WY – Jean Lakes Lollipop Loop, Northern Wind River Mountains, Bridger Wilderness

After a day in Titcomb Basin and another in Indian Basin, it was time to explore areas further north while creating some distance from both the weekend and eclipse crowds. 

So I said goodbye to my lovely campsite with this welcoming sunrise. 

I love hiking in the early morning. 

Instead of returning to the trail junction, I opted to hike cross country through the Island Lake basin to connect with the Highline Trail #094 (aka Continental Divide Trail aka CDT) near the Fremont Crossing Bridge. I was so sick of hiking stock-beaten trails. I’d sank to my knee in this muck my first day. 

Let’s play, make a route. 

Then there I was at the Fremont Crossing Bridge

To the Jean Lake’s I go. 

Lower Jean Lake

I know these for-profit pack trains are required to obtain permits, but I wonder if a fee is involved? If so, the forest service should be using those funds to repair the trails. If not, the groups should be required to participate in maintenance. There were so many on these trails and as a result the tread was a mess for hikers. Rant over! When rocks had been placed in low spots, it made a huge difference in being able to hike through, although it was still a bit like playing hopscotch.

The stream connecting Upper and Lower Jean Lakes. 

This waterfall was gorgeous. I spent a lot more time enjoying this location on my way back through. 

So much water. 

Even on this trail snow traverses were required. 

Of course you know whenever I find flowers and granite, I’m happy! 

It’s hard to tell, but my tent is on a bench above Upper Jean Lake. There were many benches and options for camping although finding privacy for potty time was another issue. There is a small lake just off trail, perfect for a short dip.

The next day, objective one was to summit Shannon Pass

Looks quick and easy, right? 

Looking back down at Jean Lakes. 

Also looks shorter and flatter than it really is. 

There are some nice ponds near the top. 

And, yes more snow traverses. 

The top is within sight, or just another false summit? 

Such a tease. 

In reality it only took me about 45 minutes to ascend but it sure felt longer. 

Peak Lake is another popular destination. The scree fields on the far side of the lake are the beginning of the route over Knapsack Col. I’m so happy with my decision to skip that option after seeing this. I really dislike hiking on scree!

It was great to enjoy the occasional floral display before I hit hell. 

Now I know why this is called Cube Rock Pass. Not my idea of fun 😦

30 minutes later I’m still having fun, NOT!

I was so happy to be out of that rock hell. Took me about 45 minutes to get to this point. 

Now time to lose lots of elevation, visit some wildflower meadows and drop back into treeline. 

I passed over Vista Pass without noticing anything special. It certainly wasn’t memorable. I transitioned to the Highline Trail #094 (aka CDT) heading south toward Summit Lake. It took me about 2.5 hours to descend to this junction from Cube Rock Pass.

Green River Pass was another one that I didn’t recognize immediately. 

There is a long green mesa/plateau between Green River Pass and Summit Lake. It was a huge surprise and I found myself at Summit Lake before I knew it.

This would have been a great place to have watched the solar eclipse, but alas my timing was off. 

As I descended from Summit Lake, I found this welcoming waterfall. 

Looking back at the mesa. 

I was treated to this fiery sunrise from camp the next morning. It’s Eclipse Day! Will the clouds stay away?

My private pond for the night. 

As I headed into the Elbow Lakes Basin, Mother Nature was keeping the suspense high. 

I decided to stop here for the eclipse viewing. I was headed toward higher mountains and worried the clouds might back up against the peaks preventing a clear view. The wind was blowing and it was quite chilly while I hung out for about 1.5 hours. 

I hadn’t researched options for capturing the big event so mostly I just experienced it. But I did capture this photo during Total Eclipse and the next one as the eclipse passed. You can also compare to the before photo above. They don’t even come close to the WOW I experienced during and after the event. The wind stopped, it became freezing cold, so very quiet and a little eerie. 

After the big event, I walked in silence through the Elbow Lakes Basin enjoying the natural beauty. It seemed like it took 15-30 minutes before the atmosphere returned to normal. 

I really liked this softer side of the Winds. I could see myself returning to the Elbow Lakes Basin to roam this hills. 

Soon I was back at the Shannon Pass junction and headed back down to Jean Lakes

I spent lunch enjoying this waterfall between Upper and Lower Jean Lakes. It was funny I watched a group of four grumpies march by without even giving it or me a glance. 

Lower Jean Lake is huge. It’s slightly off trail with plenty of private dispersed camp areas in the trees. 

To be continued . . .

Hike Details:

  • Date(s) Hiked: 8/19-20/17
  • Mileage: Approximately 20-25 miles (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: minimal
    • Signage: moderate on main trails
    • Terrain: most memorable was the challenge of Cube Rock Pass with some bouldering, plus several areas of snow travel, some soggy hiking and wet feet water crossings.
  • Water: plentiful
  • Camping: excellent
  • Solitude: Moderate
  • Bugs: plentiful but I didn’t use any repellent this trip
  • Wildlife Sightings: none beyond birds, squirrels, chipmunks, pika, and marmuts
  • Precip: None this day
  • Temp: Dropped to 33 overnight in my tent
  • Jan’s Cherry Picker Delight Scale: 4 cherries (out of 5)

Tips:

  • Be prepared for altitude, elevation changes, weather changes, bugs and navigation. Also review current food protection requirements/guidelines (I used an Ursack with an Opsack liner). If I were to hike this loop again, I’d use my bear canister as in many areas there were no trees to use as an anchor for my Ursack.

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Thoughts? Questions? Comments? Broken Links? I'd love to hear from you!

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