This One Is for You, Dominique
22.08.2016 - 22.08.2016
When Dominique and I started this trip the first week of May, she had hoped we could visit Grand Teton Park. The snow was still deep and the south gate in Yellowstone that led to Grand Teton was not open for the season.
I thought I would visit on my way home so I could share it with her through this blog.
When I arrived in Jackson, I learned the North half of the road through the park was closed due to forest fires and drifting smoke.
That is smoke from forest fire - not clouds.
I decided I would drive north as far as the road was open and then turn East
The bike path actually starts at the top of Teton Pass. It was there I saw many daredevil cyclists in knee and wrist pads taking this trail where the speed limit for cars is 25 MPH. Don't try this bike trail if you ride a single speed cruiser!
Of course, there are bike lanes throughout Jackson. Then this paved path continues north along route 191 and also along the National Park Loop road to Jenny Lake.
It was after 1 PM and at least 85 degrees. As you can see in the pictures, this path does not pass through bucolic farms and shaded glens as the one on Vancouver Island did. Still, I could not imagine coming all the way to Grand Teton National Park and not riding my bike for at least a mile along this perfectly smooth trail.
After riding two or three miles, I pictured the map in my mind and thought a Visitor Center must not be far. I decided to ride for another mile. If the Visitor Center didn't appear, I would return to the van.
Soon, I saw the tunnel junction pictured above. The Visitor Center was less than a mile after the tunnel,
At the center, I learned a Ranger presentation would begin in less than 30 minutes at Historic Menor's Ferry.
There was a long line at the Ranger's information desk, so I chatted with the souvenir sales staff and told them I was on my bike and wanted to get to Menor's Ferry.
"It's just up the road past the entrance gates with bike trail all the way," I was told. I distinctly remember references to 1/4 mile and one little hill just before you get there.
I headed out. In less than 1 mile, I passed the entrance gate. Less than a mile later I saw a very steep hill. I assumed this was the one little hill and struggled at least one mile to the top.
The terrain did not change. It remained exactly ad shown in the pictures above. Each ridge of trees in the distance, I imagined I would find a turn off to a river and a ferry.
To make a long, hot story shorter, I eventually arrived at Jenny Lake and the end of the bike path. I walked the pedestrian trails and asked about Menor's Ferry. No one really knew what I was talking about, but I eventually found a boat launch that took rides across Jenny Lake. There, the concessionaires informed me I had passed Menor's Ferry eight miles back!
Now, really, I had gone less than 12 miles and ridden less than one hour. But I felt like a Mormon with my push cart who did not have the stamina of my faith to get on the road again. The sun was even brighter, the temperature was even higher, and the smoke from the fires hung even heavier.
I had no desire to prove I could do it. Pain and perseverance has never been a part of my amusement routine.
I decided to look for possible vehicles in the parking lot that might have room for one bike and one old lady.
Fortunately, there is a big construction project going on at the Jenny Lake area. I soon found someone that was ending his shift and heading back to Jackson. It was no problem to toss my bike in the back of the truck with his and drop me off where Ol' '95 was patiently waiting for my return.
I drove along the park Loop to see where I went wrong.
I remember seeing this sign, but from my bike on the path across the road I could not see the entire second line. I assumed there was an arrow pointing ahead because I did not know the chapel was in the same historic district as the ferry - and besides, I had also seen that hill looming ahead that I assumed I had been told about.
Later, I returned to the souvenir desk and told them about my journey. They were proud I made it up the hill in that heat at my age and physical shape, but sorry I missed the ranger talk.
On my own, I visited the historic Menor store and ferry.
I enjoyed my private tour and learned much about the area through the placards and self-guided trail brochure. As early as 1923, residents of the valley were worried about all the commercial activity in the area and met in this cabin to urge the government to create an area next to Yellowstone that would be preserved.
All the campgrounds were crowded and hot.
I decided to spend the night in the parking lot of the Chapel of the Sacred Heart on the east side of Jenny Lake.
while it was light I could see the smoke rise from the forest on the other end. I watched the helicopters fly their empty buckets homeward after filling them in Jackson Lake all day.
When it was dark, I could see constant flames on the horizon. I was glad I was on this side of the lake.