Grand Tetons National Park and the 19 Mile Hike

I was half way through my book, hunkered down in the tent to get out of the rain. Lightening and an immediate boom of thunder made me glad I chose to postpone my hike until the next day. It was a 19 mile hike. 19 miles in the rain sounded like…the opposite of fun and more like hell in squishy boots. It would rain would ultimately rain on my hike, but I’m getting ahead of myself.

On my way from String Lake to Jenny Lake there were clouds hanging around the mountain tops. The clouds were a gorgeous, giant floating hint of what was to come.

Clouds hang around the mountains at the shore of Jenny Lake
Clouds hang around the mountains at the shore of Jenny Lake

I took the shuttle across Jenny Lake to Cascade Landing and began walking up the switch backs towards Cascade Canyon. There were quite a few people on the trail, with all of us coming off of the same boat, but eventually they all reached their destinations and turned back while I kept moving ahead.

After hours of work, Cascade Canyon opened up in front of me. It was a lush and green complete with a river and wild flowers, not to mention the Tetons scraping the sky. Just gorgeous. I worked my way through the canyon and towards the climb over Paintbrush Divide at 10, 720 feet elevation. The views of the canyon were stunning. Plus, it was pretty awesome to see where I had been.

Cascade Canyon from the Paintbrush Divide
Cascade Canyon from the Paintbrush Divide

Coming over Paintbrush Divide provided me with a different landscape: scree, dust and even a little bit of snow.

Just over Paintbrush Divide and in a whole new world
Just over Paintbrush Divide and in a whole new world

It also provided me with a new canyon. Paintbrush Canyon was rockier but just as picturesque. It also provided tantalizing peek-a-boo views of Jenny and String Lake – where my car was waiting for me. Just a few, or 9, more miles until I reached the car and could peel the hiking boots off of my feet.

I finally exited Paintbrush Canyon and began to see people on the trail again. Just I came to the String Lake trail post a little rumble of thunder made me look into the sky. That was the end of my lucky streak. Dark clouds were moving in fast, faster than I could cover the last 1.6 miles to the comfort of the car – where my rain jacket sat safe and sound (and dry).  I stopped once to pull the rain cover over my backpack and spent the last mile in a downpour.

When I reached the car the sun came out. I got to peel my hiking boots off of my feet in the sunshine. My soaked shirt was next. A hoodie never felt so good as it did that moment.

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