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Teton Mountains - September, 2009
The contents of Joel's backpack
We fly to Salt Lake and stop at Promontory, UT on the way to the Tetons
These exact, working replicas of the original engines were built in the 70's
We were astonished at the colorful decoration of the trains -- something that is lost in old photographs
The old railroads employed "wipers" (underage boys) to keep these works of decorative art looking spiffy
We finally get to the trailhead for the west side of the Tetons, outside Driggs, ID
We climb up to an alpine basin, called the Alaska Basin, and pitch our tent
From there, we could day hike in multiple directions
Ramar of the Mountains
We day-hike up to one of three passes separating the Alaska Basin from the east, National Park, side of the Tetons
The vegetation gets sparse toward the pass...
...except where a stream cuts through
The pass named for old mountain man and trapper, Joe Meek
Our destination on the following day is another high pass, with Grand Teton peeking over the horizon
Technically, we are hiking in the Jedediah Smith Wilderness, in the Targhee National Forest, on the west border of Teton National Park
The high alpine scenery is alluring but we are experiencing it under ideal conditions
The presence of water works wonders in the dry environment
These are the best-marked network of trails we have enjoyed, outside Europe
It's cold and windy at the top
Jean stands at the pass, dwarfed by the dramatic topography
It's beautiful up here but you don't want to stay too long
A baby snow field
We descend to the more temperate zone
Thanks to a wet spring and early summer, we find lots of flowers in early September
We found the Gentian flowers particularly beautiful
Relaxing back in camp
Off again the following day for Hurricane Pass, the most direct route to the heart of the Tetons
Looking back at Meek Pass, across the Alaska Basin
The top of Grand Teton mountain appears beyond Hurricane Pass
The topographic drama unfolds -- the three Teton mountains
On the pass
The trail continues down the valley to the area where we will hike the following week, when we will enter from the National Park side
A classic glacial cirque, or basin lake, at the foot of a small glacier
Jean, way down the trail
The trail zig-zags down the mountain
Back into Alaska Basin
We made good time getting back to camp as we were chased by a storm
Our camp kitchen, a considerable distance from the tent, in deference to the bears
In grizzly territory, we stuff our food into a bear-proof barrel, rather than hanging it
We drive over Teton Pass to the east side of the range, administered as a national park
Up we go again, heading for Paintbrush Divide, in the heart of the Tetons
The trails are well-constructed and very well-maintained but still very steep
Our camp at Holly Lake, below the Paintbrush Divide
A sow bear checks out the campsites. Her two cubs scrambled along later.
The cylinder on my belt is pepper spray for bears
Hauling the pack is a way-different experience from day-hiking. In terms of pack vs. body weight, Jean has it worse.
A couple hikers ahead of us negotiate a snow field
This one's pretty easy
Hikers at Paintbrush Divide ahead of us
We push on, over the top and into the next drainage
Wouldn't want to be here in winter!
The trail goes in and out of snow fields
The three Tetons begin to emerge
Is it Switzerland or Wyoming?
Can't stop taking pictures
On the other side, we see Lake Solitude at the head of Cascade Valley
Looking back toward the pass as we descend
Cascade Valley is the classic "U" shaped valley sculpted by glaciers, a theory first promulgated by John Muir
Grand Teton is easy to spot but then it gets complicated
Whitebark Pine and Subalpine Fir, the dominant trees of the high country
A yellow-bellied marmot looks us over
Our camp in Cascade Valley. Could it be any better?
Typical view from our camp
Our kitchen, a five minute walk up the trail, where the Park Service had installed a locked, steel box for food storage
After all that hiking, we played tourist for a couple days and drove up to Yellowstone
This causes traffic jams
Papa Bison out for his morning constitutional where the walking is easiest. He gets a police escort.
Many of the animals in the Park are nonchalant about humans and their machines
The Old Faithful Inn
Jean remembers visiting here at age five
We love the rustic whimsy of this building!
Old hand-hewn benches lined up toward Old Faithful
The interior is even more complex
Tourists gather for Old Faithful's promised eruption
O.F. does it's thing
We found the geysers, super-heated pools and vents of the Upper Geyser field more interesting than O.F.
The pure blue color indicates very hot water in which no organisms can grow
The outer reaches of some pools are cooler, allowing for multi-colored growth
Cones build up over the centuries, often with ancient tree trunks in their centers
Our favorite, Morning Glory pool at the far (less crowded) end of the field
The name says it
We stayed a couple nights at a privately-owned converted ranch along Mormon Row, surrounded by national park.
Old out-buildings are converted to rooms. We had a "duplex" to ourselves.
Not a bad view!
We hear strange noises just beyond the fence
The local herd of bison meanders by
Our last day-hike, a short climb through aspen groves outside Jackson, WY
We stop at Mormon Square in Salt Lake before flying home
The illuminated Jesus in the north visitors' center watches over the square
The Zion Bank and the Mormon Temple
We listen to rehearsal for Sunday morning's broadcast from the Tabernacle