Teton Crest Trail

1:14 p.m. on August 10, 2011 (EDT)
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In five weeks I will be heading out to Wyoming for ten days of Backpacking, hiking, and plein air landscape painting. The first three days of the trip will be spent hiking 3/4 of the Teton Crest Trail.


IMG_20100915_144246.jpg

 

TCT Hike Plan:

  • First Day: Begin at Cascade Canyon TH at around 10am, Sat. 9/10
  • Proceeded up the Cascade Canyon South Fork Trail towardsHurricanePass.
  • Camp fist night at upper end of the South Fork of Cascade Canyon, belowHurricanePass.(If I make exceptional time, I may cross over the pass and camp in the National Forest, ideally at Basin Lakes.) Distance to upper end of the South Fork: 9.4 miles
  • Second Day, Sun. 9/11: Climb Hurricane Pass, Proceed past Basin Lakes and through Alaska Basin. (or leave directly from Basin Lakes if Sat. time permited going that far)
  • Continue south on the TCT through Mount Meek Pass, along Death Canyon Shelf, over Fox Creek Pass, and down to Marion Lake
  • Camp second night at Marion Lake - Distance from Cascade Canyon: 10.8 Miles (8.8 miles from Basin Lakes) 
  • Third Day, Mon. 9/12: Hike down and join the Upper Fork Granite Canyon trail, proceeding to the main canyon, then continue down Granite Canyon.
  • Cross the Valley Trail and hike on out to the Granite Canyon trailhead. Distance from Marion Lake to trailhead: 10.4 miles

Here is a simple map of the route: The Red line is my first day hike,  Green is the second day, Purple is the Third Day. Blue Circles are anticipated camping locations. The Orange Line and Circle are the alternate first day rout and camp location.  


TCT-Trip-Route.jpg

Logistics and Details:

  • Friday, 9pm - My Flight arrives in Jackson, where I will be picked up by the rental car shuttle and taken to Jackson to get my rental.  After picking up the car, I will run a couple quick errends to get fuel for my stove, etc.
  • Friday, 10:15pm - After getting any errands out of the way I will head up to Gros Ventre Campground to sleep for the night.
  • Saturday, 6am - I will get up and hit the road towards the Granite Canyon Trailhead, where I will leave my rental car.
  •  Saturday, 7:15am - I have a taxi scheduled to meet me at the Granite Canyon TH and take me up to Moose, where I will catch the Resort Shuttle up to Jenny Lake. Working out logistics for this stage of the trip has been a ridiculous headache. It is going to cost me $35 for the Taxi to get only 6 miles from the TH to Moose. Most of the taxi services wanted $55-$75. Good Grief. The shuttle all the way from Jackson to ColterBay only costs $12. The taxi company is supposed to look into cutting me a deal to take me on up toJenny Lake, if it is less than $20 more, I will just do that.
  • Saturday, 8am - Once at Jenny Lake I will have to pick up backcountry camping permits and a bear canister from the ranger's station. I will also have to pick up Bear Spray, since the freaking airlines won't permit that in checked baggage; firearms and live ammunition - yes, bear spray....no? Oh well.
  • Saturday, 9:15am – Since I will have quite a ways to go, and a stiff dose of elevation to gain, I will catch the Jenny Lake water taxi over to the Cascade Canyon Trailhead. That will shave off a couple miles of hiking, and it should be a beautiful ride across the lake.
  • Saturday, 10am – Begin the hike up Cascade Canyon

(hiking details- see above)

  • Monday afternoon/evening – Arrive back at Granite Canyon trailhead and retrieve rental car. After the hike I will be driving out to Dubois, where I will be staying for the next six days. I will primarily be out landscape painting with a group of other artists, but I plan to do some more hiking and spend a couple nights out in the Shoshone National Forest, which surrounds Dubois. The mountain ranges north of Dubois are actaully nearly as high in elevations as the Tetons.

I will post more details for those plans as I work them out.

