Friday, August 29, 2008
Horseback Riding to Alaska Basin
Alaska Basin is one of the most beautiful destinations in the Teton mountain range, or anywhere else for that matter. It's a nice half-day trip from the Teton Canyon trailhead, and we made the journey via horseback this week.
It happened to be my birthday week (let's just say I'm well past 21, so it wasn't real exciting), and I had promised Joanne I'd join her and a couple of good Driggs cowboy friends for the big horseback ride. It ended up being the one cloudy day we've had in the past three weeks, but it was still epic.
I made things interesting by trail running about half the distance, and really liked that mix. I would've had a tough time running or riding a horse the entire 18 miles round-trip, but half of each was perfect. Flowers were peaking around the 9,000 foot elevation mark, which is amazing considering it's the end of August.
Alaska Basin sits at nearly 10,000 feet, and has only been snow-free for a little over two weeks. Snow is predicted for this coming Monday (Labor Day), which means the summer season up there will be a grand total of three weeks. Brutal!
Joanne, Bridger and I all love the high country. Bridger couldn't decide which lake or stream to swim in, while Joanne and I couldn't decide which mountain peak was most dramatic. We eventually determined that from our particular vantage point, it had to be Buck Mountain.
I love spending days in the backcountry with Weston. He knows every mountain, stream, hill and tree surrounding Teton Valley, and has a story associated with most of them. He was exploring this area long before they created the Jedediah Smith Wilderness Area, and in his words it was more "wild" before (statistically, he's right: once an area is named "Wilderness," visitation increases significantly). Go figure.
On our return trip, Weston guided us on a little-known trail that presented the most majestic views of the day. It's an honor to be out there on a horse with the man, and he's way better than a GPS. They're not making 'em like him anymore.