Tetons Part 2: More (Extreme) Paddling, Cooling Off, and One more Bear

It takes a lot to describe all of our adventures but here is the “last” update on our bear filled trip.

We actually slept in (until 8:30) and had a relaxing start to our next day in the Tetons. We loaded up the canoe and headed down to String Lake. It was already getting busy but we found parking and launched with out any delays. We enjoyed an easy paddle north through String Lake until we hit the portage up to Leigh Lake. It is a short portage with a nice trail and re-launch site but the canoe sure felt heavy! It was beautiful and fairly calm so we paddled up the western shore and crossed Leigh Bay. It got a little choppy out in the middle but the boys hunkered down in the middle of the boat and we made it to the north shore. It was time for an early lunch before hitting the trail for Bear Paw Lake and Trapper Lake. We loved that the canoe trip helped us get back so far without tiring out the boys legs. It was nice exploring around Bear Paw Lake. Of course about the time we were ready to head back an afternoon weather system moved in and the wind really kicked up. Dave and I had our work cut out for us to make the paddle back down Leigh Lake. We hugged the eastern shore but had to zigzag to not go broadside to the white-capping waves. We managed to power through with the boys providing nice ballast in bottom of the canoe. Dave got the brunt of the waves in the front while I did my best to keep us on course. By the time we made it the portage back down to String Lake we were all ready to take a break from the intensity. Luckily, the sun had come back out so we enjoyed a nice dip or two from some partially and fully submerged rocks.

After a little driving around we picked up a quart of icecream from the general store and demolished the delish, cool treat and some quiet time. The evening included a relaxing drive along the Snake River complete with building mud pies and looking for fishing holes and other river activities. Would be a fun family float trip. Maybe next time, there is just too much fun to be had.

For our last full day we decided we had so much fun on Jackson Lake that we should spend some more time paddling there. So we launched from the marina and paddled out towards Half Moon Bay. Our focus for the morning was on checking out Heron Pond and Swan Lake. Heron Pond is a bird sanctuary and we were treated to lots of sitings. After we found a spot to beach we continued to explore on foot. The trumpeter swans were out as well as geese, ducks, eagles and herons. We even saw a juvenile bald eagle multiple times. Another family informed us that we had just missed a bear swimming across Heron Pond which was a disappointment but we continued our adventures. We took to the waters again and continued to explore Jackson Lake. There are a couple of boat to campsites that look like they would be great options for a future trip. Another hot day led to a lunch/swim stop. The water was clear and the views amazing.

On our paddle back towards Colter Bay Dave kept his eyes sharp and spotted a bear across Half Moon Bay. We thought for sure that it would be gone or that a bunch of the boats buzzing and paddling around would crowd up around it as we paddled across. Instead, the bear came down to the water and nobody else seemed to notice. We kept our wits about us, managed to avoid the other boat traffic and got some great views! The bear grazed, dug and lay in the open above the shore and came down to the water again when we were closer. He then wandered the shoreline as we drifted along watching. He headed back into the trees and we thought we had lost him as we came around a corner. There was another family out on SUPS and a kayak on the shore so we warned them about the bear. They paddled around with us for a bit hoping to get another siting with no luck. They headed back towards Colter Bay while we took one more pass since Dave was sure the bear would come back to the water on such a hot day. Sure enough! we rounded that same bend on the shoreline and there he was swimming! He looked like he might swim across to the island but instead just lazily paddled a circle and headed back onto shore. Check out the video! We couldn’t believe our eyes and the boys loved it when he walked a log and shook off the water just like a dog.

That evening we were all pretty tired so we got pizza and relaxed down by Jackson Lake. So nice to just walk down from our campsite. It was beautiful and Dave and the boys couldn’t resist another dip in the lake. It got a little cold for Joshua but he loves it so much he just shivers and goes again. I love water too but opted for sitting quietly by myself and taking it all in.

We were sad to have to leave and ended up taking our time packing up. After breaking camp we walked down to the lake for one last dip. Then we headed over to the Visitor’s Center to read up on some of the birds we had seen and get the Junior Ranger booklets. We ended up chatting with a Ranger for quite a while. She went through the booklets with the boys and shared some stories about the bears we had seen. But we finally had to say goodbye and start our journey back to Denver.

A trip we will never forget! Amazing memories in the midst of a crazy world.

One thought on “Tetons Part 2: More (Extreme) Paddling, Cooling Off, and One more Bear

  • August 7, 2020 at 9:07 am

    Bear pics were stunning and rare!!! Scenery was absolutely beautiful! ESP liked the bald eagle pics. Water looked cold. So looking forward to seeing all of you in person, but hope we don’t come upon surprise bears! Love, Mom

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