The Great American Road Trip: Grand Tetons – Paintbrush Canyon Hike
19 miles, 9 hours, 1 black bear cub, 2 moose, and 2 new friends
I think it’s safe to say the Grand Tetons have bewitched me. They awed me then and they continue to have a hold on me now. I have this sneaky feeling that our paths will cross many more times.
Today’s hike was the highlight of our time in the Tetons. Just thinking about it slaps a silly grin on my face. We planned to hike the Paintbrush Canyon – Cascade Canyon loop in one day, but after a late start, we ended up hiking up through Paintbrush Canyon and the snow-covered Paintbrush Divide (in August!) at 10,720 feet and then back. I swear my smile must’ve been detectable from space.
The hike begins by String Lake and immediately begins a steep ascent through lush forest, switchbacks through dense bushes and boulders, into the canyon, across fields of boulders, along gushing rivers and falls with water clear as glass, past Holly Lake, and up and up and up until you’re sitting on top of the world. Higher up in the canyon, you could hear enormous boulders breaking off and tumbling down the sheer mountain faces. I loved the thrill of pushing my body so hard and for so long for hours of switchbacks and thin air. How can this world be so breathtaking and vast?! No matter how much we evolve as humans, or how cizilized we get, our hearts cannot ignore the beauty of the mountains; A rock can bring us to our knees and set our hearts ablaze.
At the beginning of the hike, we passed a black bear cub, happily munching on a huckleberry bush and extremely disinterested in our attempts to scatter it. Not wanting to cross paths with mama bear, we kept on. On our descent I came around a hairpin turn and almost ran smack into a moose’s butt. A quick back track and an attempt to bushwhack around it, had us back on the trail waiting for the moose to move. Holy cow are they massive! Our group of two turned to four as we were waiting and we all hiked down the last couple hours once the moose moved. We came upon another moose blocking the path a while later and one of the guys tried blowing his whistle to move the moose along. If you’ve never been death-stared by a moose, well lucky you I guess. Mr. Moose was not pleased and took his sweet time moving.
We made it back to the car as the sun was near setting and all piled into the car to Jackson for a burger and ice cream feast. Best Day Ever! Best Day Ever!
More info here.