Jun 14, 2010 at 8:28 am #1260134
I'm going to be in Jackson WY for a few days in July, so I figured I'd end the visit with a few days in the surrounding national forest. I'm probably going to be solo and would describe myself as on the beginner side of moderately experienced, but up for anything. The trip would be around 4 days and would happen in the second half of July.
Thanks in advance for the benefit of your experience!
Any suggestions?Jun 14, 2010 at 5:09 pm #1620020
Tons of possibilities. Hiking in the Tetons is probably the tamest option. Trails and junctions almost always well marked, lots of people, etc. Permits can be an issue. The Teton Wilderness just south of Yellowstone is amazing country, and what I would recommend, which brings me to..
What sort of experience do you have, and what are you comfortable with? Going solo in griz country is not something to take lightly. I do it all the time, others are less comfortable. The piece of the Teton Wilderness south of the park is griz central, so take that into account.
On the other hand, navigation is for the most part dead easy. The major trails are used extensively by horses, and thus very easy to follow. Water and good camping is abundant.
Those are my first thoughts.Jun 17, 2010 at 4:48 pm #1621062
Dave, thanks for the thoughts. My experience is 20+ years of car camping and hiking, I've just only recently been out for multiple days with everything on my back. I've hiked extensively in Southern California and quite a bit in Northern California and Upstate New York, but definitely not in any bullseyes of grizzly activity.
I'm not afraid of hiking solo in bear territory per se, but I would definitely make an extra effort in terms of education and equipment preparedness. My base pack weight is currently quite low, so if there is extra stuff I need to be carrying, I'm all ears. I guess what I mean is, I don't take it lightly, but it doesn't put me off.
Tell me more :-)Jun 18, 2010 at 3:05 pm #1621326
Bear spray is the first thing. It has a pretty good track record in stopping the rare attacks, provided the user is calm enough to aim at <30 feet.
Second is knowing bear behavior. Where they're likely to be at a given time of year. Right now the fish are starting to run in Yellowstone, thus the mouth of streams near Yellowstone Lake is not the best place to be. (Which is why those management areas are closed to hikers through July.) Go read all the materials the Interagency Study team has (http://www.nrmsc.usgs.gov/research/igbst-home.htm).
When alone in forested terrain or especially along streams I don't like hiking to close to dawn or dusk. Bears tend to be most active then. Whenever hiking through such terrain, makes lots of noise. Most human-bear encounters happen when people startle a bear and get swatted out of habit.
Third is food. Frying bacon over the fire is a bad idea. Cooking and hanging away from camp is a good idea. Cooking miles from camping (eating dinner, then hiking a few more to camp) is even better. Hang your food well out of the reach of the bears, though Griz and Rocky Mtn black bears are thus far much less enterprising than Sierra bears (I've yet to here of a Yellowstone bear chewing off a tree limb to bring down a hang.) Getting a good hang in floppy-limbed spruce can be tough. Read this article and practice: http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/turbo_bear_bag_hanging.html.
I also use Opsak odorproof bags. A nice extra piece of mind. Enjoy not being top of the food chain.Jun 18, 2010 at 11:36 pm #1621438
Thanks for all the griz and other insight.
Any more details you'd care to share on where to go in the TNW?Jun 19, 2010 at 12:04 am #1621444
My wife and did a quick trip in the Teton's not to long ago. Here is the link to the description of the trip. http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/forums/thread_display.html?forum_thread_id=19335&skip_to_post=151140#151140Jun 19, 2010 at 9:32 am #1621484
Looks like a great trip, thanks for sharing. Are there any maps you'd specifically recommend for the area you covered?
Also, what kind of elevation did you reach there?
Thanks!Jun 19, 2010 at 1:28 pm #1621529
Don't forget the Wind Rivers, also in the Bridger-Teton NF.Jun 19, 2010 at 4:50 pm #1621560
Anything specific, or just the range in general?Jun 19, 2010 at 5:25 pm #1621566
Probably the west side of the range, which has faster access to the beautiful high country. Pinedale, the nearest town to the west side of the Winds, is about an hour's scenic drive south of Jackson.
