Saturday, September 7, 2002
Backpack through the Gros Ventre Wildernes
Team North, totally buff by now from traveling such rugged country for a month, plunges into another wilderness- this one in the Gros Ventre Mountain Range in the Bridger-Teton National Forest. The Gros Ventres lie to the east of the Tetons, forming the "hole" which is the Jackson Hole valley.
The 287,000-acre Gros Ventre Wilderness is wild, steep and rugged, where softly rolling, luxuriant meadows turn into unforgiving badlands. Peaceful, meandering streams flow from narrowing chasms roaring with snow melt. The Gros Ventre range contains 20 peaks over 10,000 ft and several over 11,000 feet. The forests and meadows support healthy populations of elk, moose, mule deer, bighorn sheep, and black bear, just to name a few.
Geologically speaking, the mountains are relatively new, and several active slumps are present. One of them slid into the Gros Ventre river in 1925, forming a dam and creating a lake. A major flood washed out part of this natural dam two years later, destroying the town of Kelly and lowering the lake level considerably. The site of this major landslide is now part of the Gros Ventre Slide Geological Area. This wilderness is visited only a fraction as much as the opposite mountains, the Tetons, but it is popular among backpackers, outfitters, and hunters.