Wednesday, October 14, 2009

What you don't want to see when you're four miles from the trailhead

Karen & I arrived in Jackson Hole last week excited at the prospect of hiking up the Cascade Canyon trail. The canyon is situated between Grand Teton which is 13,770 feet high to the south and several peaks over 11,000 feet to the north. Steep cliffs descending from these peaks ensure that the highpoints to the north and south are not visible until one hikes considerable distance into the canyon. Of course spotting bear paws four miles into it tempered our excitement with no small degree of apprehension. After about another mile though we were fortunate to see the bear had gone south towards Jenny Lake and we pressed on - due north!

As the trail wraps around the base of Rockchuck Peak and enters Paintbrush Canyon we hiked past alpine lakes and fields with stunning views of the jagged Tetons. At roughly 10,720 feet we meandered through lodgepole pine and impressive rock walls with awesome views of Jenny and String lakes below us.

We were taking a much needed rest and while eating some of the trail mix we purchased at Dornans, I looked up to survey the world in front of us only to discover we were being scrutinized by this fellow not more than 20 yards away.

It was 17 degrees, we were tired, our feet were cold and I was wishing I didn't have that second snifter of Drambuie the night before, but if you look closely at this last photograph you'll see the visual reference of the word 'happy'.