Today was a day for hiking.
We were up and out by 7:30 AM to be sure we got a parking spot at the trail head. (They’re doing construction on the Jenny Lake Visitor Center, and had been advising of limited parking availability. Better safe than sorry!) Anyways, the morning light was nearly perfect so we made a pit stop at Mormon Row to snap some pictures of the range.
We got to the trail head without issue, changed, made and ate breakfast, made lunch, and packed up everything – including our trusty chairs – into our packs. By about 9:30 AM, we were ready to hit the trail. Our plan was to hike up to Lake Solitude, which was reportedly about a 20-mile round-trip hike — though, the hike could be cut to “only” 15 miles if you take the boat across Jenny Lake. Seeing that a 10-hour hike would be too close to sunset, we hopped on the boat and started our trek.
The first part of the hike is about a 1,000-ft climb up into Cascade Canyon. So, despite the cold weather during our breakfast and packing, the layers were immediately too much. After shedding the long sleeves, the hike leveled out and meandered along, occasionally opening up to reveal some stunning views.
With all the miles came some hungry hikers. We made plenty of stops for munches, including visiting a rock we enjoyed a snooze on back during our first visit in 2014 (read about that baby hike here). One particular snack stop, though, provided amazing views of the “Grand Teton” and the surrounding canyon we found ourselves in. It was just incredible.
During this stop, Patrick decided to lay down and catch a few winks.
The scenery was ever changing, as we went from woods, to alpine meadows, to rock falls and water falls.
One note about the whole hike, is the ever-present danger of bears. Near the beginning of the hike, one fellow traveler (heading the other direction) mentioned she just saw a black bear and its cub “a few hundred yards ahead, but they seemed nice.” This was awesome, and terrifying. We had recently bought bear spray for just such an occasion, but weren’t exactly sure how to use it. No fear, said Patrick, as he took the canister and practice his defensive positioning.
After about 7.5 miles of hiking, and nearly 2,500 feet of elevation gain, we had made it to Lake Solitude.
Residing at over 9,000 feet, there was still plenty of snow up around and in the lake. In fact, the lake was mostly frozen still!
We saw some crazy person get in and swim all the way to that island, so we thought “Why not?” HA! We could barely tolerate 10 seconds of just our feet in the water. Despite the smiles, it was cold.
Before we turned around, we took advantage of our new water filter and refilled our packs from the glacial run-off.
On our way back, we remarked how little wildlife we had seen. Then, nearly immediately, a few creatures popped out and scurried across the trail.
As miles continued to pile up, so did the pictures.
Before we finished, one more snack stop was in order – so we picked a little overlook and setup shop before the final stretch.
Finally, after 15 miles (and 10 hours) of hiking, plus 5 miles of boat riding, we were back! Go check out the hike’s details here.
Back at camp, we enjoyed a couple warmup hot dogs before making the main course of spinach tortellini. Ally continued with the ukulele practice (20 minutes a day!) and even serenaded with a 5-star rendition of “Mary Had a Little Lamb.” We were in bed before 10 PM.
-Ally and Patrick