Day 49 and 50: Grand Tetons

Author’s Note: This trip was a doozy and we cut it a night short for the reasons at the bottom of the post. I wrote this first part after hiking yesterday.

We started this backpacking trip with a tense stop at the visitors center to pick up our permit. The heavy traffic got us into the lot at 10:04 and we knew they opened any unclaimed permits up to anyone at 10:00. Fortunately, our permit was still reserved and we were on our way to the trailhead soon.

After finding parking, stuffing last minute things into the packs, we tossed them over our shoulders and onto our backs. Actually, it wasn’t a toss at all. We  hurled them up and over, hoping they’d land on our backs and not throw us to the ground. Our bags are heavy for these trips. Let’s talk about it.

We each carry our sleeping pad and pillow, both of which we inflate, and our sleeping bag. Zak and I get the tent poles and stakes, the girls each get the tents and rain covers. Zak, Zoe, and I carry bear cans, Zoe’s being slightly smaller. She’s responsible for the toiletries, our toothbrushes, toothpaste, and a travel sized deodorant we all share (except for Ellie, she thinks that’s gross so gets her own mini one.) My meds and contact stuff are in there too, as well as sunscreen and hand sanitizer.

Zak and my canisters contain all our food. For these six meals we packed: 6 Clif bars, 8 squeezable applesauces, 2 Nature Valley granola bars, 8 nut bars, 1 lb of beef jerky, 8 beef sticks, two quart size baggies of trail mix, a quart of peanuts, 6 Starbucks Via instant coffees, 8 Nutri Grain bars, 6 oatmeal cream pies, 6 cosmic brownies, a sharable sized bag of Reese’s Pieces, a bag of Cheetos, and 2 pb&j sandwiches. We also brought 3 cans of beer, 1 can of wine, 2 tiny bottles of Bailey’s, and 4 small Gatorades. Hiking between 7 and 10 miles per day this trip, I think we’ll each burn somewhere between 3,000 and 4,000 calories a day. We always end our big hikes ravenous, and we’d rather over pack than under pack food. Since Ellie doesn’t get a bear can she carries to camp stove and water filter.

We each have all our clothes. For this trip I packed/wore: 2 pairs of hiking shorts, 3 hiking tanks, 3 pairs of underwear, 3 sports bras, 3 pairs of socks, a pair of long hiking pants, a long sleeved hiking shirt, and a super lightweight hoodie, and, of course, my boots. We all have Marmots in case of rain, wind, or the need for an extra layer.

We each also carry a poop bag, our phone, a battery pack and cord, a rain cover for our packs, head lamps, our trekking poles/bag, and a pair of sandals or flip flops. Zak and I carry our camp mugs for coffee. We all have a bladders with three liters of water that we refill at night after filtering.

Split among us are a poop shovel, toilet paper, emergency beacon, bug spray, a few card games (which we forgot this time), maps, first aid kit, rope, knife, two small inflatable lanterns, some baggies for garbage, including one fancy, too expensive smell-proof one.

It’s a lot. And it’s heavy! We’ve each named our bags because that’s a hiker thing to do. Mine is Granite, because of her insane weight and her gorgeous grey color. As we hike and drink water the bag gets unnoticeably lighter. By the end of the hike, we should have eaten most of the food, so that should make a noticable difference. Of course, we carry out all our trash.

We found a campsite near the river, which means fresh, cold water and a shit ton of bugs. The flies and mosquitoes were almost unbearable. After setting up the tents, we relaxed in our tents, watching downloaded episodes of Schitt’s Creek. Eventually, our stomachs started rumbling and we made our way to the shore to dig into the food. After eating, we headed back to the site and both girls stumbled upon a swarm of wasps or some other stingy insect. Unfortunately, they both got stung above the ankles, resulting in the pure agony stings bring. We used all the (appropriate) pills and creams in the first aid kit. Although miserable, they both handled the stings like champs. The is nothing worse than seeing your kids in pain and not being able to take it away. It was in that moment of all being in one tent, two kids in tears and pain, that the pure overwhelming exhaustion of the past week set in. Ellie asked if we could hike back out and only camp one night. In a moment of wanting to make her happy, and in agreement, we said yes.

We woke up this morning, had coffee among the mosquitos, packed up camp, and started hiking back out. Just over half a mile into the hike it dawned on me that I had left my flip flops hanging in a tree branch. I started to head back to the campsite, not wanting to leave behind any trace, and I wanted my flip flops! The hike back was quite steep. In fact it was the part yesterday that Ellie started crying and declaring she was done hiking and couldn’t take another step. I was determined to not waste anyone’s time more than necessary, and my feet were moving too quickly. I misplaced my pole just off the path and the leg followed it down. My brain wasn’t expecting the change and I took a decent fall. I immediately knew I had hurt my ankle. I took off my pack, gave myself a few minutes to evaluate the cut on my knee, and attempt to get up. I was able to, but putting pressure on my foot hurt a lot. I hurled that heavy pack back on and hobbled to my damn flip flops. I hurrily made my way back to the rest, knowing I was probably going to start to worry them. Zak cleaned up my cut and Ellie wrapped my ankle using a method she learned in Scouts first aid. I took Advil and then started the rest of the 9 miles of the day. Every single step hurt. Some more than others, especially the uphill, downhill, rocky, and rooty ones. (That was at least 90% of them.)

Zak was able to book a hotel room in Idaho Falls for the night, and we had a great lunch in Victor, ID. We’re planning on ordering a pizza as we watch the Opening Ceremonies. It’s much different than our original plan, but you won’t find a single one of us complaining.

Updates: The stings are both doing well. Ellie’s is a bit larger and more painful and itchy. My ankle is swollen, but I’m icing and elevating now.

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