Backpacking the Gros Ventre Wilderness

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It’s hard to believe that we are already on day six of our Jackson Hole trip! The days seem to fly by with the beautiful Teton range serving as a backdrop to our many adventures. After spending arrival day in the Jackson airport getting to know each other and learning how to properly pack our big backpacks, we headed off to set up camp in the local Gros Ventre campground that we have already begun to call home. We were all relieved when the rain in the area decided to avoid us for the evening, and got a well earned sleep after a long day of traveling.

The next morning Sam woke us up to show everyone a moose walking around the campground! What a nice welcome to our first full day in Jackson Hole. Ryan was selected as our first leader of the day (a difficult job requiring good communication skills, listening skills and attention to detail), and he did a fabulous job getting us all up and ready for our day hike in Grand Teton National Park. On our way to the hike we pulled over to view a herd of grazing buffalo that seemed to be enjoying the perfect day as much as we were! On our very first morning we were all excited to see two of the areas most famous animals. After piling back into the van, we made our way into the park and to the trailhead for our first exploration into the woods. Everyone easily completed the 5 mile hike that provided us with the perfect picnic lunch spot with great view of the mountains and surrounding wilderness. Remi seemed to especially enjoy the views from the wildflower-filled meadows overlooking Two Oceans Lake. We headed back to camp and everyone chipped in to help create a delicious chicken stir fry for dinner. Emma and Annie did a great job working together to help create a yummy campground meal (which is often easier said than done). After dinner we all had a great time roasting marshmallows over the roaring campfire, that Ryan did a fantastic job making, and creating the classic campfire desert, s’mores.

The next day was dedicated to planning and preparing for our first 3-day back country trip. Ashlee was selected as the leader of the day and did a great job keeping everyone on task as we ran around packing (and re-packing) backpacks, making sure we had all of our group gear, scheduling the following days activities, and getting everything ready for our trip into the Gros Ventre Wilderness!

After another fun night at the Gros Ventre Campground we woke up bright and early to pack up the campsite and hit the road to our back country location. After a long drive down classic Wyoming dirt roads we approached the Cow Creek Trailhead, where we would depart for our multi-day backpacking adventure. After double checking we had all of our supplies we heaved on our packs and hit the trail! Joseph (our leader of the day) did a fabulous job reading our topographic maps and keeping the group hiking and the spirits high as we gained miles and elevation. After 5 hours of hiking, the group was ecstatic to finally reach Cowboy Camp, which would be our home for the next 2 nights. We set up our tents and cooked our first back country meal. Hannah became a pro in lighting the tricky wisperlight stoves, and we all enjoyed the warm food as the stars began to come out.  When the sun fully disappeared behind the mountains, the constellations and milky way began to shine brightly.  Miles exclaimed how that kind of gorgeous night sky is simply not possible from his apartment in Manhattan, and we were all took in the view grateful to be in the back country.

The next morning, we all slept in and enjoyed a later breakfast. Caroline was our new leader of the day and helped to teach the different aspects and importance of Leave No Trace backpacking. We went on a short hike to get a feel of the surrounding area and really appreciate what it is like to be in the back country far from the noise of cars and distractions of technology. We headed back to camp to cook another successful back country dinner, and cleaned everything up just in time for the rain to set in. We all fell asleep to the sound of raindrops tapping on our tent rainflies.

This morning we woke up early to pack up camp and head back to Jackson. Thankfully the rain had stopped in the middle of the night and everyone remained dry and warm. Sam, our current leader of the day, did a great job getting everyone packed up and moving, and we made it back to the van in 2 hours! Everyone was grateful to get a hot shower in town and we are headed out to dinner soon as a nice treat after our 3 days in the back country.

Tomorrow will be another preparation day for our 3-day sea kayaking adventure on Yellowstone Lake.  Everyone is very excited to get on the water and take a break from their hiking boots for a few days.  That’s about it from Jackson for now, time to get ready for a new adventure!