Sunday, August 20, 2017

Backpacking to Surprise Lake - Grand Teton National Park 7/17/17

Backpacking to Surprise Lake - Grand Teton National Park
Hubby planned our backpacking trip at Teton National Park. He had heard good things about Surprise Lake so he reserved the permits online ahead of time on the National Park Service website here. There are only 3 sites for camping so it is best to reserve early. We were excited to get up in the mountains. It is a nice climb to the lake and we even ventured to another lake (Amphitheater Lake). The kiddos did amazing! 

We left Drigg's, Idaho (where we stayed the night) early in the morning and arrived at the trailhead for Surprise Lake around 9:20am after visiting the visitor center and getting our permits. Directions to the trailhead can be found here. There is a big parking area and we were lucky enough to get a spot close to the start of the trail. I can see that the lot probably fills up quickly so it's probably a good idea to get there early. There are bathrooms at the trailhead.
Lupine Meadow trailhead parking lot
The name of the trailhead is Lupine Meadow.
Lupine Meadow trailhead
The trail starts out fairly flat until about 0.3 mile and then starts to climb. We apparently missed a black bear on the trail (people heading back to the trailhead warned us) so be on the lookout for wildlife as it's pretty common at the park. Be sure to bring bear spray because it is after all bear country and better to be safe with a can than without. 
Hiking to Surprise Lake
At about 1.7 miles , there's a junction. Be sure to follow the sign to Surprise Lake and not to Bradley and Taggart lakes. The ascent isn't easy. We seemed to just keep going up, with lots of switchbacks. There were some nice wildflowers on the trail and when we climbed higher got nice views of Bradley and Taggart lakes below.
Hiking to Surprise Lake
We took breaks every so often for the boys. They did great considering they had packs on their backs as well. 
The kids did awesome with their packs.
We stopped at this junction with only 1.6 miles to go to our destination, Surprise Lake.
Trail junction sign
The hike to our campsite was about 5.3 miles with almost 3,000 ft. elevation gain. This hike is the highest the boys have hiked with elevation at 9,627 ft. per my Garmin. 
Hike to Surprise Lake Stats from Garmin
Hubby set up camp up the hill from Surprise lake. There is a bear box for the 3 campsites to share which is really nice so we didn't have to hike with our bear canister. It didn't take long to pitch the tent and put our food in the bear box. Afterwards, we headed back to Surprise lake to explore and have lunch. It's a beautiful alpine lake. 
Surprise Lake
We got great views of Grand Teton. 
Surprise Lake
The weather started to turn sour just as we finished lunch. It started to rain so we headed back to our tent for cover. We were so glad we set up camp because it then started to hail. Check out the size of some of the hail.
The storm wasn't long and once it was over the ground was covered with little balls of hail. It was actually kind of neat to see.Hail Hail from storm
Our campsite with hail on the ground
Amphitheater Lake is only about a quarter-mile walk from Surprise Lake, so from our campsite it is pretty close. We went over to pump some water and wow, it was very pretty. It was really neat to see that some of it was still frozen and there was still snow on top of the edges of the lake.
Amphitheater Lake
Amphitheater Lake
We also explored a bit and found a nice viewpoint where we got a nice view of Delta Lake. 
Delta Lake in the background
In the morning, we did more exploring and went back to Amphitheater lake and this time a little beyond it.
Amphitheater Lake
The boys enjoyed climbing the big rocks we encountered along the trail.
Back close to our campsite we found another cool view point that had really nice views of Grand Teton, Owens, and Teewinot mountains.
After exploring, we went back to camp and packed up all our stuff to head out. Below you can see the bear box we used.
The hike down was definitely a lot easier than the hike up. :)
We did see a moose on the trail right before we got back to the trailhead, it was neat to see.
Moose on the trail
Overall our backpacking trip to Surprise Lake was a success! The climb was tough with almost 3000 ft. elevation gain and over 10 miles of hiking round-trip but the boys did amazing and it was worth it with the beautiful alpine lakes and views of Grand Teton and surrounding mountains. These are the type of experiences we hope the boys remember for a long time. I'll leave you with a video I made of our trip. :)

Happy hiking!

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