Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Teton Crest Trail [August 4 - 7]

On Monday (August 3) we [Me, Eric, Reese, Eric's dad Jackson, Eric's sister Amber, Eric's brother Daniel, Eric's cousin Ben, and Amber's friend LaNelle] drove up to Jackson Hole and camped so that we could drive the rest of the way (30 minutes-ish) to Teton Village and start hiking Tuesday morning. Reese usually travels really good but for some reason she was not having fun this time. I wonder if it was because people were sitting right next to her the whole time and she is used to being by herself in the back of the car, which makes it easy for her to take naps, etc. Plus we were watching a movie, and Jared's Land Cruiser, which we borrowed so we could all travel in one car, has screens on the back of the headrests. Reese kept craning her neck to try to see the screen. All this was making me nervous for the backpacking. I thought to myself, "OH NO, she is going to scream in the backpack all week." At one point Reese was crying a lot, so we switched her carseat forward (I know - BAD), and she was SO happy!! She started flailing her arms, laughing, screaming (happy ones), and blowing out while her tongue is out (what is that called) to make spit fly every where. She was one happy camper for that 30 minutes I allowed her to face forward.

Monday night Reese woke up a lot so I was getting more nervous for the camping trip. It is hard when you're in tents next to other people because the tent walls aren't the best sound barriers. Good thing Eric's dad and sis sleep with ear plugs. Tuesday morning we headed off to Teton Village. You start at Teton Village and ride a tram up the mountainside (HALLELUJAH - Cuts off a ton of altitude you'd have to hike up otherwise.) The tram ride was cool. I had to keep Reese's binky in her mouth so that her ears would pop properly.
When you get off the tram you can look out over the mountains and it is SO gorgeous! You can also see that you have a L-O-N-G way to hike :) For the record, I carried Reese and her stuff, plus a sleeping bag and my water. Eric carried everything else. My pack was probably 30-ish lbs. Eric's was almost 50 - I felt bad, but he gladly carried it. I was so grateful he wanted me and Reese along for the trip so bad.
The whole hike is beautul! It is such beautiful land up there. The trail goes up and down, the ups are killer but do-able, but the trail is constantly weaving through gorgeous wild flower fields (red, blue, yellow, white, purple) and crossing streams, and it is all so picturesque. I wish our good camera wasn't so darned heavy, then we really could have captured the beauty.
Reese had a good time getting to know her Grandpa Ellis, auntie Amber, and uncle Dan. Here is a pic of Amber and Reese. I know Reese's clothes are AWESOME this whole trip but you have to pack light, so yes, instead of pants she has leggings.
Reese was so good the whole hike! She was so good in the backpack. She was happy to be carried around for the most part, and she'd sing to me, and cheer me on when hiking uphill. And even though her naps were quite short while in the backpack, she would go to sleep without a fight, which was nice. We'd take her out of the pack every 1 - 2 hours so her legs (and our legs) could have a break. She LOVED sitting in the dirt and picking up rocks and sticks. They were her toys while we were out, and everything went straight in her mouth. When I'd change her poopy diapers, they always included her current feastings on pine needles, pepples, and pine cone pieces.

1st Day Mileage: 7 miles
Destination: Marion Lake where we set up camp at the sight below but ended up moving to a better campsite across the river.

There was talk of bears all over, so they have bear boxes at the campsites so you can store your food, but the boxes are tiny, so we ended up doing what we normally do and hanging our packs high in the trees so that no animals (except squirrels if they are feisty enough) can get to our stuff. And we'd hang them plenty far away from our tents so that if a bear caught whiff of them, they hopefully wouldn't bug us. Well thankfully, we didn't see any bears. I know some of the group wanted to, but I didn't, at least not until we were done hiking, I'd like to see one while we were driving.

The river was a good place to wash up, but these two (Dan and Ben) and then later Eric joined them, were all about diving all the way under the COLD water. BURRRRRR!
Here is the campsite we moved to. And Reese with her newest toy!!
Reese loves her daddy and is starting to look like she's been camping. By the end of the trip even she looked like she'd been in the back country for a week.
The second day's hike was started with a grueling uphill. There were more grueling uphills that day, but it is always hardest to start with one, when your muscles aren't warmed up, and your mind knows you still have the whole day ahead of you. Once again the hike was covered with gorgeous views!
Here's a look at the Tetons, still so very far away, and the hike ends beyond them :) But that's ok, we were in high spirits!!
Reese had rosy cheeks the whole trip. Partially from the wind and partially from chewing on rocks, sticks, and pine cones that would rub on her cheeks. We are SO proud of our little girl, she AMAZED us with how happy she was while backpacking and camping. NO problems, she's a champ!!
There were pretty little ponds and streams everywhere. This was nice because you purify your own water when you're up there, so pretty much we never didn't have water near by to pump when we were thirsty.
This picture was taken when we took a Nursing break. Word to nursing mothers who will attempt backpacking. Take babyfood and a sippy for your baby because unless you are drinking a TON, your milk supply won't be what it normally is. And maybe even if you are drinking a ton. I just know I was glad that I had some babyfood to supplement with.
Napping in the backpack, not bad! Lots of times I'd think she'd be asleep because she wouldn't be moving or making any noises. I'd have Eric look to see if she was asleep and he'd tell me she was wide-eyed just taking everything in. Eric pointed out that it was cool to think that all of this was a first for her. She'd never seen terrain like this.
2nd Day Mileage: 11 miles
Destination: Alaska Basin, campsite seen below
This first two nights (one near Jackson Hole, and one once we were backpacking) I was cold all night because the sleeping bag just wasn't quite warm enough. On our first backpacking night Reese wasn't sleeping all that good, I felt her and she was too hot, so I took her half way out of her snowsuit and stuck her in my sleeping bag with me. She warmed me up and I cooled her down and we both slept good the rest of the night. This night, at Alaska Basin, I was still too cold, so Eric and I switched sleeping bags 1/2 way through the night. His bag was AMAZING, I slept so good, it was SO warm and cozy! He claims he slept good too, hopefully he wasn't lying. He told me that the next night I could use his bag again so I could stay warm and sleep good. Nice husband!

