Pacific Creek, Moss Lake and Gravel Lake - Teton Wilderness - October 7, 2022

scatman

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I might have to say that this was the best backpacking trip as far as weather was concerned that I've been on. Temperatures were right around sixty degrees and sunny during the day, with night time lows right around twenty five. My trips to the Teton Wilderness over the Columbus Day Weekend are always weather dependent, so it had been three years since I was last able to get back into the wilderness, since the last two years' forecasts called for snow over that weekend.

Fall colors were near their peak while we were there, with the aspen, cottonwoods, and willows all showing off their brilliant yellows.

I rounded up a couple of poor souls (Brian and Chris) to go with me on this one. While Brian knew what he was getting into, I'm not sure Chris did. Chris seemed to have a good time though, so maybe he can be convinced to go on another Scatman trip in the future.

In typical fashion for this weekend trip, after driving up from Salt Lake, I hike in a few miles (4.5 for this trip), set up a basecamp and do a couple of day hikes from there - very similar to my Grizzly Lake Trip this past September. I had one goal for this trip though, an that was to reach Moss Lake. I've tried to reach the lake in the past, but weather, time, ground conditions, or just my eyes being bigger than my stomach have kept me from getting there.

So day one's day hike took us to Moss like via and old outfitters (maybe Forest Service) trail that included running into an old cabin up on Moss Creek. I'm not sure of the history of the cabin, but I plan on calling the Bridger-Teton National Forest and asking them about it here in the near future. While it wasn't very far to the lake from our campsite, the old trail is no longer maintained which meant downfall to contend with, and just staying on the old trail when it faded in and out. On our way back from the lake, Brain had the sketchy idea of following Moss Creek back to camp instead of taking the old outfitter's trail. This turned into an "Epic" bushwhack that included a rather large rock tumbling down a steep slope and onto my leg while I was trying to get around a choke point. While it took us about 2.5 hours to reach the lake, it was nearly a 4 hour return trip.

Our second day hike took us to Gravel Lake, which was directly north of our campsite, and was roughly twelve miles roundtrip to the lake and back. It had been twelve years since I was last at Gravel Lake, so I was looking forward to see if anything had changed up the Gravel Creek Drainage. We ended up doing a lollipop loop, by taking the old trail on our way up, and the newer trail on our way back to close the loop.

Here's some shots of our trip.

Day 1 - Pacific Creek Trailhead to Gravel Creek - roughly 4.5 miles

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The participants - Brian, Chris and myself. They are smiling way too much for my liking. :scatman:

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The Pacific Creek Trailhead. I know state the obvious. :)

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Entering the wilderness area

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Right off the bat, we ran into grizzly and wolf prints

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Different bear on this one

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Willows ablaze

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Pacific Creek

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Hard to believe that geraniums are still blooming in October

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Hey @Jackson, remember the old Whetstone Creek sign that I missed three years ago?
This is what is left of it now. :mad:

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More Pacific Creek

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Brian crossing a tributary of Pacific Creek

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Some popping aspen along the trail

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Reaching the Pacific Creek Meadows

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Some meadow hiking to reach our basecamp

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The old Moss Creek Trail sign down on the ground. :mad:

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Colors by the creek, with Gravel Mountain just above the tree lined ridge in the distance

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Gravel Creek flowing into Pacific Creek

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Two other hearty backpackers that I forgot to mention earlier - Sasquatch and Lord Business! :)

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Colors and Gravel Mountain

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Our campsite


Day 2 - Day hike to Moss Lake - approximately 6.5 miles roundtrip

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Whetstone Mountain in the early morning light

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View of the Tetons from Pacific Creek

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A 26 degree breakfast

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Mule train heading up the Gravel Creek Trail

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Time to make some oatmeal

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A willow and a cottonwood near where I hung my Ursack

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Forded Pacific Creek and Moss Creek on our way to Moss Lake

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The old cabin on Moss Creek

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Some steep terrain in the Moss Creek drainage

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Making our way up high

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Moss on the south side of the trees

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Chris on the old Outfitter's trail, with Whetstone Mountain in the distance

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Fall colors

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View down of the Pacific Creek Meadows

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Gravel Mountain to the south

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Another view of the east side of Gravel Mountain

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Moss Lake. Finally!

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View of Moss Lake from the east shore

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Of course, no trip to Moss Lake would be complete without these two. :)

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Moss Lake viewed from the west shoreline, after deciding to follow Moss Creek back to camp

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Initially, things weren't too bad.

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Then the downfall and marsh took over. :)

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Some beautiful yellows back in there though

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Brian's words, "If a deer can do it then so can we." :thinking: Nasty, steep going at this point

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Finally we reached the creek

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Following the creek out

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Just beautiful along the drainage

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Downfall at the bottom too

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In the shade at this point

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Something else had the same idea. :)

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Small falls on Moss Creek

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Canyon walls getting steeper

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Choke point! This became our word for the trip.

