Sunday, July 17, 2011

Cream Puff Peak (almost)

Another classic hike that I had not done before. In her book Jackson Hole Hikes, Rebecca Woods says this is one of the nicest peak hikes in the southern end of Jackson Hole. It's a bit of a schlep, about 3700' of vertical. It is also a fairly hot hike, mostly southern exposure and not many trees. I figured it would be worth a try, perhaps melted out enough and dried out enough to get to the summit. So much of the high country is still covered in snowpack, I didn't really expect to get all the way there.

The wildflowers are spectacular below about 8500' or so, especially the balsamroot.

The skies were full of cottonwood fluff, and the ground was covered with the stuff. Considering that the nearest cottonwood trees were almost 1000' feet lower, down along the river, I thought that was pretty impressive.

There was no snow to speak of on the trail, only a few very small patches on flat sections in the shade near the top of the ridge; no ice axe required, though I did have mine along. I ended up stopping on top of a small knob about 200 yards away from the top of Cream Puff Peak proper. For some reason, the map in my GPS showed that Cream Puff Peak was a few feet lower than the peak I was on, and I couldn't see any point to going over to a lower peak. As it turns out, that map was in error; I suppose that's what I get for free software. According to the official USGS topo map, Cream Puff is actually about 20 feet higher than the bump I was on. Oh well, that gives me an excuse to go back. Here is the view of Cream Puff Peak from my perch.
The views from here are spectacular, including the Tetons to the northwest...
... and Jackson Hole.
 The Wind Rivers are in the distance to the east
 Looking to the northeast...
 And more gorgeous views along the way...

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