Ryan and I headed to the Tetons this past weekend. We figured that we’d repeat something classic that we had done in the past like the Cathedral Traverse, or potentially the Grand Traverse. However, with Mont Blanc on my mind and the Wasatch 100 for Ryan I figured it would be good for us to get a bit of running in instead. Also, I’ve repeated too many things in the past 10 years and with so much to do it was time to mix it up a bit. So, I googled something like, “Teton long distance trail run” and the first hit was Matt Hart’s blog. Matt Hart is currently out helping Karl through Maine, but has spent some of the summer with Lisa and Jay on the western side of the Tetons from what I’ve heard so apparently he’s caught bug for the range.
I took one look at Matt’s proposed route and was in. I forwarded a link to Ryan and he said, “perfect.” It appears that Matt had wanted to do the run for a while and in July of 2008 pulled it off with some friends. Then, in good form headed right back out by himself and went for speed, doing the round-trip in 6 hrs 29 minutes.
August 9th, 2008 – Ryan and I decided it made more sense to start at the Lupine Meadows parking lot rather than Jenny Lake, where it appears that Matt and company started/stopped. We started trotting north on the dirt road and didn’t quite know how to hook up with the Jenny Lake trail, but within a few minutes found what we were looking for. We took the trail that wrapped around the southwest corner of the lake. Three or so miles into it were were headed up the beautiful Cascade Canyon headed west. Ryan had recently bought an awesome digital video camera and decided to work on his cinematography skills throughout the day. We were on slightly different agendas so I took off. Fortunately we know each other incredibly well and he wasn’t offended, probably glad to get rid of me.
Running up Cascade was a real treat. I had never looked up at Teewinot and Owen from this vantage point, always the other way around. It was a beautiful trail and quite fast as it was a faint incline. Eventually I came to a fork and took the left option into the south fork. The angle picked up a bit, but was still pretty fast. Wow, the beauty was amazing and it just kept getting better. This climb stopped at the top of Hurricane Pass. It then dropped down on the south side, perhaps losing 1000 ft. or so before a gradual climb back up to Buck Mountain Pass. It is kind of a false high-point because from the pass you have to wrap around a great snow-filled basin to the true high point.
An excellent decent is had from this point down into Death Canyon. Wow, I really liked this trail and was eventually greeted with the familiar walls of the canyon below. The run goes right by the classic climb, Caveat Emptor. Once down at the lake a small climb takes you out of the valley and is followed by a descent of maybe 500′ at which the trail is virtually flat for 3 or 4 miles until you reach Taggart and Bradley lakes. Small climbs guard each lake followed by another back up to the main Amphitheatre Lake Trail junction. Then 15 minutes or so and you’re back at Lupine Meadows.
I had lost my iodine pills somewhere early on so I had to run from Buck Mtn Pass to the car with about 1/2 a water bottle, which made for a rather depleted experience. However, having ~40 miles in similar condition at Hardrock a month ago had me more than prepared so I wasn’t worried. 🙂 This scouting mission took me 6 hrs 39 minutes. I’d go back in a heartbeat as it was such a great experience. Kudos to Matt for throwing it out there, it’s destined to be a classic. I’ve already started to see if my friend Becky would be kind enough to talk me into going back this coming weekend rather than the yard work that I need to do at home….
Ryan was back in the parking lot in 9.5 hours and had amassed some beautiful footage that we’ve yet to edit. Matt estimates it at 34 miles and 8,200 ft of vertical gain, which is probably pretty close. Sometimes the National Geographic TOPO! software can slightly underpredict the distance, but the vertical is usually pretty close. More picures here, check them out!
One a side note, nice job Matt, pulling Karl through some VERY hard times through Maine on his record AT effort. If all goes well, I’ll be with Karl in Tennessee in September. Hopefully he can make up the small distance that he is behind currently. Wow, the weather looked horrible!