Every 4th of July for the past 5 years, I had met up with Karl (CA, Seattle, Norway, Tetons, CO), but this year, Karl and Mariann had planned a 6 week sailing trip around Vancouver Island in the summer, in preparation for their Seattle -> Norway sailing trip later in the year, and I wouldn't be able to meet up with them. But as the week of 4th of July neared, I still felt a need for adventure.
All year I had been thinking that the 4-pass loop around the Maroon Bells, a 28 mile backpacking trip near Aspen, would be a fine outing, and given the record warm temperatures in June, the hike would be mostly snow free in early July. So about a week before the 4th I started prepping for this hike in Aspen. I loaded my GPS with the route, and Wendy and I began packing for a 3 night backpacking trip, planning to leave Ft Collins Thursday morning, July 5th.
But at 6pm on the 4th, I saw that the forecast in the Aspen Mountains was for 40-50% chance of storms each day, and I had been rained/snowed out of other hike attempts in Aspen before, and so Wendy proposed going to the Tetons instead. I'm one who usually likes days, if not weeks of planning a trip, but in this case, I had done the planning 2 years ago for a Teton backpacking trip with Karl, Mariann, and Wendy. I quickly got my Teton map out, and measured up some distances, and found the perfect route for a 3 or 4 day trip. I called up my sister, who had just been at the park 2 days earlier on her cross-country move to CA, and it sounded like the Teton trails where fairly snow free. The weather in Jackson, WY was CLEAR for the next 5 days, so we decided to make the 7 hour drive (instead of 4 hours to Aspen) to NW Wyoming. Gotta give Wendy credit for coming up with this great idea, when I was about ready to give up and go to work Thurs/Fri...
1st day: 7.5 miles (6390' -> 8500' = 2110' gain)
2nd day: 10.9 miles (8500' -> 9726' = 1226' gain)
3rd day: 11.3 miles (700' gain (to 10372'), 3600' drop (to 6780').
Total: 29.7 miles total.