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Grand Teton NP (WY)

Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

Date: 5 days, August 13 to 17, 2002
Group Size: Solo
Miles Covered: 54
Difficulty: Not too bad, but the elevation can be a bitch!
Scenery: Nothing on the east coast comes even close

So I finally made it to Wyoming. Everybodybackpacking in the Grand Tetons needs an overnight permit. These are free, butare given out on a first come - first serve basis. I was not sure I'll beable to get one, since August tends to be one of the most popular hiking months.Lucky for me, perhaps since I was going solo, I was able to head out the nextday, and I got campsites that allowed me to backpack throughout the entirepark. Click on this link to see the locations of mycampsites. Originally, I planned to begin in the northern section andtravel south. However, all of those sites were taken for the day I wantedto head out. I started south, which turned out to be really lucky forme. I found out that the southern section is much, much easier. Bythe time I made it to Hurricane Pass, I was well acclimated, plus my backpackweighed only about a half of what it did when I left.

I started my trip at the Granite Canyon trailhead.My backpack was about 60 pounds at this point. I figured I should bring more food just in case - yet I had about a third of my food left at the end of the hike.

I began by hiking through the GraniteCanyon. Elevation here is about 7000 feet. I saw a lot of moose here.

I spent the first night in the Granite Upper section. Second day, I hiked up through Marion Lake (shown here), to...

...the Spearhead Peak. The altitude at this point is about 9600 feet.

And I reached the Death Canyon Shelf. This was my designated second-night campsite. I made it here well before 2pm, so I found a nice flat rock with a great view like this and relaxed for therest of the day.

My third campsite was in the Alaska Basin, which was only about 5 miles from my 2nd campsite. Thus, I decided to backtrack a bit and take a longer route through the Death Canyon. Here isa view of the canyon. Grand Tetons have a glacial origin, proof of which can be seen from the nicely carved shapes of the canyons.

I made it to the Alaska Basin through a seriesof switchbacks leading through the Static Peak divide. This is the highestpoint I crossed during my trip. The Paintbrush Divide (10,700) andHurricane Pass (10,400) came close behind.

Next I passed Buck Mountain. It stood asthe last rocky guardian before I walked into the vegetative basin. There I found a campsitenext to a creek and relaxed after a very strenuous day.

I made it! That's Grand Teton (el. 13,770) on the left. This picture is taken from the Hurrican Pass,and I have to say that that name was chosen appropriately. I cannot remember ever experiencing such fast winds - andit was a nice day! The pass itself is a ledge some 5 feet across with some thousand foot drop-off on both sides,and the wind blowing across. It was pretty sketchy.

This is the Schoolroom Glacier, on the back side of the Hurricane Pass

And this is the Iceflow Lake, also close to the Pass

Next I hiked up the Teton Crest Trail to theSouth Fork of the Cascade Creek. I spent the 4th night in the North Fork zone.

Then on the fifth day I passed by LakeSolitude. It was a beautiful sight as the lake formed a natural mirror of the surrounding peaks.

This is a photo taken from the PaintbrushDivide. This, and the Hurricane Pass, were my two favorite parts of the park.

I had the option of spending one more night inthe park in the Paintbrush Upper camping zone. However, this was onlyabout 3 miles from my 4th campsite, and I still had to worry about making itback to Virginia before the semester started. So, instead I made it outthrough the Paintbrush Canyon on the fifth day. This is a view of GrandTeton (left) and the Cascade Canyon. The fact that the mountains rise some7000 feet from a lake gives them a really magnificent look.

Hunting is prohibited in the park, and thus theanimals failed to develop the fear of humans. This worried me a little,since the Tetons are a home to the grizzly. I hoped to see some bears, butfrom far away, and see them running away from me. But I didn't seeany. Still, the park is full of animals. I saw a ton of moose,beavers, mice, wild turkeys and deer and a fox. In fact, a deer was grazing in oneof my campsites, and then went to sleep some 10 feet away from my tent!