Grand Teton National Park, September, 2015

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Vegan.Hiker

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Joined
Jul 5, 2014
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2,090
Grand Teton National Park, September 12th to 20th, 2015

Joey nominated me to write this report but I'm just going to share my experience and let the others chime in to share theirs if they want to.

Mike Tyson said that "everyone has a plan, until they get punched in the mouth". This past week @Joey, @Chuck the Mauler , @Ben, @GRECO (Craig), and myself, had plans to do an 8 day backpack in some of the remote off-trail areas of Grand Teton NP. Mother Nature punched our plans square in the face but we still had an awesome adventure and shared a bonding experience that I think we'll all remember for a very long time.

Before I get into the report, I'll share a little bit about the group.

Joey was our fearless leader. I knew I was going to learn a lot from backpacking with him, I just wasn't sure what. I learned about mental toughness. I was impressed throughout by his ability to continually reassess the situation, have multiple contingency plans, remain calm, and always keeping his composure. I've known Joey from BCP for about a year but this was my first time hiking with him. I now consider him a good friend.

Chuck is a guy that I "knew of" from BCP but never had much dialogue with. It's with utmost sincerity when I say that he's one of the nicest and most genuine guys I've ever met. Chuck had a way of keeping all of us in great spirits throughout the trip with his down to earth and glass half full personality, and I'm glad to now call him a friend.

This was Ben's last backpacking trip in his epic 4 month motorcycle/backpacking tour to Alaska and back. I got to know Ben pretty well over the past year on BCP so it was awesome to finally hike with him. He's a chill dude and a beast of a hiker. I had a blast hanging out with him and solidifying our friendship.

Craig is one of my best and longtime friends from back home in New Jersey. He's an experienced backpacker and thru-hiked the AT in 2009. He doesn't spend much time on BCP or the internet in general, nor does he take pictures or write about his hikes. He’s purely a “do-er”, something I’ve always admired about him. Hiking is just one of his many passions along with environmentalism and off grid living. He's an engineer and before this trip he spent a month in Patagonia learning how to build earthships.

So that was the crew, and then there was me. Compared to these guys I’m just a glorified dayhiker and weekend warrior. I was excited to backpack with the “big boys” and explore an area I had never been to. So I crammed 8 days of food into my largest pack, got up at 4:30 a.m. to meet Craig and headed to the Newark Airport on Saturday, September 12th, excited, but not really knowing what was in store.

A few hours later we were at the Wyoming Airport and were greeted by Ben holding up a sign that said “Vegan” lol. We piled into Joey’s van and I felt right at home with these guys right off the bat. We met another BCP member @Absorokanaut who helped us with a shuttle to the Glades trailhead where we would be starting our trip and we were off on our way.

I’m not as familiar as the other guys with GTNP so if I make some mistakes in locations or distance, they can chime in and correct me. I also used some of Joey's pics since most of his came out better than mine.

Day 1 – Glades Trailhead to Berry Creek

On day 1 we hiked about 7 miles from the Glades trailhead to Berry Creek. The weather and trail conditions were great. We passed through some really scenic fields and meadows. Craig pretty much summed it up when he muttered to me that “this is some real Ansel Adams type sh*t”. We found a nice open meadow to camp in near Berry Creek. We set up our tents in a patch of trees in the middle of the meadow and I heard some elk bugling which was a first for me. We ate in a small clearing near the creek and had some fun conversation under a clear night sky.

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(Photo by Joey) Heading out; Ben, me, Chuck and Craig

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(Photo by Joey) hiking through some nice wide open meadows on the way to Berry Creek

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"This is some Ansel Adams type sh*t" ~ Craig

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A view from our camp night 1 at Berry Creek


Day 2 – Berry Creek, to Owl Creek, to just short of Moose Basin Divide

On day 2 we retraced our steps on the Berry Creek trail back to the Owl Creek Junction and took the Owl Creek Trail towards Moose Basin Divide. This was about a 12 mile day and we gained some decent elevation on this day. Unfortunately, the last few miles I was feeling some effects of the altitude and dealt with a little bit of nausea. By the time we had set up camp I felt much better. I think I needed a little time to acclimate and felt fine the rest of the trip. We decided to camp before the divide because Ben was able to scout out a water source and we were uncertain about water availability over the divide. We camped in a patch of trees on a sloping meadow. We again had great weather and some fun conversation.

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Owl Creek on the way towards Moose Basin.

