Quick Hiking to Inspiration Point, Grand Teton

It was spring time (May) so the morning was quite cold but as the sun rose, you cold feel the warmth and one could take off a layer or two depending on how fast one was hiking.  The water was calm and serene and reflected the aqua blue sky.  You could hear some pretty powerful streams nearby at certain points too.

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Author’s Note: I’m still catching up on life at the moment since my return but let me share a story from my road trip out to Wyoming back in Spring of 2013.

Honestly, I didn’t do much research when I decided to take a two week road trip out to Wyoming.  I knew I wanted to see Yellowstone in the spring but at the time there were so many things going on in my life I just wanted to get out and breathe.  So I threw a bunch of stuff in the rental car (also forgot a lot…) — then hit the road west.

By the time I made my way down to the Grand Tetons, I was in a dilemma over how I should spend my time and where I should stay.  Not only was I struggling with direction in my life — I was lost in the sense that I wasn’t sure what I should do with the days on my road trip.  Yes, that sort of lost.

Without going on a tangent, long story short — I ended up making my way south into the Grand Teton National Park where I was constantly in awe of the beauty around me.  Being only able to spend a short day or two in the area — it is one of the places I yearn to return for more hiking one day.

A beautiful way to spend the morning after a brief ferry ride across Jenny Lake A beautiful way to spend the morning after a brief ferry ride across Jenny Lake

After waking up early and driving into Grand Teton National Park, I arrived at Jenny Lake.  It was a bit too early because the ferry shuttle hadn’t started its daily service yet.  I noticed on the map that I could hike in around the park but it’d take me a significantly more time than I had in my schedule that day so I decided to wait for the ferry.

There is fee (it may currently be $15 per adult round trip) to using the ferry and you have to keep in mind that it has a schedule so if you miss it, you end up waiting at the shore for the next one.  By the time the ferry shuttle begun, there were quite a few hikers so as soon as we docked, we were like a large pack of hikers moving through the woods.  Eventually everyone goes at their own pace and the space between each hiker grows.

That is, until we bumped into a family of moose!

Traffic jam along the trail thanks to a family of moose up ahead Traffic jam along the trail thanks to a family of moose up ahead A closer look of one of the moose on the trail. These guys are huge but look so gentle. A closer look of one of the moose on the trail. These guys are huge but look so gentle.

Aside from seeing the silly tourists out of their cars trying to take photographs of a moose on the road, I had yet to ever encounter a moose in person so this was such an awesome highlight for me to begin the morning.

Everyone was quiet and kept their distance from the moose.  Some folks got annoyed and a few got impatient waiting for the moose to move off of the trail so they began to plan a way around.  This could have been dangerous because the moose would charge if they felt trapped or endangered — particularly as there was calf among the family too.  I just patiently waited because it was such a rare sight for me.

Eventually, the moose moved further down the trail (and we moved slowly along with them) and soon afterwards grazed their way off the trail.  Once it was clear that it was safe to hike past them, all the hikers including myself quickly made our way down the trail.

Further along the trail towards Inspiration Point. Further along the trail towards Inspiration Point. Much of the trail initially follows the lake shore allowing for some beautiful views. Much of the trail initially follows the lake shore allowing for some beautiful views.

It was spring time (May) so the morning was quite cold but as the sun rose, you cold feel the warmth and one could take off a layer or two depending on how fast one was hiking.  The water was calm and serene and reflected the aqua blue sky.  You could hear some pretty powerful streams nearby at certain points too.

I just powered my way through this section of the trail because I wanted to make up for time lost while we were waiting for the moose to move.  Eventually I came across a trail to a “Hidden Waterfall”.  I had no idea about it but I followed the signs and other hikers seemed to be following the direction that I took so I figured I was going the right way.

It is still springtime.  Water levels are high and currents are strong. It is still springtime.  Water levels are high and currents are strong. Following a rather odd looking path to the hidden falls. Following a rather odd looking path to the hidden falls. There is still snow here! There is still snow here! The Hidden Falls close to Inspiration point The Hidden Falls close to Inspiration point

Looking downstream from the waterfall. Looking downstream from the waterfall.

The thing about waterfalls is that they are not always worth the trek.  Just as there are disappointing lookout points, there are disappointing waterfalls.  I realize that may be a little discriminatory against certain trails and areas of interest but I will openly admit that I am biased and I think it’s important to be self-aware enough to understand what really motivates you.

In this case, I didn’t know whether or not the waterfall would be of any reward for the effort until I arrived — and I am happy to state that it was well worth the trek.  Not a waterfall that you can get too close to (unless you want to wade upstream or hike off the trail) — it was still a very pretty cascading waterfall and unless you hike this trail, it would have completely been hidden from view.  In fact, I don’t think I could hear the waterfall very well until I got deeper along the trail.

An interesting story on a signpost An interesting story on a signpost Passing by other streams running from the waterfall. Passing by other streams running from the waterfall.

