Miles Driven Today: 150 Total Miles Driven: 3783
The alarm went off at 515 and of course it was pitch dark outside, but we could see hard frost on the ground so we knew it was cold. It was. -4C. We dragged ourselves out of the nice warm bed and went down for breakfast as soon as it opened. There were other wildlife viewers up at the same hour.
The dawn was just showing pink as we drove away, heading for the Gros Ventre Road. The ground was hard frozen and there was some fresh snow up on the tops of the Tetons and the high peaks to the east. The river was steaming – mist rising – quite a mysterious sight. As we came alongside the river, heading north, before the campground, we saw a couple of people with cameras on the side of the road. They waved at us and Bob said “Oh look! What’s that?” It was a giant male moose down on the river bank, drinking, and munching on some greenery. He was a little ways off but just near enough for my lens at full extension. His antlers were magnificent. I was so pleased to see a male moose at last, having seen only female ones in Glacier National Park.
We stayed watching him until he headed off into the bushes, just as some other watchers rolled up. Fantastic.
We headed north on Gros Ventre road and went into the camp site and crawled through there at about 10mph looking for wild life. No one was stirring although there were a lot of rvs in there. And some tents!!!!! Poor devils. I don’t mean big tents, I mean those little bivouac, festival sized tents that you crawl into. Yikes! OK, it would be warm enough if you had a decent sleeping bag but even so…… -4C is too cold for tent camping. Well, in my softee opinion obviously! Anyway, we didn’t see any wild life either, so on we went and turned onto Gros Ventre River Road.
This was much more fruitful and we quickly encountered two mule deer beside the road. Their ears are just enormous and they raised them up and stared us out. We edged closer in the car until we were right up next to them and they just stared and stared. No fear. I guess they knew they could leap and be off before we could get close.
We went past lower Slide Lake and then went on to Upper Slide Lake. Here we encountered a lone Bighorn Sheep. Much like the mule deer, he was completely unafraid and unimpressed by our interest. I thought he was a more attractive specimen than the ones I saw a couple of days ago. Nicer eyes!!!! LOLOL.
The Slide Lakes are interesting and have a violent history, belied by their current peaceful and idyllic appearance. They were created by a major landslide in 1925, one of the largest ever. The landslide occurred on June 23, 1925, following melt from a heavy snowpack, several weeks of heavy rain, and earthquake tremors in the area. Approximately 50,000,000 cubic yards of primarily sedimentary rock slid down the north face of Sheep Mountain, crossed over the Gros Ventre River and rode up the opposite mountainside a distance of 300 feet (91 m). The landslide created a large dam over 200 feet (61 m) high and 400 yards (370 m) wide across the Gros Ventre River, backing up the water and forming Lower Slide Lake. On May 18, 1927, part of the landslide dam failed, resulting in a massive flood that was six feet (1.8 m) deep for at least 25 miles (40 km) downstream. The small town of Kelly, six miles (9.7 km) downstream, was wiped out, killing six people. It is one of the world’s largest known examples of recent mass wasting events aside from volcanic eruptions. Slide Lake is now much smaller than before the flood. A really good account of both the landslide and the flood is here link
We turned back at the upper lake and returned to Gros Ventre Road and followed it north, past Mormon Row, and then re-joined the main 191 road north. We stopped at the historic Cunningham Cabin, the oldest surviving building in GTNP and walked down to that. The cabin was built as a homestead in the late 1880s, then turned into a barn when a new ranch house was built. It was really low ceilinged in there. I couldn’t imagine living in the cabin, although the surroundings and views were magnificent. By now the sun was melting the hard frost. It was beautiful to see the sage brush bushes twinkling like diamonds in the sun. The Tetons were lit pinkish/red. A beautiful day was in prospect with temperatures rising up to 20C.
We drove north and turned east out of the park for a little way and stopped at a small café in the Buffalo Valley near Moran. It was rustic to say the least but Bob needed a second breakfast and he had biscuits and gravy which made him feel better.
Back to the park and down the inner loop road, past Signal Mountain and back to Jackson. A really nice day. We had a rest, made some calls and dined in. Bob went out to the nearby liquor store to get a bottle of tequila (we already had limes and mix). We should have known better!! The cheapest bottle of tequila was $65 (small bottle) and they had bottles of whisky from $200 -$850. Only in Jackson Hole, I guess!!!! We passed on the opportunity and washed our dinner down with the last of some red wine.
Tomorrow we leave the Grand Tetons and head to Thermopolis on our journey towards Colorado and the Rocky Mountain National Park. Grand Teton has been fabulous. We think it’s the most spectacular park so far in many ways. The view of those fabulous mountains is unsurpassed.