I have a few questions, especially for anyone who has direct experience or knowledge of the Tetons in September:

  1. I am leaning towards taking my Liquid gas stove (Optimus Nova+) instead of one of my presurized alch stoves.  I was thinking better safe than sorry, considering nasty storms are not that unlikely up there in Sept. Am I off base, is that overkill and unnecessary?  Should I save weight and just go with the alch stove?
  2. Considering the heavy snowfall this past winter, is there any likelihood that there will still be enough snow that should I plan to bring an Ice Axe and microspikes?
  3. I have read that in August and Sept, between Basin Lakes and Marion lake, the streams can get pretty dry. How are the conditions this year- should I be concerned about that and hump water from basin lakes?  
  4. Are there any points in my planned itinerary where I need to make adjustments?
  5. Any ideas to make the logistics before the hike work better?

Thanks for any and all input!

 

2:51 p.m. on August 11, 2011 (EDT)
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This will earn me a lot of hate: 

Ditch the alc stove.  I like their concept though.  Unless all you will be doing is boiling one cup of water at a time. 

3:38 p.m. on August 11, 2011 (EDT)
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No hate from me, I understand their limitations :)

Do you think elevation will cause a large enough drop in boiling time to only be able to get one cup boiled at a time? The pressurized ones I make wil boil a quart in 7 minutes at 6000ft. Depending on which size I am using, I can get anywhere from 30 to 60 minutes of burn time on one fill as well. I've cooked eggs, bacon, pancakes, and coffee for four people on two stoves on one fill each. I think that qualifies as more than boiling a cup of water ;)

However, If the additional 3K in elevation will reduce performance enough to make it unworkable I definitely want to know before hand.

The main reason I am leaning away from the Alch stove is for reliablility and safety should an early autumn storm blow in. I would certainly want the expedition stove should that happen.

PS, thanks for the respose, the crickets were starting to get noisy :)

3:43 p.m. on August 11, 2011 (EDT)
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I also talked to one of the rangers today on the phone and he said I should definitely bring the micro spikes and Ice axe out there to Jackson, and check the reports right before I head out to decide. Right now the passes still have a lot of snow, and require the appropriate gear.

6:15 p.m. on August 11, 2011 (EDT)
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Yes I would bring some kind of instep crampons or yaktraks,etc as in September it could snow. I have seen it snow on hurricane pass as early as late august because of its hieght. And there could dtill be snow from last winter in places. Check out the jackson hole webcams. www.jacksonholenet.com/webcams

Sounds like a good hike, I have done that route you describe many times.


springcreek.jpg

Tetons from Spring Creek Ranch


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From above Kelly Wy


townofjackson.jpg

From Snow King Mtn looking north with Jackson and the tetons... all from the current webcams there.

Still lots of snow in the high country above tree line.

10:09 a.m. on August 12, 2011 (EDT)
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I have never been sorry for bringing the ice axe.  If all else fails, it digs a mean latrine.

10:30 a.m. on August 12, 2011 (EDT)
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FromSagetoSnow said:

I have never been sorry for bringing the ice axe.  If all else fails, it digs a mean latrine.

 Very good point :)

I have decided at this point to carry the microspikes, ice axe, and expidition stove. A couple extra pounds in order to be prepared in the event of an early season storm is a small price.

11:13 a.m. on August 12, 2011 (EDT)
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I'm not familiar with Jackson at all. Never been there but would love to go. The only thing I can think of is "Where are you going to get fuel at 9:30 at night?" I did a quick search and didn't see a Walmart and most other 24 hour places don't carry white gas. I would plan on getting that the next day unless your using unleaded.

11:28 a.m. on August 12, 2011 (EDT)
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There are many outdoor shops in Jackson that should still be open after 9:30

Teton Mountaineering on North Cache, Skinny Skiis on West Deloney, Jack Dennis Sports on Broadway Downtown off the Elk Antler Square, and there is a Kmart on South Hwy 89 on the SW end of town.

www.tetonmountaineering.com

www.skinnyskis.com/JacksonStore.aspx

www.jackdennis.com

 

 

12:18 p.m. on August 12, 2011 (EDT)
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Thanks for the links Gary!

