The Hanging Canyon CouponLast Fathers Day my daughter Christy and her husband Matt, who are on a very tight budget, gave me a home-made coupon book with things like a car wash or lawn mowing – and a hike in any canyon. Little did they know I have wanted to hike Hanging Canyon to Lake of the Crags ever since I noticed it on a Grand Teton National Park topo decades ago. There is a trail but it’s not maintained and rarely shown on maps and seldom mentioned in guide books.
Hiking Hanging Canyon to Lake of the Crags
Christy: The coupon was my idea and at this point I’m feeling like a genius. A nice trip to the Tetons with three nights at the Jackson Lake Lodge. How sweet is that?
Christy: I’m loving this! A good workout – a nice place to stay and look at the view. Sure beats Gold’s Gym in Salt Lake. I figure this is what heaven must look like.
Christy: Pretty sure I didn’t sign up for this – I hope this is worth it. I really don’t think we are on a trail anymore. Next year I’m going to insist we tackle Lake Solitude instead. That feels like a breeze compared to this straight up climb.
Rob: Using either trail option, the hike to Ramshead Lake is no “stroll” but rather a hike you can really get your teeth into. With little shade from the August sun and thinning air I’m understanding why I couldn’t talk anyone into doing Hanging Canyon earlier. But once atop the second stair-step suddenly a sense of vindication as we spot Ramshead Lake through the trees.
Christy: Okay – this is totally worth it. Amazing! Who would have thought 2,800 feet of elevation gain would put you on top of the world. We can see the western ridgeline, the square shaped 10,895 foot Rock of Ages – not to mention Canine Tooth, The Jaw, Camels Head, Needles Eye Spire and Mount St John.
Matt: Hey – not bad names for the dogs we are getting …The Jaw, Rock of Ages and Mount St. John….
Christy: No dogs remember!? Honestly!
Christy: I love the view of Jackson Lake. This is the fullest I remember seeing it. I did hear that the Tetons were hit with the heaviest winter in 18 years. Seems to have paid off. I can only imagine what this valley must have looked like if there is still this much snow. Nothing like a good snowball fight in August.
Matt: This is the ideal temperature – perfect!
Rob: I’m a happy guy, not only a goal accomplished but in excellent company.
Christy: I find it ironic that my Dad is bugged about the heat. Look at him – he’s dressed for a business lunch not a day hike in the Tetons. Who wears a dress shirt on a hike? I guess that’s what working in an office will do to a person. Very sad…
Rob: Around noon we left the lake (far too soon) and started the decent to Jenny Lake. For the return trip we followed the trail that heads down the floor of the canyon with the stream to our right. As it was getting hot, the nearby cold water came in handy for frequent “hat dipping.” Although steep, this route seems less arduous than the route up the northern slope.
Christy: Ah – so this is the trail. This would definitely have been an easier climb up – oh well – too late now. I’m just happy we’re going down instead of up.
Matt: Amen sister!
Matt: I’m just happy to be sitting down. It’s only 3:00 – just enough time to get a good nap in before dinner.
Rob: One beautiful day for hiking and photography. We used a Pentax SLR K10D digital with an 18-55mm lens. Although, far from doing a climb up the Grand, for me it was a pretty serious hike but Christy was un-phased. As she mentioned above, she wanted to walk back to the parking lot rather than wait for the shuttle boat… Matt and I loved the boat ride.