Yellowstone & The Grand Tetons (Jul 14-23, 2003)

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yellowstone_coverConditions: Multi-day backpack in Yellowstone, day-hike in The Grand Tetons
Gear: overnight gear
Map: USGS Graham Peak, USGS Mammoth, USGS Johnson Ranch, USGS Joseph Peak, USGS Quadrant Mountain, USGS Grant Teton
Area: Yellowstone NP, The Grand Tetons NP
Stats: about 48mi, 10,256' gain (all trips combined)

This was a chance to meet up with a friend from Seattle who had moved out to Colorado. The plan was to spend about a week in Yellowstone NP backpacking through the Gallitin Range and then head over to the Winds for week two. The trip was abbreviated when my boots suffered a near complete delamination during the first week. So week two was shortened to a day trip in the Tetons.

I met Deirdre in Mammoth and from there we headed over to the ranger station to get our backcountry permits. We were headed into grizzly country which is no small matter. The ranger was a bit on the fussy side, reluctant to give us the permits. Not sure why, maybe because it was us...two men and not a larger group. We demonstrated that we knew our stuff and were prepared so in the end, we got our permit. We were advised at that time there was a small fire event going on along our route and if we saw a helicopter overhead we were to drop our gear, not ask questions and just board the aircraft. Thankfully we never did get the call.

Recollections of the trip...

Entering the Bear Management Area on day 1 and seeing tufts of brown hair and claw marks on the trees. A not so gentle reminder that yes, we were in grizzly country. BTW...we did encounter horseman on the trip who told us of grizzlies along the trail, but...we never did see or hear one. Perfect.

Thunderstorms...we had several 10k foot passes we needed to go over on our trip. Lungs acclimated to sea level struggle to get up these passes with heavy packs. We did it though even though it hurt.

The heat. This trip was hot. At higher elevations it can snow any time of the year and we had the gear in case it did. However, temps on this trip were blistering hot. Ugh.

Heading over our first 10k+ pass while heading over to Sportsman Lake. I was in the lead and got to the pass and looked around the corner to find a huge...HUGE...pile of fresh grizzly scat. Hmm...where was the bear? It was really, really fresh. We made lots of noise to announce ourselves and cautiously headed down to the cabin. There was a fresh pile of bear scat on the trail about every 15 minutes. A bit unnerving.

Fan Creek was a fun section of trail to hike. The trail followed the creek closely and crosses it several time. Lots of time down along this creek resting, relaxing, soaking our feet, enjoying the views and the solitude.

The 2nd part of the loop as we hit the west end of the park and then doubled back along a lower section of the loop to head back east. It was pretty clear this 2nd half of the loop was much less travelled by people. Horse and boot prints were replaced with deer, elk, black bear, brown bear and wolf tracks. I'll never forget the size of both the grizzly and wolf prints along this stretch of trail. Amazing.

The final day...ouch that final day... We arrived at our designated campsite junction but it was approaching evening hours and we were having trouble locating the campsite itself. We spent a fair amount of time poking around, maybe 30 minutes before we looked at each other and thought the same thing. We didn't have time to waste looking for a place to set up camp and hang our food. We were only about 5 miles from the trailhead so the safest thing to do was to hike the rest of the way out. This was painful. It was already an 8+ mile day and the heat made travelling hard. We got through it. I laid down on the side of the road next to my trusty Subaru and feet hurt that bad. We learned later in town that temps that day were over 100F.

After Yellowstone we headed down to the Tetons for a day hike up to Amphitheater Lake. Stunning views.
Yellowstone Backpack Slideshow

(click on map to view a larger version)

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Copyright Janet M. Putz
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