Teton Crest Trail
takes Proof along on a 3-day 40ish mile hike through the Teton Mountain Range. Enjoy, as he tells the story of his adventure...
When Makayla Crist
told me she had the first weekend in July available for a 3-day adventure, I immediately thought of the 40-ish mile Teton Crest Trail
which runs along the western high plateau of the Grand Teton
mountain range on the border of Wyoming and Idaho.
My little brother Noah has been living with me for the summer before his final year at Bates College, and we've been trying to knock off all the classic Jackson Hole adventures...TCT near the top of the list. LET'S GO! Having had a decent snow year it was a little early to attempt the TCT, but that comes with its benefits. Mostly 1...no crowds
As Jackson Hole's popularity continues to grow, getting away from the throngs of tourists is a must for those of us who have been around long enough to be here when you rarely had to wait at Nora's for breakfast or could easily find parking at the Rockefeller Visitor Center to jump off of Phelp's rock.
When applying for the permit, the park ranger was not confident that we could even make it across Alaska Basin, never mind over Hurricane or Paintbrush Divide. Of course, that was even more reason to try (sorry mom). No one had done it yet this season, he said. One friend bailed, but four of us decided to give it our bestest as there are multiple 'outs' on any given day.
Day 1 was a breeze, with limited snow over Fox Creek Pass and balmy temperatures. We camped at 'the shelf' above Death Canyon and had some of the best camping views I had seen in a while...including a bear sighting at a safe distance on the other side of the canyon (best believe we tied our bear bag a little extra high up that night tho).
Day 2 brought us over Mt. Meek Pass
where we had to do our first serious glissading down into Alaska Basin
. From here on out our shoes never dried as we crossed numerous swollen streams, and about 30% of the trail was covered in snow. The perfect 75-degree temperatures and our Proof sunnies kept our spirits high and the glare out of our eyes.
By the end of day 2, anxieties were running high as we were approaching Hurricane Divide. If we couldn't make it over, the return trek back to Death Canyon and out via Phelps Lake
To our delight, the pass was almost completely bare of snow and we made it to our campsite with few issues. Night two was a blast and the setting sun perfectly lit the Tetons. By this point, we had seen a few people on the trail, only 1 of whom had successfully crossed the Paintbrush Divide
However, the temperatures were higher than average and the snow was melting FAST. Every hour that went by gave us a better chance at passage. We met a ranger at Lake Solitude
who told us that he had just come up and over the divide without issue, but we were going the other way and the huge wall of snow that he had gone up would be much harder to navigate going down. He gave us another option: the winter route.
We looked at a map, came up with a plan, and stoke was high. When we actually got to the winter route, we realized our confidence was maybe a bit premature. This was a very steep, very snowy, massive bowl that would require a full send. The 4th member of our team decided to turn back, making her final leg of the journey back to the shuttled car 12ish miles compared to our 8ish.
The remaining three of us decided to throw our bags down the 300 vertical feet and about 1/2 mile of snow and make our way down uninhibited by the weight/awkwardness of the gear. The resulting slide was a little intense, but probably the most fun glissading we had done the whole trip.
Makayla had some slight friction burn, but nothing could wipe that smile off her face. We successfully met up with our 4th at the car, and made our way back into town for beer and pizza. Thanks so much to Proof for the sunglasses! Trekking over snowpacks is no joke, and our eyes will forever be grateful for the protection. Cheers! "
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