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The Teton Crest - 5 members in 6 triplogs have rated this an average 5 ( 1 to 5 best )
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Jul 20 2017
Tough_Boots
avatar

 Routes 67
 Photos 2,708
 Triplogs 755

40 male
 Joined Mar 28 2008
 Phoenix, AZ
The Teton CrestYellowstone, WY
Yellowstone, WY
Backpack avatar Jul 20 2017
Tough_Boots
Backpack40.10 Miles 9,057 AEG
Backpack40.10 Miles4 Days         
9,057 ft AEG
 no routes
1st trip
That 9L really knows how to put together a trip. This one had been in the works for a while and luckily Lee was already up that way and could join us. It was a heavy snow year and we'd been nervous for a while about if we could complete it or not. There were two spots we were worried about. Luckily, Hurricane Pass was no problem. The Paintbrush Divide ended up being intimidating but nothing that microspikes, ice-axes, and determination couldn't conquer. I would absolutely love to spend more time in the Grand Tetons. Its a beautiful range with so much character. I think we caught it at the absolutely perfect time. It was four days of snow and wildflowers.
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"there is no love where there is no bramble."
--bill callahan
Jul 20 2017
chumley
avatar

 Guides 75
 Routes 667
 Photos 13,238
 Triplogs 1,423

46 male
 Joined Sep 18 2002
 Tempe, AZ
The Teton CrestYellowstone, WY
Yellowstone, WY
Backpack avatar Jul 20 2017
chumley
Backpack42.14 Miles 9,514 AEG
Backpack42.14 Miles4 Days         
9,514 ft AEG
 
1st trip
:y: :y: :y:

:D Five HAZopellis for sure! :D

Day 1: Granite Canyon Trail
9.07 miles / 2,684 aeg / 4:34
We parked our car at Leigh Lake trailhead and shuttled via a cab to the Granite Trailhead. The trail climbed steadily through forested terrain along a fast flowing creek. There are a couple of camping zones along the trail with numerous marked campsites. Very few of them are suitable for four tents, but the couple of group sites have more space. Permits assign you to a zone, not a specific site, so you may not be able to camp where you want. We didn't have that problem since we were the only people we saw who were heading up canyon that day. We set up camp near the top of the Upper Granite camp zone just a few minutes before a thunderstorm sent us into our tents. An hour or two later it cleared up and we had a pleasant night at camp.

Day 2: Upper Granite to Alaska Basin
11.15 miles / 2,614 aeg / 7:25
The day started with a short but healthy climb to Marion Lake before ascending farther to the crest and entering the National Forest and Jedediah Smith Wilderness. The next two miles to Fox Creek Pass featured expansive views across the Teton high country. From Fox Creek Pass, it was about 3 miles on the Death Canyon Shelf, with the stunningly beautiful Death Canyon dropping toward the valley below us. Next we climbed the gentle ascent to Mount Meek Pass before descending the Sheep Steps into Alaska Basin. We were all absolutely exhausted at this point, but opted to push another 1.5 miles to Sunset Lake for to camp. To get there, the trail climbs about 400 feet, but it felt like 1000! We camped in some trees northwest of the lake because the prime spot on the cliff above the lake was still snowed in.

Day 3: Alaska Basin to North Fork Cascade
10.14 miles / 2,034 aeg / 5:22
After an exhausting day 2, we were all excited for an easy day 3. :) Of course, it started with a 1000 foot climb to Hurricane Pass, but with fresh morning legs it went fairly quickly. Hurricane Pass brings you up close and personal with the majestic peaks of the Tetons, and drops to the base of Schoolroom Glacier. From here, the trail descends through the very scenic South Fork Cascade Canyon. It seemed a little strange here because we suddenly encountered a moderate number of touristy day hikers, which is unusual for the middle of a backpacking trip. But this canyon is a popular day hike from the valley below and at just 6 miles from the canyon forks to the trailhead, day hikers willing to put 12-15+ miles on a hike can get pretty far up here.

