...The Crest Trail. It's beauty is enhanced by it's peaceful solidarity. Tucked away far from where the masses congregate and in some places, particularly on the southern portions away from the main peaks, tucked away from just about everyone.
It may not have the grandeur of the Grand Canyon's Rim to Rim to Rim. It may not have the mystique of Rainier's Wonderland trail or the length of the John Muir Trail and the Colorado Trail. But I have found myself drawn to it more and more every year since I first ran it in 2006 and I'm sure it has become even more special to me during that time for no other fact than it's pretty much my backyard. How sweet is that?!
Up on Phillips Pass looking north over Moose Creek Valley after 50 minutes of climbing 1,300ft in the first 4 miles to 9,000ft elevation.
It was chilly start with temps in the 40s (and was that frost on the ground?!)
Fossil Mtn (left) and Mt. Bannon (right) way off in the distance at mile 5. 1:00hr
Marion Lake at mile 10. 2:30
Up on Fox Creek Divide just past Marion Lake at mile 10.5 and 9,500ft. Fossil Mtn is on the left and thar's them Tetons way out there. 2:45
Cruising along the Death Canyon Shelf at mile 14 looking down into Death Canyon from one of the many super scenic campsites. 3:30
Preparing to descend the Sheep Steps into Alaska Basin near mile 17. That's Table Mtn way out there on the left. It sure seems alot closer to the Grand when you're standing on top! 4:00
From the top of Hurricane Pass at mile 20 and 10,500ft looking at the South Teton. 5:00
The looooong gradual 5 mile, 2,700ft descent down the south fork of Cascade Canyon was stunningly beautiful, but deceptively dangerous. The running was easy and relaxed, but it was midday now and getting warmer as I dropped lower and I should have been pounding the fluids to keep topped off. I was still feeling great and didn't really see anything wrong with anything. At all. After five miles, there's a junction to go right, out the canyon six miles to Jenny Lake or left, 3 miles up to Lake Solitude. I hit the junction in just under an hour and ran to just about halfway up the 1,200ft climb to the lake before I ran out of steam. Too little water. And the 1,600ft climb up to Paintbrush Divide was looming over my right shoulder to the north. I refilled my bottles, ate some food and was surprised at how quickly I had gone from feeling great to feeling generally pretty bad, but was still optimistic I could turn things around. I began the climb and, more than anything, was simply awe-struck at how amazingly beautiful it was as the trail climbed higher and higher.
Pika. (not to be confused with Pikey) There has been talk about how these resiliant little guys are becoming more and more in danger while their high-alpine homes gradually melt away. It's often hard for me to believe that global warming could still be a very real possibility since I just find it difficult to comprehend that a colder environment exists outside of the Teton Range, but this region has seen just as big a reduction in its glacier systems as any other. And according to some wildlife biologists, these little pikas are feeling the pinch.
Looking back south down the north fork of Cascade Canyon and back up the south fork. Hurricane Pass is just on the other side (south) of Table Mtn on the right of the photo.
Paintbrush Divide looking down into Jackson Hole. 10,600ft. Mile 31. 8:15
At the high point with Mt. Moran in the background. From here, it's a 3,800ft scamper in eight miles down Paintbrush Canyon to the end at String Lake.
The end. 9:45
Wanna know a funny story? I'll tell you.
My decision to run the Crest Trail was fairly last-minute and with Jay busy with work and unable to join me, I was prepared to do the run solo and just hitch a ride back to Jackson where there would be a work bar-b-que happening at one of the parks in town with a bunch of my co-workers. Then I'd just need to find a ride up to my car sill parked up on Teton Pass. No big deal, right? String Lake gets packed on warm Saturday afternoons so I didn't have any concerns about being able to get a ride from someone. Once I got to the lake, I was feeling pretty well hammered so I sauntered into the water for a just a couple of minutes to refresh and clean up a bit just as this couple in a canoe paddles by. I took the above photo of them specifically to use as the final finishing photo of this post. Perfect. Canoe. Lake. Mountains. Trees. Classic. And then I shuffled my way over to the exit road and got my thumb out. Five, maybe ten minutes later, a Subaru pulls up with a canoe on top and wouldn't you know it... that very couple is in it and gives me a lift into Jackson!