GET OUT: Spring Training

By on June 7, 2016

Two Ocean notion turns out to be a fulfilling early season jaunt.

Left: A misty view of the Tetons from the top of Grandview Point. Top right: Mount Moran towers from Two Ocean Lake. Right: A vibrant fairyslipper blooming among the brush. (Photo: Elizabeth Koutrelakos)

Left: A misty view of the Tetons from the top of Grandview Point. Top right: Mount Moran towers from Two Ocean Lake. Right: A vibrant fairyslipper blooming among the brush. (Photo: Elizabeth Koutrelakos)

JACKSON HOLE, WY – This spring has come through with the wonderful surprise of bountiful and much appreciated sun. Finally, after weeks of lukewarm weather, one can finally roam around on the valley floor wearing shorts and a T-shirt. Those cherub pale legs are ready for the fleeting summer months.

My friend exposed himself on one such beautiful day, and the blinding white of his limbs made me put on my polarized glasses. He wanted to run somewhere, and while he was mentally prepared for a dry Teton Crest Trail, I assured him that the likelihood of this was slim to none. Plus, let’s be honest, I really didn’t feel like running 40 miles straight off the couch. I suggested a run that would be both beautiful and dry: Two Ocean Lake, a gorgeous and underrated little loop located north of Jackson Lake Lodge.

“That?” my friend scoffed. “It’s not even a workout. We might as well go canoeing.”

I took his challenge. He was familiar with the typical Two Ocean trailhead parking lot, located in a fork off Pacific Creek Road. That trailhead begins right at the lake, but I had something else in mind.

“Oh, just treat it as your off day, and we can go in from Grand View Point,” I said. My runner friend finally agreed after I promised him that we would get back in time for him to do a few Snow King sprints before sunset.

After a bit of bumping and winding, the small parking lot came into view. From there, the jog began. It’s around a mile to the top of Grand View Point, but the views are spectacular. The Tetons tower above Jackson Lake while Emma Matilda and Two Ocean lakes are also in view. From here, the trail dropped down. A couple junctions later and we were on the trail.

Because this hike was deemed so flat by my running companion, he immediately attempted six-minute miles. I stopped to answer nature’s call and spotted a beautiful fairy slipper, or calypso bulbosa, on the side of the trail. Taking great care not to trample it, I looked around and noticed a couple others about to bloom.

This delicate orchid is sensitive to disturbance and seems to have a codependence with fungi in the soil. Once used as a food source by natives, it is now endangered in some states. After spending some time contemplating the flowers, I heard the swift and light-footed scamper of my companion. The runner man had turned around after seeing bear and wolf prints etched in the mud. We were both a little scared, as the lake trail held an eerie silence with the exception of some rustling aspen trees.

But soon I myself welcomed the company as a nice surprise akin to seeing the rare flower earlier in the journey. On we ran. The lake was mostly flat, easy trail with one small hill. We saw few people and the trail was well maintained. We backtracked to Grand View Point where I finally took the lead. I assumed the running companion was saving his energy for Snow King. When we went back up the hill and topped out on Grand View, I gave my friend the option to continue running up and down either side of the hill while I went down to my truck to drink lemonade.

He politely declined, stating the incline of the hill was “too steep” and the temperature “too hot.” I don’t know if this was the truth but I assumed my running plan was a success since there was no talk of continuing running more and more hills.

On the way back to town we stopped to jump in Jackson Lake. The freshwater dip renewed energy within my companion’s joints but made me feel hungry. I suggested a compromise—a stop at Signal Mountain where I got delicious nachos and a cold beverage. My friend, who claimed he would want more of a workout after our “wimpy” run, could forgo the enjoyment of eating and run the trail up Signal Mountain.

I thought that, through this great meeting of the minds, we could both have what we wanted from the day. My companion, however, did not choose to run then, nor after our nachos were devoured. So we made our way back to town.

Spring jaunts can serve as nice tuneups for the wonderful summer to come. Yes, many trails are awaiting the snow to vanish from them completely. So in the meantime, take advantage of a few “warmup” runs. PJH

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