A lot of people hung around the waterfall for either a break or to have photographs taken of themselves but I quickly resumed my trek towards Inspiration Point.  The trail continued along the shore line until it began to ascend along the side of the mountain.  This is where the trail gets really fun and interesting for me because we can start to get some good views of the area.

The rocky trail makes use of switchbacks up the side of the mountain on the way up towards Inspiration point The rocky trail makes use of switchbacks up the side of the mountain on the way up towards Inspiration point Looking over the edge of the switchback.  Beautiful view. Looking over the edge of the switchback.  Beautiful view.

As the trail continues up, it is really neat to take a peek over the edge into the canyon.  Not necessarily for those who are afraid of heights but it does provide a different perspective of the environment and surroundings.  That is one of the reasons why I love hiking mountains so much.  Everything in your view changes so dramatically in terms of scale and size — your mind and your perspective have literally been changed just through the act of hiking up a mountain.

Along the way up, there were a couple of stop off points that made for good break areas with some decent views.  I think a fair number of people would get lost or mistake those for Inspiration Point because I’d see people turning around or begin looking for where to go next.  I actually got a bit lost as well because I became disoriented after enjoying the view for a while — but I eventually figured out a deceptive-looking path that was actually the continuation of the climb up.

As always, just when you think you're reaching your destination, there are more hills and switchbacks to climb as the trail winds around. As always, just when you think you’re reaching your destination, there are more hills and switchbacks to climb as the trail winds around. Getting to a nice clearing with a great view of Jenny Lake Getting to a nice clearing with a great view of Jenny Lake

The path up to Inspiration Point soon gave way to really beautiful views of Jenny Lake.  It is one thing to see the mountains from the lake but looking at the lake from this vantage point was breathtaking.  Particularly after some steep and slightly rocky terrain that the trail leads you through.

The trail continues further up with a steeper climb. The trail continues further up with a steeper climb. And rockier climb. This one part only looks more hazardous than it really is. And rockier climb. This one part only looks more hazardous than it really is.

Of course, views almost always lead to more views — and more hills or switchbacks to climb.  I have to admit that even the switchbacks and the trails themselves were beautiful.  Maybe it was the colour of the stones and rocks themselves but the way the trail had been built — it was practically a journey that one can continue to grow to appreciate.

There was never a lack or shortage of amazing views to take in.

Looking back down the trail. Looking back down the trail. Peering down the edge at some fellow hikers who may be a bit lost. Peering down the edge at some fellow hikers who may be a bit lost. Nearing Inspiration Point. Nearing Inspiration Point. Finally arriving at Inspiration Point.  I wonder how many people have been inspired at this precise point. Finally arriving at Inspiration Point.  I wonder how many people have been inspired at this precise point.

I noticed there were increasingly more people behind me from a distance so I quickened my pace up to Inspiration Point.  More notably, the sign indicating the point.  No one was around yet, so I just stood there enjoying the moment for a short while.  I don’t know if anyone had really been inspired at this point — and if poets, artists, inventors, scientists, or anyone else for that matter have had some spark or lightbulb light up in their minds when sitting here.  I did wonder though.

There may not have been a surge of creativity within me at that point, but I definitely experienced a moment where all my worries just faded away and I just took in the vastness of my surroundings.

A slight turn of the head results in a gorgeous view of area. A slight turn of the head results in a gorgeous view of area. The trail can lead into Cascade Canyon but sadly, I was short on time. The trail can lead into Cascade Canyon but sadly, I was short on time.

Perhaps if I had done my research before my trip, I would have made time to hike into Cascade Canyon — which the trail from Inspiration Point would have led into.  That being said, it simply didn’t happen because I was neither prepared nor ready and time was already a constraint.  I nonetheless was happy at that point.  Got to Inspiration Point to enjoy the view on a beautiful day and had the opportunity to bump into a family of moose on the trail.

I just wish I had packed a lunch!  Lunch with good views are always so much more satisfying, don’t you agree?

I wanted to sit here all day. After taking in such an amazing view, I made my way back. I wanted to sit here all day. After taking in such an amazing view, I made my way back.

Highlights from a westbound Journey to Wyoming

Some of my favourite moments involve watching other tourists in Yellowstone.  I’m blown away when I think of how many photographs we take when we travel — much of it as a result of the introduction of digital photography.  Maybe we spend so much time looking through the lens of the camera or making sure that we capture the moment on film; that we forget to really experience and cherish how we feel in that moment.

This … is a really late post and very much long overdue 🙂
A timely road trip is vital.  I probably booked my time off from work quite appropriately ahead of time — because this could not have come at a better time.  With numerous and significant sudden changes that I’ve been confronted with at work and some heavy coursework from my part-time studies, I was looking forward to some time to take a breather, step back, and let my thoughts drift to and fro concerning my current situation as I drove thousands of kilometres away from home.

I tend regard my travels in a rather philosophical manner and this two-week pause (in terms of short-term demands) gave me the opportunity I needed to evaluate the direction I was taking over the past year or so.  This road trip did not have any real destination other than checking out Yellowstone National Park and the Grand Teton National Park; so it resembled very much my state of mind over the past few months — I knew I needed to move in a specific direction but I just wasn’t sure where.  So during this two week road trip, I let myself drift across the mid-western United States.

