While emerging from the physical and emotional chaos that was 2020, I finally got my bearings in early 2021 and set several personal wellness and fitness goals. I needed to lose a lot of “pandemic pounds” and I wanted to become fit enough to accomplish my dream of doing a long backcountry hike in the wilderness. I started working with a wonderful coach named Max Lowery [whom I highly recommend]. Max has helped me transform my mind and my body, to reach all of my milestone goals.
Today I can successfully report about my long backpacking trek – our greatest adventure and physical accomplishment yet! Jeff and I just returned from spending 7 days in the amazing Grand Teton National Park. Four of those days we were backpacking deep in the mountains – up and down, crossing over three major peaks, and experiencing four major canyons which ultimately spanned a fifty-mile Grand Loop.
It. was. EPIC!
I had originally planned a 100-mile [160.9 K] trek in my home state of Utah, but it became impossible due to our severe drought, extreme heat, and wildfires this year. So, Jeff and I made a very last-minute change [only one-week notice] and headed up to Grand Teton National Park [yep, “Teton” was named by French fur trappers – and apparently, female anatomy is all they could think of when they saw these beautiful pointed peaks].
Luckily GTNP is only about a 6-hour drive away from our house. We stayed 7 days, 6 nights total in GTNP, and we hiked 4 days & 3 nights in the backcountry. We actually slept in our little tent ALL 6 NIGHTS, which is the longest continuous tent camping I’ve done in my entire life. It actually wasn’t that bad [okay … 2 nights were pretty bad! The first due to being freezing cold, and the one at Sunset Lake due to having a sharp rock in my back … but I survived!]
I have to say, this was a very “happy accident” going to GTNP. I believe we had a MUCH more beautiful route! It was also a much more challenging experience – taking me completely out of my comfort zone [which was great!]
Our first day was the easiest. “Only”
12 13 miles [20.9 K] with minimal elevation gain. Each day after that became significantly more difficult as we would be climbing up to between 10,000 – 11,000 feet above sea level [3,048 – 3,353 meters].
Actually, Day 2 and Day 4 nearly killed us … but, you’ll have to stay tuned for more about that.
GTNP is right next to the more well-known Yellowstone National Park. This is BEAR COUNTRY – there are many Black and Grizzly bears living here, and they can be very dangerous. So, there are several requirements when backpacking:
- Make a lot of noise when hiking, so you do not startle one.
- Carry bear spray
- Store all your belongings at night in a metal bear box where available
- Place anything with a scent [food, lip gloss, toothpaste, etc.] inside a heavy bear canister inside of your pack!
That thing added a lot of extra weight and bulk to our packs… fun! 😀
My pack [with gear, food, Bear can, and water] weighed about 30 lbs [13.6 Kilos]. It was kind of funny because that’s about exactly how much fat I’ve lost this year, so it was a very powerful reminder to feel how much weight I used to be carrying around every day WITHOUT a backpack!! Gosh, it was so incredible to get to remove that weight every time I took off my pack, and know that is a weight I won’t EVER have to carry permanently again!! Yay! As you can imagine, I took hundreds of photos and video clips. I’ve been working on pulling together a compilation to share, and I have decided to break this four-day adventure into four blog posts & four videos. I will post each of these separately and link to each as they are complete.
Our grand loop was as follows:
Day 1: South Jenny Lake to Phelps Lake
Day 2: Phelps Lake to Sunset Lake, via Static Peak Divide and Alaska Basin
Day 3: Sunset Lake to North Cascade Canyon via Hurricane Pass and South Cascade
Day 4: North Cascade Canyon to South Jenny Lake via Paintbrush Pass and Paintbrush Canyon
Here is Day One. Enjoy!
Jeff and I are hiking and climbing this month in support of the 46 Climbs organization. They raise funds annually for mental health awareness and suicide prevention. For more information, and to join this year’s outdoor challenge please visit their website, Facebook page, or Instagram account!
Makes me wish we could have been with you. How I love hiking in the mountains and did lots of it when I was younger, especially with my dad. I guess at my age I probably couldn’t do it. YOu both look wonderful and how nice to see not smoke and just beautiful blue skies. You definately made the right choice going up to the tetons for your hike. Love you both so much. MOm
It would have been fun to have you with us. People of ALL ages are hiking! Just have to start small and build up to it.
Sadly, this was our first and last day with clear skies. The wildfire smoke arrived the next day. But yes, we feel we still made a good decision to go to the Tetons!
I always enjoy your post…and always look forward to the next one. I have been to the Teteons many times…and wanted to hike to the source of the Snake River. But. It is in heavy bear country and I am now 74.. But, I still may try. Thanks again. You have very inspiring post!
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Hi John, thanks for reading and taking the time to leave a comment! Aren’t the Tetons so magical?
Your trek sounds GREAT! Just take a friend or two along, bring your bear deterrents and use safe practices, and you’ll be just fine! I look forward to hearing all about it!