By BRADLEY S. RICHARDSON
During the summer months, good vacation spots are hard to come by. Crowded beaches and bug-infested campsites are often more stressful than a typical day at work. After a few hectic family vacations, many wonder if it’s worth it to experience another ordeal.
However, tranquillity and serenity are still available if the vacationer knows where to find it.
By canoeing into the heart of Grand Teton National Park, vacationers find a hidden paradise of relaxation and peace — and there is always plenty for the kids to do.
Leigh Lake is one of several lakes at the base of the Teton Range. The lake’s east campsites at the bench of Mt. Moran are only accessible after a 3-mile canoe trip.
“We have lots of memories as a family there,” said Neal Davis, 22, a pre-med student from Murray. “There is a sense of seclusion canoeing into the campsites rather than backpacking because you are not along a trail.”
Davis has canoed in the Teton lake area about a dozen times. He enjoys the beautiful scenery.
“The backdrop of the Tetons is spectacular,” Davis said. “Early in the morning the lake is calm.”
To reach this remote location, vacationers must first travel along String Lake and then port their boat and carry it about 200 feet to reach Leigh Lake. The lake is therefore restricted to non-motorized boats.
There are only eight campsites on the lake and an average of only 12 to 15 campers, said Ferinand Stenta, a backcountry host at Leigh Lake.
Leigh Lake is about two miles in width and length and reaches 200 to 250 feet in depth. The lake is fed by run-off water from the surrounding snow-capped mountains.
Among the main attractions are wildlife, hiking and technical mountain climbing trails, along with fishing and sunbathing.
Although each campsite is large and secluded, campers are not always alone. Moose, mule deers and an occasional bear may visit or be visible from the site. “They don’t come through the campsite that much,” Stenta said. In each campsite there are bear poles to lift trash high off the ground and out of the reach of bears. Each site also has a locking metal box to secure food.
“Late August and September the elk come down,” Stenta said. “You’ll hear them.” The elk, during the late summer sound a mating call, which is called bugling. The bugling is characterized as a squealing, scratching noise.
“You’ll hear them up to a mile away,” Stenta said.
The trail head to Mt. Moran, a mountain with many technical climbs, is located near the campsites.
“A lot of people come in this time of year to climb Mt. Moran,” Stenta said. Most hikers start early because of the afternoon rain showers, which can make climbing dangerous.
Hikers can explore nearby canyons, which are filled with waterfalls and snow this time of year. There are also several hiking trails that take hikers to different parts of the park.
Some vacationers come to the lake for fly and lake fishing. The lake has both Mackinaw and cutthroat trout.
“They commonly will be three to five pounds,” Stenta said of the Mackinaw trout. And the cutthroats range from 18 to 24 inches.
To rent a canoe, stop in Moose, Wyo., just outside of the Grand Teton National Park. Canoes are $25 to $30 a day. A camp permit must also be purchased.