Sunday, August 13, 2023

A Grand Teton boulder hike for the ages

On Thursday, it was time to get serious for our most epic hike of our week out west. Leaving Gros Vendre Campground after three nights there, the cloudless skies parted as we neared the mouth-dropping Grand Tetons.

We parked at the Lupine Meadows Trailhead, which is a gorgeous walk up through the woods that continuously climbs on long switchbacks for about three miles before our turn off the trail to an epic nearly mile-long climb through steep boulder fields. The boulders were definitely not for the faint of heart, but I think it was my favorite part of any of our hikes. It’s such a challenge to figure out the puzzle of which rock to step on, while avoiding the ones which may be wobbly.

Many people had recommended this climb to Delta Lake as one of the region’s best. And it was true. These photos don’t even tell half of the story. A few people were jumping into the glacial waters. But none of them stayed in for long. We ate our lunch on a rock in the lake, with Grand Teton looming overhead.

On the way back, I got my only minor injury in four days of hiking. We followed a boulder field that overshot the path we needed to get back down the 8-mile round tripper. We battled back uphill through tall grass and steep rocks, and I slipped on a sharp log hopping back onto the main trail, leaving a bloody but minor cut on my shin.

We rewarded ourselves by sneaking a beer along with some chips tailgating at our car at the bottom. And before we pulled out, we noticed a good-sized and mangy fox sitting under the tree no more than 10 feet from where we had been sitting out in the open. It then hopped up, circling our car and clearly scrounging for any scraps we may have left.

Finally, we ended the day by staying in a small and cute cabin in the Headwaters at Flagg Ranch campground. It was nice to get a change of scenery from our car tent. Plus it was the only site we could find online at the last minute. Not to mention it was strategically located near the South Gate of Yellowstone National Park, which we would be entering the next morning.

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