Sunday, July 23rd, Day 3. After taking Aspen for a quick trot to stretch her legs we begin our journey north to Jackson Lake. However before heading off, kayaking in Wyoming requires an AIS boating permit which luckily we were able to acquire from our Base Camp at the Flat Creek Inn, step one. Along our drive to Jackson Lake a herd of Bison could be seen from the road off in the distance across the valley. Arriving at the Colter Bay Marina, I proceeded to the Colter Bay Visitor Center to get the second permit, a launch permit, which is required to launch any watercraft inside of Grand Teton National Park. With all permits in hand we head over to the boat launch to set the “Big Mango” afloat into Jackson Lake. Stella’s parents raced ahead and attempted to rent a tandem kayak but they are first come first serve with a very limited number available for rent, unfortunately all were out on the lake. With that said, they did have Becca, their english chocolate lab down by the boat launch waiting for us to make our appearance. However, a large group of exchange students visiting the park could not help themselves once laying eyes upon Becca and feverishly gave her all the attention she could handle. After all the commotion involving Becca had run its course, I run the Tahoe back up to the parking area and we were ready to embark on our maiden journey into Jackson Lake.
Paddling south from the confines of the marina along the eastern shore with the clouds obscuring the blue sky hidden above the grandeur of the Tetons were on full display directly to the west. Our expedition takes us along the inside passage of one of the many islands dotting the lake and into Colter Bay, as mentioned in the past we are constantly on the lookout for wildlife along the shore, we even offer a tip to a passing kayaker to flip his paddle to provide a more efficient stroke. To this point we have been sheltered from the winds as we continue our journey toward open water and passing to the west of another unnamed island into Half Moon Bay. Now for the first time there are no islands protecting us from the moderate westerly winds as we paddle towards a peninsula across the bay to gain an advantage before paddling back to the North. Gaining the southern shore of an island directly North of the peninsula we set our sights on Sheffield Island and begin paddling back into the pesky westerly winds. Battling our way paddling along the shoreline and nearing Sheffield Island the sun breaks through the overcast skies, approaching Little Mackinaw Bay and passing to the east of yet another island the wind begins to subsides as well. We continue our journey north and before long we are paddling parallel to the Colter Bay Lakeshore Trail directly to the west of the marina. Paddling a bit further along the shoreline we decided its time to turn around and begin our journey back to the launch site. Though we would have loved to spend more time on the lake including a complete circumnavigation we needed to get back to Aspen. In all we paddled just over 6.5 miles, enjoying every moment. Back at the boat lunch we had to wait a bit to pull out of the water as an individual had a some trouble backing in his trailed loaded with a pair of catamarans. It was almost to the point where I was going to take the wheel to assist. Now wishing that I had a video of the moment to send of to America’s Funniest Videos.
Heading back to the Flat Creek Inn, we again pass the Bison herd however they are now much closer to the road and everyone has pulled over for a photographic moment. After cleaning up, giving Aspen some needed attention we were about to head to Pinky G’s but Stella’s mom intervened at the last moment and talked us out of going, so we headed to Pizza Artisan. As we waited for Stella’s parents to join us she quickly places an order for the crab cakes and the summer kale salad. If you don’t know by now you will as the blog moves forward that Stella can never pass up a crab cake. The crab cakes and summer kale salad did not disappoint, however the white pizza with wild mushrooms, caramelized onions, arugula, truffle oil, provolone, mozzarella, romano and parmesan was so, so… Which makes you wonder if we truly passed up the opportunity to eat pizza that has been voted Jackson’s best for 5 straight years. I guess we will have to travel back to Jackson and find out ourselves.