Ocala, if I had decided to use one of my Alch stoves, I would have picked up some HEET from a gas station. Being that I decided to cary my liguid fuel stove, I planned on using unleaded if there weren't any stores open.

3:16 p.m. on August 12, 2011 (EDT)
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I figured you had a contingency plan but just thought I would throw it out there.  You never know what gets overlooked. 

Anyway, it sounds like Jackson is more like Daytona Beach where they have a 24 hour surf shop.

4:21 p.m. on August 12, 2011 (EDT)
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I checked, all of those shops will be closed after 7pm in September, since the busy season will be over. Kmart will be closing at 10pm, so I might be able to get there in time, but I won't kill myself to get there if I am short on time.

 

5:37 p.m. on August 12, 2011 (EDT)
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This had run through my mind earlier.  When you take an alcohol stove and want to take fuel with you put it in an empty liquor bottle. Preferably a very cheap and nasty brew that nobody would want to steal. That way when they open it up to smell it, it won't be far off of the regular smell. Don't fill it completely so it will look like you have been drinking some and that will explain the broken seal.

9:21 p.m. on August 12, 2011 (EDT)
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Not being snarky at all, but what would I be looking to accomplish with disguising the fuel? Do you mean for putting it in a checked bag?

9:47 p.m. on August 12, 2011 (EDT)
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gonzan said:

Not being snarky at all, but what would I be looking to accomplish with disguising the fuel? Do you mean for putting it in a checked bag?

 If you get caught the 6 o'clock news and some legal issues. 

9:50 a.m. on August 13, 2011 (EDT)
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Gonzan said:

Being that I decided to car(r)y my liguid fuel stove, I planned on using unleaded if there weren't any stores open

 

I have been using automotive gasoline for my SVEA 123s for many years. Much cheaper than a gallon of Coleman fuel.

How did you make the map you show in your post?

In late August 2008 I did the hike you are planning and there was still 20 feet of snow between South Cascade Camp and Schoolroom Glacier. And the trail up from the glacier to Hurricane Pass was still buried under lots of snow. I didn't have crampons with me and kicked my steps into the snow going up.

Don't know how much snow is up around there this year but last winter was another record snowfall year in the high country of north western Wyoming. Flat Creek, Cache Creek, the Snake and Gros Ventre Rivers are still running quite well for mid August (according to a local friend there).

9:54 a.m. on August 13, 2011 (EDT)
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Rick-Pittsburgh said:

gonzan said:

Not being snarky at all, but what would I be looking to accomplish with disguising the fuel? Do you mean for putting it in a checked bag?

 If you get caught the 6 o'clock news and some legal issues. 

 With Rick not worth the headache and fines. Hopefully like Gary has put the links or maybe ask the hotel your staying at to pick a couple bottles up for you before your arrival? I also use an empty soda bottle marked FUEL. No confusion in what it is.

 

10:43 a.m. on August 13, 2011 (EDT)
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Yeah, I think the risk wouldn't be worth, especially considering just about every gas station has HEET, so it's usually no problem getting alcohol.

Gary, I don't have a map program or online map service subscription, so I do it kinda old school. I downloaded the "Trip Planning Guide" PDF from the NPS Grand Teton backcountry webpage, imported that into Photoshop CS2 at high resolution, flattened the image, then drew the colored route lines before cropping, sizing appropriately, and saving as a JPEG. I could have spliced USGS topos together, but that would have taken a lot more work and time, so I just used the very simple landmark map in the trip planning guide. That map and guide is really helpful, because it was the only thing I found that lists trail distances. It can be found here:

http://www.nps.gov/grte/planyourvisit/back.htm

11:18 a.m. on August 13, 2011 (EDT)
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So the antifreeze product Heet works as a fuel for a campstove? Is it cheap?


Heet.jpg

Found the image on the net

11:50 a.m. on August 13, 2011 (EDT)
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Only in alcohol stoves, it definitely can't be used in anything else. The red one is 99% denatured alcohol. I'm not sure about the yellow one. It's about the same price as denatured from a hardware store.

