Grand Tetons National Park may be one of the most spectacular places on Earth. Driving in from the east, we followed a two lane road down over some mountains, past colorful flower-field meadows and soggy marshes. The Tetons appeared in the distance, then we caught glimpses of the lakes that spread out in front of them.
No picture we took really captured the scenery...you really must see it in person.
To get a closer look, we did a 10 mile loop hike around String and Jenny Lakes. The trail generally follows the lake, but edges up into the mountain pine forests in a few places. Around the lake the heavy, sweet scent of ripe blueberries filled the air. Yes, we thought it smelled wonderful...and so do the bears.
That's right...we're in bear country now, and the ripening berries were drawing the black bears out of their normal habitats up in the mountains. Extreme caution must be taken when cooking and camping and hiking because many of the bears have become habituated to human contact and can be aggressive.
As we came out of a grove of trees and started across a meadow, Mark spotted a bear about 50 yards away. Did you know black bears weigh 200 pounds and have claws that are extremely sharp and 1-3 inches long? We started to walk a little faster than usual, but as bears are predatory creatures, this caused the bear to begin running after us! This really made us want to run! Luckily, the bear scampered down the shore of the lake and went up through the trees back into the mountains, without devouring us. It was definitely one of the most exciting experiences with nature that I have ever had.