On Wednesday we had to hike Hurricane Pass, which is crazy steep and hard, but again do-able. The altitude doesn't ease your ability to make it up those hills. Here is a picture of us, Dan, and Ben at the top of the pass. Tetons are getting closer!!
This day was "Summiting day". Eric, Dan, Ben and LaNell were going to summit the south and middle Tetons after we got to them and then we'd hike the rest of the way to our campsite. Eric's dad and sister started hiking later in the day and continued all the way to the campsite. I stayed with the summiting group and set up a tent at the bottom of the Tetons to wait for them while they summited.

For the first 2 hours, Reese and I had to hang out outside of the tent because it was boiling hot in the tent. The tent was set up on snow so if we went in the tent we'd hang out on the bare tent bottom to keep ourselves cool, but it was just uncomfortable and we couldn't nap, so we pretty much hung out on the rocks next to the tent. Then it started to get windy, really windy, so we hopped in the tent. It cooled down within a matter of minutes and got so windy that the tent posts lifted out of the snow and the tent was trying to fold in half. I grabbed Reese and we ran out to where the summiters left their backpacks. I grabbed one backpack at a time and ran them back over to the tent and hucked them inside. I got 3 in before the hail started to fall. The hail was CRAZY big and there was tons of it. Reese was screaming, I was crying (thinking what in the world should I do, and Eric and them must be getting pounded) but trying to look happy and sing songs in a happy voice. But most the time I couldn't even hear my own voice, although I was singing at the top of my lungs. Finally, after an hour or so, I hear, "Here they are." It was Ben. Soon after, the rest got to the tent. I was SO relieved. They ended up summiting the south Teton, saw the storm rolling in, so decided to head back to my tent. The hail storm hit when they were still a couple miles away so they were sprinting across snow/ice fields in hail and lightning storms but thankfully made it back ok.

We waited out the storm for another hour and then hiked to our campsite (they were all soaked).
Starting to summit. The pink stuff on the snow is watermelon algea and it smells (and supposedly tastes) just like watermelon, but it makes you sick if you eat it. No watermelon snow cones for us.

What a fantastic view. Of my man :) and the landscape of course.
The storm rolling in
3rd Day Mileage: 7 miles (+ an additional 7-ish for the summiters)
Destination: Paintbrush Canyon
The rivers were full and the trails were muddy/little streams themselves from the storm.We camped down in the canyon below us
The 3rd night was the coldest. Probably mid 30s. Reese slept the best this night because she wasn't overheating in her snowsuit. Thanks Aunt Aubrey for the snowsuit, it has been used for a variety of things and at a variety of ages. Poor Eric had been wet all day so I think he was probably chilled through. I warmed a pair of socks for him so that he could at least have warm feet for a couple minutes once he got in the tent. That was the least I could do since he was letting me sleep in his warm sleeping bag.
Friday's hike was fantastic. It was all down hill or flat ground, and when you see the end in sight there is always a little skip added to your step. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE backpacking, but the destinations are far better than hiking itself, and by the last day you're a little worn out. Plus, we were all craving "Real Food". Breakfasts were granola with powdered milk that you'd add water to. Lunches were Tuna Fish packets with Melba Toast, and Dinners were Mountain House meals or Ramen. The food was good, but a juicy burger sounded fantastic after burning probably 10 times the amount of calories we were consuming each day.
This is looking at our destination for day 4.
4th Day Mileage: 5.5 miles
Destination: Jenny Lake Ferry
On the last bit of trail their were tourists everywhere. Most were European. Everyone kept commenting on how cute Reese was and how they couldn't believe she'd just been backpacking.
On the Ferry
After you ride the ferry across the lake, someone had to hitchhike back to Teton Village to get the car. That lucky person was Eric. Thankfully he has a friendly face and is a smooth talker, so although he ended up having to walk at least 3 miles in the hitch hiking process, he did charm 3 different drivers into driving him portions of the way back to Teton Village. Thanks Eric for doing the dirty work!!
Overall, this trip was AMAZING. BEAUTIFUL. GOOD EXPERIENCES and MEMORIES made. I now know for next time some things that I didn't know before this trip. Eric, thanks for not being the kind of husband who would rather leave me and the baby behind. You know I tried to talk us out of me going on many occasions, but you were my biggest fan and knew I could do it with Reese in the backpack. So THANKS!! I love you!


Terra said...

You guys are pretty dang amazing! What an awesome experience - that crazy hike is probably the most beautiful land ever! Good pics and I am so glad that you guys all had a great time (including sweet Reese). I never imagined it being so hard...I am simply amazed!!

MEG said...

All I can say is YOU ARE EFFING CRAZY! I went camping with Dan and Axton a few weekends ago and all I could think about was you - if you are doing it, I should be able to. NOT! I was thinking how crazy you were the whole time! Our little camping trip was miserable, but it looks like your Teton trip was a blast!

Tabby said...

That is awesome! I love that you were able to take Reese with you. You guys still do the same things even though you have a baby which is great!!! I am glad you had tons of fun.

Alison said...

this looks like so much fun! What an awesome vacation. and kudos for you for carrying Reese around the whole time! I loved all the pictures, too.