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Old 10-08-2013, 02:03 PM   #1
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Wild West Roundup -- Grand Teton Report

The Oxbow Bend of the Snake River provides a spectacular stage for the Teton Range.

You have to wonder whether these bison appreciate the spectacular setting in which they graze.

The Moulton Barn (one of two along Mormon Row) is one of the iconic sites in Grand Teton National Park.

Everyone seemed to enjoy the poolside welcome bar-b-q at Jackson Lodge in Grand Teton National Park.

The Tetons are spectacular in any season and any weather. Towering mightily above the Jackson Hole Valley, with Grand Teton soaring nearly 14,000 feet above sea level; cloaked in evergreens and aspens; surrounded by glistening lakes; and populated by incredible wildlife, these granite behemoths give special meaning to “Purple Mountains’ Majesty.”

It was this breathtaking setting that greeted FROGs on the second stop on the Wild West Roundup Tour.

Having concluded a great time in Colorado Springs, about half of the group headed north and west to gather in Grand Teton National Park and meet additional members at the campground. Our official arrival date was Sunday, August 18, although several of the group, including Cindy and me, chose to get settled in a day or two earlier. Sunday was a great get-acquainted day, with introductions, registration, and an opportunity to make new friends and greet established ones.

One of our couples turned out to be perhaps the ultimate snowbirds. With their two Rockwood travel trailers, they are able to spend summer and fall exploring the United States and Canada from their home base in Montana, and then return home to their native New Zealand to spend the rest of the year enjoying summer in the Southern Hemisphere.

Early that evening we gathered at Jackson Lake Lodge. Under a canopy of towering Ponderosa pines on a patio near the pool, we enjoyed a welcome bar-b-q featuring grilled chicken breast, brisket, pork, hamburgers, and hot dogs. Sides of fresh fruit, salads, corn on the cob, fresh fruit, brownies, and cobbler completed the repast. The stage had been set for a great adventure over the next several days and evenings.

Monday was a day for exploring on our own, and Jackson Hole has no shortage of great opportunities. Teeming with wildlife and natural beauty, the region offers adventure around every curve. With bison, moose, grizzly and black bears, elk, mule deer, pronghorns, and more, one is in a veritable animal kingdom. Add in sparkling Alpine lakes, the meandering Snake River, the broad meadows, and towering peaks, and there is magic everywhere. At gatherings that evening, members recounted tales of wildlife encounters, hiking adventures, and much more.

Colter Bay Campground, our base of operations in Grand Teton National Park, lies on the banks of Jackson Lake. Unfortunately, threatened by agricultural drought and forest fires, the State of Idaho had elected to divert some of the water from Jackson Lake into Idaho via the Snake River. The resulting 30-foot drop in the lake level left our plans for a morning cruise to an island for breakfast high and dry.

Fortunately, we had been forewarned by the Teton Lodge staff, and were able to change our itinerary for Tuesday before we left Indiana. Once again we gathered at Jackson Lake Lodge, where we enjoyed a sumptuous buffet breakfast in the Mural Room. Floor-to-ceiling windows provided an incredible panorama of Mount Moran, the St. John Group, and the Cathedral Group of the Teton Range, with their towering granite spires rising above a blanket of fog that the sun struggled to burn off.

From the Lodge, we carpooled to Jenny Lake to embark on a cruise and learn about the history, geology, and other information about the area. Jenny Lake is a natural glacial lake, one of many in the area that form where canyons through the Tetons allow weather and snow melt to pool. Encompassing a surface of about 1,200 acres, or nearly square miles, and reaching depths of over 400 feet, it is a jewel in the valley. Under beautiful blue skies and fluffy white clouds, it provided a superb setting for the imposing granite peaks towering above us.

Following our cruise, many of us split into small groups to continue our explorations from the prior day. Cindy and I took Louis and Joan Mickler to the top of Signal Mountain to survey Jackson Hole, the twisting path of the Snake River, the neighboring lakes, and the Teton Range stretching southward toward the Town of Jackson. Later in the day we decided to stop by the Moulton Barns along Mormon Row to snap photos of some of the park’s most iconic locations. Along the way we were halted by a herd of bison who took the opportunity to cross the major federal highway through the park.

Later yet, while we were attempting to get unobstructed photos of a bull moose in undergrowth across the Snake River, we met a woman who suggested that we stop by the nearby Gros Ventre Campground to see the moose there. We stopped at the campground, and were greeted by two huge bull moose lying contentedly in one of the campsites, seemingly oblivious to everyone maneuvering to get the best photo angles.

That evening we gathered on the shore of Jackson Lake for a pot luck dessert. Over decadent masterpieces prepared by many of the FROGs, we again swapped stories of wildlife and other adventures. The Micklers told their tale of standing at an overlook above the Snake River when a black bear climbed over the stone wall near them and wandered away. The Ebenrecks told of having a grizzly sow and her three cubs crossing the road in front of them. The Byrnes told about seeing the bull moose in the campground and about Cindy’s two encounters with a fox while walking the dog. The Frensleys told of Rona getting an item off of her wish list by finally seeing not just one but five moose during that day’s explorations. It was a most pleasant way to top off an evening that had earlier seen some rain that threatened to wash out the event.

On Wednesday evening we were in for a special activity. Late in the afternoon we were picked up by bus at the campground to travel to Jackson. We arrived at the Bar-T-5 Ranch in time for a little bit of shopping and a welcome and introduction by Chris, the owner and wagon master of the Bar-T-5. Following Chris’s talk about the history of the ranch and the area, we moved to the corral, where we boarded covered wagons to begin a journey through nearby meadows and up a canyon.

Surviving an Indian attack and an encounter with a crazed trapper, we arrived at our destination, where we enjoyed a chuck grilled chicken and brisket, cowboy beans, corn on the cob, cole slaw, rolls, drinks and dessert. Following dinner, we were treated to a performance of western standards by the Bar-T-5 Cowboy Band before re-boarding the covered wagons for our journey back to the corral and our fog-shrouded return to Colter Bay.

Thursday dawned bright and sunny, but with parts of the mountains again obscured by a shroud of fog, while their peaks thrush upward and into the sunlight. Everyone started packing up their RVs and their memories of a terrific time. Amid hugs and farewells and plans for future outings, about half of the group prepared to head northward to Yellowstone, while others scattered out to begin the trek to their own next destination. Wherever their next journey may be, we wish them, and you, safe travels and great adventures.


Bob Byrne
Director, Forest River Owners' Group (FROG)
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Old 10-08-2013, 05:52 PM   #2
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Great report and photos Bob. I also enjoyed the additional photos you posted on your Facebook page. Thanks for sharing them.


Bob and Joyce
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Old 10-12-2013, 02:42 PM   #3
Join Date: Sep 2012
Location: Nashville, TN
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Bob, when do we get the attendee lists for tht Tetons and Yellowstone?

Ron Prater
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Old 10-12-2013, 09:46 PM   #4
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Ron, I'll get it out this week. I've been catching up on trip reports, International Rally items and report, upcoming Charleston trip, and plans for next year and just let it slip.

Bob Byrne
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