Tuesday, July 5, 2011

4th July Weekend, Grand Teton NP, Day 1, Paintbrush Canyon

In keeping with our new 4th of July weekend tradition we headed up to Wyoming this weekend with our friends from the strength staff, the Johnsons and the Grossarths.  Last years trip was a camping, hiking, rafting trip in Yellowstone NP.  As we drove though the Teton mountain range to get to Yellowstone, we all agreed we would like to come back to spend some more time in this majestic range. It is just not enough for me to drive past such an impressive place. So this year we gathered in the Grand Teton National Park.

We camped in the Gros Ventre Campground for 4 days and enjoyed some memorable dutch oven cooking each night.  Between Trisha's gourmet kitchen skills, Kyle's classic camp meals, and Erik's expertise on the dutch oven, we enjoyed some impressive food.

Day one in the Tetons found Erik and I hiking up Paintbrush Canyon.  The Johnson's went to Yellowstone for the day, and the Grossarth's had attended a wedding and were traveling up this day.  So we took advantage of the small hiking group and chose a more strenuous hike than we might have with a big group.  We started at the String Lake trailhead with a plan to hike as far as we could before the snow became impassable.  There has been tons of snow this year and there was still plenty that hadn't melted in the canyon.  The first hour or so, we skirted along the edge of String Lake and then along the base of the range.  The trail was very lush and forested and we gained a lot of elevation here.

We made a little friend along the way.  Can you tell what he is?

Eventually the views in the canyon opened up and we were blown away by the dramatic rock walls on either side of the canyon.  We also started to encounter alot of snow on the trail here.

We crossed some pretty serious snow packs, and eventually the trail was no where to be seen, but thanks to Erik's top notch GPS navigating skills we just kept trudging along in the snow for a couple hours, it was actually really fun.  There weren't any tracks in the snow so it felt like were the first hikers up there this year. . . even though that probably wasn't the case.

After 6 miles we reached the circue on the GPS were Holly lake should have been, but the whole area was just frozen over with snow, so we snacked on some trail mix and headed back down.  We had some pretty impressive views of the Jackson Valley, Leigh Lake, and Jackson Lake below. Amazing day, 12 miles of beauty.  Next time we come back we will come later in the year and do the whole Cascade/Paintbrush canyon loop.

We were pretty sissy this trip and after our hike we drove out to Colter Bay to take showers before heading back to camp.  Who takes a shower the first day camping? I still feel ashamed. . .  but the drive was nice, the Tetons are a magical place!

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