Go West Young Man - 5-6 day Rockies trip?

3:56 p.m. on June 1, 2010 (EDT)
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Long time lurker, first time poster here. My friend and I are avid east coast hikers and climbers (mostly Adirondacks and the Hudson Valley), but have decided that we would like to tackle higher peaks than the Mt. Marcys of the world. To that end, we are planning a 4-5 night trip out west (our first time) in late August, and we thought turning to the experts on Trailspace would be a great place to start.

Our goal is really to get some serious alpine time with great views and an exhilirating hike in and out. We're not looking for anything too technical (we don't own enough climbing equipment to do anything other than clip on to pre-established, fixed lines), but we would like to go off the beaten path to a certain extent and hopefully not encounter many other humans during the week.

Having no prior experience of the ranges out West, we were thinking of either Grand Tetons area or of Glacier up north. Any suggestions for us?

Many thanks,


9:36 p.m. on June 1, 2010 (EDT)
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I recommend the Grand Tetons. And for a week long hike do the Teton Crest trail which follows the backbone of the Teton Range. The above shot is from the northwest end of Jenny Lake. The Grand is the blue peak on the upper right. The one on the upper left is called Teewonot and most people mistake it for the Teton when they view it from the south end of the lake.

From the east side of Jenny Lake looking at Cascade Canyon, Teewonot is on the left.

Before Sunrise on Jackson Hole and the Tetons

Blue Sagebrush on the upper Elk Refuge and the Tetons

Grand Tetons from Antelope Flats and Blacktail Butte

"Home, home on the Range..."

Grand Teton Sunrise and the Miller Homestead

The Tetons from Kelly Warm Springs

Mount Moran and Jackson Lake just north of Grand Teton

The town of Jackson, the Elk Refuge and the Grand Tetons from the top of Snow King Mountain

I lived in Jackson Hole every summer from 1980 to 2008. I am down in Flagstaff but plan to return to Jackson next year in the summer of 2011 to work and hike again. Jackson seems more popular than Flagstaff, wages are higher and I can camp all summer close to town and not get hassled by the local forestry dept like here in Flagstaff.

Go west young man, and stay in Jackson Hole!

12:09 p.m. on June 2, 2010 (EDT)
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This map shows the route.

It starts in Teton Village where you can catch the Aerial tram to the top near Rendezvous Peak in the lower part of the map above. Then hike down into South Granite Canyon, the Middle Fork and over into the upper North Fork of Granite and up to Marion Lake for your first night.

Then go up towards Fox Creek Pass to Death Canyon Shelf and follow this to Mount Meek Pass and over into the Alaskan Basin. Camp around the Basin Lakes or Sunset Lake area the second night.

Then continue on the Teton Crest Trail up to Hurricane Pass above Schoolroom Glacier and the interesting lake held in by the Moraine below. Then follow on down to the South Cascade canyon Camp area for the third night. You'll be right below Grand Teton to the east.

On the fourth day hike down S. Cascade Canyon to the junction and then up North Cascade Canyon to Lake Solitude, for the fourth night. Often times the lake will still be frozen in mid summer.

Then up the Paintbrush Divide trail and over the pass, passing Holly Lake on the way east to Paintbrush canyon down to where the String Lake trail divides and then head along the South String Lake Trail to the Valley Trail along the northwest shore of Jenny Lake. Follow this along the lake to Cascade canyon and hike up to Hidden Falls and Inspiration Point.

Then go back to the lake and hike south again along the Valley Trail to the Moose Ponds and the Lupine Meadows where the trail will follow a dirt road for a 1/2 mile then continues on to Glacier Gulch and up to Bradley Lake. This will be the longest day but it is mostly downhill. Camp here for the fifth night.

On the sixth day hike up and over to Taggart Lake staying on the Valley Trail. After about 4-5 miles you'll come to the White Grass Ranch and Phelps Lake. The White Grass Ranch was in operation until the 1960s and Phelps Lake had a dude ranch on its eastern end till 1996.

On the southwestern side of Phelps lake you'll pass Granite Canyon again and continue down along the Valley Trail to Teton Village again. You will have hiked about 60 miles up,along and down into the Tetons and back to the village. The Aerial Tram will start the journey, tho if you are strong and prefer you can hike up the 4600 feet the tram goes to start the route near Rendezvous Peak.

The word Rendezvous comes from the french. It is what the mountainmen, Indians and fur traders called the trading fair when they all met in various places each spring, to exchange goods,furs and have a good time (party) after the men had all been away living in the wilderness trapping and hunting away from civilization all year. The last largest known Rendezvous was at Fort Bridger in southwestern Wyoming in 1840.

Jackson is well known for its Rendezvous each summer and was named after a mountain man Henry Jackson, a french trapper. The name Jackson Hole comes from another french term "Hole" meaning large valley surrounded by mountains, or Jackson's Hole.

You'll have to go to the Jenny Lake Ranger station to get your permit for the tip. Maps can be found in Jackson at Teton Mountaineering on North Cache. I download mine like the one I made above at www.mapcard.com which for $19.95 a year you can download.copy,print and make all your own maps like I did above. Or go to USGS Map Locator in your search engine and follow the directions for free downloadable maps.

The lowest point is higher than the highest point in the mountains of the Adirondacks at about 6500 feet and the highest point is about 11,400 feet. I spent the summer of 1996 hiking and working at Lake Placid NY. I think Whiteface or Mt Marcy is the highest peak around there?

7:14 p.m. on June 8, 2010 (EDT)
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That trip looks amazing to the Tetons, those pictures have really given me the desire to make a trip out of the area, hopefully sooner than later!

10:47 p.m. on June 8, 2010 (EDT)
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You may already know this, but Summitpost is also an excellent resource for climbing. It has thousands of detailed routes on mountains throughout the west, with many routes in the Tetons I'm sure.

1:23 p.m. on July 6, 2010 (EDT)
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Hi Gary,

Gary I saw your posting from June 2nd where you described a 5 – 6 day Teton Crest trail route. We are heading up there in early September and when I called the Jenny Lake Ranger station one of the Rangers suggested that we do not to start on top of the tram but start out on Jenny Lake and end up at the tram in order to get acclimated better and avoid possible altitude sickness. Sounded somewhat plausible to me as a city slicker. Since you seem to know the area and the trail quite well I was wondering if you could a) Confirm if that is a good alternative b) If it is would you be able to suggest a good 3 night/4 day route as we want to start on a Thursday and be back down on Sunday? There are 4 of us – all recreational hikers in our early 40ies. We do day hikes multiple times a year and one 3-4 night backpacking trip a year. (last year we did Glacier) and we are in pretty decent shape but not experts per se. Feel free to e-mail me at htupay@gmail.com

Thanks a lot Hubert

June 25, 2018
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