Thursday, September 22, 2011

My favorite place... Delta Lake. :)

Yesterday I found my favorite place in the world, as of this moment. It's name... is Delta Lake. It's absolutely gorgeous. But possibly the best part about it, hardly anyone knows of it... and so it's undisturbed and 999 out of 1000 times you will be all alone. Scott Austin happened to stumble across a few photos of it a few weeks ago... and we instantly fell in love with the place, even though none of us had ever been there. So finally, Kenton and I got to hike up there yesterday. It was a great hike. So here's the short story of our adventure...

Kenton and I headed out to Lupine Meadows trailhead and started hiking by 10:30 in the morning. It was a promising day: blue skies, not a cloud in sight (which is perfect for a reason I'll say later), and nice cool air for hiking. We headed up the trail, with Kenton being the only one who'd ever even been up (once) this main trail that lead to Amphitheater Lake. All we knew was that we needed to go off of the trail at the "first switchback". So we get up a couple miles and we hit a switchback heading north, the direction we wanted to go. There was a slight trail heading off that way, and we decided that this must be where we go off-trail. So we cut down this hill, and start trekking up the side of the canyon. It was quite the off-trail experience. Bush and tree all over, with extremely steep inclines, it wasn't the easier hike that we expected. Delta Lake was supposedly a half-mile off of the switchback trail and only 500 ft up in elevation. So we were expecting to see the lake over the top of every hill we couldn't see over. But it just kept going, with no clearing in sight. We must have had a dozen of ideas of where this lake could possibly be. Finally we came out from the trees and found ourselves at a boulder field. A few more guesses came about on where the lake was. We started heading up through the boulders, and came across some rock stacks that lead us up through them, so we were excited to know we were probably on the right track. About halfway through the boulders, we couldn't find the next stack of rocks. So we just kept heading up the boulders, fairly sure we would find the lake at the top of the hill. Here's the view looking down the boulder field:

We came from all the way down there... in the middle of the photo.

My fearless companion.

So after another good climb up some big rocks, we finally started seeing a sign we had been looking for: the Teton mountains, looming dead ahead of us. We knew from the photos of this lake that the Tetons were directly behind it. This was good. This was exciting. We finally came to the base of what we knew would be the last hill, and we headed up to the top of it side by side. Here's what we saw:

Delta Lake below us.

We had gone too far up, not far enough North. But no problem, it was just a short walk down the hill and to the base of the lake. We were overjoyed to finally find it. We hiked down to it, took off our packs, and just sat down and relaxed a bit on a big rock overlooking the lake and mountains. We brought some lunch along too, so that was refreshing. After a bit of a break, we started exploring around the lake. So here are some of the many photos that I took:

Pretty sweet view, right? Well guess what? These photos don't even do it 3/4ths justice... it is so amazing to be there in person... the mountains are so huge and towering right in front of you.


The water was absolutely incredible. Totally undisturbed, and it looks like gatorade! I wanted to jump in... then I felt it with my hand. It was pretty cold. I wouldn't be surprised if it was frozen earlier that morning. :)

Can you tell we're having a good time? :)


Higher vantage point brings some more color to the water.

Why is the water this color, you ask? It's due to all the glacial silt that flows into this lake from glaciers above. Basically glaciers crush this mineral into fine dust, and give the water this milky blue color when the sun reflects on it. This is why a clear sky was just perfect for us.

My personal favorite shot from the day.

Though I like this one too.

It looks so yummy!!

I like this one too.


Higher vantage point = more aqua colored water.

Kenton scrambling down the boulders.

Looking at the lake from the other side... you don't get the color because the sun isn't reflecting right at you as much.

All of the "glacial silt" mud on the other side. Don't venture too far without expecting to sink.

Looking up at the Tetons.

Stream running down from the glaciers.

See that bottom left corner? Yeah, that's water that's been iced over... told you it was cold!


So yeah, I really like this place. We took our time up there and when we finally headed back, we found the trail that we were supposed to take. Turns out there's a small trail pretty much the whole way to the switchbacks. And we turned off the trail oh, about maybe 2 miles too soon. :) So we went the hard way. Oh well... we know where to go now. It happens to be the first switchback, but specifically up the Amphitheater trail... which didn't start until about 2 miles after we turned off. A funny side note... on the way down, once we reached that point that we turned off, we noticed a small sign by it. It read "Shortcuts cause erosion". We had quite the laugh over that one... because it turned out that we took the "shortcut" that was really anything but a shortcut. All in all, it was a great, fun, amazing hiking experience. Praise the Lord for blessing us with these awesome opportunities to enjoy His creation!

Thanks for looking! :)




JHBC Backpacking Trip

Last week was the JHBC students' backpacking class. I had the honor and pleasure of helping lead one of our three groups that went out for 2 nights throughout the week. Kenton (the guy's head RA), me, Cally (women's RA), and Analea lead a group of 13 students up to the group camping site below Lake Solitude in Grand Teton National Park. It was a great hike up there (7.5 miles, 2000 ft elevation gain to the campsite), and we went on a great day hike the next day. Overall, a great hiking experience. But for me, it was an even greater experience to assist leading and guiding the trip. I even had the privilege of sharing a devotional with the students on the second night. For those who know me well, you know that speaking in front of everyone isn't my strongest skill or desire. But praise the Lord, everything went quite smoothly and I was able to share God's Word without stumbling through it all. Only by His strength. :)

Anyways, I also took my camera along. But shock of all shocks, I didn't take my nice big DSLR camera and lenses. I took a little Canon G12 point-and-shoot. What!? Derrick, using a point-and-shoot!?? Believe me, I surprised even myself. It's not the worst point-and-shoot camera, but that's not the point (pun intended :). It was small, compact, easy to access, and I didn't have to take an extra bag along. So believe it or not, I decided to tip the scales towards hiking rather than photography. So with that said, let me know what you think of the results! Can you tell a difference? :)


Hiking up to Lake Solitude, looking at the side of the Teton range.

Some moose!

Waterfall coming down from glaciers.

Stream running out of Lake Solitude, Mt. Owen (left) and Grand Teton (right) in the background.

Sunrise the next morning. Quite the view right from our campsite. :)

I don't know about you, but I wouldn't mind living here a while. :)

Sunrise looking down Cascade Canyon with backside of Tetons.

On our day-hike, headed from Lake Solitude up to Paintbrush Divide (basically a big ridge between Cascade Canyon and Paintbrush Canyon - dividing the two :).

Lake Solitude.

Headed up the Paintbrush Divide trail.

With quite the view the whole way. :)

Some flowers, including some Indian Paintbrush (Wyoming's state flower - the red/orange flower that has petals coming out that look like the ends of a paintbrush).

Walking right into the Tetons...

Looking back at the trail.

Great views once you reach the top of the ridge.

Looking down at Paintbrush Canyon from the Divide.

Here's most of our group!

Another view from the top, our group taking a break.

Kenton and I.

Looking down at Lake Solitude.



Thanks for looking! Hope these point-and-shoot photos didn't bore you! ;)