Thursday, September 25, 2014

Garnet Canyon, Grand Teton NP



We wanted to do one last big hike here in the park in preparation for our meeting up with the Box Canyon bunch next week, and decided on trying to make the 3.8 mile trek into Death Canyon. Apparently the name came about in 1899 when a member of a survey party disappeared and was never found. Besides the intriguing name, it had been highly recommended by a friend. But when we got to Moose-Wilson Road yesterday it was closed due to grizzly activity, and would have meant a 25 mile driving detour just to get to the trailhead.

Not having another trail in mind, we were near the visitor center so decided to stop and ask for advice. The ranger we spoke with suggested a similar hike in Garnet Canyon, just a few miles up the road at the Lupine Meadows trailhead. This is a 4.1 mile trail, but we failed to ask about the elevation gain, which was probably just as well that we didn’t know. Our goal was to make it to the end, but with out and back trails it’s nice to have the option to turn back at any time.


The trail is rather innocuous for the first mile or so through the forest, then begins climbing in earnest. Of course climbing along a ridgeline makes for nice views, which gave us a good excuse to stop frequently. We were both having a real problem catching our breath and feeling lightheaded on the way up, and even considered turning back a few times, but persevered and tried to take it even slower. Jim joked that if we walked much slower we would be standing still.



It was a hazy day but we had great views of Bradley and Taggert Lakes.


And Blacktail Butte, where we did a hike last weekend.


We spoke with several groups of people who were coming down the trail and told us about bear sightings at Surprise and Amphitheater Lakes, but that was a different trail than the one to Garnet Canyon. We decided to take the left fork to the canyon, 1.1 more miles, and skip the possibility of seeing bears. Besides, the trail to the lakes was another 1.8 uphill, longer than we wanted to hike. And it appeared that most of the other hikers opted for the lakes, so we were all alone in the canyon.

Yes, that is the trail, all rocks for the last half mile or so.



The ranger said her favorite part of the trail was near the end when the Middle Teton is “in your face”. And it sure was!


This is what we came to at 4.1 miles.


And this is what we saw.



Jim just had to climb up some of the boulders to see if he could see a trail continuing on, but I had to remind him we had a long walk back to the car. He said it was just getting interesting, but reluctantly came back down. This is actually the route many climbers take to the South, Middle and Grand Tetons, but not us. I was just happy we made it to the end of the established trail. Especially when Jim checked his GPS and found that we had come up 2,400’.


Fortunately it was almost all downhill from there, but it was a long 4.1 miles back with tired legs. At least we could breathe and talk on the way down.  It took us almost three hours (including a lunch break) to hike up but only an hour and forty five minutes to get back down.

Another road block on the way home.


And now for a sad wildlife story. Our friends Ron and Jane had been here at Gros Ventre while cleaning and getting moved into a condo they purchased in Jackson. They’ve sold their Lazy Daze and left yesterday to head back to Arizona. Just as they were getting ready to pull out of their site, a bull moose and a bunch of photographers surrounded a cow and her calf. In trying to get away the cow fell and broke her leg right behind their car. She managed to get up and they were able to drive away, but the moose had to be shot. The rangers have since closed off the site and posted signs around the campground. Such a tragedy for a photo op.


  1. My kind of country…oh, and red rocks and Pacific Ocean beaches…and Arizona's Sonoran Desert…and what did I leave out???

  2. Love those fall colors.
    Wonderful hike but sad to read the end. People are just idiots sometimes. Doesn't any one have a zoom lens on their camera?

  3. Great job!! I can see why you are getting in shape if you are meeting up with Mark and Bobbi!! They won't show any mercy:)

    Why is it that the last part of a strenuous hike is always very rocky when you legs are tired!! Oh, I love those boulders. We haven't had to do any scrambling yet. I can' wait to get back to Utah!! Love the whole body workout. You sure had some beautiful views.

    What a sad story. People are so ignorant!

  4. We are riding riding riding at 4000 feet in Pueblo, preparatory to our arrival in Capital Reef.

  5. Those boulders are incredible! Love the water making its way through it all. Bison in the road always look like they're posing - like dogs at a dog show :-) I hope the sad incident is publicized broadly as I think people get complacent and forget these are wild creatures. Thank you for including it in your post.

  6. I really can't wait to visit Grand Teton, I really hope it will happen next year. Thanks for sharing your beautiful, if strenuous, hikes!

  7. Congratulations on doing such a challenging hike. Your pictures of the trails, the views and middle Teton are wonderful. Looking forward to your meeting with the Box Canyon bunch. I am just furious with the public. What will her calf do now just so people can get pictures of them. I hope they are suitably chastised but I doubt it. How very sad. I've seen this over and over, people coming too close as though these were zoo animals. At one point I saw a boy chasing a deer trying to get a picture and I screamed at the top of my voice. "IF you continue to chase that deer I will call the park police". Sorry for the rant! The loss of her life is an outrage.

    1. Here is a link to the article about the moose incident. If you scroll all the way down to the very first comment, the woman said she thinks a diesel truck may have scared the moose. In the end, no matter what the cause, it was tragic. I must say the two juvenile males I watched knock over the satellite dome the other day were not the least bit disturbed by the crowd of onlookers. In fact the owner of the satellite had a hard time getting them to move away.

  8. what a gorgeous hike! I'm missing the mountains already! How nice to have a place in Jackson. Sad about Momma moose. I hope the baby was old enough to be on its own.