After my previous week’s trip where I spent most of my time wishing I’d chosen a different itinerary, I knew I needed more WOW factor this time around. You may recall I started my first trip at the Torrey Creek/Trail Lakes Trailhead (near Dubois) as I was shuttling friends from that location to the Middle Fork Trailhead (near Lander). Task accomplished as I said goodbye to Mike and Ryan.
The Worthen Meadows Reservoir is nothing special, but gives you a first look at the Wind River Mountains, and provides a potential place to swim and clean up after the trip. There are also nearby camping opportunities.
My plan was to start at the Sheep Bridge Trailhead and travel counterclockwise unless egress was prevented by snow or water crossings or other yet to be determined obstacles. Self registration is expected as permits are not required in the Winds unless you are traveling through the Wind River Indian Reservation.
By the way, a little trivia. According to Wyoming Public Media, “Popo Agie Wildernes (Puh-POE-zha), a true word stumper that is not pronounced as it looks, meaning “beginning of the waters”. The Wilderness runs through the Shoshone National Forest, which stretches out over 102,000 acres of rugged topography in the Wind River Range.”
All of the trails on the main loop are well signed, although varying a bit from map names and denoted distances. At this junction, I chose to take Sheep Bridge Trail #701, which I’d been traveling since the trailhead.
I can’t remember what these are called, but they are the primary ground cover at lower elevations (7-9,000′). It’s fairly uncommon to see the mixed colors as they turn from yellow to pink during maturation.
The one and only Mariposa Lily I saw on this trip. I should also mention, I saw many of the same flowers I’d seen the previous week at similar elevations, and did not repeat the photos unless there was something exceptional.
In many ways Pinto Park Lake was a bit of a disappointment. There were no signs pointing the way to the lake and I hadn’t noted it was off trail. There were several social trails which I explored but found thick willow and marshlands preventing lake access. However, the inlet provided great water access with nearby extremely peaceful forested campsites.
As I continued west on the Deep Creek Cutoff Trail, I found these beautiful and interesting rock formations. There’s a lot of interesting geology in the Winds, something I’m looking forward to learning more about.
Monkey Flower are one of my favorites.
Weather was deteriorating fast. My choices were, cross the outlet toward Ice Lakes Basin (on maintained trail) or continue west exploring Middle and Upper Deep Creek Lakes (without trail)? After my experience last week, I was drawn to keeping to maintained trails until I got in better shape and gained confidence with this new landscape.
Although I’d only hiked 3 miles, and it was way too early to set up camp, Mother Nature had other ideas. I tried waiting at the storm under my umbrella, poncho and ground cloth, but it just got too cold. It looked like this precipitation was going to stick around for a while, and since I was here for the views, why hike with none? Setting up my tent in the rain and wind is never fun. It’s much harder to keep a two-walled tent dry during setup. Definitely not my favorite thing to do, but all I could think of was my nice warm bag and a hot cup of tea or cocoa.
It rained and hailed steadily all afternoon, so I whiled away time reading. My book of choice was Temperance Creek: A Memoir by Pamela Royes which is quite suiting after my recent trek in Hell’s Canyon on the Snake River, albeit the Idaho side. Lots of references I could relate to and a book I’d recommend.
To be continued . . .
- Date(s) Hiked: 7/24-25/17
- Mileage: Approximately 11 (conserving battery so didn’t track)
- Elevation Gain/Loss: Unknown, constant up and down (conserving battery so didn’t track)
- Trail Conditions:
- Tree obstacles: none
- Overgrowth: none
- Signage: near excellent
- Terrain: very good, a few spots of muck
- Water: plentiful
- Camping: moderate
- Solitude: Depends, could be busy, but mid-week with early summer conditions, it was very quiet except for a few groups of NOLS kids.
- Bugs: plentiful but I didn’t need deet
- Precip: expect thunderstorms in July
- Temp: Overnight varied and seemed to fluctuate a lot from 32 to 50, highs were probably in 70’s.
- Jan’s Cherry Picker Delight Scale: 4 cherries (out of 5)
- Be prepared for altitude, elevation changes, weather changes, bugs and navigation.
- Shoshone National Forest, Popo Agie Wilderness
- Nancy Pallister’s book, Beyond Trails in the Wind River Mountains of Wyoming
- Ron Adkison’s book, Hiking Wyoming’s Wind River Range
- Beartooth Publishing Wind River Range South Outdoor Recreation Map