I began at my customary starting point: The Phillips Pass (or Ski Lake) TH on the east side of Teton Pass. I began at 6:45 carrying two handheld bottles (one with multi-hour mixture of electrolyte mix and one with a regular mixture), 2 Shot Blocks, 7 gels, and 3 Cliff Fruit/Nuts/Sea Salt Bars. All of this (except for 3 gels) was loaded into the rear pockets of my shorts along with my 4oz windshirt, camera, and Potable Aqua iodine tablets. The other 3 gels went into one of the handheld pockets with my phone going into the other. That's it. Ditched the bear spray. Ditched the hat and gloves. No light. No arm warmers. I decided I wouldn't need any extra clothing because if the weather turned early on, I could dart out any one of the canyons on either side of the range. And if the weather turned late in the run, then I'd be almost done anyway. All of this was easy, rational, and safe justification. With the exception of the bear spray because if a bear turns early or late, and you're the closest one, chances are, you're going to be a hoser. My justification here lies in the fact that although bears are very much present in these mountains, I have yet to hear of any case where a bear attacked a moving person during the summer months. Yes, attacks have happened in late winter/early spring, but bears are hungrier then and there's not much to eat out there at that time other than say, a cross country skier. I've yet to even encounter a bear at all in all my time spent up in the high country. Now, I know, just because I don't see them doesn't mean they're not there. I know they've seen me. But if they've seen me and let me go by all these times so far, my guess is they've most likely realized how unappealing I am as a meal what with my scrawny, chewy runner's muscles and all.
The meadows that lead up to Phillips Pass were loaded with chest-high lupine that still held every possible water droplet that had fallen during yesterday's thunderstorm on their leaves. Other than being a tripping hazard as I plowed through the foliage, they also released gallons of rather chilly water onto my lower half. Although beautiful, I was glad it only lasted for about 15 minutes.
1. The wildflowers up here are AMAZING!
2. The curious lenticular cloud hovering over the peaks. Given that every day for the past week has produced a rather intense afternoon thunderstorm (or two) I didn't neccessarily need to see this cloud to feel pretty confident that something would build up and pop. But this cloud (an indication of high winds in higher altitudes mainly over high peaks) certainly reinforced my outlook. The biggest question was... when.
Possibly my favorite vista along the route from Hurricane Pass looking at the Middle and South Teton above South Cascade Canyon and a glacial tairn at the lower terminus of the Schoolroom Glacier.
The ridgetop hallway nearing the top of Paintbrush Divide. 10,200ft.
Looking south from the top of Paintbrush Divide, I knew time was of the essence. Those dark clouds had finally had enough time to gather their energy together and would soon unleash. Time to go down!
Thirty minutes from the end in the lower portion of Paintbrush Canyon, there was a magnificent bull moose feeding off the shrubs. Beautiful animals. By this point, there had been thunder rumbling and light sprinkles for just about the entire way down from the top. Ten minutes later, the deluge began and didn't let up for the remaining twenty minutes to the end at String Lake. With nothing but my windshirt which remained tucked away in my pocket as it would be worthless against the downpour, I quickly became just as wet as I would've been had I actually jumped into the lake.
The best part of this finish was catching up to a hiking group with a few young kids and having the two boys (ages 6 and 8) run with me for about a half mile. The 8 year old had already run a 5k so far in his young life and didn't seem to be having too much trouble clicking over a 10 min/mi pace whilst carrying on a conversation with me! (he eventually dropped back to wait for his 6 year old best friend who was screaming at us to "please just take a one minute rest!")
All-in-all, a pretty successful run. Never really felt great, but I guess that's also something that I find quite satifying really... that I can knock off a rugged, 39 miler, at elevation, without much trouble even when I'm not feeling "on". It sure is a tough 39 miles.
Top of climb above Phillips Pass: 1:00
Grand Teton NP boundary: 1:45
Fox Creek Pass: 2:50
Top of Sheep Steps entering Alaska Basin: 3:40
Hurricane Pass: 4:45
Jct of S/N Cascade Canyon: 5:45
Lake Solitude: 6:25
Paintbrush Divide: 7:15
String Lake: 8:50