July 27, 2012

Hiking the Paintbrush-Cascade Canyon Loop

Andrea hiking in upper Paintbrush Canyon

This is one of the hiking loops that has been high on our "must do" list for a long time. On the second day of our trip, it looked like we would have a decent weather window, so we gave it a go.

The Paintbrush-Cascade Canyon loop (as the name implies) links up two of the most beautiful and scenic canyons in Grand Teton National Park. We chose to start by going up Paintbrush, then descend Cascade. In the middle, you climb over the Paintbrush Divide (a 10,700 foot pass).

The hike lived up to the hype. It was simply stunning. The only unfortunate thing was that as soon as we hit the top of the Paintbrush Divide, a thunderstorm moved in very quickly. We spent the next couple hours in and out of rain and hail - cold and wet!

Most of the photos (with blue sky) are from Paintbrush Canyon. Once we got over the divide, it was hard to take many more good photos during the storm. However, the wildflowers were out in full force in Cascade Canyon, and the Grand Teton was right in your face the entire time. Definitely a place worth visiting again someday.

Altogether, the loop is somewhere in the range of 18-19 miles, and has about 4-5K feet of total vertical gain.

Some informational links:
Backpacker "Rip and Go" route description
Trimble Elevation Profile

Starting at the String Lake trailhead

Leigh Lake
Heading up Paintbrush Canyon

Looking down Paintbrush Canyon

Still a few patches of snow

Does it get much better than this?

10 minutes later, we were soaking wet and running away from thunder and lightning

Can you spot me?
Descending in the storm
Lake Solitude down below

The bad part of the storm, finally behind us
Tired at the finish!

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