Yesterday afternoon we decided on a local hike up Darby Canyon the the Wind Cave and the Ice Cave. We got a late start but the hike was only 3.2 miles to the site. We were able to drive up to 7000 feet to the trail head. From there we crossed the Darby Creek bridge on foot and at the first opening from the trees we walked straight into a herd of… beef cattle. Their refuse smell was strong. I cannot say it any cleaner than that. The trail turned out to be steeper than we thought and it took us some time to get up all the switch backs. Ethan and I pulled ahead on the trail and starting using the short cuts that go straight up to the next switch back. Since a lady coming down the trail told us she had not seen any wildlife but she had heard a rumor of a bear, we stopped at the top of each shortcut until Kris and Summer came into sight and we showed them the short cut. These cuts were not as worn as the main trial but noticeable enough.
After maybe two miles we came to a big boulder at the elbow of a switchback. We saw that a trail continued straight towards the head of the canyon and it was fairly well used so we decided to take it, thinking it a short cut. We walked maybe an eighth of a mile thru a high meadow of wildflowers of every color including the bright red Indian Paintbrush I had seen in Oregon decades ago. When we reached the head of the canyon and looked up at the walls… there were no caves and the trial came to an end. Our short cut was a failure. We backtracked to the boulder at the main trail and decided to continue up. We made another switch back and found ourselves above the rim of the canyon, maybe a false rim, and after hiking along we found that across the canyon, even higher than we already were (8300 feet by my phone app altimeter) we could see the double cave pictured above. That was as close as we got to them. The sun was an hour from dropping behind the far mountain summit and we were sweaty from the hike and knew that damp clothes (me in a long sleeve) in cool air makes one cold. We took a break in the shade of an evergreen, took some photos, drank some water and headed back down.
As we headed down, E and I pulled ahead and took all the short cuts down. We would stop and wait every two shortcuts until we saw Kris and Summer and then we we would keep going… Ethan talking the entire time. This boy and can walk and talk like nobody's business. Questions, questions, questions. What ifs, what ifs, what ifs. It seemed like it took no time to get back down and once we reached the bridge over Darby Creek, with my ankles hurting, we stopped and I put my bare feet in the frigid creek to combat inflammation. It must have worked because my ankles do not hurt like they did after our hike up on Targhee. Meanwhile the girls were approaching and Ethan was under the bridge throwing rocks in the water so I ducked under the bridge and told E our plan… play troll and scare the girls. We could see their shadows as they crossed the bridge and when I gave the sign we jumped out either side and yelled Rah! We scared Summer and Kris laughed. I dried my feet and put my shoes on and we headed to the car. After a open meadow of cow droppings we walked back thru the big heard of… beef cattle. I wondered if the man who owned the cattle ever had a problem with wolves or bears. We were right not he edge of the Teton range in the Jedadiah Smith Wilderness. We saw no bears.
We were back at the cabin before dark. Of course it gets dark at ten o'clock. Summer and E played with some of the daughters of our host who has four daughters, all Summer and E's age or younger. Kris cooked salmon and brussel sprouts, we watched Ghostbusters on the DVD player and then we were nestled all snug in our beds while visions of Tetons danced in our heads.