Instead of heading down canyon toward the trailhead however, we turned left and headed up North Fork Cascade Canyon toward Lake Solitude. A roaring stream runs in the middle of the valley, and the down-valley views back to the rugged peaks were some of the best of the trip.

We settled in to a campsite that was smaller than we would have preferred. Like Granite Canyon, the permit is for the zone, not a specific site. Due to it's proximity to the valley (7-8 miles) via the Cascade Canyon Trail, the best sites here go early.

Day 4: North Fork Cascade to Leigh Lake
11.78 miles / 2,189 aeg / 6:21
This was always going to be the most difficult day. We knew that Paintbrush Divide was still snow covered and crossing it would require mountaineering gear. We were all equipped with ice axes and opted for microspikes over full crampons. The initial climb brought us past the still-icy Lake Solitude before climbing an amazing trail cut that climbs a single traverse for over a mile before making two long switchbacks to the divide. The quality of trail and the views on this climb are in my top 5.

Once reaching the divide we were happy that there was evidence of somebody having descended the snowfield before us, but not very happy with how challenging and dangerous it looked. Kudos to Lee for not letting us think about it too long or introduce second thoughts ... :app:

The descent was slow and deliberate. None of us desired to test our amateur self-arrest skills on this slope so the goal was prevention. The snow was getting a slushy, and the sun was unrelentingly hot. I've never been so warm hiking downhill. In the snow. Half an hour later, we had made it to dry ground again, and we all breathed a sigh of relief. From here down there was plenty of snow cover, but nothing nearly as harrowing as the divide had been, and I even managed a fun little glissade on one slope. :DANCE:

We took a break at Holly Lake before dropping down out of the snow and following the trail back the final 7 miles down Paintbrush Canyon to the truck at Leigh Lake.

Final Thoughts
Channeling my inner Jerry Springer!
This was an amazing trip with good team effort. Thank you to 9L for doing the permit legwork and planning. FOTG saved us a few $ in rental cars and shuttles by making this a stop on his drive home from Montana. And tough_boots was the sacrificial hiker who would fall back in case of a grizzly attack :o (not sure we told him that, but it didn't matter since that never happened :sweat: ). And we all supported each other through the new challenge of descending a snowy pass. :app:

We were probably two weeks early due to the heavy snow pack from last winter. But despite the challenges of traveling in snow, the scenery of rugged mountain peaks and valleys dotted with snow combined with fields of wildflowers is unparalleled. I would love to return to the Tetons and explore more of this majestic range! :)
Flora
Flora
Glacier Lily
Fauna
Fauna
Moose
Meteorology
Meteorology
Avalanche Sunset
wildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observation
Wildflowers Observation Light
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Profound observer
1 archive
Jul 20 2017
John9L
avatar

 Guides 6
 Routes 170
 Photos 4,848
 Triplogs 1,619

male
 Joined Mar 12 2004
 Scottsdale, AZ
The Teton CrestYellowstone, WY
Yellowstone, WY
Backpack avatar Jul 20 2017
John9L
Backpack40.34 Miles 9,167 AEG
Backpack40.34 Miles4 Days         
9,167 ft AEG
 
1st trip
The idea for this trip started over a year ago when I saw triplogs from @Lucyan and @MikeS. Their pics looked amazing and I knew this was a hike for us. I talked to Chumley and he was just as excited as me. From there the planning began and FOTG & Kyle were both down. I did some research and was at my PC ready to go the morning the permits went on sale back in early January on Recreation.gov. Once we had the permit the rest of the details were planned. Airfare was a bit pricey so we decided to spend a week in Wyoming. The first four days will be backpacking the Teton Crest followed by two days in Yellowstone and one final day back in Jackson Hole where we would catch a flight home in the late afternoon. The days and weeks ticked by and we flew out on Wednesday, July 19th.

