Grand Teton Pre-Trip Planning

Goals for the trip

Last week, I headed out to Grand Teton National Park for a week of solo hiking (Monday - Friday). When I booked my trip, the first thing I did was plan my hikes and food stops. Unfortunately this was very last minute, and I couldn't secure backcountry permits for the Teton Crest Trail (although you can show up to the Visitor's Center the morning of). I'm also not sure I would do it as a solo hiker since my experience with bears is very limited.

My main goal was to see some beautiful scenery. Second goal was to see some wildlife. Of course beneath it all, I wanted to be safe and bear aware.

Hike Planning

I knew I had to take Day 1 easy to adjust to the altitude. Day 2 I was looking for something moderate. And Day 3 I wanted to do a 20+ mile hike. I used the following resources to research what day hikes I wanted to do:

  1. Friends
  2. Teton Bill's response on TripAdvisor
  3. This blog
  4. And this one
  5. This very comprehensive site for all trails in Grand Teton NP
  6. NPS' hiking brochure
  7. My National Geographic Trail Map

After a few days of research, this is what I came up with:

Day 1
Taggart Lake and Bradley Lake: 5.4 miles and 500ft elevation gain

Day 2
Amphitheater Lake: 10 miles and 3000ft elevation gain

Day 3
Paintbrush Canyon - Cascade Canyon Loop (counterclockwise): 20 miles and 5000ft elevation gain

I was glad I chose to relax on Day 1. I had a small headache starting from 1PM until I went to bed. After chugging ~5L of water and juice all day, I felt a lot better the morning after.

Bear Aware

On my first day, I went to Teton Backcountry Rentals in Jackson to rent a bear spray belt for the week. I practiced with their empty canister for a bit. They also gave me a free trial of Ultimate Ear's Boom. Making noise is important to avoid startling bears. As a solo hiker, it may be tough to keep talking to yourself for 5+ straight hours, so I really appreciated this. 

Of course, on my first hike to Taggart Lake 1 hour in, I ran into a black bear. He/she (didn't get a close enough look) was about 30 feet away from me near the water. Luckily it was a black bear and (s)he was busy digging in the dirt. There was a couple sitting down eating lunch 20 feet away and had no idea the bear was there. When I told them about the bear, they ran away. I ended up seeing 3 bears and 2 cubs in 3 days while alone.

Packing List

  • Osprey Xena 70 backpack

  • Trekking poles

  • Hiking shoes and a pair of hiking sandals

  • First Aid Kit + Emergency Gear (including a headlamp)

  • Rain Jacket/Windbreaker

  • Clothes: pants, shirts, mid-layers, socks

  • GoPro Hero 3+ Silver and iPhone6 (for photography)

  • MSR Hydration bladder + filter pump