11:52 a.m. on August 13, 2011 (EDT)
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Is it safe if you get it on the skin?

12:14 p.m. on August 13, 2011 (EDT)
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It is much less harmful than gas, but it is toxic if ingested. I suppose it could cause skin irritation, and could be harmful if large quantities were absorbed throughout the skin. But not nearly as harmful as gas.

12:33 p.m. on August 13, 2011 (EDT)
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Yes, that was a problem when I spent the winter in Yosemite in 1980. I found by accident that gas spilled on the skin could cause instant frostbite and that it could eat nylon in pack and sleeping bag materials.

I usually use my Pocket Rocket stove with the propane/butane fuel canisters most of the year.

10:29 p.m. on August 13, 2011 (EDT)
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@gonzan  Yes in checked baggage. If you put it in an unlabeled bottle or one labeled fuel it might raise suspicions.

From the MSDS sheets.

HEET 99% Methanol

Iso-HEET 99% Isopropanol

Both contain 1% Proprietary Additive

Methanol and Isopropanol are hygroscopic and latch onto water and prevent it from freezing in the fuel lines. Methanol is used as model airplane engine fuel (usually mixed with nitro-methane). I didn't run an engine dry one time and a week later I opened the engine up and there was a lot of water in it, way more than the amount of fuel left in it. Keep the lid tight on your fuel bottles. 

Just curious has anybody ever had a problem burning old fuel? It definitely won't run in a model engine.

10:27 a.m. on August 15, 2011 (EDT)
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ocalacomputerguy said:

From the MSDS sheets.

HEET 99% Methanol

Iso-HEET 99% Isopropanol

[...]

Just curious has anybody ever had a problem burning old fuel? It definitely won't run in a model engine.

 You're right, I had which was which mixed up- the yellow one is Denatured. since they are both 99% alcohol, either one will work fine (I think maybe denatured has higher BTU?)

I have used some denatured that was probably five or ten years old, and it worked fine. It had been stored in a basement workshop, so the top of the can had rusted slightly. I am sure it had obsorbed some water, as the alcohol was colored by the rust slightly, but it burned fine in my stove.

10:20 a.m. on August 16, 2011 (EDT)
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The organic chemistry I took in college has surfaced and I started doing a little research. Mostly Wikipedia and Zen stoves.

First, methanol and isopropanol are not denatured alcohols. They are often used to "denature" ethanol. Denatured ethanol will still get you drunk but it will kill you or at the very least make you very very sick in fairly small amounts. 

The nitty-gritty:

Methanol is a better fuel when temps get colder because it has a lower vapor point than ethanol. However it has less calories per ounce than ethanol.

Isopropanol is not recommended for pressurized alcohol stoves unless designed for them. You need larger holes or an open flame stove in order to achieve complete combustion.

Maybe on of you alcohol stove users could do a test with different fuels.  Where is Hikin' Jim when you need him? :>

10:39 a.m. on August 16, 2011 (EDT)
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Good info, thanks Ocala!

7:59 p.m. on August 16, 2011 (EDT)
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ocalacomputerguy said:

 Where is Hikin' Jim when you need him? :>

You rang?  lol.

A couple of quick things on alcohol as a fuel (in order of best fuel to worst fuel):

The best alcohol fuel is ethanol (ethyl alcohol).  It has the highest number of calories per gram of any alcohol fuel and burns the cleanest.  If you can get lab grade ethanol or 190 proof liquor, that's going to work really well, but both of those (lab grade ethanol or 190 proof "drinking" alcohol) are pretty expensive -- if you can even get them.

Another option is "denatured" alcohol which should consist primarily of ethanol.  The problem in the US is that there are no standards for what constitutes denatured alcohol.  In fact, some denatured alcohols in the US are less than 50% ethanol.  In addition sometimes nasty stuff is used to denature the alcohol (render it undrinkable), stuff like methyl ethyl ketone, whose fumes you don't really want to breathe.  "Green" denatured alcohol generally has a much higher ethanol content and a lower "nasty stuff" content.  Check the MSDS.  The higher the ethanol content, the better it is for use as a fuel.

