Thursday, October 19, 2006
Bad weather was called for today, so we decided to explore the Gros Ventre area by car. Behind the parking lot is the massive ski run of Jackson Hole Resort, rising like an intimidating wall for all of the skiers to see as the first drive into the resort. Access to the top of the mountain and this run used to be by a large cable tram, but it was just decommisioned last week. A new replacement will be complete in 2008. The tram is also used by hikers to access great trails at the top of Rendezvous Mountain and the Grand Teton National Park. Jackson Hole means different things to different people. To some it is the Jackson Hole Ski Resort where we are staying. It is located 1 mile from Grand Teton National Park and about 12 miles from the town of Jackson. Some people think the ski resort and the town are one in the same, but they are not. The town, which is a touristy western town filled with motels, chain stores and fast food joints, has it's own small ski resort called Snow King. Jackson Hole is actually an entire area, the valley below the Tetons.
It was recommended that we drive through the Gros Ventre area of the National Park and the National Forrest to see wildlife. We also did two small hikes.
Shortly after driving off the main road to the Gros Ventre area we saw a big herd of wild buffalo. They are enormous and were only a few feet from the car. They have a prehistoric look to them. As a kid I remember that they were almost extinct. It was amazing to see the large herd with 100's of animals is flurishing.
Our first short hike was at a turn off after climbing up the road on switchbacks. At first we saw a canyon and a view of mountains. I followed a trail and saw a magnificant view of the Grand Teton Mountain range across a valley. They view was even more magnificent than the view from Inspiration Point.
We continued driving and came to the slide area. In 1925 there was one of the most massive landslides known to man. The rocks came crashing down from 9000' landing on the Gros Ventre River and creating a new lake. We hiked on a trail that went through the area were the rocks landed and remain.
We kept driving through the area. the road turned to a rough dirt road. We continued on the road for quite awhile going past all kinds of terrain, camp grounds, mountains and ranches.