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Saturday, September 26, 2015

Teton Gems

Study any trail map of Grand Teton National Park and you will notice quite a few high lakes. Some are right along main trails and are consequently popular destinations for hikers. Others remain anonymous on the map and far from any regular trail. These are invariably the spots my family is most eager to reach. There is a lot to be said for this strategy: it takes you away from the busiest trails and gives you a chance to see some of the most spectacular and unspoiled terrain in the park. This summer's destination was Coyote Lake. We began at Granite Canyon Trailhead.

It is hard to beat the feeling of boots on the trail first thing in the morning. The day awaits. Adventure beckons. New vistas are about to reveal themselves.

Sighting this buck within the first mile was an auspicious start to the day.

We headed for the Open Canyon trail and made our way towards Mount Hunt Divide,

enjoying the shade and flowers along the way. I especially liked the intense purple of this monkshood.

Instead of continuing up to Mount Hunt divide, we branched off the trail to follow the creek upstream. A few minutes of scrambling led us to open, flower-filled meadows,

rocky slopes,

and eventually to a big cirque which contains three gems, Coyote Lake and two smaller un-named lakes. 

This gives an idea of the cirque's size. I didn't have a wide angle lens with me, so I took a series of images and stitched them together.

From the right perspective you can see where Coyote Lake got its name. It looks like a coyote's head. In this photo you can see the ear in the top right and the snout in the lower left.

Coyote Lake, at more than 10,000 feet above sea level, is above tree-line, surrounded by sheer cliffs and slopes of alpine meadows. This fragile terrain is protected by its relative inaccessibility and the prohibition on camping in the area.

It was a great spot for lunch and just enjoying the brilliance of the day. Eva took some time to write in her journal.

For our return, rather than back-tracking, we chose to cross the saddle between Coyote Lake and Mt. Hunt, a route described as "steep, but very do-able." It was, though it took a bit of route finding to avoid getting cliffed out on the way down. 

It was a hot day and we happily refilled our bottles with cool mountain water.

Our strategy of choosing a less traveled route was a great success. Aside from spectacular scenery,

we saw quite a lot of wildlife, including round, glossy coated marmots,

adorable picas,

and energetic ground squirrels.

Our moose count, which reached nine by the end of the day, remained above our people count until we neared the trail head at the very end of the day. That was a record for us and made for a truly memorable day.

For a more detailed description of the hike, take a look at RootsRated.com.

Aside from stitching together photographs, I recently stitched a small stack of  gem-toned squares into a pillow cover,

and quilted it with bright yellow thread. Fun. And nearly instant gratification.

My next post will be about a summer trip to Maine, where we attended a beautiful wedding in Blue Hill and visited Acadia National Park, and about the quilt I made as a wedding gift.

1 comment:

  1. Amazing beautiful pictures, beautiful. Lovely pillow :-)