Death Canyon Shelf to Sunset Lake (4 miles)

The sun hit our tent. We quickly woke and crawled out, eager to see the light pour into the canyon below us.

Chris stretching on Death Canyon Shelf

It’s not every day you wake up on the edge of a canyon. We drank in the view, then went back in the tent and enjoyed our honeymoon suite.

Campsite on Death Canyon Shelf
Campsite on Death Canyon Shelf

It was a hard campsite to leave, but we did have a few miles to cover. We ate breakfast, packed up, and started walking.

The trail soon left Death Canyon Shelf and crossed Mount Meak Pass. We felt spoiled. The hiking was easy and the landscape was striking, with cliffs rising abruptly from grassy fields.

Oddly, Chris wasn’t feeling well. He had a headache and felt unusually tired. Though he had never experienced altitude sickness before, we guessed this was the culprit. We decided to rest, drink water, and eat trail mix at the Sheep Steps.

We had an expansive view from our perch, and practiced our map reading. We traced the path of the Teton Crest Trail down across Alaska Basin and up the other side. The rest proved helpful, and Chris felt good enough to keep hiking.

Walking down the Sheep Steps
Walking down the Sheep Steps

At the bottom we rock hopped across Teton Creek. Finding the best path across a creek, and balancing on rocks or logs without getting wet, is always a fun challenge.

Crossing Teton Creek

We walked a bit farther but Chris still wasn’t feeling so hot. We evaluated various options, including camping right where we were, taking a different trail down to lower elevation, or napping for a bit and seeing how he felt afterwards. He opted for the nap, plus some ibuprofen. Anna relaxed and learned more about the animals and plants of the Rockies from her iPhone guides.

Thankfully, the nap was rejuvenating. We continued north along the Teton Crest Trail.

Alaska Basin
Alaska Basin

Switchbacks led us up and out of Alaksa Basin. Water cascaded down the cliff in several areas. It was a warm day and Anna dunked her hat in the stream.

Small Waterfall Next to the Trail
Small waterfall next to the trail

Soon after we finished climbing the switchbacks, Sunset Lake came into view. We reached the lake a few minutes later and found a small campsite removed from the lake and other sites. We cooked dinner on a large rock overlooking the lake. The water was very clear and calm. Dozens of birds chattered, flying in and out of nearby trees.

Sunset Lake in Grand Teton National Park
Sunset Lake in Grand Teton National Park

After witnessing the beautiful Sunset Lake at sunset, we went to bed early, in the hopes that Chris would feel completely healthy the following day. Rain began to fall as we dozed off.

Note: This hike occurred in late August.


  1. This was a honeymoon like no other honeymoon! Such beautiful vistas. I love the picture of Shutterbug stretching in the dawn. And the one of North Star as a tiny little figure dwarfed by the giant cliffs rising up from the grassy fields. Actually each picture is remarkably spectacular!


  2. You left us with a cliff-hanger!! I’m definitely waiting for further word on Chris’ health!! And Chris, save that pic of you stretching for when you are old and jealous of young athletic types!! :-)


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