We arrived in Jackson Hole around mid-afternoon and met FOTG at the airport. From there we drove to the Tetons Visitor Center and acquired our permit. We went over current conditions and they strongly recommended an ice axe. Kyle and Chumley already had one but FOTG and myself needed one. So from there we drove into town and stopped by the Teton Backcountry Rental where we both rented an Ice Axe for twenty five bucks. After that we checked into our hotel, bought groceries, ate dinner and arranged our shuttle. We went with Daniel’s Cash Cab 307-413-3770. The rest of the evening involved packing and final preparations. All the months of planning were over and it was time to hit the trail!




Day 1 – Thursday, July 20th. Granite Canyon to Upper Granite Canyon
We met our shuttle driver at the Leigh Lake Trailhead around 9am and were shuttled to the Granite Canyon Trailhead to the south. We geared up and headed up the trail. The going is fairly easy with a steady gain. It was a warm and humid day and all of us were sweating in no time. We continued on as the trail parallels a creek heading up canyon. We took some short breaks and only saw a handful of people.

As we got farther back we noticed storm clouds moving in. We were hoping to beat them to camp before rain started falling. We selecting a campsite about a half mile above the group campsite and set up camp right before the rain started falling. We all climbed into our tents as the skies opened. Rain & hail fell as thunder crackled around us. It wasn’t too bad and lasted less than an hour. The rest of the evening was spent relaxing around camp. Fires are not allowed so we put on our jackets to keep warm. Sunset was around 9pm so we had lots of daylight. All of us turned in by 10pm and that was the end of day one.

Day 2 – Friday, July 21st. Upper Granite Canyon to Sunset Lake
Our day two started slowly as we took our time in camp and packed everything up. We hit the trail and started the solid climb to Marion Lake. About a mile up the trail we encountered our first snow. It was patchy as we walked over and around it. Our big concern was post holing but didn’t have any issues. We continued on and passed Marion Lake which is spectacular. We wish we camped here but didn’t have a permit for this zone.

Next up was the Death Canyon Shelf which I was really looking forward to. There were more patches of snow and we passed a few groups going the opposite direction. They gave us an update on the conditions and said they couldn’t get over Paintbrush Divide. They only had one ice axe among a medium size group and that wasn’t going to cut it. We kept at it and really enjoyed the views down Death Canyon. I’d love to return here for a trip down this canyon. It looks awesome! We took a lunch break overlooking the canyon and continued on from there.

We encountered more snow as we neared Alaska Basin and the trail makes a steep drop into the basin. I was glad I had hiking poles because this helped with balance. Once we got into the basin we talked with a national forest employee. He asked us to be bear aware and take proper bear precautions with our food. We told him we were from Arizona and he asked a bunch of questions about the Superstitions. It took little convincing and he is all about a trip this spring! After our chat we took a short break near one of the basin lakes and then continued one more mile to Sunset Lake. We encountered quite a bit of snow through here and it sucked energy. We were all glad to reach the lake and took off our packs and relaxed!

Sunset Lake is a beautiful alpine lake that sits a bit below 10K. We had a wonderful campsite with plenty of space. Our campsite was surrounded by marmots too. They were all over and we counted eight at one moment. We enjoyed a relaxing evening and were in bed again before 10pm.

Day 3 – Saturday, July 22nd. Sunset Lake to North Fork Cascade Canyon
Our third day was going to be big. We had to cross Hurricane Pass and then drop down South Fork of Cascade Canyon and then head up the North Fork where we planned on camping. We left camp around 9am and had roughly a thousand feet to climb to the pass. We talked to some other hikers and they said Hurricane Pass was mostly snow free with some patches about a mile below the pass. This was a relief knowing we have fairly easy going.

We made the long climb to the pass and encountered one steep snow field. FOTG opted to put on Micro Spikes to safely cross. The rest of us scrambled around the snow field. Once above it was easy going all the way to the pass. Once we arrived at Hurricane Pass we were greeted with epic views of the peaks and Cascade Canyon. One of the best features is Schoolroom Glacier. It’s a frozen lake surrounded by a moraine. It made us think of Global Warming. This glacier will probably dry up in my lifetime and it will be a tragic loss. After admiring the views we dropped down into Cascade Canyon and continued north. There were a few patches of snow that took some careful footwork but nothing serious. The snow disappeared as we continued dropping and we set a quick pace as we headed for our low point.