Methanol (methyl alcohol) is another popular fuel alcohol, frequently bought in the yellow HEET bottle because HEET is so widely available.  You do have to carry more methanol to do the same amount of cooking since methanol contains fewer calories per gram than ethanol.  Methanol fumes are toxic, and methanol absorbed through the skin is toxic.  How toxic?  If you're cooking out doors, I don't think fumes will be too bad if your observant of wind direction and position yourself accordingly.   I don't have a way to state a safe limit for skin absorption, but handling with care should be enough.  With both fumes and skin absorption, it's not like you hear about a lot of through hikers on the AT (where yellow HEET is easy to get and very popular) getting stricken with methanol poisoning.   I can't comment on methanol performance in cold weather because I typically bring a gas or liquid petroleum fueled stove for cold weather.

LAST choice, and I do mean last choice, is isopropanol (isopropyl alcohol).  Isopropanol is easy to find at most any drug store, but it burns with quite a lot of soot.  Isopropanol is also toxic in both fumes and in skin absorption.   Red HEET (Iso-HEET) is isopropanol.

With any alcohol fuel, your flame velocity is going to be fairly low (think candle as opposed to blow torch).  Therefore, an effective wind screen is really essential for an alcohol stove.

Gas and liquid petroleum fuels have a much higher flame velocity and are much more wind resistant (although you will still get the best performance with a windscreen).  Petroleum fuels also have a higher heat content which makes them good for things like melting snow or cooking for larger groups where more heat is needed.  In windy or cold weather, I tend to go with petroleum fuels.

If you're going to fly with a gas or liquid petroleum fuel stove, check with the airline before you go.  Some will not allow used stoves on board, period.  I'd hate to see a nice stove like a Nova+ get confiscated.  Even with airlines that do allow stoves, make sure you clean them well and that any fuel bottles have been thoroughly purged.  Leave the fuel bottle with the cap off so that no pressure differentials can occur.  A friend of mine emptied and cleaned his bottle (at higher altitude) -- and then sealed it.  When he got to the airport (at lower altitude), the TSA opened it to check it.  There was a sharp intake of air sound.  They immediately confiscated the bottle and no amount of reasoning could talk them out of it.

Wordy post, sheesh!  Hope that helps,

HJ

8:13 p.m. on August 16, 2011 (EDT)
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GaryPalmer said:

 

So the antifreeze product Heet works as a fuel for a campstove? Is it cheap?


Heet.jpg

Found the image on the net

 

Gary:

Generally the big advantage of HEET is that you can get it in so many out-of-the-way places.  Little mom and pop gas stations on a little country lane might very well carry HEET.  Availability is what generally makes HEET so popular with through hikers -- they can get it with out having to go into a larger town farther away from the trail which makes resupplying that much easier.

Generally, yellow HEET is what people use for alcohol stove fuel, but I have heard of some people using red HEET (Iso-HEET).  I have no idea why anyone would use Iso-HEET.  Isopropanol is generally a big smoky mess although supposedly watering it down helps.

As far as cheap, I would think that Lowes or Home Depot or some place like that would be the cheapest source of alcohol to be used as fuel.  "Green" denatured alcohol is generally the best readily available fuel for alcohol stoves unless you have access to lab grade ethanol or are willing to pay for 190 proof liquor.


865fed6c-2b1c-45ab-ab6c-a7fe0bed6d21_300

HJ

11:19 a.m. on August 17, 2011 (EDT)
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I haven't checked with the airline yet to confirm the stove is ok to check- I will do that right away. Thanks for the reminder.

