WY – Lester Pass, Northern Wind River Mountains, Bridger Wilderness

After completing the Jean Lakes Lollipop Loop, I landed at the Big Water Slide near Fremont Crossing for the night. 

What an interesting place. There is a significant creek (Fremont?) flowing under the bridge (on left of below photo), then creating a pond as it makes this sweeping corner before dropping over large smooth rocks creating a waterfall (top right of photo) as it once again becomes a creek. 

Fremont Crossing Bridge

The pond as it gets ready to go over the slide. There were quite a few fish jumping in this pond.

The top of the slide aka waterfall. 

The crashing power of water. 

The next morning not only was I happy to be kissed by the sun but thrilled to have finally captured the rays.

Soon enough it was time to head south over the Fremont Bridge.

It’s been in the low to mid 30’s in the mornings. I prefer campsites away from water and low spots to minimize condensation and frost. Back at the Highline / Seneca Lake / Indian Basin trail junction, I continued southeast on Highline Trail #094 (aka CDT). 

The summit post at Lester Pass

I loved looking back at all those peak I’d previous visited during this trek. 

While climbing, it was hard not to look backwards at this lovely view. 

Looking to the south, you could see Angel Peak and Angel Pass (the distinctive V). The basin between these ridges held Cook Lakes, my destination for the night. 

Looking back up at Lester Pass

Tommy Lake

I’d planned on hiking the Cook Lake Trail #163 as a loop circumnavigating lower lake while visiting upper lake.

Lower Cook Lake

After battling through brushy trail, I wasn’t able to find an easy way to cross the outlet of Upper Cook Lake and decided it wasn’t worth the effort so reversed my path instead. 

It seemed I had Lower Cook Lake to myself for the night, although I heard gunshots in the distance which was quite disconcerting. The multiple rounds sounded like target practice up the canyon and over the small ridge on the far side of the lake. This was another very active fish area. 

Sunset colors were pretty amazing.

This is a confusing junction as evidenced when I met a CDT thru-hiker who ended up on the Pole Creek Trail #094 rather than the Fremont Trail #096 (aka CDT). 

It’s always a good morning when it starts with wet feet crossings. This one was about mid calf height, the next was about to my knees. 

I enjoyed seeing these bring yellow lilypads blooming on the ponds. 

With the heavy use of this section of trail, you can expect to find many items left behind. I did my part by picking up this bladder and a few more things but I just couldn’t carry others such as a nalgene bottle and some very heavy binoculars. I lost a pen this trip, so karma says I need to pay it forward by helping to clean the trails. 

As I traveled this next section of trail on my entry, I was feeling the feet to the barn syndrome. Elkhart Trailhead here I come!

Eklund Lake sure provides a nice view of the Winds. 

Time to cruise the superhighway. I’d neglected to check my water situation at Eklund Lake and found myself in dire need when I arrived at this sign. There was a pond holding yucky water but I decided to take my chances at finding something better along the way. I had about 1/4 liter remaining and really needed to eat but couldn’t do so without water, so onward I went.

I was rained on earlier this day and it looked like my thunderstorms were building as I arrived at Photographers Point. I befriended a couple guys who were heading up to summit Fremont peak and found one was carrying a gallon of water. He was glad to part with some weight and I was so very grateful for the fresh liter of water. Ah, food, water and onward I went. 

Although water was non existent, there were some remaining wildflower displays. 

How could you not laugh at this stubborn llama (or handler). They were only a couple miles up the trail. I wonder how things were going a few hours and miles later. It wasn’t a pleasant sight watching what it took to get the llama up and moving.

I spent a fabulous 5-6 weeks in the Winds and yet barely touched the surface. There is so so much more to see. I look forward to future exploration. 

For summer 2017, I say goodbye. I’m so thankful for these 6-weeks of exploration. What a memory maker!

Links . . .

Hike Details:

  • Date(s) Hiked: 8/22-23/17
  • Mileage: Approximately 18-20 (conserving battery so didn’t track)
  • Elevation Gain/Loss: Unknown, constant up and down (conserving battery so didn’t track)
  • Trail Conditions:
    • Tree obstacles: minimal
    • Overgrowth: minimal (most on the Cook Lakes trail)
    • Signage: moderate on main trails (confusing without a map or gps at a few junctions)
    • Terrain: lots of muck primarily from excessive pack animal use; also rocky ground and a couple wet feet crossings
  • Water: plentiful (except for final 6ish miles)
  • Camping: excellent
  • Solitude: Expect lots of company on trail. Many day hike from the trailhead to Photographers Point, many also camp at Eklund Lake.
  • Bugs: plentiful but I didn’t use any repellent this trip (the wind is my friend)
  • Wildlife Sightings: none beyond birds, squirrels, chipmunks, pika, and marmuts
  • Precip: I had a little rain my first and last day of this trip
  • Temp: Overnight varied and seemed to fluctuate a lot in the 30’s and 40’s, highs were probably in 60’s-70’s.
  • Jan’s Cherry Picker Delight Scale: 3+ cherries (out of 5)


  • 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.



4 thoughts on “WY – Lester Pass, Northern Wind River Mountains, Bridger Wilderness

  1. “…so thankful for these 6-weeks of exploration.” Me too. I had no idea this area was so nice.

    As I said a while ago, I’m taking notes. I’ll have to include this area in next summer’s stomps.

    In case you haven’t seen it and need some ideas, there’s Brian Frankle’s old blog “Dead Reckoning” at https://brianfrankle.wordpress.com/ I can only wonder what he’s up to now.

  2. I love all your photos! I live In Bend OR and loves hearing about the hikes you did around here 🙂 last year I spent some time in the tit comb basin and loved it! Just curious, you said you spent 5 to 6 weeks in the Winds. Did you do that consecutively? Like do one week then re supply and go back in or were these trips spread out? And about how long was each of your adventure trips? Again I love your photos and little captions:)

    • Thank you! YES, I spent the 5-6 weeks consecutively. I started at the trailhead near Dubois, then did a couple trips out of Landers, then a couple trips out of Pinedale. Those towns were all great for resupply especially Landers. At the end of each trip report I added the dates hiked. I was too early in the season for Dubois trailheads. I’d recommend making that one last in the future. I didn’t make it to Green Lakes. That’ll be a priority on a future trip.

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