A more serious hike was our second day endeavor. We picked Cascade Canyon trail, which is a 13.6-mile long hike that starts at South Jenny Lake Junction. There you have an option either to take a trail around Jenny Lake, or a boat across it, effectively cutting ~2.4 miles; in both cases you end up on the mountain side of the lake. The trail climbs up through pristine conifer forest past the Hidden Falls (a beautiful waterfall dropping roughly 100ft in a series of steps) and to the Inspiration point, where you can see panoramic views of Jenny lake and Gros Ventre mountains towards the east.
After Inspiration Point you descend into Cascade Canyon itself, and the trail runs along Cascade creek all the way until it splits at the fork. Google Maps doesn’t know this part of the trail but MapsWithMe does (highly recommended!).
We hiked along the river all the way till the fork, risking coming back in darkness (because I can never quit a challenge once I start it). In the end we saw snow and Cascade creek bluffs.
Note for self: It would be amazing to come back and do a multi-day backpacking hike into the backcountry wilderness – through Hurricane Pass to Alaska Basin and come back through Death Canyon and Phelps lake. Officially all backcountry hiking was banned due to COVID.
On our way back we landed for a quick snack on a spot where Cascade Canyon creek crosses the trail. We put down our things and set up improv table on the rock, rolling together some tuna burritos. I sat down with my back to the creek, and Jackson was facing me. 5 minutes later delicious burritos with corn tortillas, black beans, canned tuna, grape tomatoes and bell peppers were ready for us to enjoy. So I grab mine and Jackson grabs his and here we are sitting and chatting… And suddenly I hear a person coming down the trail.. It was quiet so far but we saw a good number of hikers, except this time someone was headed the direction into the mountains, and it was getting late! What’s going on? 3 seconds later I have an answer – it’s not a person headed our direction, it’s a black bear!! My eyes triple in size, I jump up, Jackson follows, and we start backing away from the bear and into the creek.. tuna burritos in our hands! Luckily, the bear wasn’t very hungry / interested and after stopping only for what felt like eternity (~5-10 seconds), he turned his head away and continued down manmade path.
That’s how we and our tuna burritos stayed well. Despite being millennials, we didn’t take any photos of that bear because of the gut feeling that was yelling “CONFUSION!”, “EXCITEMENT!”, “FREEZE!”, “RUN!”. However, we were visited by a scavenging porcupine shortly after, and here are is picture of him along with the place where it all went down and some other wildlife we’ve seen during fantastic Cascade Canyon hike.
The Tetons were phenomenal but it was time to head south; the next stop on the way was the town of Jackson Hole. Here Jackson got me a sunhat, we enjoyed some amazing ice cream at Moo’s Gourmet Ice Cream and hung at the Town Square. The place was full of tourists and looked very glamorous for a cowboy town.
Jackson Hole visitors did not appear to take COVID very seriously. The streets were crowded, all restaurants & bars open, cautionary measures present but sparse. We had to wear a mask when entering a store, but all other stuff was pretty open.
According to a personal observation the town was full of fine art, wildlife & nature photography galleries each representing an individual artist-owner. The work was beautiful and people very friendly, but the photographers for some reason were always white men in their 60s.
NEXT: FLAMING GORGE, RED CANYON & SALT LAKE CITY