|Grandest view in the world.|
SUP - String Lake and Leigh Lake, Saturday June 19, 2021
Given the chop on Jackson Lake yesterday, Kara wasn’t excited about paddling four miles, with a portage between the lakes. So I went early while Kara slept in. It was still early enough that there was ample parking at String Lake (an hour later and the parking would be impossible) and the water was glass, no wind, no chop. I paddled a mile to the north end of String Lake then did the portage over to Leigh Lake. The portage was much easier than I was told, only 300 yards through the forest on a wide, flat trail to Leigh Lake, and it was well worth it. Leigh Lake is big and there were only two other paddlers in sight. Leigh Lake can only be accessed by human power, so the effort to get there weeds out the 'riff-raff.’ The crowds stay on String Lake, most are unwilling to portage over to Leigh. The water on Leigh was smooth and calm, not even a hint of a breeze, and I paddled about a mile and half over to the point where Mt. Moran comes into full view. Far across I could see the scree slope that runs into the lake and where the CMC climbing route starts up Mt. Moran (CMC is the name of route, named for the first group to climb the route, the Colorado Mountain Club).
I climbed Mt. Moran about then years ago and it was a fantastic day of climbing. Although, the approach we chose was horrendous . . . and stupid. We didn’t rent a canoe to paddle to the base, instead we bush-whacked around the east and north sides of Leigh Lake. By the time we reached the trail at the base of Moran we were scratched, bloody, and already exhausted before even starting the 3,000 foot vertical climb up to the CMC camp. Paddling today reinforced how stupid it was to bush-whack around the lake. We camped at the CMC camp then, next morning, went up Drizzlepuss (rock tower mid-way up the CMC) then climbed the CMC just left (south) of the black dike that runs vertically up the face of Mt. Moran. While climbing the face of Moran, which is much like the West Slabs on SLC’s Mt. Olympus, only steeper and better rock, you are directly above the Falling Ice Glacier. While climbing we could hear it popping and groaning. I loved hearing that glacier, so unreal com ing from the hot, glacier free Wasatch Mountains.
I aimed to paddle to the base of the CMC, but I still had over half the lake to paddle, and I kept thinking "Kara would love this,” so I turned around to go persuade to come paddle. When I reached the truck and loading my SUP, there was a battle for my parking space, there was a long line-up of cars waiting for parking. Grand Teton National Park is really crowded along the roads and trailheads, but if one is willing to hike or paddle just a short distance, the crowds disappear. I drove back to Colter Bay to get Kara. I told her how much better is was than yesterday at Jackson Lake and she was game. When got back to String Lake (about noon) the parking lot was packed and we got in the queue. We were willing to wait, but if nothing opened in 20 minutes we were ditching the SUPs and going cycling. We only sat there about ten minutes until someone left, luckily we were in place to snatch it. Once on the water Kara loved it!Smooth glassy water, so nice given the windy chop we had on Jackson Lake. Although, while in the middle of Leigh Lake there was a weird micro-burst of wind, presumably from a thunderhead off to the west, and it almost blew us off our boards. For a few minutes there were big waves and a hurricane wind, then, as quickly as it came the wind and waves disappeared. Leigh was again dead flat and glassy. We rarely wear our life-jackets, we strap them to the boards for emergency use only, but this micro-burst was an eye-opener. If we had been blown off the boards it would have been impossibly to get the life jackets on given the panic of dropping into an icy lake. We agreed, next time we’re on open water we will wear the life-jackets.
|String Lake side of the portage, view south.|
|A mile across the south arm of Leigh Lake and around the point into the main body, with Mt. Moran straight ahead. The scree slope at the base of the CMC climbing route is the faint white diagonal line at waters edge in the middle of the photo.|
|Mt. Moran overhead.|
|Heading back around the point from the main body of Leigh Lake to the South Arm.|
|The only way to improve upon the Tetons.|
|South end of String Lake with the Grand Teton peaking out. the high peaks left to right: Teewinot, Grand Teton, Mt. Owen (barely seen), Storm Point, Mt. St. John and Rockchuck Peak.|
|Mt. St. John (l) and Rockchuck Peak (r).|
Random shots (too many) from GTNP
|Grand Teton above Jackson Lake.|
|Mt. Moran above Leigh Lake.|
|The CMC route is to the left of the Black Dike (the high point in photo). The CMC camp is located in the highest stand of evergreens in the middle of the photo|
|Mount St. John (l) and Rockchuck Peak (r).|
|Teewinot (l), Grand Teton (middle), Mt. Owen (r).|