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In order to get around the choke point, I had to go up on the slope maybe 15 feet. Unfortunately for me, there happened to be a
seep where I needed to go. I slipped as I made my way along and slid a few feet down. This caused a large rock above me to give
way and roll down onto my leg, and thus the nice gash you see in the photo. It was a good thing that it was muddy, because when
the rock landed on my leg it mostly drove it further into the mud. If it had been hard ground, I might have faired a lot worse.

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Clarks nutcracker. I think it might be laughing at me.

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Back at the cabin

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Night two's meal. I found it to be quite good, and will purchase again.


Day 3 - Campsite to Gravel Lake - approximately 12 miles roundtrip

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We had a visitor - fresh wolf tracks by our campsite

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Gravel Creek

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Aspen along Gravel Creek

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Gravel Creek again. We had to cross the creek five or six times on our way to the Gravel
Lake

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Whetstone Mountain from the Gravel Creek Trail

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More aspen

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Unnamed pond on our way to the lake

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On the old trail. Gravel Lake is up on the other side of the cliffs

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Willows

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This one is for you @Rockskipper. Notice the maroon covering matches my kilt? :thumbsup:

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Another unnamed pond with some downfall issues. :)

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Pretty!

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The upper Gravel Creek drainage

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Time for lunch at Gravel Lake

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Somebody is eating all the Vanilla Wafers! :mad:

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Help! I've fallen in the lake and can't get out. :D I went to refill one of my water bottles, and stepped out on a log. I didn't
realize that the log was just floating on the surface. It then began to float away from shore, forcing me to do the splits, which
eventually ended up me in the lake. It took a while for my kilt to dry out. :)

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Another shot of Gravel Lake

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Making our way back on the newer trail now, with Gravel Lake to the north

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Fall colors in the Gravel Creek drainage

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More yellows

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Zoomed in on the pond.

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The shade has caught up to us again on Gravel Creek, with Gravel Mountain in the distance

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Back at camp - trying to dry out my inserts, socks and shoes after falling in the lake.

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Kind of creepy.


Day 4 - Campsite back to the Pacific Creek Trailhead - 4.5 miles

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That bottled cappuccino ought to get you back to the trailhead.

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Just head toward the Tetons at this point

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Beautiful morning! It was 29 degrees when we left camp around 10:00 am.

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Chris and Brian out in front. Of course! :)

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Whetstone Creek

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Me and Whetstone Mountain

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The trail was still icy in places

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Back at the Trailhead

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I liked the campsite signs at the trailhead

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Moral might be slipping! :) A Cold Smoke to celebrate.

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And of course nachos at the Signal Mountain Lodge to end a great trip.

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And on our way out in the parking lot. This guy/gal must have been bushwhacking down Moss Creek! :D

Okay, while I had a wonderful time on this trip, I feel that I should mention something that has bothered me on my backpacking trips this summer, and that is the state of the signage, whether in the wilderness or in Yellowstone. The old signs that have fallen into disrepair, or worse yet stolen, need to be replaced.
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Old Gravel Creek Trail Sign

Leaving the old posts on the ground just isn't good enough in my opinion. Maybe it takes a couple of years to get them replaced, but replace them. And quite frankly, I'd prefer the wooden type ones to the new metal ones. I'll get off my soapbox now.


The End
 
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Loved this one. Love that you got to Moss lake, and it's wild to see you guys out there in shorts and short sleeves. Great that Signal Mountain Lodge wasn't randomly closed, too!

So with Moss Lake crossed off the list, where are you looking for next year's early October trip?

Hey @Jackson, remember the old Whetstone Creek sign that I missed three years ago?
This is what is left of it now. :mad:
Probably safe to say that trail rarely sees any use! Easy enough to miss the turn even with a sign.
 
An Epic Scatman Adventure!

I'd say you covered most of the essentials. Drainages. Lakes. Water Crossings. Oatmeal. Downfall. Bleeding. Wet Feet. Mules. And a giant plate of Nachos washed down with some Cold Smoke.

Wait, did you lose or forget anything? :thinking:

Either way, looks like a good time. Nicely done!
 
Definitely some frightening autumn images in there that are fitting for the season.
Excellent trip, and it is true to whoever said there is still more backpacking to go. There is still a lot of good backpacking weather ahead, especially if la Nina gives a mild and dry winter.
Do you want to join the madness of doing a trip every calendar month? There are winter spots available with a lot of desert to visit, and not many victims takers.

One also wants to know:
Do Sasquatch and Lord Business also bring heavy spoons into the backcountry? do they like common fare, like circus peanuts, peanut m&ms or snacks besides nilla wafers?

When falling into the water with a kilt on, does it aid buoyancy? If the kilt bogs down, then does one need superhuman strength to get up out of the water?

Are you supposed to cross your legs when sitting with a kilt on?
 
Loved this one. Love that you got to Moss lake, and it's wild to see you guys out there in shorts and short sleeves. Great that Signal Mountain Lodge wasn't randomly closed, too!

So with Moss Lake crossed off the list, where are you looking for next year's early October trip?