The best information source for those of moderate experience is Adkinson's "Hiking Wyoming's WInd River Range," which describes most of the major trails.
Most people for their first Winds trip go in at Elkhart Park, just above Pinedale, and hike in to Titcomb Basin. That's out of the grizz range, although you still should hang your food at night. Of course this route is (with good reason!) very popular. It also gets up to higher altitudes pretty fast, since the trailhead is at 9300 feet. I hope to do that one this August but will be doing an off-trail segment after leaving Titcomb Basin.
Be prepared for daily afternoon thunderstorms, wind, below freezing temps at night, possibly some snow (it will melt off fast, though). Or you could have beautiful weather (often with frost at night) the whole time. The same will be true of the Tetons or the GrosVentre Range if you go there.
When in July are you coming? Before the middle of the month, expect high stream fords and plenty of big snowbanks. Since (like the Pacific NW), Wyoming has been having a snowy, cold June, it may take longer for the snowmelt. It will be the height of the bug season–take a headnet and repellent!Jun 19, 2010 at 6:00 pm #1621573
You're such a great resource, thanks!
I'm planning on being out July 20-24, though I'm considering driving rather than flying, so that could ease up the out date (only 15 hours from here).
Maybe since I am going midweek the traffic will be lighter? I will look into it and call the rangers' station. I will check out the books as well.
Is there something about Wind Rivers that makes you recommend it over the Teton Wilderness? Or just experience?
Thank you, again!Jun 19, 2010 at 7:19 pm #1621598
I just happen to have fallen in love with the Wind Rivers. It was the site of my first Rocky Mountain trip (horseback), at age 9. I grew up in SE Wyoming (Laramie) but my parents never got around to going back to the Winds, probably because we were so close to the ranges of northern Colorado. I always wanted to go back to the Winds to hike and finally did 2 years ago. This will be my third summer going back there, and I hope there will be a few more!Jun 19, 2010 at 9:02 pm #1621624
I followed the recommendation from Backpacking magazine, our hike was called
AVALANCHE CANYON TO CASCADE CANYON. You can read about it here. http://www.backpacker.com/five_hikes_grand_tetons_wyoming/destinations/12441
I used the map, National Geographic Trails Illustrated Grand Teton National Park.
I think our campsite at Snowdrift Lake was ~10,000 feet. What ever you decide it will be amazing. It's guaranteed!Jun 19, 2010 at 9:30 pm #1621627
Awesome. Thanks so much for the great tips. And so much detail!
Can't wait to get out there.Jun 19, 2010 at 10:14 pm #1621635
Was this on rock at your highest elevation? In other words, would I need a freestanding shelter to do your trip?
JoeJun 20, 2010 at 6:53 am #1621659
No we were on soil and you could have used a tarp. Our friend who came with us used a bivy. But… it started to thunder/lightening/rain off and on during the night. Pretty spectacular especially the lightening and eventually they abandoned the bivy to cram in the tent with us. Bivy was mostly for blocking wind and did not have much in the way of waterproof capabilities.
If you plan to hike Avalanche Canyon make sure you reserve the spot at snowdrift lake, it's spectacular. The park only lets one tent/group stay per night. Also we had wag bags and were glad we did. The area is in good shape with minimal use from humans (fire rings, garbage, TP behind rocks, etc) and soil is fragile at snowdrift so we felt it was warranted to practice LNT to a higher degree than normal. Of course this was a overnight trip so the "extra" weight was not an issue.Jun 20, 2010 at 12:28 pm #1621713
Joe, as you're seeing you can't go wrong. The Winds and Tetons proper have big rugged mountain scenery, the Yellowstone area big forest, valleys, rivers, and a generally more subtle but equally spectacular landscape. Comes down to preferences and how much you want to avoid people.Jun 20, 2010 at 5:46 pm #1621757
Dave, and everybody, thanks for all the input. I am leaning towards copying Dylan's trip, though the permit situation may be tricky. I will start making some calls on tuesday.
I am a somewhat slow hiker, because of a combo of experience, back problems and a tendency to lay down on the ground, dig through a field guide and take 30 photos of every plant I see. So I think I could make a fun three day trip out of Dylan's overnighter.
I will definitely post a gear list before I go :-)
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