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One of the few small streams we needed to skip or ford across

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View from near camp on night 2

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(Photo by Joey) Hanging out at camp on night 2


Day 3 – Over Moose Basin Divide, Across Moose Basin, to Glacier Lake

Not sure what the mileage was on this day? The day started with a climb up to Moose Basin Divide. Walking up to the divide, the landscape just opens up in front of you and you get great views in every direction. There was some cell service up on the divide so we made a few calls and texts. The trail ended here so we’d be moving off trail from this point forward. We headed down into the basin and across it towards a cliff on the other side of the basin that Joey told us was our directional marker. Once we arrived on that cliff, Joey and Chuck pointed out that that ridge was the park boundary and Idaho was to the right of the ridge. We hiked a short way along the ridge and when we descended down we took a break for lunch. This was the first spot where we began to feel some precipitation and had to throw the pack covers on before leaving. After a few ups and downs over some ridges in some rain and occasional hail, we arrived at the Glacier Lakes. The map just says “Glacier”, most likely because there is a large glacial snowfield up above the lakes, so the lakes may be technically unnamed. The lake we decided to camp near was surrounded by boulders but luckily, there was a nice, large, flat patch of grass where we could set up camp. We had been hiking for a few miles in the rain, but luckily the rain stopped for a few hours while we set up camp and had dinner. Rain eventually drove us to our tents and the rain really picked up throughout the night. The wind picked up as well and the rain sounded like it was hitting the tent sideways. I was a little worried this first night because I realized I had forgotten guy out my tent and the wind was gusting pretty hard. Luckily the tent held up fine. One really cool thing that we heard that night during night were some rock slides crashing down the mountain on the other side of the lake into the water. It sort of sounded like thunder with a splash.

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On our way towards Moose Basin Divide

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FInally made it to Moose Basin Divide, elevation 9,700'

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Ben posing for a picture

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Heading down into the basin

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(Photo by Joey) Interesting views all around in the basin

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Craig, Chuck, and Ben taking a break after some rock scrambling

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Ben wondering how he ended up here with guys from Jersey

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So Joey says to the right of this ridge is Idaho and Ben says it's not. Still not sure who was right?

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Some nice views looking back at the basin from up on the ridge

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Some nice wide open ridge walking

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Joey watching Craig descend down. I think that's Camp Lake in the background where we'd unexpectedly end up in a few days.

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Ben out in front as usual - he can really fly out there

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(Photo by Joey)

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Ben and a park boundary sign up on the ridge

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Chuck right behind him

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(Photo by Joey)

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Chuck pointed out some bear tracks in the mud

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You could see the claw indentations on this one

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Glacier Lake, our soon to be home for the next 3 nights

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(Photo by Joey) our camp for nights 3, 4 and 5 below

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(Photo by Joey) of Joey


Days 4 and 5 – Spending a second and third night at Glacier Lake

Well, sometime in the morning the rain let up and we were able to get out of our tent and take a look around. We were apparently socked in by clouds because the lake which was right in front of us the night before wasn’t even visible. Unable to navigate in the fog, we tried waiting it out since the fog seemed to be clearing up. However it started raining again, driving us back into our tents. This time the rain had turned into something along the lines of a freezing rain/sleet/hail with again, some strong winds. This second storm died down around 4:00 pm. A little too late to begin moving again, we decided to spend another night. I decided to take a short hike over to the other side of the lake with my camera, I apologize for so many pictures of the same place.

We again lucked out and were able to eat dinner outside without precipitation but the temps were definitely beginning to fall a little bit. We went to bed that night with the plan of moving out in the morning towards Ortenberger Lake, although Joey and Chuck discussed several ideas contingent on different weather scenarios. However, that night, as we slept and late into the next morning, another storm blew in and dumped several inches of snow on us. I believe it stopped around noon for a while allowing us to eat, but started back up again for a few hours until early evening. The snow made everything look really pretty but we were getting some tent fever and were eager to head out. We decided we’d be heading out the next day regardless of the weather. We weather calmed down for a few hours our last night at Glacier Lake allowing us to talk to each other from our tents. We had some fun playing “guess the movie”. We made the surprising discovery that Ben gets choked up by the movie Independence Day and that Joey seems to suspect Eddie Murphy starred in every movie made over the past 30 years.

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Hold up! Where'd the lake and the mountains go?

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The weather was a bit of a tease, good then bad, back and forth.

I took a walk around the lake with my camera when the weather cleared up a little, you'll have to forgive me for so many pictures of the same lake...0
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Near camp

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Near an brook that entered on the other side

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Across the lake from camp

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Some views on the other side of the lake

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Halfway around the lake

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If you look REALLY hard you can see our tents on the other side...

