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Teton Crest Trail Day 1

If you’re a longtime reader of this blog, you know a beach honeymoon isn’t our style. Instead we decided to hike the Teton Crest Trail and visit the Canadian Rockies. We made sure to keep things somewhat relaxed, though. One of our gifts to ourselves was to delay blogging until we got home. In the next few weeks we’ll be doing some blog catch up from the honeymoon, which took place from late August through mid-September.

On a cold rainy Monday morning in August, we waited for the Colter Bay Visitor Center in Grand Teton National Park to open. At 8 AM sharp we eagerly handed our desired Teton Crest Trail itinerary to the backcountry ranger. We were in luck and snagged one of the few first-come first-serve permits! Our five-day Teton Crest Trail hike would begin the following day.

Day 1: Rendezvous Mountain to Marion Lake (6 miles)

Early Tuesday morning we drove to the String Lake trailhead, where we planned to finish the hike. A local taxi company shuttled us to our starting point, the tram in Teton Village. Everything went smoothly, except the weather wasn’t cooperating. Thick dense clouds clung to the mountains, making us realize that we might not get much visibility for the day.

We ate breakfast, got tickets, and rode the Jackson Hole Aerial Tram to the top of Rendezvous Mountain, elevation 10,449 feet. This was another honeymoon treat — without the tram, we’d have been doing the 4,139 foot climb on foot, with five days of food on our backs.

Tram from Teton Village

Tram from Teton Village

Wonderfully, by the time we reached the top, the clouds had burned off. After exiting the tram we found a small sign that said “Top of the World”. It looked like it. After a few pictures, we were off, and feeling great!

The hike started with spectacular views!

The trail was well maintained and wound through forest. Columbines clung to the hillsides, even more beautiful in their fragility.

Columbine

Columbine

We passed through open fields as well.

We were surprised how many wildflowers were still blooming this late in the season.

Fields of paintbrush

Fields of paintbrush

The trail had a few ups and downs, but nothing crazy. Cresting one of the ridges, Anna noted two dark objects that looked out of place across the valley on a steep hillside. We zoomed in with our camera until we could make out a mother and baby moose. Cool!

We walked a bit further to our destination for the day, Marion Lake. This beautiful little lake is nestled right up against a cliff.

Marion Lake on the Teton Crest Trail

Marion Lake on the Teton Crest Trail

It also appears to be home to lots of marmots. They briefly checked us out, then scurried off.

Marmot at Marion Lake

Marmot at Marion Lake

We set up camp and prepared an early dinner (Outdoor Herbivore’s Hop Pea Slop) by the lake shore. Other backpackers rolled into camp, some really surprised at how much harder it was to hike at elevation. Two of these backpackers happened to be Austin and Nick, acquaintances Anna had known at the University of Virginia. Austin and Nick were celebrating their 5 year wedding anniversary. What a small world and so much to celebrate!

We wandered around the lake, enjoying the evening light. Anna played with her new super zoom camera and was able to snap some fun shots of a deer eating his own dinner and then running off.

Deer eating flowers

Deer eating flowers

Deer bounding away

Deer bounding away

We found a good sitting rock where we watched pika carry clippings from nearby plants back to their haypiles, storing the food for the long winter ahead. As we watched, we created our own version of a ranger talk, reading information and viewing pictures in the Audubon Ultimate Rocky Mountain iPhone guide.

Sunset painted the sky pink. What a wonderful beginning to our honeymoon!

Sunset at Marion Lake Backcountry Campground

Sunset at Marion Lake Backcountry Campground

10 Comments Post a comment
  1. margaret alexander #

    others were feeling the altitude, but for you two it was NBD? I’m impressed!

    Thank you for keeping us in the loop.

    November 8, 2014
    • Glad you’re enjoying the posts, Margaret! There are a couple factors here. We live at 5,000 feet so it’s easier for us to acclimate to 10,000 feet than people coming from sea level. Also, we’ve learned from past hikes and expect to expend more energy at higher elevations.

      November 17, 2014
  2. Jan #

    So glad to have your hiking experiences back again in our lives! What a wonderful day you write about. An amazing way of spending your honeymoon.

    November 8, 2014
  3. Jane Alexander #

    Sounds so beautiful and so PERFECT for you two!

    November 9, 2014
  4. tyler #

    Hi! Where did you leave your car when you parked in the beginning of the trip? Did you have to pay?

    Also, what were permits like it august? my friend and I are going in a few weeks (aug 1-10) and plan on trying to get essentially the same trip done in 5 days.

    Thanks!

    July 12, 2016
    • We parked at the String Lake Trailhead and left a note on the dashboard with our itinerary and expected return date. There was no parking fee. The backcountry permit costs $25.

      The Teton Crest Trail is a famous backpacking trip, and early August is a popular time. I would recommend arriving at the backcountry ranger station 15-30 minutes before they open in order to make sure you are the first person in line. Being flexible with which campsites you get each night will help too. Have a wonderful trip!

      July 13, 2016
      • tyler #

        AWESOME! Thanks so much for replying? Do you know if you can pitch a tent at the trailhead the night before your trip?

        We’re trying to figure that aspect out right now.

        July 15, 2016
        • tyler #

          also, if we plan on staying in different zones each night rather than specific camp sites, do we have to worry about being in line for permits?

          July 15, 2016

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