Sunday, August 21, 2011

Paintbrush Divide.

Paintbrush Divide.

This past weekend Graham and I headed down to the Tetons for some backpacking. After talking to the Visitor’s Center Backcountry Office, we headed to Cascade Canyon, to the North Fork with the possibility of going over the Paintbrush Divide and down Paintbrush Canyon. The Ranger-on-Duty warned us that unless if we were intense climbers that we would probably need an ice axe – so our plan was to go as far up the divide as we felt safe and then turn around when necessary, which never ended up happening.

The Grand Tetons.

We parked by the String Lake Trailhead and started out going around Jenny Lake to the exact point that Bailey and I took the shuttle to a few weeks ago. It was super crowded (and no one moved over to the side to let us pass – we moved over for everyone else except two small parties)! We finally made it up and past Inspiration Point, where we heard there were two moose a short distance further (which kept the mass crowds moving down the trail a bit further than otherwise). 

Bull Moose.

We did run into two big Bull Moose. One of them was resting in a swampy area slowly chewing on grass and cooling off from the heat of the noonday sun. The second one was standing in a shady area munching on some willow a short distance (maybe five to 10 feet) from the trail where a crowd had gathered to photograph. We quickly moved away from this scene since Moose are known to be a bit aggressive and we didn’t like the proximity.

On the trail.
After we turned up the North Fork, we steadily climbed ‘til we were where the trees were significantly smaller and sparser. This was where we set up camp for the night while the majestic Mount Owen and Grand Teton proudly stood watch over us. There was a mother Marmot and her baby that hung out on a rock about 10 feet from the tent for most of the evening – just lazily watching the sun go down. 

Marmot Mama and Marmot Baby.
Shortly after we were done making dinner and relaxing for the evening, we heard what sounded like a low grumble off in the distance, which caused me to let out a small yelp. Graham jumped with a start as well – our first thoughts going to a bear. However, it turned out to be a harmless hummingbird that had appeared very briefly. As we were getting ready to crawl in the tent, the mountains turned a brilliant red as they caught the last rays of the sun’s energy. 

Tetons at Sunset.

The next morning, we started our trek up to Paintbrush divide. We went up the rest of Cascade Canyon to Solitude Lake, which still had ice covering about a third of the sub-alpine lake. From there we took an abrupt turn to start climbing up the canyon wall. There were a few small patches of snow, but nothing that was troublesome. 

Graham and Solitude Lake.

The divide was stunning (see first photo) – we were above a bowl that overlooked Mount Woodring and Mount Moran to the north and The Jaw to the south. We paused here to enjoy a simple lunch of some tuna fish, pretzels and an apple. From there were traversed down the bowl and through Paintbrush Canyon. About a third of the way down was through snow, so I was glad we were going down this way (as opposed to up) so we could slide down on our butts (which can be a rather cold endeavor) or on our feet.

Graham on a snowy slope.

It was a great weekend that wore us out. I am glad that we get out and enjoy the beauty that we have around us at all opportunities that we have available.

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