Grand Teton Adventure Part 4: Paintbrush

Wednesday September 1, 2021 was our final day hiking the backcountry trails of Grand Teton National Park, and concluding our grand 50-mile loop. If you missed Days 1-3, check out our entire series here. We woke to perfect weather again [what are the odds?] and bid a fond farewell to our lovely camping site in Upper North Cascade. I have to say, out of all our 50-mile loop, experiencing Cascade Canyon [South and North fork] receives our highest ranking. For views, water features, diversity of flora & fauna, and simply showing off the epitome of a “Teton Wilderness” experience, it really can’t be beat! Five Stars. Highly Recommend.

For the next hour we made a steady climb up an endless series of stone steps to Lake Solitude, and the bowl of the basin. From there, we began our long climb up, up, up the East side of the basin to Paintbrush Divide, and Paintbrush Canyon.

We met several folks coming down who were looping clockwise. without exception each one would say something like, “wow, you’re going to try to over the pass with those big packs on?!” …

Great. Trying not to panic!

Cascade North Fork [wildfire smoke from California caused the haze]

The climb was continuous and only included two switchbacks the entire stretch, which made for a very long, slow haul. Despite having lingering haze from the California fires, the views were truly glorious which helped distract our tired feet!

When we finally reached the top, I pulled out my 46 Climbs T-Shirt. It was much too cold and windy to remove my pack and put it on, so I held it in front of me with a big grin [that looks a bit more like a grimace due to the wind-chill factor!!]. I have been so honored to participate in this year’s event with a such a wonderful organization who raise funds for mental health advocacy and suicide prevention. 100% of the proceeds from 46 Climbs goes to the American Society for Suicide Prevention. If you would like to donate it is still open through the month of September – go here.

I did it!!

The ultimate challenge of our final day was ENDURANCE! We miscalculated how far it was going to be to loop all the way back to our car at South Jenny Lake, and how long this day would last! We ended up having to walk in the dark with our headlamps that final half mile. Still, it was a beautiful day, and after our initial climb, and surviving our harrowing crossing of Paintbrush pass, it was [mostly, but not quite] “all downhill” from there. We even were treated to a stunning sunset as we trekked around Jenny Lake.

Jenny Lake Sunset with a view of the mouth of Cascade Canyon

Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you and the storms their energy, while cares will drop away like autumn leaves.

John Muir, 1885

Although it is thrilling to view the Tetons in all of their glory from a distance, there is nothing truly more sacred and splendid than spending time exploring them up close and personal – climbing the canyons, drinking from their glacial fountains [properly filtered, of course], and breathing the trees into your soul. This was an adventure of a lifetime that we will treasure forever. We have fallen head over heals in love with Grand Teton National Park, and cannot wait to return.

We love GTNP!

Enjoy the video! – Love, Holly & Jeff

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