8. Inspiration: This Way

Our second hike of the day began at Jenny Lake.

Jenny Lake, with its glass-like surface, went on for what seemed like miles. The ominous misty grey mountains towered around it creating a host of wonderful reflections and mysterious shadows.

As we drove to the trailhead we stopped to observe a pack of mule deer elk roaming about in the fields below the mountains.

Our new trail led us around the lake at ground level for quite some time. The path and the surrounding scenery was beautiful and our enjoyment of the quiet walk escalated when we came over a small hill to discover a giant moose and it’s calf standing about 10 yards off of the trail.

I had heard some pretty scary things about moose attacks so I was a little nervous that it might perceive us as a threat—especially because it was with it’s calf. But it just took a bite of greenery and calmly watched us as we passed by.

The path finally turned away from the lake and into the mountains where it began to climb. The early warmth of spring was beginning to melt the snow across the vast mountain side. Every bit of moisture and melt gathered into a series of raging rivers that I was so fascinated with. The increasing audible roar would announce that another river crossing was just ahead. The power of the moving water humbled me.

There was a point where the path came out into a clearing where I could see high up into the snow covered mountains above. I remember feeling so small and insignificant as I looked up at this immense world around me. I was filled with this strange feeling of isolation. The ecosystem around me was doing exactly what it has been doing forever. Freezing, thawing, growing, dying, and birthing new life. I was the foreigner in this landscape. I was the one who didn’t belong—a human anomaly walking along a man-made path through something beautifully sacred and ancient. I almost felt disrespectful tromping along for the mere sake of adventure. This landscape could destroy me in minutes with it’s mighty rivers and ice—but somehow here I was. A young kid from Ohio lost in the magnificent mountains. Far from home.

Feelings of gratitude and awe overwhelmed me.

We followed the signs for Hidden Falls which was every bit as magical as the name made it sound. It was tucked away in an alcove and textured with conifer trees—like someone’s perfectly planned painting of an imagined forest. An incredible volume of water poured over the tiered rocky boulders, roaring with a fierce intensity that seemed like it should cease any minute—but it just went on continuously.

It was a strange tension to experience. Everything around us was so still and calm—yet thousands of droplets of water from melting snow and ice were making their way to these central points where, together, they created a tremendous display of power and force.

We stood humbled and amazed.

After enjoying the falls we continued on following signs for Inspiration Point (how could you not follow a path with that name, right?)

The trail quickly changed from a relatively easy footpath to a suddenly treacherous rocky one. It led us up a steep rocky slope—sometimes only 3-4 feet wide with a rocky drop off on one side and a rocky cliffs towering on the other. The change in geography and terrain was exciting.

At 7,2oo feet we finally reached Inspiration Point. It over-looked the lake and we could see for miles upon miles into the hazy horizon. We were all certainly inspired. It wasn’t the most sunny or clear day, but we were so satisfied with our journey and arrival that nothing could disappoint us. As we sat soaking in the view, we saw a few marmots scurrying around. We looked down from Inspiration Point and saw a bald eagle soaring just below us, then later above us. It flew beautifully, powerfully, and gracefully—this was its land.

On the return trip back to Jenny Lake we saw yet another moose. This time it was standing right in the middle of our trail.

“Do we go around it? Wait till it moves?”

Eventually it slowly sauntered off the trail, as if saying, “Alright guys, I guess you can pass now.”

We cautiously walked past the moose which was just a few arm’s lengths away from us. I looked up to see that another moose stood further off the trail watching us. They seemed to care less that we were passing through—like old men sitting on the front porch watching the world go by. I felt like they would give us a nod of the head and say, “Good-day” if they could.

I felt so thankful and awestruck that we got to see bears, moose, mule deer, marmots, and eagles in a single day!

We headed back to our campsite to enjoy a dinner of spaghetti and baked beans. We sat around an evening campfire drying out our socks and shoes, roasting marshmallows and recapping the day. You could have put us in slow motion with some happy reflective music playing in the background as we laughed together, the fire flickering on our faces—that was the mood of the evening. We were so happy and so present.

Everything seemed perfect. But it wouldn’t last forever.

Next – Ice, Rain, Geysers, Steam and Hot Springs

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