The general route - over eight thousand kilometres travelled

Some of my favourite moments involve watching other tourists in Yellowstone.  I’m blown away when I think of how many photographs we take when we travel — much of it as a result of the introduction of digital photography.  Maybe we spend so much time looking through the lens of the camera or making sure that we capture the moment on film; that we forget to really experience and cherish how we feel in that moment.  As I travelled, I realized that I wanted to take fewer photographs and spend more time on thinking and observing.

Tourists checking out the geyser in Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone was packed with tourists wherever I went but fortunately tourists still like to sleep in so I managed to get some quiet time by waking up extra early and driving out to the different quadrants of the park.  The month of May was definitely colder than I had anticipated and to make things even worse, I forgot my sleeping pad at home and was sleeping with a sleeping bag that just didn’t cut it.  I meant to use it as a test but without the sleeping pad, I was having a hard time getting to sleep at night as it colder.  Nevertheless I stuck it out and gradually worked my way south.

Geyser in Yellowstone National ParkHiking in Yellowstone National Park

I had wanted to take on a hiking trail or two in Yellowstone but huge mounds of snow blocked my way.  If only I had brought snowshoes with me!

Waterfall and rainbow in Yellowstone National ParkGeyser in Yellowstone National Park

After a few nights of freezing my butt off, I decided to push south into the Grand Tetons.  I have to say that of all the areas in Wyoming, the Grand Tetons was definitely my favourite area.  I could just stand there staring into the mountains and horizon in breathtaking awe and serenity.

View of the Grand Tetons across the lakeStorm approaching over Grand TetonsDriving through the Grand Tetons National Park

There were occasions during my trip where I had the opportunity to see wildlife but never did I get stuck in a traffic jam with so many fellow hikers in the early morning on the way to Inspiration Point — thanks to a family of moose.  We just stood there quietly waiting for the moose to move along.  I think it delayed us for about half an hour (some folk were pretty impatient, but I quite enjoyed the chance to just sit and watch).

Moose in the Grand Tetonshiking to Inspiration Point Inspiration Point in the Grand Tetons

After spending some quality time in the Grand Tetons, I started making my way back east very gradually.  I was feeling a bit unsettled — not knowing where to go next — driving from one country road to the next.  Eventually, I ended up with the crazy romantic notion of driving all the way to Manitoulin Island.

This is how I ended up in a very peculiar main street part of town.  I was actually looking for the best milkshakes in the state but I found a deserted street instead.  Still pretty awesome.

a deserted main street

As I travelled north east, I decided to stop by and visit the Crazy Horse Memorial which is rather quite the sight and impressive vision once I learned more about the future of this land.  Supposedly this won’t just be a monument for all Native Amerindians, but also evolve into a campus and community.  I really admire the ambition and goal of where this project is aiming to strive towards, and definitely will be keeping an eye on it.

Crazy Horse National Monument

You can’t pass through South Dakota without taking a pause in the long drive and checking out the Badlands National Park.  It’s simply a lot of fun to walk through although I can see how easily someone could get lost just simply by wandering around.

South Dakota Badlands National Park

Now I had heard about an amazing pie place in Minnesota but never did I expect such a challenge to find it.  The Aroma Pie shop is nearly in the middle of nowhere (no offense to the townsfolk) — it is actually in a very nice community but there are so many twists and turns that one has to make to find this “little slice of pie heaven” that it makes you wonder how many people drive there?

Actually, from what I observed, no one seemed to drive to the Aroma Pie Shop but rather cycled there!  Many people simply purchased a slice with some ice cream and sat in the porch area watching the hummingbirds come by and drink from the nectar feeders.

Fantastic blueberry pie from the Aroma Pie Shoppe

And of course, no road trip into the mid-west is complete without driving through a crazy storm.  It was pretty unbelievable to see a cloud like this.  On my way back into Ontario, I had to stop or slow down many times on the road because the rain was just insane.

A crazy storm on the way back home

After getting through Chicago (note to self: I need to stop driving through Chicago, the traffic is insane), I decided to make a final stop in Detroit so I could visit the Motown Museum.  You can’t take any photographs of the interior but it was such a fun place to visit.  It is a guided tour and the tour guides are very talented singers themselves!  Expect to sing along and dance. 🙂

Motown Museum

There were a lot of unexpected surprises and no I didn’t end up making it to Manitoulin Island despite the crazy idea that popped up in my head.  At the very least it gave me a sense of direction and along the way, I met some very kind and interesting people.  This time off gave me the break I needed to put some thought into life and work in general, and one of the things I walked away from this trip was that I wanted to spend more time sketching.  Expect to see more sketches in the future.

I definitely want to visit the Grand Tetons again, and I’m thankful to have had the opportunity to also learn more about Minnesota and Wisconsin as I travelled through those states.  I now want to explore those two states more.  Whenever that will happen is to be determined but it’ll be added to the list!

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