Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Back To the Trail: Death Canyon

RICH LOWRY AT NRO: THE ATTACK OF THE ADULTSDEATH CANYON RISES DRAMATICALLY ABOVE PHELPS LAKE FOR THOUSANDS of feet of uphill climbing and spectacular scenery in the Tetons. If you have the stamina, you can go up for over 5,000' UP in several directions as you traverse the canyon. After being ill all last week, I started getting my groove back slowly last weekend and began some careful, uphill training again. Saturday was Taylor Mountain with 7 miles of trail and 3,000' elevation gain. Sunday was church and a day of real rest with lots and lots of water. By today I'd rebounded well---thanks to good nutrition and rehydration---and decided to do a moderate hike to Phelps Lake Overlook (photo below), less than a mile from the trailhead and only 400' of elevation gain.
Because the hike was to be so short and simple, I took very little gear---just some food, water and a cell phone which soon went out of range. I walked to Phelps Lake with little distress, so I decided to go a little further...to the mouth of Death Canyon. Again it went quite well, so I decided to try and go a little further, higher up the trail to the GTNP ranger cabin at 3.7 miles and about a 2,000' climb. There I rested and then decided to push on a little further up towards Static Peak Divide....my ultimate goal this summer, but one I'm not yet ready to tackle.
Nevertheless I continued upward along switchbacks until a dark and foreboding cloud with thunder and lightning turned all hikers back down the very steep slippery trail we had just come up.
As darkness and wind overwhelmed Death Canyon, I made it back down to the rangers station. The Patrol welcomed me inside the cabin and offered me a chair to wait out the storm. I took him up on his offer as the wind blew ferociously outside. When things finally settled down and I needed to leave, I asked him for a garbage bag that I could wear as raingear tol continue the descent. Not only did it keep me dry and warm for the hike back, it helped me get back in time for a 6 o'clock dinner with a friend.
This weekend, I'll be leading a moderate hike for the group....and if you're in the area and want to go.....just let me know!

1 comment:

615_libertarian said...

sounds like a beautiful place