Saturday, August 5, 2017

Grand Tetons 2017 - Day 4

Jim on the Wildflower Trail climbing the ski slope.
August 5 - We didn't have Jason around anymore today so it was Jim and I communing with the mountains. We planned to take the trail up the Jackson Hole Ski Resort to the top of Rendevous Mountain (10,450 feet), and then go over the top and connect with the Teton Crest Trail and then return the same way.

We got to the base of the mountain and were ready to go about 7:30am. We discovered that there was actually a race going on, starting at 8:30am, on the same trail that we were taking. It is a six mile climb and the top guys hope to break one hour as there is a cash bonus if they do. We started up the Wildflower Trail and made the relentless climb to the Bridger Lodge at about 9,000 feet. There are a lot of switchbacks and the trail is often not too steep so we were able to do some running, although it was mostly just power-hiking. The people at the aid station for the race at Bridger offered us some of their watermelon so we took advantage. It was some pretty fine watermelon at that point.

At the "Top of the World" on Rendezvous Mtn.
We continued to the Cirque Trail and started to look behind us to see if we could see the first racers catching up to us. We knew that a few of them might beat us to the top. Finally we got to the last section, which was a half mile scramble over rocks and we saw the top guy getting close. Two hundred yards before I reached the summit I stepped aside and cheered the first guy on. A few minutes later the second guy finished. The winning time was 1:02 so he didn't beat the goal of one hour, but it was a very impressive climb. They both looked quite spent when they went by me.

Jim and I took a few pictures at the top and then saw a couple of para-gliders ready to launch off of the mountain. We waited until one of them went. It takes some guts to just run off the mountain and hope that air fills your glider.

We continued down the mountain until we found the Rendezvous Trail and continued a steady descent. As I'm going down I'm thinking that we will have to climb all the way back up again and I wasn't sure how I felt about that. Finally we leveled off for a little, but then we climbed again and descended again. At this point, Jim mentioned that he wasn't wild about climbing back up to the top of Rendezvous Mountain. We formulated an alternate plan to just skip going to Teton Crest and to take the trail down Granite Canyon, where we had ascended two days ago. It is a pretty canyon and the wildflowers in in are spectacular. We soon arrived at the fork in the trail and started the descent into the canyon. It was a pleasant run down, and it didn't seem to take too long until we reached the bottom, as we were able to make good time.

The trail through a field of wildflowers.
We connected with the Valley Trail and took the couple of mile jaunt back to Teton Village. We ended up with about 19 miles and 4500 feet of climbing for the day. My legs felt pretty good and I never really got very sore during the week, which was a surprise. After the first day I wasn't sure I could do four long days in the mountains.

It was a good trip, with good company, beautiful surroundings, ice cream after each run (huckleberry for me), and good food at the end of the day. Now we will have to think about the next one. I am certainly in favor of continuing to do them in the mountains somewhere.

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