Autumn on the Teton Crest Trail

Summer was long, dry, and hot, hot, hot. Traveling south into the desert was still going to be too hot to bear for me, even at the end of September. To the Teton Crest Trail we would go!

This would be my longest backpacking trip to date: 4 nights, 5 days. Of course you can do the trail quicker than that, but not when I have my camera in hand! In the lead up to the trip, our concern focused on the fact that we would be hiking in grizzly bear country. We’ve been around black bears enough that their presence doesn’t worry us so much, but grizzlies we knew less about… and that brought on the fear. Cue hours of research, and reading various articles on what to do to avoid seeing a bear altogether, and what to do if you do see one (this article covers a lot of the rules we followed). Note: it is not in the least bit helpful to read about grizzly bear attacks in the area you will be visiting! *

*One caveat to that is that it’s a good idea to check in with the rangers about bear sightings or issues on the trail you’ll be on.

Campground Wildlife

We began our journey to the trail from the Gros Ventre camp ground. This sleepy couple were removing breakfast from the bear box in a slow and most inefficient item by item kind of a way, when in the long grass and half light, we saw two hulking beasts. All our bear research sprang to mind…. quick, put all the food back in the bear box, go, go, GO! Then, oh…. the longer legs became apparent, followed by lifting the snout. These were no bears, they were moose!

We relaxed somewhat and went back to preparing breakfast, although it’s worth noting that moose are not worth messing with – they can charge and trample you in a heartbeat. Those two moose were part of a whole herd, including a bull with his huge rack highlighted by the early morning sun. Soon the whole campground road was filled with cars, photographers and their telephoto lenses, with everyone looking for the best angle to shoot these weird beasts (somewhat recklessly at times). It was a spectacle of moose and human behaviour!

Food bought, packs packed, bear cans collected, and bear spray at the ready!

After the early morning excitement it was time to head to the trail. It isn’t a perfect loop, so we parked at our final destination and headed to the main road to set our thumbs to work. Full cars, campers, and RVs passed us by for a while before a lovely man in his huge truck picked us up and drove us a good 20 minutes out of his way all the way to the trail head.

Up and up through the trees we tramped, talking and making noise all the while to allay our bear-anoia. We had begun the Teton Crest Trail.

From here I’ll let the photos I made along the way do the talking…

Every step of every day on the trail gave us wonder. We saw mule deer, marmots, and pika along the way, and not a single bear, moose, or mountain lion. We met only a handful of other late season backpackers, and endured some rather chilly nights with our limited gear. Looking back at these photos unlocks so many memories, but mostly makes me so glad that we have these wild places to explore. I hope that the gallery above sparks a little wonder in you, and inspires you to connect with our natural world in some way.

Like what you see?

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