XCD'ing in Tetons

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hrishi

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XCD'ing in Tetons

Postby hrishi » Wed Jan 03, 2018 3:48 pm

I spent the last three days of 2017 in Jackson Hole, which offers a lot for XCD! http://jhnordic.com/trails/ is an excellent resource for searching different trails based on really smart filters, and also show trail/ grooming conditions wherever possible. Grand Teton National park also has a page on its XC / XCD trails: https://www.nps.gov/grte/planyourvisit/upload/XC-ski17-access.pdf. Snow conditions were not optimal, but thankfully, it had snowed just as we (my wife and me) arrived. I was on Atomic Rainiers (88-60-78), 3-pins without cables, and used-but-stiff leather boots. My wife was on S-Bound 88s, NNN-BC, and leather boots.

On the first day, we did an easy, groomed trail called Came Creek, which is about 20 minutes driving South of Jackson. Again, the layer was pretty thin with soil/ rock patches visible at several places. We turned back after about 1.5 miles. It was a good workout and got to practice snowplough (since it hasnt snowed much in CO yet, and we are still beginners at any skiing!)
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On the second day we did somewhat moderate to difficult trail in Grand Teton National Park- to Taggart and Bradley Lakes. Before every hike I like to visit [url]caltopo.com[/url] and create a trail map for printing. I also like adding a layer which shows the slope angles- its super useful for backcountry skiing, I think. (If you would like to know more about this, I wrote a blog post on how to do it: http://hrishichandanpurkar.blogspot.com/2017/07/navigation-while-hiking-printing-map.html). The trail was beautiful to say the least- even though the upper parts of the Teton range was among clouds, we still got some great views.
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Oh and we also saw a Moose at an uncomfortably close range! After ignoring its long stare, it continued its own business (grazing) and we, ours.
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The trail, while providing beautiful views, was pretty narrow and steep. My wife could easily climb it with her S-bounds, but the fishscales on my Rainiers were pretty sad- I struggled a lot, and at one point, got a catch on my left glute (left butt)- I think it was sciatica. I couldn't kick and glide after that nor snowplough efficiently. We just took off the skis during an extremely narrow and steep section (we saw other skiiers also do it, so it wasn't very embarrassing) that went all the way to Bradley lake. Conditions turned when we reached the lake- visibility degraded further in an already overcast day, and it started snowing wet snow.
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Also, we didn't see anybody near Bradley (I think most folks do Taggart only), so we decided to hurry up our return. My left butt was still hurting with each step, and to make things worst, the snow basket from my poles kept falling. (to bring in multi-functionality, I combined upgrading my hiking poles and getting new ski poles into one- got Black Diamond Expedition 3 poles. Very bad decision- its snow baskets fall just too often!) and the poles were postholing. So I decided to just keep them in the backpack, and skinned up (G3 expedition skins, trimmed full length, edge-to-edge). Taking the skins was such a wise decision! I could then climb and cruise down pretty steep patches without poles, and could also do snowplough without straining my butt further.
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On the third day, we did the Shadow Mountain in GTNP. It was a long hike- 8 miles round trip (it can be also done as a 12-mile loop), with about 1,500 ft elevation gain. I had a hard time finalizing this versus Signal Mountain (similarly strenuous). GTNP brochure didn't even list Shadow Mountain as a XCD trail, so was initially set on Signal. However, after searching a lot about it, it seemed that it was mostly covered in trees and you get Tetons view only from the top, save a few peaks through the clearing. And I stumbled upon this great video from Shadow Mountain: https://youtu.be/v31NfqPgQpc. I asked Tom (who made the video) and he suggested Shadow mtn. After arriving in Jackson, I also asked at the Jackson and Greater Yellowstone Visitor Center- they confirmed that Shadow Mtn will provide better views, and is also less steep than Signal Mtn. After massaging the glute during night and soaking in a hot tub, I felt better. We also rented ski poles from Skinny Skis- a local Jackson ski shop. I didn't actually think I would do the entire hike- thought I would do whatever I could and then turn back. Anyway, enough of the background.

Shadow Mtn is probably the BEST XCD trail you will find in GTNP!!! It is mellow (average slope of 8 deg, max of 18 deg) and provides tremendous views of the Teton range!
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Here is an elevation profile of our hike:
ShadowMtnProfile.jpg

We met 3-4 skiiers- all on nordic BC setup. I had to wear skins initially since it was cold and icy and steep and I didn't want to strain my glutes. However, after a while I realized that the slope had mellowed and skins required me to use the glute muscles more, hence I removed them. We didn't go all the way to the top- about 250 feet below the actual summit, there is a flat terrain that provides stunning view of the mountains. A couple of local skiiers we met there said the actual summit is covered in trees, so its better to turn back from that spot. So we did! Downhill was a very enjoyable cruise!

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All these photos are from my phone. I will post more photos once I process them from our cameras.

anemic

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Re: XCD'ing in Tetons

Postby anemic » Wed Jan 03, 2018 5:15 pm

This is a fabulous trip report thanks for sharing!
Call it Nordic Freeride

Jesse

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Re: XCD'ing in Tetons

Postby Jesse » Thu Jan 04, 2018 1:48 am

Right on, sounds like a good trip, hoping to get some gear and get out for some fun myself soon.

Cannatonic

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Re: XCD'ing in Tetons

Postby Cannatonic » Thu Jan 04, 2018 9:11 pm

wow, great trip report and photos! I love Jackson Hole. There are also a couple of great day-trips you can take where you ski into Yellowstone and hit some natural hot tubs. Looks like you're using some vintage Merrell boots? I recognize the blue laces.

You can see how the skis from Asnes and Fischer with integrated kicker skins are really useful for tours like this. You can pack a couple different skins and be ready for anything. On a warm day fishscales would be perfect too I guess.

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hrishi

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Re: XCD'ing in Tetons

Postby hrishi » Sat Jan 06, 2018 11:22 pm

Thanks folks.
Cannatonic wrote:Looks like you're using some vintage Merrell boots? I recognize the blue laces.


Well observed! They are vintage, but still pretty stiff!
Cannatonic wrote:You can see how the skis from Asnes and Fischer with integrated kicker skins are really useful for tours like this. You can pack a couple different skins and be ready for anything. On a warm day fishscales would be perfect too I guess.


Indeed! I am very keen on investing in a kicker skin now. Will ask about recommendations in a separate thread.

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satsuma

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Re: XCD'ing in Tetons

Postby satsuma » Sun Jan 07, 2018 11:23 am

This post makes me wish I was younger and was physically up to the elevation gain here.

Next time you are in the area, you might want to check out Harriman State Park for some nice scenery and xc skiing.

Cannatonic

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Re: XCD'ing in Tetons

Postby Cannatonic » Sun Jan 07, 2018 2:34 pm

you would like the Yellowstone tour we used to do when I was a local! 45 minutes in to the hot spring, 45 minutes out....naked hot tubbing, boozing, smoking, etc, nothing too strenuous. :lol:

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Johnny

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Re: XCD'ing in Tetons

Postby Johnny » Wed Jan 10, 2018 12:40 pm

Beautiful and inspiring... Thanks!
/...\ Peace, Love, Telemark and Tofu /...\
"And if you like to risk your neck, we'll boom down Sutton in old Quebec..."


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