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.