We’re Going to Jackson – Jenny Lake to Jackson to Jenny Lake

Camping at Jenny Lake in the shadow of the Tetons

It’s the morning after the night before and Jenny Lake has changed completely, dark clouds prowl the skies and by 8.30am we are all taking cover in our tents as a thunderstorm strikes. And bear (no pun intended) in mind these tents are designed to be carried on packs and bikes – ie they are small, very small. I can only sit vaguely upright in one position as I hope the design withstands heavy rain.


The weather never stays the same for long in the Grand Tetons

Meanwhile I hope I can survive a couple more hours without breakfast – all the food is in the bear lockers and none is permitted under canvas – unless of course you fancy sharing your tent with a hungry bear. Fortunately one thing we’ve learnt about the weather out here – and particularly in the mountains – is that it changes very quickly and pretty soon the storm passes. But with more rain predicted we decide to abandon plans to go hiking and instead opt to catch a bus into Jackson, which runs from behind the Jenny Lake visitor centre.


Joanna, who we met yesterday, riding from Astoria, Oregon to Washington, inspired by Martin Luther King’s ‘I have a dream’ speech. She is the first Australian rider we have met on the trail.

Yes, we are not entirely in the wilds, although surrounded by the splendours of nature there is a collection of tastefully built log cabins, including a General Store where, among other things, hot coffee is available. Sadly though it seems the American bus service works on similar lines to our own – ie no bus arrives, so with brighter skies emerging we go for a much more reliable form of transport – our bikes  – for the twenty mile ride into town. But this is no hardship since there is an excellent bike path all the way, with breath-taking scenery on either side.


Riding Mike’s recumbent was a great experience, but took some getting used to

Not that I paid it too much attention, as I rode Mike’s recumbent for the journey there. It took a bit of getting used to, particularly starting off and learning to use the very light steering, but what a machine – and so fast! Up until now I’ve failed to see the appeal, but now I get it totally. We time our arrival in Jackson perfectly, a fresh thunderstorm broke over the mountains and we pedalled fast to avoid the rain and just by chance arrive at the Snake River Brewing Company, where we enjoy an excellent afternoon eating (you can’t imagine what a joy it is to see spaghetti bolognese on the menu after so much fried food) drinking craft beers and blogging as torrential rain pours down outside.


The Snake River Brewing Company was a great place to wait out the rain

Jackson is an attractive mountain town, popular with skiing types and packed with boutique shops. It even has it’s own small airport where planes bring in the well-heeled for a spot of mountain life. But before long we are looking forward to getting back to the simple life at Jenny Lake, so we leave the high- life, take the plastic bags off our saddles and ride back to camp, watching birds nesting in boxes along the road and grazing Elk, our eyes ever drawn to our left and the magnificent Teton mountains which continue to impress.


The Grand Tetons are ever changing – one minute enveloped in cloud, the next in bright sunshine

Back at camp, a fire, Ramon noodles and a chat around the fire with other hikers and bikers are all we need for a good night. Suzy, the camp warden, told us of recent problems they’ve had with bears in the camp (one visited our site for the second day running while we were in Jackson). Problem bears are initially tagged and relocated, but regular offenders who continue to come into camp have to be shot (14 in the Yellowstone/Teton area last year) hence the importance of not encouraging them by leaving food around.

Eric, a laid back Californian, helped chase away this afternoons visitor, but any worries we have of a repeat performance are somewhat eased by the presence of April who is camping with her companion – a Pyrenees mountain dog. One bear paw on this patch and the barking will begin.


Today’s miles: 44 (all off route) Total mileage since First Landing: 3000

Written by Paul

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