Sunrise at Inspiration Point

Sun Rising Over Jenny Lake and Inspiration Point

Inspiration Point is easily the most hiked trail in Grand Teton National Park. Every year, millions of people stand on this sturdy outcropping of rock overlooking the sparkling waters of Jenny Lake. Every year, crowds of people clog the trail, clamoring for the ideal spot to take their photos that will define the memory of their hike. I wondered, what does Inspiration Point look like without the people?

As continued from the previous post, I headed out in the dark to find out. My goal was to be on Inspiration Point before sunrise to rediscover the familiar landscape. I succeeded in my timing, but underestimated the appreciation I’d come away with from my experiment.

I had reached the iconic viewpoint well before sunrise, so I had time to myself to watch the landscape change from dim atmospheric lighting, to completely illuminated by the sun.

Turning around to examine my surroundings, I saw the Grand Teton and Mount Owen rising dramatically behind me, softly glowing from pre-sunrise light reflecting off of their eastern flanks. I turned back toward Jenny Lake. The water was still calm. This otherwise busy landscape was still. There were no sounds. I was the only person in Grand Teton National Park at that moment. At least that’s how it felt.

I looked back toward the Tetons once again. A faint pink light struck the top of “the Grand.” Change was coming. The light crept slowly down, now absorbing Mount Owen in its glow, its color warming as it drifted downward. Looking back toward Jenny Lake the horizon was brighter, waiting to burst open like lava pushing its way toward the surface. It was imminent.

Within moments a blinding pinhole light appeared above the distant mountains, growing as the eruption expanded, spilling all over the surrounding landscape. Wind began to pick up, disturbing the waters of Jenny Lake from its slumber. The landscape was transformed. It wouldn’t be long before the crowds arrived now. It was more tangible. Still, with the landscape all to myself, I was reminded why the location was so iconic. Mountain vistas are always easier to appreciate in solitude, and seeing Jenny Lake in the changing from night to day was a great reminder of the majesty of a location that I had come to take for granted.

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