The crowds picked up as we descended and we met a volunteer ranger who checked our permit. She was very friendly and was excited about our itinerary. After that we continued down and then started the climb up North Fork of Cascade Canyon. Today is Saturday and this canyon was very busy. We were concerned on finding a good campsite, especially one that can accommodate four tents. We ultimately found one that was tight but we made it work. We spent another afternoon enjoying the pleasant weather and our epic view of Grand Teton Peak!

Day 4 – Sunday, July 23rd. North Fork Cascade to Paintbrush Canyon and exit the park
We decided to start early on our final day in the park. We were on trail at 7am hoping the snow would be firm by the time we started our descent from Paintbrush Divide. We had to climb nearly 2,000 ft over three miles to the high point of our hike at 10,700ft. The going went well as we passed Lake Solitude and continued on the immaculate trail up. It makes a long traverse followed by a couple of switchbacks. We hit a patch of snow around 10K ft and decided to put on our Micro Spikes and get out the Ice Axe. There were two sections clustered together and I’m glad we hit them. This gave us a chance to get a feel for the snow and our equipment. Once we were over the snow we put our gear away and continued on to the Paintbrush Divide.

I was the first to arrive at the Paintbrush Divide and noticed the epic views down canyon. There was a lot of snow we’re going to need to deal with and this gave me some anxiety. It helped seeing a couple heading down. They passed through before us so I knew the route was doable. There are two routes from Paintbrush Divide. The normal summer route where the trail heads down and the winter route. The trail could not be accessed due to a large block of snow. You would need technical gear to safely pass over the snow here. I checked out the winter route and thought it looked steep but safer. The snow continues down and out. There was no threat of rocks in the event you cannot arrest your fall. Chumley and FOTG both wanted to do the summer route and there was no looking back once the decision was made. We didn’t waste time thinking about it. We geared up and went!

FOTG went first and set the pace. It will be slow going as he dug out steps started by groups before us. I followed and took my time. Every step was slow going as I carefully went one step at a time constantly repositioning my Ice Axe. There were a few times where my downhill foot slipped an inch or two on soft snow. This made my heart skip a beat. The Mircro Spikes helped and I couldn’t do this without the Ice Axe. I had my phone stowed away and didn’t take any pics along the traverse. I barely looked back at Chumley and Kyle fifty feet behind me. It was one foot in front of the other all the way until we were back on solid ground. I was elated after safely crossing the snow field. This was the first time I’ve ever done anything like this. It was a hell of a rush!

Once everyone was down it was fairly easy going. We still had snow fields to cross but none were as treacherous as the descent off the pass. We continued down and saw some day hikers exploring the area. We knew we were home free! We took a short break at Holly Lake and then continued down. The snow disappeared as we got below 9K ft and our pace picked up. The last few miles to the car were bittersweet as we completed our hike. This hike took a lot of work and the snow didn’t make it any easier. What an adventure!




Final Thoughts
The Teton Crest Trail is a spectacular hike that is right up there with the John Muir Trail. The views are magnificent as you hike from valley to pass and back into valley. Each turn brought new jaw dropping views. The trail never disappointed!

There was quite a bit of snow for us. Most of it was patchy and a nuisance but it sucked time and energy. We were fairly spent each day and didn’t do huge mileage.

Having a GPS with a route preloaded helped keep us on track. The snow covered the trail in some areas and the GPS helped with navigation.

I wore trail runners for this hike even though the BCO recommended boots. My feet were soaked on every day except the first day. Luckily it wasn’t a big deal.

We had Micro Spikes and an Ice Axe for this and couldn’t have completed our loop without these tools. We only used these on the Paintbrush Divide Trail. Check with the BCO on current conditions a few days before beginning this hike. Go prepared!

