Death Canyon Hike and the Mangy Moose

by - July 02, 2018

After the horseback ride, we waffled back and forth over which hike we should do. A friend had told Joe that Death Canyon Patrol Cabin hike was beautiful, but it was close to 8 miles with a lot of elevation change. So he had found a "meh" trail. I don't even remember the name of it, but it was south of the park and looked easy. (Side note: Joe is a hiker. He's like a frigging mountain goat when he hits a trail. Yet take him to a shopping mall and he's a sloth unless you start him off with a Dr. Pepper.) I felt so bad he was settling on "meh", because the rest of us couldn't handle the "WOW",  but once we made it to the park gate and saw that we were close to the Death Canyon trailhead, we decided we could probably just hike to the overlook and turn around. Our parents were so chill about these decisions. We were being pretty fickle and they just rode it out as Joe was trying to lower his adventure hike expectations and I was trying to figure out if we could still at least get into the area he originally wanted.

First, as we drove south towards the gate and towards Death Canyon, we stopped at the Chapel of the Transfiguration and walked out to the river to see an old ferry site.

It was a short hike to the Phelps Lake overlook, but the afternoon heat and uphill climb made it a little strenuous. Also, it turned out Mom and Dad had already done this hike. Everyone survived, although Wookie did take a little tumble on the way back down.

At the top of the trail, Wookie spotted a furry critter reclining on a rock just behind a fence. I was convinced this thing was dead, and he was convinced it was alive. We whistled at it a bit and it stirred. We called it a woodchuck, but now we are pretty sure it was a marmot.

None of us was feeling the trail leading down to the lake shore, so we stalked the marmot, chatted up strangers and gawked at the lake view before heading back down the trial.

As we left the gravel road leading up to the Death Canyon trail head, we turned the wrong way and were halfway to Jackson Hole before we realized it. At this point we were all getting hangry, and I had one word on my brain. PIZZA. We decided to keep on heading towards Jackson Hole and pulled in to the Mangy Moose, which just so happened to be the first place my parents ever went on a date 40 years ago.

Here's an unimportant detail I'm only sharing to confess that after almost 14 years into marriage, I still can't order a drink for my husband. Joe took the kids to the bathroom and requested I order him a margarita. Well there was the regular margarita and then there was the special spicy margarita that was supposedly the most popular drink at the place. Joe loves spicy, so that's what I ordered him. I ordered myself the regular one. Well, Joe does love spicy, just not in his drink. This margarita was on fire, and between 5 adults, we couldn't make it disappear. This was the kind of spicy that you got on the back of the tongue, right as you were thinking, "Oh, this isn't so bad." It was so bad

Looking at that map, I can't understand why we ended up driving over 3 hours away from our lodging (there and back) when there was probably plenty of hiking we could have done around the lodge, but it was cool getting to see where my parents' relationship started. After dinner, we played out back in the grass for a bit before hitting the road. We packed a lot into this day of the trip: horseback riding, long drive, sweaty hike, trip down memory lane, and we even managed to enjoy the sunset back at the lodge.

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