JACKSON HOLE, WY. 6:30 am. My family and I pile into the rented van with eyes as hazy as the early morning air. The sun’s rays barely crest the horizon as we make our way into Grand Teton National Park. Today’s destination: Amphitheater Lake.
Though a popular trail among in the Grand Tetons, the hike to Amphitheater Lake is no easy feat. With an elevation gain of nearly 3,000 vertical feet in 4.8 miles, suitable physical shape and proper gear are essential. We check our packs one last time and begin our upwards trek with intensifying excitement and trepidation.
For those of you familiar with steep elevation gains, you know switchbacks quickly become your worst nightmare and your best friend. We zig zag our way up the trail, the view of the eastern prairie is getting increasingly more stunning. Unfortunately for us, about three quarters of the way up, the weather begins to take a turn for the worse. Clouds roll in and the sky darkens; it’s going to rain.
The trouble with rain storms is the potential for lightning; and open trails are not exactly conducive for avoiding strikes. We breakout our raingear as we approach the lake. Thanks to our Gore-Tex jackets, a bit of water isn’t going to slow us down. So far so good. It’s drizzling but no sign of thunder or lightning. With the looming clouds above, we have to get a move on.
The view from the top is as incredible as we imagine. Through the opening between two peaks, the eastern prairie lies vastly before us. Even with a thin layer of mist we can see for miles. This was well worth the climb.A quick loop around the lake and we begin our decent. Racing the storm as we make our way down, the rain is becoming increasingly harder. At last we reach the bottom and pile into our faithful chariot. The resort hot tub is calling our name.