The weather held up nicely for us! The only rain we had was on our first day after getting camp set up. It lasted about an hour and the storm cleared.

Thanks to Chumley, FOTG & Kyle for coming along for this hike. We had a great group and truly enjoyed this trip! Another memorable trip in the books!
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1 archive
Jul 20 2017
friendofThunde
avatar

 Guides 18
 Routes 280
 Photos 7,723
 Triplogs 716

37 male
 Joined Jan 21 2013
 AZ
The Teton CrestYellowstone, WY
Yellowstone, WY
Backpack avatar Jul 20 2017
friendofThundergod
Backpack40.34 Miles 9,167 AEG
Backpack40.34 Miles4 Days         
9,167 ft AEG
 no routes
1st trip
Chumley and John covered this little trek very well in their triplogs and I would suggest reading theirs for planning purposes, or other pertinent information. In fact, I really do not have anything to add in that area. This was just a great backpack with good friends and the perfect way to end my summer on the road in the northern Rockies.

First of all, a big thanks to @John9L for putting this all together. His meticulous planning kept our backpack and the logistics surrounding it pretty headache free. Although I can't give him too much credit, as once this backpack started, the mountains did all the work.

This was undoubtedly some of the most scenic country I have ever traveled through. There were sections that rivaled the Sierra Nevada and basins and lakes that could compete with anything in Glacier. We dealt with hail, lightning and snow, but it all seemed appropriate and fitting for a forty mile trek across the Continental Divide and I embraced it. After all, scenery like this, should require some grit to be expelled for the privilege to enjoy.

The hiking was also generally perfect and even with some snow, one could see the immense amount of work that has gone into the Crest Trail. The passes will get anyone's heart bumping, however, none of them broke any of us off and they were generally pretty manageable, in terms of lingering winter conditions. As one would expect with our delinquent crew, there was plenty of comic relief and the mood was light. We kept our days very manageable in terms of mileage and there was plenty of time for resting and relaxation at our generally pristine campsites. I even partook in this thing called sleeping in and to be honest after three weeks of binge hiking and backpacking in Glacier, it was lovely.

In the end, we finished to no issues, no equipment lost and all person's present, so a good trip in my book. The once in a lifetime scenery, memories and experiences along the way only further reaffirm this assessment.
Named place
Named place
Lake Solitude
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Wildflowers Observation Light

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water 3 out of 5water less than max Granite Canyon Medium flow Medium flow

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water 3 out of 5water 4 out of 5 Marion Lake 76-100% full 76-100% full

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water 3 out of 5water 4 out of 5 Schoolroom Glacier 76-100% full 76-100% full
Its a glacier, ie a big block of melting ice, you will find water near...

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water 3 out of 5water 4 out of 5 Sunset Lake 76-100% full 76-100% full
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Aug 04 2016
Lucyan
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 Routes 1
 Photos 11,257
 Triplogs 707

39 female
 Joined Jan 18 2011
 In the Wild
The Teton CrestYellowstone, WY
Yellowstone, WY
Backpack avatar Aug 04 2016
Lucyan
Backpack42.00 Miles 9,681 AEG
Backpack42.00 Miles3 Days         
9,681 ft AEG20 LBS Pack
 no routes
1st trip
The Teton Crest Trail is a 40-mile long hiking trail in the U.S. state of Wyoming that extends from Phillips Pass, on the border of Bridger Teton and Caribou-Targhee National Forests, to String Lake in Grand Teton National Park.

