Destination today was Lake of the Crags, a glacier-fed alpine lake nestled in a cup surrounded by some of the most imposing peaks in the Teton mountains of Wyoming (The Jaw, Rock of Ages, Symmetry Spire, Mount S. John). There is no official maintained trail. Backpacker magazine ranks this hike as 9/10 difficulty. It features a 3,000+ foot elevation gain in one mile. The canyon is called Hanging Canyon and is strewn with scree/debris and tree fall collected by avalanches. This was the most “epic” hike I could find that could be done as a day hike without camping (my idea of camping is staying in a house or hotel…”roughing it” means no hot water).
All adventure involves risk. My husband (we were married two days prior) and I trekked with bear spray and bear bells (jingle-belling the whole way), GPS way-points, zip lock bags for snacks, plenty of water, and plenty of “training miles” under our belts…as much as possible at an elevation close to sea level (Austin).
The mountain kicked our butts! We made it to 7700 feet (Lake of the Crags is at 10k) until Erin’s legs wore out — he had back surgery last November and his strength is not 100% yet.
We decided to cut it short for safety reasons – descending can be more treacherous and you definitely want strength left for that. We also considered splitting up so I could attempt to finish the ascent solo and meet back on my way down. We decided against splitting up and shook hands on an agreement to come back and try again (perhaps with friends next time so we have more options).
Just a few scrapes and bruises – it started raining on the descent and Erin slipped on a rock. No Grizzlies to be seen. But after hours of jingle belling on the mountain, I can still hear those damn jingle bells in my head!