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Welcome to Making up for Desk Time! Our goal here is to provide you with inspiration to make those hours away from the desk count. If we can do these things you find in our blog, than you sure as heck can too! Life is meant to be an adventure, so lets treat it as such and turn the “what ifs” into “remember when”!
On one of my faithful dips into the great abyss we all know as the internet, I came across a post on Instagram of Delta Lake. It’s color and the view of some pretty serious mountains in the background had me absolutely mesmerized. I immediately messaged the poster and found out a bit more information on the location and started my research. I discovered that this lake was located in Grand Teton National Park and lays right at the base of The Grand Teton and Mt. Owen Peaks, to put a cherry on top it was a day hike! I instantly fell in love with the idea of going there and plopped it right on the bucket list.
This past September my husband Mike and I started a month long road trip and Grand Teton National Park was our first stop for adventure. If there was only 1 thing I got to do while we were there, hiking to Delta Lake was it.
Due to miscommunication between the two of us, neither came prepared with directions on which trailhead to take or how to access the lake. Much to our dismay our cell service was more often than not, none existent, which meant we were going to have to do things the old fashioned way (my personal favorite) and speak to the locals.
We started the morning off with picking up a canister of bear spray for our hikes in the area. Due to the fact that we had flown into Denver from NY prior to driving to Grand Teton, we were unable to bring our bear spray with us. I highly recommend stopping by your local outdoor shop prior to getting into a National Park as you will save $10-15 on bear spray. We had made an attempt to do just that, however didn’t have luck with a big box store which typically holds a reasonable camping section.
While we were in the convenience shop near our camp site, Mike had struck up a conversation with one of the workers. He, like so many others in the National Parks, was a seasonal worker who had been coming back every season with his wife for several years. He was explaining to Mike the seriousness of all the signs warning about bears. Mike had not taken me seriously when we drove in the night before about the fact that this is bear country. Food storage and hiking preparedness are a very serious topic here so please be sure you listen to the signage.
Our new found friend seemed very knowledgeable about the park and surrounding area so I asked him about getting to Delta Lake. Much to my surprise he had never heard of it. This continued to be the trend that morning as I asked others until we struck gold. The young woman who was working the booth at our camp site knew EXACTLY where Delta Lake was, how to get there and when we should and should not go. She explained that it is not a highly trafficked hike due to the fact that it is partially an unmarked and un-maintained trail.
The directions guaranteed adventure and as I watched Mike scribble them down my heart burst with excitement. Despite the luck of our morning it was happening!
As we made our way to the trail head I sat in the back of our converted camper van making our trail lunches and snacks. As Mike took turns I tried to keep the bananas, peanut butter, honey and most importantly our sandwiches from sliding off the table. Our adventure to Delta Lake had officially begun.
As we packed our day bags at the trail head, prepped our trekking poles and layered up our clothing, others who had started earlier in the day were coming down from the mountain. I noticed a group of people bantering back and forth excitedly, as I tuned in closer I overheard a man telling a woman how lucky she was to have not been noticed.
” You know when they are with their cubs they become very protective, if she had noticed you who knows what could have happened! What a great experience non-the less!!”
I don’t know which animal they were speaking about, I can only assume it was a bear. However this park has all sorts of bigger then you or I furries in the area that call it home. Having grown up in the mountains I wasn’t too worried, but was very grateful to go in knowing that we needed to make noise while we hiked.
As we began the hike everything started off very gradual with a few scenic views and a stream to cross. Eventually we found ourselves gaining our elevation on a series of switchbacks, each one providing a gorgeous view. After several switchbacks, a missed turn and some hide and go seek with cairns in a boulder field we reached our destination. As we approached I made Mike wait so that we could summit the last leg together. In all honesty I didn’t want him to see the Lake before I did. As we came up over the last ledge there she was. Delta Lake was as gorgeous as I could have hoped. Truth be told I cried a little. This hike was by far one of the biggest highlights of our trip for me and I urge anyone reading this to go see her in all her Gatorade colored glory!
The hike is about 7 miles round trip give or take with a 2400 ft elevation gain. You will have a steady climb that leads to 2 boulder fields and eventually ends with a quick 500ft elevation gain to the glacial lake at the base of The Grand Teton and Mt. Owen.
A few things you should know before venturing out on this hike:
The 2nd section of the hike involves taking a turn off a switch back onto an unmarked trail
It involves 2 traverses across boulder fields which means searching for cairns (stacked rocks to mark a path or landmark/point of interest) in an environment where they blend in pretty easily (Think Where’s Waldo, Rock Edition)
This is bear country. Bring bear spray. Make noise. Bear bells are a good option also. Oder proof bags probably won’t hurt)
Bring plenty of water, snacks and maybe some gator-aid.
Be prepared for weather changes (bring layers!) You’re in the mountains after all.
You will start your journey at the Lupine Meadows trail head in Grand Teton National Park
You will reach a junction where you can either go to Surprise and Amphitheater Lakes or turn towards the Valley Trail. STAY STRAIGHT to Surprise and Amphitheater Lakes
At the 2nd Junction you have the option to go to either Garnet Canyon or Surprise and Amphitheater Lakes. You want to to stay straight/right toward Surprise and Amphitheater Lakes. This is when you will need to pay attention.
Right on the switchback following the 2nd junction you are going take an unmarked trail that leads off the main path. It is rather steep going down and you will see a bunch of trees that have fallen that you will go under/over.
Once you reach the boulder fields keep your eyes out for cairns to guide you. There seems to be a few options to take but they will all get you there. follow these to the path that will lead you to the 2nd boulder field.
As you did with the 1st field, search for cairns to guide you. There, there is a bit of a dirt path to the left side of the 2nd boulder field that can be of guidance. You will gain about 500 feet of elevation to the top of the field and find yourself at the lake.
Expose teeth as you smile, hoot, holler, hug a friend. You’ve made it to one of the prettiest places in Grand Teton National Park.
Below is a video I shot on the way back crossing one of the boulder fields as you can see it is not tooooo crazy but please be mindful of your steps and do not rush yourself or others past comfort zones:
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