Grand Teton National Park. Epic Road Trip. Day 12.
It’s Paintbrush Canyon Sister Hike Day! Or more appropriately: the day Kirsten wanted to throw us off a mountain.
I love hiking with the kids (mostly), but it is definitely slow and can get annoying pulling out snacks every 3 minutes. I was super pumped to get in a longer hike while on this trip. Overall I think it’s worthwhile to get the kids out and stay active as a family, but long hikes are not on the agenda for us right now. Olivia is pretty maxed out at about 4 miles. I suppose Abby could go a lot longer but she hitches a ride so that doesn’t count.
My sisters and I planned to do a medium to long hike in the Tetons on the same day that Jake was doing a MUCH longer hike in the Tetons. Honestly my cautious wife side was not thrilled about him hiking 18 miles solo in a day, but he lived. He really wants to guest post about it, so that will be coming soon(ish). Once we got in some hiking of our own it was easy to see why this was on his bucket list though. We hiked into Paintbrush Canyon and WOW.
The hike was gorgeous. We originally planned to do maybe 5 or 6 miles I think? The trail itself goes the whole 18 that Jake completed, so we figured we would just complete a section and head back.
The first couple of miles were so easy. It felt really good to catch up with my sisters. At some point the trail started to climb upward, and I had to stop so many times because it’s really hard to hike uphill when you are about to pee your pants laughing. We rarely get such uninterrupted time to just enjoy each others company. We were all feeling the elevation gain, but no one wanted to admit it. I seriously will never understand how Molly has that much air in her lungs to talk and hike simultaneously.
We reached a point, maybe 3 miles in/up where the views really began to emerge. For a long while we were just hiking in the forest, so while it was pretty and enjoyable, there wasn’t a wow factor. Suddenly BAM. Views for days.
We just kept going up, and every 5 minutes of hiking rewarded us with even more spectacular views. It was about four miles up that Kirsten started cautioning us that what goes up must come down, and between the three of us we only had three good knees and four surgeries. Whoops. It was so hard to stop and turn around though, because it was so damn amazing up there.
Perhaps around mile 5? Kirsten started really giving us the side eye. In her defense it’s probably because me and Molly kept saying only 20 more minutes, or lets just head up around the corner, or just a little farther. Also we had sold this a 5-6 mile hike and it was clearly becoming much bigger. Also she packed no food. Not even a granola bar. I packed a whole pantry. She was a good sport though. She deserves some credit for being a voice of reason, because who knows how long me and Molly would have hiked? Probably would have gotten 10 miles up the mountain and needed a ranger rescue.
At around 5.5 miles were treated with views of the mountains all around us.
These stairs are the site of Kirsten’s last straw. Guess we have to go back down those 5.5 miles now.
And so down we went. And I hate to admit it, but Kirsten might have been on to something. It was a long way down. Stopping to dip my feet into an ice cold mountain stream definitely helped though.
We finally made it to level ground, after a break for some advil. We stopped again to soak our swollen feet in the cold lake. This was before the great Leech Incident of 2017, details to follow in another post. So we were blissfully unaware of the creepers of the deep.
We finally limped back to the van and I couldn’t find my keys. Yes. 11 miles and I was sure I’d lost my keys on the trail. Sweet mother NO. So there I am on the sidewalk next to the car, dumping my entire pack for the world to see, digging like a mad woman. Luckily I found them. Right where I left them. I guess I was tired or something.
We drove up to Signal Mountain Lodge and ordered the largest plate of nachos I’ve ever seen. By the way we devoured those nachos, I’m pretty sure we looked feral. It was some of the best food I’ve ever tasted though. Cell service was pretty bad up there, but through several broken calls and voicemails, it was determined that Jake did not get eaten by a bear on his solo hike, and we managed to meet up with the rest of the family at our cabins.
Now that I know what’s up there, me and Jake are definitely going back to the Tetons before I’m too old. I need to do that hike with him, because it looked like a dream.
Everyone was tired and starving, so we headed over to bbq buffet cookout at Jackson Lake Lodge. Shout out to my mom for finding a dinner place that was totally fenced in, had a playground, s’mores, and PONY RIDES. It was really nice to watch the kids have such a great time. A lot of this trip has been planned around what I want to do, so to have something so geared towards them was really fun.
Overall it was an amazing experience to share with my sisters, and hopefully Kirsten finds it in her heart to forgive me for telling her “just 20 more minutes” for about 3 hours. Love you sis!
Check out our other days in Grand Teton National Park!