Wide Open Spaces (Day 41)

If these are life’s lessons, she’ll take this test.

Dixie Chicks

We saved an awesome hike for the last backpacking trip of #RTXIX! I’m sure this day will go down in the book as another five mountain day. It started early at the Old Faithful Inn where the gyser right outside our window erupted just as my alarm went off. There was no one outside in the viewing area, so I think I may have been the only person to witness that particular feat of nature. Once everyone was up, showered, and Fred reloaded we continued our journey southward to Grand Teton National Park.

We went directly to the Jenny Lake Ranger Station. The ranger who checked us in was really enthusiastic about the hike we’d planned. He may have even wanted to tag along. As he described the sites we’d see and how the alpenglow would light up the mountains it got all of us really excited to go as well.

Since we hadn’t had breakfast and knew lunch and dinner were out of the question so we drove to the Jenny Lake Lodge to try to find a meal. Sadly, we caught them just after breakfast ended and before lunch began. Dejected we returned to the ranger center area to try to find something to eat at the general store.

On a previous hike this trip we thought we’d be unable to find a hot meal. I told everyone that instead we’d go to a gas station where each person could pick two “rolly foods”. I’m sure you’ve seen them if you’ve ever been to a Pilot. There are racks and racks of different sausages, burritos, pancakes, and a hodge podge of other options. The girls were a bit disappointed when we found a real meal that day. It turns out though, that the only options at the Jenny Lake general store were rolly foods. Specifically we had our choice of hot dog or sausage. We all went with the sausage and it was surprisingly good.

Then we were finally ready to begin our hike. The original plan had been to hike up Paintbrush Canyon and then back down Cascade Canyon. However, the pass that connects the two areas is, as the ranger described it, “a 40 degree incline that is still covered in snow”. Instead we opted to stay on the Cascade Canyon side only. It turned out to be a perfect choice. The entire canyon was lined with waterfalls that we watched spill into the river as we climbed.

Even as a shorter version of what we’d planned it was still a big hike, 12 miles and 2,900 feet. Once we reached the camping zone our permit was for in the upper part of the North Fork of Cascade Canyon we chose a campsite with ideal views of the Tetons. We rested just a bit and then set up our tents partially just to get it done and partially to lighten our packs for the rest of the hike. Our ultimate goal was to reach Lake Solitude which was about another mile and a half and 800 feet above us.

Since we’d had a chance to rest the climb went pretty quick. We had the entire lake to ourselves except for a few marmots and ravens that kept eyeing our snacks. Don’t worry, we didn’t share with them. Eventually we decided it was time to come back down to our camp. We’re sitting on an outcropping of rock with beer we chilled in the snowmelt writing these posts. We’re going to watch sunset and then get some rest as we fall asleep to the sound of the river rushing past us.

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