7/31 I can honestly say our time in the Tetons was meant to be. The next day we went to the post office to gather our packages, but we had gone to the wrong one so we needed to walk a mile down the road to the other post office to get our packages. As we began walking, and twinkle fumbled awkwardly down the street with all of us things in a trash bag because he was waiting for his new pack to be mailed to him, this lady Nancy pulled up and asked us for a ride. She was very friendly and helpful and dropped us off at the McDonald's near the post office and mentioned that her husband John knew a bit about the Teton Crest Trail and the grand Teton climb. She left us with his number, and we had no idea that our time in the Tetons was about to become a lot better. We trashed up the McDonalds, as they say, pretty well as we spread out on tables packing our resupplies into our packs and eating snacks. After a couple hours, John, Nancy's husband came by the McDonalds and introduced himself and how we could go about hiking the Teton crest trail and climbing the grand. He also offered us a ride to the trailhead in the morning. After a bit he had to go back to work and we went back to downtown to finish some chores. I had to call black diamond way too many times to figure out where my warranted poles were, and later in the day we got a text from John saying to come hungry to his house. Rafiki, Twinkle and I met him in at a park and then walked over to his house. We were very happy to hear he had been preparing a 3 meat dinner and Nancy mixed up and excellent salad. Before eating, Nancy and a friend that was also there, Chris, had many questions about gear so we dumped our packs out, set up our shelters, bragged about our ultra light quilts and explained our nutrition plans. Soon enough the food was brought out and I couldn't have asked for anything better than a table full of steaks, potatoes, salads, and other vegetables. It feels different and foreign to eat a real meal like that, real home cooking that nourishes so deeply. After talking about our worst, best, and funniest experiences while hiking, it was time to go to the pass to begin the hike. A heavy storm was moving in and snow was forecasted at the higher elevations. We would only be hiking as short as possible to the nearest flat spot, then camp to get up in the morning and really start the trail. John dropped us off at the Philips Canyon trailhead before 9 and we camped soon after just as it began to rain.
After a few hours of miserable frozen and overgrown trail our toes thawed out and we were on the Teton Crest. The whole day was pretty chilly and we took our time to get the 24 miles done to where we stopped in Avalanche basin. Once we got to sunset lake, we had a couple hours to sit above the alpine lake and look over the trail we had just come up. We discussed how leaving our continuous footpath to come out to the Tetons was such a good idea. We talked about how cool it would be to climb that big mountain we had been walking towards all day; the Grand.
The next morning was much warmer and we headed up to hurricane pass where the Tetons opened up and we circled around the backside the rest of the day. We saw 2 Cubs and a mamma bear walking the trail feet in front of us and a couple moose. We passed day hiker after day hiker up to the paintbrush divide and finally got some service. John had texted me and had been to the climbers ranch to put a note up saying we were interested in climbing the Grand. As we neared the parking lot, he had found someone for us that wanted to climb, and the guy, Brian drove to the southern terminus of the Trail and met us down there. We met, then drove to the climbers ranch to secure our spots, then called john and agreed to meet at a nearby pizza place. There we made our game plan; meet at the Lupine Meadow trailhead at 3 AM, hike all morning, climb some, summit, and head back down to be back at the car before dark. It was all so perfectly smooth--we went straight to hiking the crest trail to meeting Brian to meeting up with John and straight to sleeping at the climbers ranch.
3 am rolled up and we were hiking up the mellow trail to the lower summit. It was dark for a few hours, but the trail stayed non technical and we cruised up the first miles to the lower saddle. We got our first rays of sun there and our last place to fill up water. John said hi to some of the exum guides that he knew and we began scrambling up to the upper saddle. We strapped our helmets on and worked our way up. Finally we were there: the upper saddle. Time to climb. John and Brian discussed where the route was and soon enough we were all tied into one rope climbing the first pitch; the belly roll. Easy, exposed climbing and we made it to the first ledge. Brian led the second pitch into the double chimney and we inched our way closer. When we made it to the second pitch we realized it was going to take longer than we thought to finish the last couple pitches so we decided to simul-climb our way to the top. Brian led, with me second, then Twinkle, then John. This made things a lot quicker, but falling made the risk of injury a bit higher. Easy climbing was made a bit difficult due to the somewhat icy chimneys, but we all made it up the last pitch. From there it was a scramble to the top, we stayed roped up and we all summitted basically together. There were a good amount of people up there; a group of ten and some others we had seen on the way up. We got the pictures to prove the work we had just put forth. The summit reeked of marmot urine, but it didn't matter. The Tetons give some of the most interesting views because of their prominent nature. Surrounding the main peaks are some mountains, mostly hills, and then the skyline of the Tetons juts out like a set of misplaced teeth amongst the others. We were kings of the surrounding valleys, but it was time to go down. We scrambled our way off the top and rappelled down off a rock to get by the group of ten, then did the final rappel to the upper saddle. The scramble down to the lower saddle was a bit less fun on the way down as the scorching sun burned our tanned skin. Once at the upper saddle all we wanted was to get down to the nice trail and cruise down to the bottom where we would get dinner and reminisce on what we had just gone through. Down we went, and the trail gradually set us down at the parking lot. 14,000+ elevation gain and loss and we were done. We made a beeline to the local brewery and met some amazingly friendly and generous trail Angels that twinkle met on the AT (the East family) and wolfed down our burgers. We didn't mess with the more daring options on the menu; we needed familiarity and satisfied stomachs. After eating we said one last bye to John, literally the best trail angel we could have asked for and drove to the forest to camp. Before we crashed and rested our sore bodies I took that moment to remember and appreciate how beautifully and perfectly smoothly everything worked out. From getting to the Tetons, to hiking the crest, to climbing the Grand, to eating with Twinkle's good friends and now asleep on the ground again. Not one second wasted. A full, complete, no regrets, Teton experience.