In the summer of 2021 I hiked the Teton Crest Trail with friends. Set in Grand Teton National Park, it is one of the most beautiful hikes in the country. It varies in length depending on the trailhead you use, but the basic TCT is about 40 miles with ~9000 ft of elevation gain. You can easily customize the hike length by adding side hikes; we ended up hiking 53 miles and ~11,000 ft.
It can be hard to get permits online when they become available. However I just showed up the day before I wanted to start hiking and got walk up permits. I did this with the JMT as well. There are walk up permits available everyday. Just go in with several itineraries and the rangers are happy to work with you. Also, the Teton Crest Trail goes in and out of National Forest where you don’t need permits to camp making it relatively easy to put a route together. I had booked a campsite at Colter Bay in the National Park for the first two nights so we had a place to stay while we prepared for an early morning queue at the ranger station to snag permits. However, we got permits the first afternoon we arrived and were able to start hiking the next day.
Day 4: Sapphire Lake to Big Pete Meadow 9.5 miles, 1300 ft elevation gain
Day 4 I began with a climb up to Muir Pass. I had already camped at ~11,000 ft so it was only another 1000 ft to the top, but at this altitude there is still huffing and puffing involved. Already above the tree line, the terrain is rocky and barren, but beautiful. I walked past Wanda Lake before climbing. At the top of the pass (11,975′) also sits Muir Hut which is also pretty cool.
Finally day 4 of our Alaskan multi sport adventure brought clear blue skies and a bright warm sun. After breakfast we hiked to Davidson Glacier. After hiking through thick forest we came to the flat sandy moraine where the Davidson glacier river flows. We walked across the glacial sand to the rocks and boulders where we climbed to get good views of the glacier. It towered hundreds above us, the turquoise glacial ice peaking through, and the river commencing beneath and roaring past us. It was magnificent.
I went on a multi sport high adventure trip to southeast Alaska with my son in July 2018. We really experienced Alaska. No cruise ships or easy tourist excursions for us. We did it native style…with all the cold the wet the physical and the bruises that entailed.