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A Late Summer Hike In The Tetons Leads To "Rock of Ages"

In day 155 of her ongoing series, Watercolor Diary, Sue Cedarholm ventures to the shore of Lake of the Crags

A view of Rock of Ages high in the Tetons by Sue Cedarholm
From the shore of Ramshead Lake, Sue Cedarholm's interpretation of Rock of Ages high in the Teton Range.
From the shore of Ramshead Lake, Sue Cedarholm's interpretation of Rock of Ages high in the Teton Range.
For late summer hiking in the Tetons, you have to go early to beat the crowds. Today the morning air is cold, 41 degrees, when we start down the trail. As we walk around Jenny Lake, layers came off. I am with my good friend, Patricia. She and I have been exploring all the canyons in the national park this summer. I had been avoiding Grand Teton the last few years—it’s been too crowded—and I can’t take my dog. This summer has been a rediscovery of the Tetons for me after decades of living here.

We are headed toward Hanging Canyon, a steep unimproved trail up to Lake of the Crags. The day is perfectly clear as we ascend a winding narrow trail. There isn’t  much shade on this hike. The trees were burned a few years ago in a fire. The huckleberries, however, are blooming and you can smell the ripening fruit. Fireweed brushes against us as we go higher. The view of Jenny Lake now is spectacular, the boats shuttling hikers back and forth across its surface. 

We keep elevating, winding through rock outcroppings, over little creeks, my breathing still, steady and even. As we reach Arrowhead Pool, a puddle among the boulders, rock pinnacles dwarf us. A bonus, wildflowers still are in full bloom along the creek.  Only one last steep scramble up a crack in the rock and the desired view of the interior opens up. Even as a longtime local, the view takes the breath away.

Ramshead Lake is nestled beneath sheer granite walls and around it is the ridge to Lake of the Crags. The lake, long and narrow, is fueled by the melt of remaining snowfields running right into the water. Rock of Ages is the largest monolith on the skyline. We sit on the lakeshore, I pull out my paints and get to work. En plein air, a French phrase which means “in the open air” Your paintings are different when you are painting outside in front of your subject, feeling the sun on your back, the drying sweat on your face, the smells of the earth, the sound of the wind in the peaks, that is what I hope I captured with this piece.
Sue Cedarholm
About Sue Cedarholm

Jackson Hole-based Sue Cedarholm is a multi-media artist—painter, photographer and maker of nature-themed, wearable apparel.  You can find all of the works in her ongoing series at Watercolor Diary.
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