Teton Crest Trail

July 30th, 2008

Alpine flowers above Alaska Basin

Headed into the ParkThis past weekend I hiked the Teton Crest Trail. I’ve really been enjoying all the camping and hiking I’ve been doing this summer and after the hours and hours web page work at home the past few weeks I couldn’t wait to get back outdoors. As I may have mentioned before, I’m having a blast rediscovering the Tetons this summer, biking hiking and climbing all over. It’s funny to come back to an old haunt with new (or at least, renewed) interests and to see it through new eyes. Cascade Canyon lunch spotSure I spent a lot of time in the Tetons growing up here, but it’s different now. Back then I wanted to be inside playing computer games and drinking forbidden corn-syrup based beverages, not trudging miles and miles through the wilderness on sore feet eating GORP and rolled oats. I enjoyed camping as a kid, but just barely. Anyway I love it now, and the Tetons are nothing if not a world famous scenic camping destination, so it was time to get out there.

Alpine glow above from Fox Creek PassMe with Cascade CanyonSome Meese I saw

Sweet rock above Cascade CanyonOne thing that’s been holding me back a little on my Teton adventures is my lack of partners here. Since I’ve been away from the Valley for five years I don’t really know anyone anymore; I don’t know who to call for a ride or climb. It’s not the end of the world, I’ve been getting out a lot still. But my climbing is limited to bouldering, and I’m going to get eaten by a bear with all the solo biking I’ve been doing. So while I might rather have done Flowers on Hurricane Passsomething more extreme with a partner, I chose the Teton Crest Trail as a safe and easy outing I could do solo but which would still give me a nice dose of Tetons. The “official” trail is about 40miles long, from Paintbrush Canyon to Teton Pass, but I cut it a little shorter by going up Cascade Canyon instead. Mainly this is because I wanted to camp in Alaska Basin instead Hidden Falls at the base of Cascade Canyonof the Park and I wasn’t sure if I was up to the extra miles Paintbrush would have forced on me after helping build trails the day before. Scratching singletrack out of the hills all day under the summer sun really takes it out of you. So Cascade it was, which was fun anyway because Hidden Falls was still a roaring monster from all the snow this year and fun to see in it’s full glory.

View of the Tetons from Battleship

Alaska Basin, still a bit snowyI took two nights to make my solo traverse of the Crest Trail. My first night was in Alaska Basin and my second was at the top of Fox Canyon. This made my second day was a really short hike, actually, but in order to avoid camping in the park it was that or a long day with more questionable camp sites over by Moose Creek, so I chose the short day and spent more time bouldering and peak bagging.Questionable vegetables... I had heard there was still a lot of snow in the high country so I brought my axe, but as of last week I would say this was unnecessary for the trail. I walked over plenty of snow on the passes, but the steep patches could be avoided. It was nice to see all the snow after the previous drought years; I’m pretty sure the Schoolroom Glacier on Hurricane Pass took a much needed year off from shrinking finally. I found this right by my head in the morning... "Bonneville Crematory 00864"The only problem was that Alaska Basin was still so wet and snowy it was hard to find a place to camp. There were tents pitched at pretty ridiculous angles on the few dry south-facing slopes. It was alright for a single trekker like myself with a small footprint however. The two peaks I climbed, Battleship and Fossil, have mostly south-facing scrambles to the top so they were dry, thankfully, since they’re some of the only really easy peaks to bag off of the trail.

Schoolroom GlacierSweet moraine at the base of Schoolroom Glacier on Hurricane Pass

Battleship MountainShot of Fossil Mountain

Spearhead Peak, between Fox Creek and Death CanyonI brought my climbing shoes along, which I’ve never done before. It’s actually a lot of entertainment per pound, and I’m not sure why I never did it before. There are, of course, loads of sweet boulders all around and it’s a great way to kill some time. I found some cool problems on the Death Canyon Shelf, and an incredibly scenic boulder field at the top of Fox Creek, below Spearhead Peak.

The Death Canyon ShelfIt was a really fun trip in the end, with perfect weather the whole time, a couple of peaks, wildlife (but no bears)… couldn’t ask for more. It was nice to get re-aquainted with the names and geography of the Tetons, too. I rolled out of the Phillips Canyon trailhead Cool flowers on Fossilon the Pass on the third day. Even though there were a lot of people out enjoying the backcountry, it was crazy how thick they were by the Pass. It didn’t help that there’s are a crap-ton of Boy Scouts in Jackson working on trails right now. I saw four hard-helmeted crews of the lads! (Which is awesome, I think they are working on at least four new bike trails on the Pass!). I can’t wait to get back in the Tetons again! I’m thinking the Middle and South Teton in a few weeks…

Me on top of Fossil Mountain, the Tetons in the back

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One Response to “Teton Crest Trail”

  1. [...] - is short. Carpe deim. This time I just went to Alaska Basin for two nights. When I hiked the Teton Crest Trail last month I had spent one night in the Basin already, but the plan this time was to spend both [...]

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