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Teton Crest Trail, Day 3 – Rushing Through Alaska Basin & Over Hurricane Pass

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Teton Crest Trail, Day 3 – Alaska Basin & Over Hurricane Pass
Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

Trail Section: Death Canyon Shelf to South Fork of Cascade Canyon.

Knowing our third day on the Teton Crest Trail was set to be our longest and knowing there was an 80% chance of afternoon storms, we got moving towards Mt Meek Pass and Alaska Basin fairly quickly.

Mt Meek Pass Teton Crest Trail Grand Teton National Park Wyoming

Climbing Mt Meek Pass

The glacial valley of Alaska Basin is outside the national park boundaries,  making it one of the more populated areas along the trail. Since overnight permits are not required in wilderness areas, many people use the basin as a base camp for other day-hikes in to the park.

Alaska Basin

Dropping into Alaska Basin

Alaska Basin was spectacular and I wish I had spent more time there, but we knew we needed to get over Hurricane Pass before the storms rolled in. After a quick refueling stop at a glacial tarn, we were bummed to have to get moving again.

Alaska Basin Teton Crest Trail Grand Teton National Park Wyoming

Alaska Basin pond

Sunset Lake Alaska Basin Alaska Basin Teton Crest Trail Grand Teton National Park Wyoming

Sunset Lake

Hurricane Pass Alaska Basin Teton Crest Trail Grand Teton National Park Wyoming

Looking back south at Alaska Basin and Sunset Lake as the climb up Hurricane Pass began.

As predicted, the weather really took a turn for the worse as we climbed Hurricane Pass from Alaska Basin. Although the precipitation hadn’t started, the temperature had dropped significantly, the sun had disappeared into thick, low clouds, and the wind was howling.

It was a grueling ascent, but I just kind of blacked it out as I got into the mindset of getting it over with, one foot forward at a time.

A couple hundred yards from the top, the peak of the Grand appeared, covered in clouds, and with each step, it grew…

Hurricane Pass Grand Teton National Park Wyoming Crest Trail

The Grand, Middle, & South Tetons.

Cresting Hurricane Pass (10,338′) was unquestionably my favorite part of the Teton Crest Trail. In fact, it was possibly one of the most incredible views I’ve ever seen.

Hurricane Pass Grand Teton National Park Wyoming Crest Trail

The Grand, Middle, & South Tetons with Schoolroom Glacier & the South Fork of Cascade Canyon.

Schoolroom Glacier Grand Teton National Park Wyoming Crest Trail

Schoolroom Glacier – This glacier has many of the classic textbook details of a glacier – A well defined terminal and lateral moraines, crevasses, a proglacial lake and related features. These textbook features led to the name “schoolroom.” It’s been in a state of retreat for many decades, and if current climatic conditions persist, the glacier is unfortunately anticipated to disappear by the year 2030, if not sooner.

We wanted to linger atop the pass, but the wind quickly forced us to make some moves. Rain felt imminent and if possible, we wanted to try and get our tents set up before it started, but at the same time, we wanted to get further in to the canyon to shorten the next day up to the Paintbrush Divide.

South Fork Cascade Canyon

Descending into Cascade Canyon under the Grand.

About halfway through the camping zone, we found an awesome site next to a raging cascading waterfall along Cascade Creek. Quickly getting situated, the skies opened up with some sleet seconds before I finished putting my rain-fly on.

Perfect timing.

South Fork Cascade Canyon Teton Crest Trail Grand Teton National Park Wyoming

Cascade Canyon

It poured on and off for the next few hours, before clearing up just enough for us to cook some dinner in the open. However, the temperature had significantly dropped forcing us to retreat to sleeping bags, just in time for the rain to start up again.

South Fork Cascade Canyon

South Fork, Cascade Creek

South Fork Cascade Canyon

The threat of clearing that never came.

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