As each day passes since I returned from Grand Teton and Yellowstone, I like to replay each day of our trip, as if I'm replaying a video taken that day. I don't take videos [though I wish I did sometimes!], but my photos make up for it. I'm a planner by nature, so I'd mapped out more or less the whole trip. There were so many things I wanted to see and hoped to cover a vast expanse of space in a fairly short period of time. I have to say, my planning paid off, especially at the onset of the trip. On that first day driving through the Grand Teton National Park, I stayed on track. We woke up early, made it to witness the incredible sunrise and warm alpenglow blanketing the Tetons. We ate breakfast overlooking the mountains [small bites of food I'd planned ahead and brought from Atlanta], and then we drove into the park and straight to String Lake.
Most of my planned adventures were based on two criteria: ease of accessibility and potential photography spots. String Lake easily covers both aspects. Essentially, the trail is a mostly flat loop around the lake, making it a perfect starter hike for this trip.
From everything I'd read, it was a well marked trail, and very much family friendly. I'd absolutely agree with this description. This would be a perfect spot to bring kids, since the lake is supposedly great for swimming. Swimming wasn't on our itinerary since we had a lot of driving to do that day, not to mention the temperatures were fairly chilly for these spoiled Atlantans [somewhere in the upper 50s that morning].
It's nothing strenuous or challenging, but that's not why I was here anyway. I was in it for that perfectly placid lake.
I've mentioned it before, but aside from my own personal memories, the only souvenir I take with me on outdoorsy trips are all my photos. I love having a chronicle of the places, the emotions and the peace found while out in nature.
This still, quiet lake early on a cool summer morning is one of those memories I'll have with me because of these photos.
It was a rather cloudy, gray start to the day, but I found that only brought out the infinite shades of evergreens blanketing the mountains.
Every bend we took along the lake brought on another incredible view that begged to be captured.
We were out fairly early, so we had the trail almost entirely to ourselves. A treat when I'm in Atlanta, but slightly worrisome for this pair who didn't really know exactly how often bear sightings happened! We may have taken this trail at a slightly faster and louder clip due to our bear phobia! [spoiler, saw NO bears!]
This was my first experience witnessing so many fallen trees [I would see many more on this trip], and though at first something seemed to trigger sadness in me, I knew it was all due to nature's own self-thinning process. This was simply another way I got to witness the natural beauty of the parks and how they're a living, breathing, ever-changing being.
If you're planning on taking a trip to the Tetons and are considering this hike, here are a few of my own personal tips:
- Head there early...or late: the glass-like quality of the lake is best shot early in the day before the sun gets too high in the sky. It can also be shot [though I didn't get a chance to] once the sun has set beyond the mountains.
- There are outhouse bathrooms located at the parking lot [and plenty of parking as long as you arrive on the early side]
- Pack a picnic...but store it in the bear boxes: Another thing I quickly learned while out west was how much bears LOVE our food! It's required in Grand Teton [not sure if it is in Yellowstone] to store your food in the provided bear boxes along the trail. It's safer for everyone that way, and they're all well marked, so it's not difficult to make your way back to your food.
- If you're just wanting to catch some great shots of the mountains and trees with the lake, you don't HAVE to complete the loop. I was feeling a little under the weather that morning, so we did the half facing the mountains. I'm sure the entire loop would be beautiful, but I think I managed to capture a good bit of this beautiful spot with what we did.
Here's a final shot of me and the lake and Mount Moran in the distance. I felt so at peace in this spot, standing on that old tree root overlooking the glassy lake before me. I can't wait to come back and experience more of this lake region of the Tetons. There are so many trails around the lakes, through the mountains and beyond, it's all a bit exciting and overwhelming! If you're new to this part of the world, or are just looking for an easy paced walk with water, evergreens and mountains at every turn, I invite you to find your spot along halcoyn beauty that is String Lake.