by Gabrielle Antonette and Carrie Nusbaum
We've come to learn that sometimes texting each other about being bored at work leads to real plane tickets being purchased. At the end of spring we met up in Salt Lake City on a Saturday morning, and drove northeast to Jackson, Wyoming. That's a 4.5 hour drive, so pretty do-able on a long weekend, and the flight from LA to SLC was surprisingly cheap. We were thinking of doing some camping, but--classic LA babe mistake--it turns out that it's still basically winter (at least by our standards) so far north at that time of year, and our SoCal camping gear was just not going to cut it. Since it was the off-season, we ended up finding a good deal on a hotel room at the Snow King resort for the few days we were there. The extra indulgence was definitely worth it, and it was great to have a cozy place to rest after the long chilly days we spent hiking around (and there was a hot tub ++). Since it was a short trip, we spent one day in Yellowstone (post soon-to-come), and one in Grand Teton National Park. The parks are very close together but so different. Both seriously incredible.
According to the nice lady at the visitor center, most of the trails in Grand Teton were technically open, but some were still relatively inaccessible because of the remaining snow. The ferry across Jenny Lake wasn't operating because the lake hadn't thawed enough yet, so we decided to do a hike around it instead, to Hidden Falls, a little way into Cascade Canyon. It's something like 5-6 miles round trip, but it took us a while because we were hiking through huge snow banks the entire time. Several times the snow gave way, and we sank hip-deep into the snow. We had a couple of minor wipeouts, but it was mostly hilarious and not too perilous since the snow was there to pad any falls. The biggest risk was potentially slipping into the icy lake, but we played it safe and didn't have any trouble.
We stopped to chat with a group of park rangers who were doing some maintenance work a little ways into the hike. They all seemed to be young and cool and they pointed us in the right direction, which was helpful since it was kind of hard to find the trail under all the snow. When we were sitting at Hidden Falls, we watched a little fox sneak past us. AND THEN, on our way back, we were chatting and keeping a pretty good pace, anxious to finish up and get warm, and we stumbled upon two moose! A cow and calf. All parties were startled at first, but once we backed away to a safe observing distance it was amazing to see. It was a close call for a second--moose, especially protective mothers--are huge and the most potentially dangerous. Luckily we had googled "how to avoid a moose attack" before we set out. We definitely suggest you do the same if you're heading to moose territory.
We tend to come away from each trip feeling like it was the most special, but this one is really up there. The mountains are almost unbelievably picturesque, and so different from the mountain ranges that we're used to in California, it would be easy to just sit and look all day.
We had a little bit of time to explore the town of Jackson while we were there, too. It seems like it serves primarily as a tourist hub, but we chatted with a local woman in the aforementioned hot tub, and she said that there's a sizable permanent population, and a high percentage of residents are highly educated. Good to know. We enjoyed the following food-places while we were there:
-The Bunnery: We got pastries and coffee to-go one morning, which was a convenient pre-hike stop.
-Pizza Caldera: We had the Quattro Stagione pizza and a salad, and both were great. They also have a nice little outdoor balcony area, if it's warm enough to sit outside.
-The Kitchen: We splurged a little and tried their barrel-aged cocktails (they had several to choose from which was cool), and the ones we tried were both excellent. Arriving almost-embarrassingly early is recommended since it seemed to get pretty busy.
-Snake River Grill: We just got a couple of appetizers here since it's a little fancy, but everything was delicious and the bar staff was very charming.