It was a Sunday afternoon and I had just come down from my favorite hike in the Jackson Hole Valley-Avalanche Canyon to Lake Taminah, when I checked my voicemail. “Hey Hadley, it’s Brenton, do you think you could do the Grand Traverse Tuesday and Wednesday, call me back”
My mind started racing. I had been working 6 days a week all summer, training at Mountain Athlete at night and Core Pilates in the morning and frankly I was exhausted. Furthermore, my schedule did not allow for too many days hiking in the Tetons-Avalanche Canyon was my third trip into the Tetons all summer. Would I be able to summit 10 peaks, nine over 12,000 feet, with 20,000 vertical feet up peaks and valleys- in just two days?
After a tossing and turning all night I called Brenton (fellow Marmot Athlete and Exum Mountain Guide) in the morning and agreed. I kept telling myself that Brenton wouldn’t have asked me if he didn’t believe I could do it. I begged my very forgiving bosses for the days off (I can’t thank them enough for allowing me such flexibility), scurried around town for the right gear, and tried to get one last night of sleep.
At the ripe hour of midnight I met Brenton, fellow Marmot Athlete and Exum Co-Owner Mike Poborsky, and local photographer David Stubbs. We shuffled gear around and were hiking away from the Lupine Meadows parking lot around 1am.
This is a glimpse at the next 20ish hours (not 100% accurate time wise, as most of it was a blur)
2am-Spotted a friendly fox who would follow us for the next few hours
3am-Becoming increasingly jealous of the fox’s endless energy up what seems like the steepest trail in Jackson
4am-The trail turns from dirt to rock as our amazing guides lead us through the darkness
5am-5,500 feet later, the summit of Teewinot, blanketed in wind and darkness
6am-The most beautiful sunrise I have ever seen. I am still not sure how to translate the beauty of it all without being incredibly cheesy, but I have never felt more inspired or more at peace.
7am-Repelling down towards the base of Mt. Owen
8am-Utterly amazed by Mike and Brenton’s comfortableness in the mountains.
9am-Remember that feeling of peace…it turned into exhaustion
10am-Questioning if my feet will move forward
11am-Pondering how we keep walking yet Mt. Owen seems to always stay the same distance away
12pm-Rejoicing in being able to drop our backs as we went for the summit of Mt. Owen
Mike, the ultimate guide, and I traverse the base of Mt. Owen, photo David Stubbs
1pm-Yes I would love to rewalk this knife edge again to take more videos
2pm-Summit of Mt. Owen
4pm-Climbing! Feeling rejuvenated and ready to use my arms to get my body up the mountain
5pm-Base of the Italian Cracks, 6 pitches to go
6pm-Unreal exposure on the North side of the Grand’s belay ledges
7pm-Standing at 13,770ft, the highest point I had been in my life
8pm-The group and the sun descending down to the lower saddle, once again blanketed in a golden glow
9pm-The perks of an Exum guided trip is after all your walking, your next camp is stocked with water, food, and three sleeping bags
Unfortunately, our next days plans changed a bit when we woke up. David had done a good amount of damage to his knee, and the second part of the trip postponed. However, instead of heading straight back into civilization, we stopped on our way down to climb the Corkscrew route. Although it would be a bit of a trek for a day climb, I highly recommend the route. During one of the pitches, I even caught myself giggling in delight.
We finished the route, cruised to the parking lot, scarfed hamburgers and all parted ways. I cannot wait to get back next summer for the complete route, hopefully not off the couch again.
I can’t thank Brenton enough for the invite, Mike for the inspiration on how to move so gracefully in the mountains, and David for the evidence of our hard work.