Wednesday, July 23, 2014
Due to other plans falling through last week, I decided late one evening to thru hike the Teton Crest Trail. The next morning I headed out. There are various similar but differing routes that seem to all go by the same name. What I did was start at Phillips Canyon on Teton Pass and came out Paintbrush Canyon. This is about 42 miles total. I hitchhiked to and from my house as well, so that added a bit more walking. I took two days to hike this, some people do it in a day, and some people take 6 or more days. Again, there's a lot of variations. 21ish mile days are long but not particularly hard for me and don't require either a very early start, or walking until dark. I also have a pretty light weight gear set up now (14.5 pounds base weight for this trip, not including my food or water) which makes walking that far much more enjoyable than doing it with 50 pounds on your back.
There was more snow than I was expecting. This meant lots of hiking across snow fields, avalanche debris piles many many feet deep, and two kinda sketchy crossings at the top of Hurricane Pass and Paintbrush Divide. As it's warm, this also meant running water everywhere. Tons of waterfalls coming off every possible surface, high or low, as well as a lot of trail being underwater, or actively flowing with water. This was pretty and as I usually hike with wet feet anyway, not a big problem.
These photos approximately follow the scenes along the trail as I walked it, from south to north. I only saw one moose, other than that, the majority of wildlife was birds or marmots. For most of the trail you are at elevations where most larger animal simply don't reside. There were a bunch of other hikers around the several times I got closer to a trailhead, but for most of the miles I was totally alone which was nice.
Wildflowers ranged from little sprouts just sticking their heads through still melting snow to fields that were chest high on me as I walked through them. The weather was nice overall, with one thunderstorm right as I finished my dinner so I just headed to my tent for the night. The haze you can see in most of the shots is smoke coming from a wildfire somewhere in Washington state.