On the first day we did take a short hike along the Grand Viewpoint trail. It is about one point seven miles, one way, and has an elevation gain of about five hundred and ninety-one feet. As it was our first hike of the year, we cut it short and never reached the point.
Still it was a good easy day, and we did see two new life birds for us, a dusky flycatcher and a Pink sided Dark Eyed Junco. The Junco was a subspecies, so it does not count on the life list, but it was a new subspecies for us. It is always neat to see a new bird.
The second day we returned the Park planning to hike the String Lake Trail. It is supposed to be a three point seven-mile-long trail and was labeled an easy hike. We had heard that a sow bear and her cub were spotted along the trail and so, besides our heavy cameras, we caried a lunch and our cans of bear spray.
Normally the parking lot is so full that you have to park quite far away but as it was early, we found a spot right by the bathrooms. We did not really know what to expect and I did something really dumb, I should have taken a picture of the trail maps on my phone but didn't.
Still, it started off easy and we took out time as we were birding. At the south end of String Lake, it empties into Jenny Lake.
A nice sturdy bridge crossed the outlet and we continued on our way. There were signs posted at the trail junctions and we turned north along the west side of Sting Lake. We had to walk though some patches of snow and as we expected there would be more when we walked through the shady east slopes.
At one point we looked down on the lake and spotted a beaver lodge. A little further and a family passed up. The father told us that there was more snow ahead, which we already knew, so we continued on. Looking across the lake we figured we had gone halfway around, (we were mistaken), and so we pushed on.
The trail climbed up and the patches of snow got deeper but it was pretty solid, and we only punched through the crust a few times.
The trial continued to climb, and we had to stop. A marmot posed on a boulder and Renita got a picture.
After spending five months at sea level, it takes a while, for our bodies to adjust. The patches of snow got longer and at one chute, we had to cross a debris field of broken trees and snow where an avalanche had thundered down.
Past the avalanche, we hiked in the shade and the snow became deeper, but the trail was still passable. We finally reached the upper end of String Lake. Leigh Lake was visible to the south, and there was a good bridge,
allowing us to cross the outlet. We were still eight tenths of a mile from the trailhead. Stopping we took pictures of the avalanche.
We could see where it had run out after leaving the chute.
Reaching our car, we loaded our gear we next drove north looking for bears but never did spot any, (we were told by a friend that Park Rangers were using their sirens to scare the bears away from the road). Our final stop was at the Moose-Wilson pond. Hiking along a trail we saw numerous black headed grosbeaks.
They were oblivious to us and even perched ten feet away.
Yellow warblers. Pine siskins, a red breasted nuthatch,
a mountain chickadee, and a Red-Naped Sapsucker were easily to photograph and at one point a sandhill crane sat on a nest.
As it stood up, we could see the chicks and that one egg still had not hatched. Before I could get a picture, it sat back down so we moved on. Barb showed us how to use Merlin’s voice recorder and it said it heard an orange crowned warbler, and a dusky flycatcher but we never did see it
It was getting late, and we left the park driving back to Star Valley. Another day without bears but another day of great birding. Its so much fun to share the day with friends. Clear skies