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Zoomed in to see camp better

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Zoomed in even more on camp

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You guessed it.. Glacier Lake

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It really was a beautiful place to stay for 3 days though

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Joey does a lot of this.. he likes to wander off and sit on a rock, like a backpacking Buddha

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Chuck and Craig wondering what Joey is thinking about

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The sky looked promising that night

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But this is what we woke up to the next morning

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Joey the next afternoon

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(Photo by Joey) This was the first time Ben had ever seen snow and he couldn't contain his enthusiasm! Just kidding... he just came from Alaska.

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I really like this pic of my tent on the left and Craig's tent on the right


Day 6 – Glacier Lake to East Bumblef*ck, Idaho

So we decided that we’d be heading out this morning pretty much regardless of weather. Since it was still snowing, we backtracked a little to get over the park boundary and navigated our way down to Camp Lake, Idaho where we knew we could pick up some trails. The snow was heavy at points up top. At some spots it seemed like it was as deep as nearly a foot. But as we traveled down in elevation, it thinned out, and eventually we were hiking on just wet ground. The wind died down and we actually felt sun shining on our faces. It felt great. It looked from down below that there was still snow activity going on up there, and it was nice to be out of it. After about 2 miles of downward scrambling to Camp Lake, we hiked about 12 miles (?) to a trailhead in the Jedediah Smith Wilderness, in Idaho.

We met 2 cowboys there at the trailhead that were heading out on horses to do some hunting. They actually offered to un-hitch their horse trailer and give us their truck as long as it was back when they came out in 4 days. Huh?? Wait, what?? Even more so than the terrain, this is was the moment I realized I wasn’t in Kansas anymore (or New Jersey). I work in Newark, NJ where if you forget to lock your car for a few hours, you’ll have the change stolen out of your cupholder at best.. car stolen at worst. After declining their generous offer, we headed down a dirt road which they told us was “about 10 miles” to the nearest highway. We ended up walking about 10 miles on this dirt road until we got enough cell service to call a taxi van from Jackson, WY for a ride back to Jackson. By then it was about 9 or 10 at night I think, and we had been hiking this dirt road in the dark by headlamp through herds of cows (and cow pies) but by midnight that night we were in a warm, dry hotel room in Jackson, eating real food and goofing off again. I think we hiked about 25 miles in total that day, so it was nice to have a mattress and real pillows.

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Back down out of the snow

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Even on these smaller peaks you can see it was still snowing up top

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(Photo by Joey)

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Wait we're where?

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(Photo by Joey) Joey took these nice shots of I believe Bitch Creek

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(Photo by Joey)


Day 7 – BCP takes Vegan Hiker on Vacation!

Craig decided to get on standby early this morning for an early flight home to tend to some things. I decided to stay another day to do some sightseeing with the Joey, Chuck and Ben. As it turns out, this day was one of the highlights of my whole summer. We all jumped in a van after breakfast and headed out on a little road trip that brought me back to my childhood days vacationing by car with my parents. We first took a tour through Grand Teton National Park and stopped at many of the nice pullouts along the way to take some pictures. We then headed to Yellowstone NP. After reading all of the Yellowstone TR’s by guys like @scatman and Joey, it was awesome to not only see the park in person, but to learn firsthand from Joey about the Park, hear his stories, and have him point out a lot of really cool stuff. We saw a good amount of wildlife, stopped and checked out a lot of the thermal features, stopped at the Visitor’s Center which had some really nice educational exhibits, checked out the Old Yellowstone Lodge, and saw Old Faithful do her thing.

I hate to embarrass Chuck like this, but I’d like to point out that even though we were out in the van for a good 11 hours that day and against my objections, Chuck refused to let me ride anywhere in the van except for the front passenger seat since this was my first time to these Parks. That had to have been one of the nicest gestures that anyone has ever extended to me and it says a lot about what kind of guy Chuck is.

One interesting story about Yellowstone. When we were having dinner one night at camp a few days earlier, Chuck and I were discussing the Show Dual Survivor and who our favorite guys on the show were. Chuck mentioned that his favorite character of all the seasons, was Cody Lundin. Flash forward a day or two, Chuck and I were standing in the Old Yellowstone Lodge and he goes “hey is that Cody Lundin!!” and pointed outside. It looked like it was so we went outside, tracked him down, and I got a picture of him and Chuck together. I wasn’t sure how he was going to react to us stopping him since he was with a lady and obviously out on his own personal time, but he was really nice and seemed happy to talk to us.