This trip is usually done as a 4-5 backpack, we did it in 2.5 days. We had perfect weather and conditions plus in a pretty good shape after hiking and backpacking in Sierras past few weeks :D

Day 1 - Granite Canyon - Marion Lake - Fox Creek Pass - Alaska Basin - 18 miles
Day 2 - Alaska Basin - Sunset Lake - Hurricane Pass - South Fork - Cascade Canyon - Lake Solitude - Paintbrush Divide - 15 miles
Day 3 - Paintbrush Divide - Holly Lake - Paintbrush Canyon - Leigh Lake - String Lake- Jenny Lake - 9 miles

For anyone looking for perfect backpacking trip with outstanding views and scenery - this is it! This trip is now on top of my list, absolutely amazing views (pictures don't make it justice), ocean of colorful wildflowers, moderate terrain, lots of wildlife, granite peaks, alpine lakes.
wildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observation
Wildflowers Observation Extreme
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Jul 23 2015
MikeS
avatar

 Photos 99
 Triplogs 866

male
 Joined Mar 18 2012
 Goodyear, AZ
The Teton CrestYellowstone, WY
Yellowstone, WY
Backpack avatar Jul 23 2015
MikeS
Backpack50.20 Miles 10,910 AEG
Backpack50.20 Miles4 Days         
10,910 ft AEG30 LBS Pack
 no routes
1st trip
I am absolutely shocked that with this group of outstanding hikers (I really mean that, this group always impresses me), that no one has ever done this iconic trail across the backside of the Tetons. This was absolutely one of the best adventures I have been on. I am going to rank my top ones below as I would like to see the debate. I went with a group of 5 guys. 3 of us started up Granite Canyon while 2 took the gondola up to save their legs and meet us. The problem was the 2 that went up were the least experienced and got themselves lost in the backcountry. After looking for them for a few hours with no luck we went and set up camp. We found them the next morning but they were tired and cold. The 2 guys I was with had to actually use a 2 person tent for 2 people so you know how that goes. We had a tired group for our big day heading north to the Tetons. This trail is so amazing. Heading from south to north the trail gets more amazing by the mile. Night 2 we camped in the South Fork camp area literally right below the Grand Teton. So beautiful. Rained all night with some serious thunder but still awesome. My group was very tired the next morning so I got up early and went solo up a trail towards the Grand. Very peaceful and beautiful. Still a lot of snow up high which creates amazing waterfalls. Our group hiked down South Fork and the waterfalls got even better. 3 of our group had enough and hiked back to Jenny Lake via Cascade Canyon. While me and another guy continued on up North Fork towards Paintbrush. This was a beautiful trail. We got up to Solitude Lake and jumped in for a nice 35 degree refresher, then over Paintbrush divide. Coming down my legs were starting to feel it and I was grateful to get to our campground. We found a great spot looking down the canyon towards Jenny Lake. The next morning we were ready for a shower and even though we had 30-35 lbs packs, we ran a lot of the way out. An outstanding experience that I would highly recommend. I will paste a 4 min video below so you can see what 50 miles in the Tetons looks like. While hiking I decided to rank my top “big” adventures. I am interested in what others think as I know many of you have done some of these other “big” adventures.

https://youtube.com ... lqXo

Top 8 adventures I have been on

1. Kalalau Trail – On the Napali Coast of Kauai – Amazing combination of beauty and difficulty with rivers crossings, cliffs and jungle humidity
2. Teton Crest Trail – Grand Teton NP – see above – Amazing scenery
3. Half Dome – Yosemite NP – Did a point to point coming in on Panaroma and down Mist.
4. Grand Canyon R2R- GCNP – So many varitions to R2R, R2R2R or even down SK up BA. Done them all and love them.
5. West Rim, Angels Landing, Observation Point – Zions NP – Beautiful looking down the canyon from Observation Point, amazing scenic points from West Rim and Angel’s Landing is just plain fun.
6. Mt Whitney – Highest Point in lower 48. A great challenge and fun trail
7. Havasupai – Hike is a little on the boring side but the waterfalls are outstanding and fun to play in.
8. Under the Rim Trail – Bryce NP – Great challenge and beautiful but not as much as the ones above.

Near term bucket list
1. The Maze – Canyonlands NP
2. Longs Peak and Maroon Bells double in CO
3. Glacier NP backpack trip
4. Complete Trans Zions
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Wildflowers Observation Substantial
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3 archives

WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.

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