July 24-26, 2017
Distance: 19.5 mi (31.4 km)
Elevation Gain: 3018 ft (920 m)
Highest Point: 9078ft (2767 m)
On Monday morning, Madelyn and I woke up at 4:30 to pack and head off to Cascade Canyon. We drove to Jenny Lake and took a $5 boat ride across the lake to the trailhead on the west side.
The first mile of the 8-mile uphill hike is the toughest – it’s about 1000 feet of elevation gain over a short distance and, especially with a heavy pack, you are acutely aware of every step. BUT, when you finally level out a bit, you’re rewarded with outstanding views of the canyon making the whole trudge totally worth it.
The Cascade Canyon trail heads uphill toward a fork, where you can either take the trail north to Lake Solitude or south to Hurricane Pass. We headed north first, which turned out to be a great bet because we hiked through the canyon early in the morning when the wildlife seemed to be most active.
This time of the year, the wildflowers cover the subalpine meadows. Personally, I really like the lupine (purple) and the glacier lilies (yellow).
The entire trail follows the north fork of Cascade Creek, so there’s no shortage of gorgeous streams – also great because that means there’s plenty of water to draw from on the way up.
A few miles in, we thought we’d tackled all the uphill the trail required. We were dead wrong. The final mile up to our campsite was composed almost entirely of staircases like the one below. One the way up, we passed several groups of people and everyone was applauding us for making up the canyon with full packs. I think that bit of encouragement motivated me to get up that last bit – at that point I was tired of stairs and when you’re carrying 30-40 pounds of crap, you don’t forget it for a single second.
We chose a campsite on the east side of the trail close to the creek (for water) and decently shaded from the western side.
After setting up camp, I took a quick walk even further up the hill – much easier without a full pack, by the way – and hung out near a boulder field scoping out pika with little luck. Oh well.
The next morning, we took off on the same boulder path up to Lake Solitude.