Probably safe to say that trail rarely sees any use! Easy enough to miss the turn even with a sign.

I'm thinking about heading up Arizona Creek and doing a day hike loop from Brown's Meadow that incorporates the North Fork of Rodent Creek along with Rodent Creek. Are you interested? :)
 
An Epic Scatman Adventure!

I'd say you covered most of the essentials. Drainages. Lakes. Water Crossings. Oatmeal. Downfall. Bleeding. Wet Feet. Mules. And a giant plate of Nachos washed down with some Cold Smoke.

Wait, did you lose or forget anything? :thinking:

Either way, looks like a good time. Nicely done!

For some reason Signal Mountain was serving only 12 oz. of Cold Smoke. I asked why and was told that it has a higher alcohol content and comes in a smaller keg. WTF? I was in Wyoming wasn't I? It's the cowboy state! Cowboys take their Cold Smoke in 16 oz. pint glasses thank you very much.

No, I didn't lose anything on this trip amazingly enough, though when I was making my soup yesterday, I did realize that I had lost, or left, or someone took my bamboo spatula in the Uintas when I was making the Dutch oven mac-n-cheese. When will it ever end? :D
 
Definitely some frightening autumn images in there that are fitting for the season.
Excellent trip, and it is true to whoever said there is still more backpacking to go. There is still a lot of good backpacking weather ahead, especially if la Nina gives a mild and dry winter.
Do you want to join the madness of doing a trip every calendar month? There are winter spots available with a lot of desert to visit, and not many victims takers.

One also wants to know:
Do Sasquatch and Lord Business also bring heavy spoons into the backcountry? do they like common fare, like circus peanuts, peanut m&ms or snacks besides nilla wafers?

When falling into the water with a kilt on, does it aid buoyancy? If the kilt bogs down, then does one need superhuman strength to get up out of the water?

Are you supposed to cross your legs when sitting with a kilt on?

There may still be more to go, but I am out of vacation time, else I'd be in the Washakie Wilderness with @Bob right about now. :)

Lord Business and Sasquatch didn't get along at first. Many fisticuffs were had. Eventually they warmed up to one another somewhere around Moss Lake I believe. Lord Business tends to be angry most of the time while Sasquatch, being from Portland and all, is more of a laid back dude. I had some toffee flavored peanut M&Ms, but I wasn't sharing. I know Sasquatch likes them, but I can't speak for Lord Business, and every one likes Circus Peanuts.

The pink camo kilt that I was wearing is a heavy kilt to begin with. It is not like my hiking kilts that are light and dry quickly. I only wore this one because I knew that it wasn't going to rain for the four days that I was back in there. And then I go and fall in the lake! I went in up to about my belly button, so the entire kilt was wet. That made for a fun return back to camp, along with my wet feet. I had to finish drying it out by the campfire that night, along with my socks and hiking shoes. Brian and Chris got a kick out of it though, and Lord Business seemed to relish in my misery. So no added buoyancy to speak of, more like a lead weight. And yes, it took some effort to get myself out of the lake. :D

You had to go and bring up the heavy spoon didn't you. I had just recovered enough, both mentally and physically, from my previous trip with the heavy spoon. I'm telling you right now that a heavy spoon can be the death of a backpacking trip my friend. Sasquatch just uses his hands and no telling about Mr. Business.

Good question about kilt etiquette. Normally if I am around people I don't know, I try to cross my legs when seated. In this case, I was trying to dry out clothing items that had become wet at Gravel Lake, so etiquette went out the door. Of course, once I get to know someone well enough then the freedom of the kilt is back in play.
 
Coming down Moss creek looks great ....... my style. I didnt see any steep stuff .... :rolleyes: .

As it turned out I could have gone on that one...... gotta love contractors.
 
Coming down Moss creek looks great ....... my style. I didnt see any steep stuff .... :rolleyes: .

As it turned out I could have gone on that one...... gotta love contractors.

When I was down in there, I thought to myself, "This is Bob terrain." :)

You'll just have to go with me next year up Arizona Creek to explore the North Fork of Rodent Creek. I'm penciling you in. :D
 
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As long as the mileage is decent .... Not a campaign hike
 
Shouldn't be too bad.

Day 1 - 4 miles to Bailey Meadows
Day 2 - 4 miles to Brown Meadows
Day 3 - 10.6 mile day hike (Rodent Creek Loop)
Day 4 - 8 miles out.



I'll check back with you next summer and see what your schedule is like.

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Thats more reasonable.
 
How about anything else ....any thoughts yet? I have quite a few around 30 miles........ Ill send you.. LIke to hit one a month. And the Lee Metcalf one is a under the radar one to do.......... and .........
 
That mule is my cousin Molly. She's very stylish, just like the Scatster.

Molly is a great name for a mule. I think she liked my kilt, but the two on horseback probably had a good chuckle when they got back to the trailhead. :D Maybe Molly and Dooley need to get together? Would they be compatible?
 
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