11:56 a.m. on August 17, 2011 (EDT)
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Since I made such a long winded post yesterday, I thought maybe I'd distill it down a bit more:


SUMMARY
The best choices for fuel for an alcohol stove are:
1.  Lab grade ethanol or high proof liquor (190 proof).  Highest heat content per gram, clean burning, and generally non toxic, but check the MSDS on lab grade ethanol which may contain benzene.
2.  "Green" denatured alcohol in the US or methylated spirits (ethanol with methanol used as a denaturing agent) where available.  Methylated spirits is often called "meths" or "metho".  Good heat content, clean burning, fairly non-toxic depending on the amount and type of the denaturing agent.  Always check the MSDS.
3.  Methanol, for example yellow HEET.  Decent heat content, fairly clean burning, but definitely toxic in terms of fumes and skin absorption.  Reasonably safe if used with care
4.  You can use Isopropanol, for example red HEET, but it is not commonly used as a stove fuel because it's generally a sooty mess when it burns.  Lowest heat content, dirty burning, and definitely toxic.  Not recommended.

HJ

5:46 p.m. on August 18, 2011 (EDT)
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I've put all this into a post on my blog.  I've updated some information and added other information.  Should be a pretty good discussion of the fuel choices for an alcohol stove.

HJ

1:11 p.m. on August 24, 2011 (EDT)
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Well, it turns out I have an extra day to spend hiking hte Tetons!  I can now extend my trek by hiking the Paintbrush Canyon. That will take from Jenny Lake, up through the canyon, over Paintbrush Divide, and down into Cascade Canyon to join my original route.  With this change I will plan to spend my first night at the upper end of Paintbrush Canyon. My second day will be spent traversing the north and south forks of Cascade Canyon, crossing over Huricane Pass, and proceeding to Basin Lakes for my second night. The rest of the trip will remain the same.

6:37 p.m. on August 24, 2011 (EDT)
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You could stop at Holly lake at the top of Paintbrush Canyon divide. The descend to lake Solitude the next morning.


Jenny-Lake-to-Holly-Lake-and-Lake-Solitu

Go to the hidden Falls area on the western side of the lake first around the south end and then go north along Jenny Lake and String Laketo Leigh lake. It is a beautiful hike this way. Around the east side of Jenny is the park road and lots of tourists and cars.

9:17 a.m. on August 29, 2011 (EDT)
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Thanks Gary, My plan is to take the ferry across to the west bank of Jenny, they take the route you mentioned up the west bank. 

The first night I plan to camp there are Holy lake. If I am up to it, I will pull my longest mileage on day 2, pulling both Paintbrush Divide and Hurricane Pass. My goal is to get to cross the boundary into the National Forest and camp at Basin Lakes, though If I am too tires, I will stop at the upper end of the Cascade South Fork.  Of course that would leave me with heavy mileage for my third day out; gotta' get em in one day or another :)  

10:52 a.m. on August 29, 2011 (EDT)
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Holly Lake at Paintbrush Divide is a nice little lake. I have been there in early summer (May) when it and Lake Solitude were still frozen.

The Sunset Lakes in Alaskan Basin is another nice place with a few different lakes. That will be a nice long day. Its almost all downhill to Cascade Canyon Divide from Holly Lake to Lake Solitude and down then up the south Forth of Cascade Canyon to Hurricane Pass past Schoolroom Glacier and lake. The lake is generally a brillant tourquise color. The Glacier is mainly just the head of whats left of it clinging to the rocks.

At Hurricane it levels off around 10-11,000 feet (I forget) the drops again to the Basin lake. The the hike goes over Meeks Pass and along the Death Canyon Shelf (where while on a four days TCT hike in 1986 I slipped on some ice and broke two ribs) Then it down to Marion Lake and down the Granite Canyon back to the floor of JH. You could hike up to Rendezvous 10,400 and take the Aerial Tram down?

11:12 a.m. on August 29, 2011 (EDT)
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I thought about that, but it would make the schedule on my first morning a bit too tight and complicated. I need to leave my car at the end of the trail  and then take a taxi and arrive at Moose in time to catch the 7:45am resort shuttle. The hike out on the last day will already be 10 miles, I don't know if I will be up for the elevation gain on top of it. 

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