our traditional annual trek to Jackson Lake Lodge and the Blue Heron watering hole. Summer was slipping away. The weather was about to change, but Friday’s forecast was perfect— sunny and 72 degrees. So we left Idaho Falls and took the route through Swan Valley to Alpine, Wyoming, and then northeast on Highway 89, a scenic drive that coils through the canyon along the Snake River.
I usually justify my beer imbibing with a preliminary hike. And the trail to Grand View Point is just right. From the lodge, it’s a 6-mile tramp, round-trip, and offers a sampling of the park’s diversity. You start in sagebrush flats and walk along wet meadows and ponds. The path climbs through a forest a conifers— lodgepole pine, Douglas fir and spruce, and then culminates at a rocky point with a 360-degree view.
To the west are the Tetons. The whole range stretches in front you, still some snow hugging their jagged peaks. Cumulus clouds float between the saw-toothed summits as if they’re mischievous, white puffy boys tempting the Tetons to saw them in half.
To the east, is a panorama of meadows, forests, and lakes reaching to the undulating mountains on the horizon.
It was one of those days. A day when the colors were so rich, the air was so clear, and the breeze was just enough to wisp away all worry. One of those days— a day that induces silence, a day when your sense of reality is heightened to a dream.
We spent fifteen minutes on the summit by ourselves, sitting on an improvised bench— a slab of dry wood resting on bookends of boulders. After Labor Day, the crowds seem sparse. We talked very little and listened a lot. The breeze and the birds seemed to perform a duet.
And then we made our return trek downhill. The beer was calling from the Blue Heron, and I was ready for a swan dance of I.P.A.’s.
We made it back to Jackson Lake Lodge and the deck of the Blue Heron Lounge. It did not disappoint.