While the craggy, high elevation peaks in the Teton Range are known for their excellent mountaineering, there are plenty of easy to moderate hikes that don’t require ice axes, carabiners and crampons.
Still, many Jackson Hole activities involve venturing out into the wilderness. Wildlife encounters and sudden weather changes can happen anywhere, anytime, and it never hurts to be prepared. Below, we list a few items that you should strongly consider throwing into your backpack for your Jackson Hole day hike.
Warm/appropriate clothing—Even in summer, a sudden snow storm is not unheard of in the Jackson Hole weather repertoire. When you’re out hiking, be sure to bring extra layers such as a waterproof shell and a warm hat. Good, sturdy running or hiking shoes are a must on the region’s rugged trails. Pants are generally a good idea, especially when your route may lead you off the beaten path.
Cell phone (fully charged)—Unplugging from technology is great, until you need to call for help. Carry a fully charged cell phone in a waterproof bag, just in case you or someone you see on the trail finds serious trouble. Turn your phone off to preserve the battery. Just remember, local search and rescue teams may charge you for the cost of your rescue, especially if you don’t really need rescuing.
Headlamp—Even the best intentioned, best prepared hikers sometimes get caught on the trail after dark. A headlamp with fresh batteries makes finding your way to the trailhead, or surviving a night out in the woods, much easier and safer.
Sunscreen—Jackson Hole’s high elevation means there’s less atmosphere to protect your skin from the harmful rays of the sun. Carry a travel-size container of sunscreen and apply it several times throughout the day.
Water—Grand Teton National Park is famous among microbiologists for the discovery of a nasty diarrhea-causing bacteria found in its lakes and creeks. People venturing into the backcountry should always carry plenty of water, and should consider carrying water-purification tablets in case they run out.
Food—Bonking in the middle of a hike can make that last three miles to the trailhead seem more like 30 miles. Each member of your group should carry enough food for the trip, and an extra nutrition bar or two just in case.
Bear Spray—Both grizzly and black bears live in the wild places around Jackson Hole, and bear encounters can happen anytime, anywhere. Researchers say bear pepper spray is much more effective than bullets at stopping a bear attack. It also works on moose, bison and just about any other kind of mammal you can think of. Plus, bear spray is non-lethal, so you’re protecting yourself and Jackson Hole’s wildlife. Warning: Bear spray is nasty stuff. Don’t leave it in a hot car and read the directions carefully.
Other gear—pocket knife, emergency whistle, matches/lighter (check fire restrictions/prevent forest fires), first aid kit, sunglasses, bug spray.