What a Birthday! Good & Bad………
So, as my birthday was approaching, Sal asked me what I wanted to do to celebrate, and I responded pretty much the same way that I always do; I said, “Let’s go backpacking!” I don’t always get my wish, but this year, Sal said yes! Although I had hoped for a two night trip, Sal agreed to an over-nighter and I took what I could get and we headed off to Death Canyon. Don’t let the name fool you! It’s an incredible place!!! First, the hike takes you past Phelps Lake, formed by retreating Death Canyon Glacier 9,000 years ago. It’s a mile and a half long and about 525 acres in size.
The fault that formed the Teton Mountains, followed by glacial erosion of softer rock on top, is what eventually formed the narrow canyon portals of Death Canyon. It is so beautiful to see!!! You are just surrounded by rock in every direction!!!! The trail follows along lively Death Canyon Creek, which is fed by snow melt above. The sound is creates is so loud that you have to almost yell to be able to be heard by anyone. So incredible!!!
After a while, the canyon opens up and continues to parallel the creek through some meadows and forest areas. We found an outstanding place to stop and take a break to eat some lunch. Can’t you just picture yourself sitting here on one of these rocks?
Shortly after lunch, we came to the NPS Death Canyon Patrol Cabin. The structure was built in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corp to provide shelter for the young men building the park trails at that time.
After about a half mile past the Patrol Cabin, you begin to see the first glimpses of the upper end of the canyon. On both sides of the canyon as you’re hiking along, there are side streams cascading down as waterfalls. This particular one is the outflow stream from 9,916-foot Rimrock Lake above. It is a favored destination for many with mountaineering skills.
Of course, when you take more time to just look around, you certainly can’t blame them for wanting to hang around in this area. To say that it is gorgeous still just seems like such an understatement!!
Unfortunately, shortly after I took these photos, I fell while hiking, directly on to my kneecap. It hurt like H#$L! And then we couldn’t get it to quit bleeding, but I refused to let it ruin my birthday backpacking trip!! So, on we pressed after cleaning the wound and applying the best first aid that we could at the time. We did take it much slower and also took the time to stop for breaks more often. At least the scenery continued to cooperate and give us amazing sites to look at!!!
After spending quite a while sitting next to this beautiful creek cleaning and soaking my wound, we thought we had gotten it to a point where it might be okay for a while, so with my coaxing (I’m sure those of you that know me will find this hard to believe ) I talked Sal into day-hiking a bit further to see what we could see. It was definitely worth the effort! We got stupendous views of the impressive limestone bench of the Death Canyon Shelf! The upper layers of limestone and sandstone along the over three mile wall were incredible!!
No matter how much we thought we put into taking care of my knee, we hadn’t been able to stop the bleeding and it was now dripping down my leg, so we decided to turn back around and head back to camp, no matter how much we both wished we could continue to venture further up canyon. The views back towards where we had come from were still just as amazing!!! We still had a wonderful time even having to deal with my fumble. We enjoyed a great dinner, and since it was my birthday after all, we shared a freeze-dried peach-vanilla pudding “pie.” I’d like to say it was delicious, but at least it was a lot of fun!! We hiked back at the next day and for the first time, I was happy that we hadn’t planned another night in the backcountry. It took us a very long time to hike out, but it was still so much worth it all and so much fun!! In the backcountry is truly where I find my own peace and serenity. HAPPY BIRTHDAY to me and I hope you’ve enjoyed virtually coming along on our trip! It was a BLAST!! Happy Trails until next time……