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845 Tetons
The Enclosure

The Grand from above the fixed ropes

The Grand

On Monday (July 22 - Journal #842) we hiked and camped at the Meadows Camping Zone of Garnet Canyon in Grand Teton National Park. Our goal the next day was to climb to the Upper Saddle of Grand Teton and then to the summit of the Enclosure. We close this route so that we could record a path to the Lower Saddle for cloudhiking.com, have fun scrambling, and not have the extra weight of all the technical gear. We were looking for a fun, familiar route, but it had been ten years since we had been on the Grand.

As soon as the sun went down at our camp in the Meadows, we were asleep. Morning was early, as we finished packing, securing the site, and were hiking by 4. By headlamp we set an easy pace as we climbed the slopes next to Spalding Falls headed toward the Lower Saddle. The unimproved trail is really improved, it just is not as manicured as the other Park trails. We had no trouble hiking in the dark, but we needed to make a stop.

Soon after leaving camp we both needed to find a place away from the trail to "dig a hole". The only problem was in the dark, we had trouble finding a spot. We picked one location and then found the trail switchbacking right back to us. Finally, above Petzoldt Caves we were able to find a couple of spots at least 200 feet from the trail.

Quonset Hut of Jackson Hole Mountain Guides

Still dark, we climbed steadily as morning approached. We were following a rib, but it did not seem right. We kept climbing because we really couldn't see any alternatives. We were on a path, it just didn't seem to be going in the right direction. As it grew lighter, we knew we were in the wrong place. After talking it over, it seemed as if we were headed toward the Jackson Hole Mountain Guides Camp, but we were unsure. Numerous times we said that we would go to the next boulder and maybe we could see better from there ... we couldn't, so we kept climbing.

By then it was light enough, we could see the Moraine, far below. We were almost level with the Lower Saddle. We were in the wrong place and knew where the right place was, we just didn't know how to connect the dots, yet. Around the next boulder was the Quonset Hut of Jackson Hole Mountain Guide's Camp. Rats! We were way too high.

morning on the Moraine

We hoped there would be a trail down to the Moraine other than the one we came up, but we did not see one. We chose to climb down a slope of large rocks (talus) and boulders to regain the path. We were already within the boundaries of the Moraine Camping Zone when we returned to the safe and narrow.

Two folks descending the fixed ropes. (The photo was from our descent)

On the path, we set a steady pace and soon arrived at the fixed ropes. At this section of rock, a rope helps protect a fifty foot climb up a slab like cliff. We waited for a climber to descend. He had just finished the first half of the Grand Traverse - from Teewinot to Owen to Grand. He was pretty excited about his accomplishments. We were too.

a tent on the Lower Saddle

Above the fixed ropes we went by the Lower Saddle spring, filled our bottles and then continued to the Saddle. We had no reason to stop so we continued on the trail toward the obvious couloir. Passing the Black Dike we were looking for a short climb - traverse that led to the Eye of the Needle passage. Looking around, we found several things we could climb, but none looked right. Where were all the cairns? Rock markers used to lead climbers up the couloir, but they all seemed to be missing. Looking down the couloir, we saw where we needed to be. We were about a hundred feet to high.

Back in the area of the route, we climbed a short but tricky chimney (the easiest passage was up and to the left of the chimney) and then traversed to the Eye of the Needle, a short tunnel. After the Eye, we went around the Belly-Roll-Almost and then continued up the right side of the couloir.

Upper slopes of the Couloir had many options

There were still no cairns. As we scrambled we followed footprints, but they were going everywhere. If we didn't like where we were, there was always other options, but some you had to retrace your steps and then re-climb in other directions. Along the way a pair of climbers began to follow us. We had passed them as they too were trying to find the route.

At the upper section of the couloir, we branched off the regular route to the Upper Saddle and began climbing toward the Enclosure, a small summit to the south of the Grand. The tag-along climbers were still following us. When we finally saw them, they were a hundred or so feet above the Upper Saddle. Oops, they had to down climb. Hopefully they made the summit, they had great weather all day.

View from the Enclosure - to the south

The summit of the Enclosure has a man made circular rock formation that was probably used as a Native American vision quest.

Summit of the Enclosure

The views were spectacular. After a short stay, we headed down the mountain.

Looking down the Couloir at the Lower Saddle

On the climb of the couloir, we kept loosing the elusive route but on the descent the route was very easy to follow back down to the Lower Saddle. With one exception, after going around the Belly-Roll-Almost, I led the way inside a passage. It was really tight. I took off my pack and continued. Calling back to Amy I told her that this just didn't seem right. Maybe, I had gained weight. She followed and after our short spelunking episode, we found that we were on a big ledge fifteen or so feet above where we needed to be. We had gone the wrong way again!

Going back through the narrow tunnel, we found the real Eye of the Needle down and to the right. The real tunnel was indeed much bigger than it's little brother that we tried to fit through. Hmmm, again there were no cairns. After a short down climb we were finished with the difficulties and then just had to walk. We felt good. We had carried light packs and were able to move fast even with our unintentional explorations.

Back to the Lower Saddle, we kept descending and met a couple of guys at the fixed ropes. One was at the top of the ropes and the other was at the bottom. The hiker at the top of the ropes said his partner had tried the short climb, but did not like the ropes. We descended the ropes and as we left, he was scampering up the cliff with no problems. I guess he figured if an old man could do it, he could too!

We descended the scree (small rocks) cone below the cliffs and returned through the Moraine Camping Zone. At the East end of the Moraine the route passes through another boulderfield. We hopped from rock to rock and boulder to boulder. There were no cairns and no particular route looked better than any other. We had bypassed this section on our side excursion to the Jackson Hole Mountain Guide's Quonset Hut on our ascent. As we exited the boulderfield we saw some hikers on the trail twenty or thirty feet above us. We had missed the trail again.

Slopes to the Meadows -  the patch of green

Hiking at a moderate rate we descended the slopes to Petzoldt Caves. It had been years since I had visited the area and Amy wanted to have a look. The Caves are really overhangs with stacked rock walls. You wouldn't have to use a tent sleeping under the overhangs but a bivy sack would be appropriate.

The final slopes to the Meadows passed quickly. We tried to guess how many switchbacks remained but we were both incorrect.

In the Meadows we quickly packed, filtered water, and left as soon as possible.

The trail back to the trailhead was uneventful. We did pass a number of hikers heading toward Garnet Canyon or Amphitheater Lake. They looked very hot.

Oh, we also passed a grouse hen with her little baby grouse chicks, they were quite cute.

Amy claimed that our climb to the Enclosure was the most fun that she had all summer, despite losing our way on numerous occasions. It was a good day.

Happy Enclosure trails.


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