Sunday, August 3, 2008
Top of Garns Mountain
Mountain biking to the top of Garns Peak has become an annual summer quest. To the west of Driggs, it measures just over 9,000 feet and is the highest point in the Big Hole Range. The summit affords views of the Tetons to the east, Palisade Range to the south, and Kelly Canyon to the west. The trail itself is off-the-charts difficult (at least without a motor), with 3,000 feet of technical climbing, but the sense of accomplishment and payoff views are well worth the suffering. Besides, as Lance says: "I'm just not happy if I don't suffer a little every day." I concur.
We decided to bring Bridger along for the experience today, and put his energy to the test. He was a champ. Prolonged water submersions and snowbank breaks added time to the outing, but we had to keep him cool out there. He's quickly catching on to trail manners, both on horse rides and mountain bike rides, and seems to be improving his "smile for the camera" talents, too. First things first.
I have always loved the Elk Flats area, which is an enormous meadow just below Garns Mountain. The wildflowers were incredible today, still peaking in August! The snow has only been gone from that area for a couple of weeks, and resulting melt-off is producing great high country stream flow. I considered joining Bridger in this watering hole, but Joanne and warmer heads prevailed. It's a long way from there back to the car.
Bridger in his element, on the largest remaining snowfield just below the summit of Garns. This is looking south across the Big Hole Range, an absolute mecca of trails. Today, we only passed a few dirt bikers and horses...zero other mountain bikers or hikers. If you've ever got the time, I've got endless adventure stories from this country (mountain lions, bears, hiking out after dark, being attacked by sheep dogs, and I keep coming back!). Not a bad backyard.