Sunday, September 28, 2014

Summer Wildflowers Along An Ice Age Relic

Two Ocean Lake is a gorgeous place for a hike. Tucked into a northeastern corner of Grand Teton National Park, it is a relic of the last ice age. During late spring and into summer, wildflowers are colorful and profuse, splashed across hillsides like an impressionist’s dream.

Trail along Two Ocean Lake to Grand View Point

Within moments of embarking on our 9–mile hike around the lake we are surrounded by uncountable wildflowers, pouring off hillsides and overflowing onto the trail.

IMG_6923 BlueLettuce
Blue Lettuce (Lactuca tatarica)

IMG_6931 StickyGeranium
Sticky Geranium (Geranium viscosissimum)
Brian stops to smell the wildflowers

Two Ocean Lake is a vestige of ice sheets thousands of feet thick that retreated from these parts sometime around 14,000 years ago (or even as late as 10,000 years ago, according to some folks). Its name is misleading, though.
IMG_6932 TwoOceanLake
Two Ocean Lake and peaks of the Teton Range

The name “Two Ocean” might lead you to think that this lake drains into two oceans, most likely the Atlantic and the Pacific. However, this is not the case.

IMG_6934 Balsamroot
Yellow Balsamroot (Balsamorhiza sagittata) with pink Sticky Geranium

The continental divide does punch its way through this corner of Wyoming, to be sure. However, the divide, which separates waters flowing west into the Pacific from waters flowing east into the Atlantic, crosses Two Ocean Plateau, several miles to the north from Two Ocean Lake.

IMG_6947 ForgetMeNot
Blue Forget-me-not or Many-flowered Stickseed (Hackelia floribunda) with pink Sticky Geranium
Two Ocean Lake was named in error. Being as it is situated on the west side of the continental divide, it drains only to the Pacific.

IMG_6954 RockClematis
Rock Clematis (Clematis occidentalis)
IMG_6961 Balsamroot
Yellow Balsamroot (Balsamorhiza sagittata) grazes the trail
In no way does that error of geographical inaccuracy detract from the spectacular beauty of the lake’s location.
IMG_6959 StickyGeranium
Sticky Geranium (Geranium viscosissimum)

IMG_6960 StickyGeranium
Sticky Geranium (Geranium viscosissimum)

IMG_6964 BalsamrootOnTrail
Wildflower-covered hillside leads to amazing views!
IMG_6962 Balsamroot
Yellow Balsamroot (Balsamorhiza sagittata)

IMG_6963 TwoOceanLake AndEmmaMatildaLake
Two Ocean Lake (l) and Emma Matilda Lake (r) from Grand View Point

IMG_6970 TetonRangeFrom GrandViewPoint
Jackson Hole and the Teton Range from Grand View Point

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