Thursday, July 25, 2013

A brief interlude: an almost-lap around the Tetons

I need to finish the awesome Idaho bike tour tale, but I thought I’d throw up a quick post about another quick adventure from this week. 

For years I’ve been saying “I need to spend more time in the Tetons” and “I want to do more big mountain runs”, and the truth is…..I have still done very little of either!  So when Jason Dorais contacted me to do a quick blast up to the Tetons for a big run it was pretty easy to forget about all the work yet to do before I get enmeshed in the Outdoor Retailer show next week and said “sure.”

As it turns out, the SLC Samurai Jared Inyoue was keen to go as well, even though he’s been running less than I have (he – like me – has a couple of screws in his leg from an old fibula break, and apparently one of them is coming unscrewed?!?  It’s often been said that Jared’s kamikaze skiing in rando races is absolutely crazy; now we know that indeed he’s got a loose screw!).  We blasted up on Monday night and ended up on one of the best front porches in the world:  Drew Hardesty’s cabin at the guides/ranger community across Lupine Meadows from the imposing form of Teewinot.  Drew had had a big day himself:  after a nice 25 mile walkabout and about the time he was settling into a nice evening with a book and a beer he got the call that there was a woman with a “sprained knee” that needed rescuing, so off he went.  It got too late to dispatch a helicopter, so three of them took turns piggybacking her out for about 4 hours.  Drew slept well that night. 

Our route was a sort-of circumnav of the meat of the Tetons:  Owen, Teewinot, the Grand, the Middle, the South, and Buck Peak via Cascade Canyon as our climb to Hurricane Pass, a rambling traverse through Alaska Basin to the west of the big peaks, and down the dramatic Death Canyon, with a possible finish to the loop on the valley trail that traverses the lower slopes of the Tetons from the Village to Mt Moran.  Here’s the route (without the valley trail highlited):

Though we anticipated that Cascade Canyon would be something steep and burly-ish like Garnet Canyon (that goes up to the Grand/Middle/South Tetons), it was remarkably low angle and very runnable all the way up to Hurricane Pass, with the big peaks truly soaring above us.  I got a bit of a sense of the cragginess and relief of the Cathedral Traverse, and was indubitably impressed:

rolling up Cascade Canyon
We hit Hurricane pass in a couple of hours and then rattled our way along the backside; again, all very runnable.  I have a habit of gawking around a bit while trail running and then crashing (I’ve crashed many more times running in the last year or two than I have in the last many years on a mountain bike) and this run was certainly conducive to plenty of rubbernecking, but I kept it together enough to keep myself upright (Jared spilled a bit of blood to ensure that it was truly a “real” outing!). Soon enough we hit static pass, where we chatted with a few of the many hikers/backpackers we saw out there.  One of the guys regaled us with his vast knowledge of the Tetons and all the places that they’d been, yet when he finally asked us where we started and we said Jenny Lake he said “huh?  Jenny Lake?  Haven’t heard of that one.”  Huh?  Jenny Lake, probably the most-visited site in the entire Grand Teton National Park?!  Ah well.  We know what we know, and don’t what we don’t. 
Jason showing that All American 800m form

nearing Hurricane Pass, with Jared embracing his inner Euro by cutting the switchbacks

Lots of brilliant flowers up in Alaska Basin

the coolest guys in the Tetons
We rolled down into Death Canyon, with it’s hugely dramatic walls on either side, periodically dancing past the backpackers wheezing their way up the hot, exposed trail on a 3-4 day trek to do what we had just done that morning.  It’s great to spend nights out in the wilderness, but it’s dang fun to blast out a lot of distance lightly and fastly. 

As we neared the bottom the question of finishing the loop with the 10 mile rolling traverse along the Valley Trail loomed large.  Jason and I had been surprised that Jared had gotten this far because he’d been talking about bailing pretty much ever since we left SLC, but  of course he’d done just fine, until he finally admitted at our potential bail point that his ankle was throbbing pretty hard.  We’d done 25 miles by that point - pretty much already matching the longest run I've ever done -  it was quite hot (blistering by Jackson standards), we’d had a nice time, I knew that continuing meant the difference between a bit of fatigue and couple of days of rest vs an effort that would take a week to recover from, so Jason graciously acquiesced to our desires and we used our thumbs instead of our feet to return to a refreshing dip in the outflow from Jenny Lake.  And then blasted home.  

The drive to recreation ratio was unusually poor by normal standards, but the quality of the outing definitely made up for it. 

Thanks again to Jason for the rallying cry, Jared for mounting up and driving, the mooses we saw for grudgingly moving out of the trail:

the bears we didn’t see for not scaring us, and Drew for his hospitality. 

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