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Some shots of the Tetons with the Snake River in the foreground

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Jackson Lake. Joey pointed out to me that Moose Basin is up that big canyon on the left

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Some nice falls in Yellowstone

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If I told Chuck a day earlier up in the snow at Glacier Lake that tomorrow he'd be eating ice cream and talking to Cody Lundin he would have thought I was loony.

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The Old Yellowstone Lodge was just awesome. I'd love to take my wife there one day.

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Awesome - I could check Old Faithful off my bucket list now

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First time seeing wild bison

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Thermal craziness

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The Grand Prismatic I believe this was called

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The coloring around these mud pots was really cool

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It was unbelievable how much stuff there is to see in Yellowstone

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Joey not only drove and showed us around all day, he took pictures for us standing in front of cool stuff!

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Scatman was with us in spirit.

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The Grand Canyon of Yellowstone. An unbelievable site.

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Both Grand Teton NP and Yellowstone NP were just magical places to experience


Day 8 – We all went our own way. I flew back to New Jersey, Chuck flew back to Michigan, Ben began his 6 hour motorcycle ride back home to Idaho, and Joey headed back out into the Tetons for another 7 days; solo this time. Even though he was heading out there alone, I kind of got the feeling he was heading out there to take care of some unfinished business for all of us.

One of the things I like most about backpacking is that no matter how much meticulous planning you put into a trip, it almost always turns out different than you expected. I look forward to hiking with all these guys again and seeing what new adventures are in store for us. Thanks again for having me.

Vegan Hiker

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Bob

Trailmaster
Joined
Mar 3, 2013
Messages
2,289
Looks like nice trip. Man you saw a lot in Yellowstone for one day....that's a lot of road mileage. Too bad you guys didn't have my phone number, I was only a hour away...... Next year I'll have time
 

Vegan.Hiker

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Joined
Jul 5, 2014
Messages
2,090
Thanks guys!

Great report and images @Vegan.Hiker By the way, that's a grizzly track! Excellent.
They were actually pretty small and I think Chuck thought they were black bear tracks. Are there any ways to distinguish other than size?

Looks like nice trip. Man you saw a lot in Yellowstone for one day....that's a lot of road mileage. Too bad you guys didn't have my phone number, I was only a hour away...... Next year I'll have time
Your name came up Bob and Joey was close to getting in touch with you on facebook, but everything was so touch and go and plans kept changing on the fly.. it would have been nice to connect with you
 

pstm13

Auribus Teneo Lupum
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Joined
Dec 27, 2012
Messages
558
Great report. It just keeps going and going. The picture you talked about being Idaho or Wyoming...IMO it is not Idaho until a lot of elevation loss on the other side of the peaks in that area.

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scatman

Member
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Joined
Dec 23, 2013
Messages
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Thanks guys!
They were actually pretty small and I think Chuck thought they were black bear tracks. Are there any ways to distinguish other than size?
@Vegan.Hiker - Sure, kill my excitement for your trip in one fell swoop! And your forcing me to admit that @Chuck the Mauler might be right. I'm not sure I can do that! :) I feel a compromise coming on. That is definitively a polar bear track!

The black bear 's toes form more of an arc while the grizzlies tend to be straight.
 

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Joined
Aug 31, 2015
Messages
220
wow dude, that would be awesome for the desert rat here! I love it when my dad and I go up to the GNP area from our timeshare there and drop by the tetons and yellowstone on the way back. Those are definitely special places. Also, those Glacier Lakes, WOW, those are some impressive lakes, I don't blame ya for taking a million pictures. :twothumbs:
 

LarryBoy

Hiker Trash
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Joined
Jan 4, 2015
Messages
1,850
Awesome trip guys! The weather bail happens to everybody; the most important thing is to keep your wits about you and make the best of it. Sounds like you guys made wise decisions and still ended up having a blast.
 

Jon Carbaugh

Member
Joined
Jul 8, 2015
Messages
137
Most excellent trip report and photos! Glad you enjoyed yourselves and got to experience some unexpected stuff! Makes a trip more interesting! Not one your will soon forget for sure!
Cheers!
 

slc_dan

Desert Rat-Weekend Warrior
Joined
Jun 7, 2012
Messages
1,656
Bad weather can blow, but looks like you guys were able to make the most of it. Looks like a really fun time with an incredible group of guys.

Thanks!
 

Artemus

I walk
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Joined
Jun 25, 2012
Messages
4,358
Outstanding! trip report John. Thanks for the account and the style. And it looks like Glacier Lake is someplace that needs a lot of pictures taken. I am going there.
 

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