WY – Roaring Fork Mountain, Southern Wind River Mountains, Popo Agie Wilderness

My recent visit to the Stough Creek Lakes Basin was all too short and left me fantasizing about rambling those beautiful ridges of Roaring Fork Mountain.

My friend Keith joined me for this adventure. The plan was to take the Stough Creek Lakes Trail #702 directly to the Stough Creek Basin which is surrounded by Roaring Fork Mountain, a U-shaped range.

Just a short-distance down the trail, we ran into the Llama Mamas from Colorado, whom I’d met at Big Stough Lake during my previous trip. It was their first day and my last day; this time the reverse as it was my first day, their last. What a fun reunion! 

I confidently but erroneously led us down the Sheep Bridge Trail #701. I could blame Keith for the distraction, but maybe it was just meant to be. Thankfully I had maps and realized we could take new-to-me trails, Twin Lakes to Stough Creek, turning this into a loop trip. I call these happy accidents!

One of the Twin Lakes

It would have been easy to miss this junction as the sign was on the ground, and the trail immediately crossed a creek. 

The Stough Creek Trail . . . as suspected meanders along the creek. It was in pretty good shape and a great alternative to taking the Roaring Creek Lake Trail.

This Middle Fork sign is cause for confusion as you’re on the Stough Creek Trail, which according to my map you’d continue on west for 1.4 miles prior to reaching the Middle Fork trail. 

Because of our alternate route, we had to cross Stough Creek at the place were I’d fallen off the log the previous week, wrenching my knee. We both elected to walk through the water skipping a potential repeat experience. 

This is another confusing sign. It’s only about a mile, not 3 miles to the Stough Creek Basin. The Middle Fork Trail is now 1.7 miles west (not north as the sign points). Roaring Fork Lake is 5.7 miles not 4. 

It’s pretty hard to keep your feet dry when tromping through wet meadows and muck surrounding the lakes. 

Although we could have avoided the snow, it was an easy walking surface in the afternoon. 

We camped near Footprint Lake, under thunderstorm skies. 

Just after dinner we were treated to a hail storm. 

Not a bad room with a view. 

Our goal is the high ridge on the left of the lake.

We started with a traverse on the right of Footprint Lake

One concern was whether the shelf in the middle (under the pointy peak) would be sufficiently wide to safely traverse. 

Wonder what’s behind the ridge? 

Keith successfully made it to the top of the first hump. 

We found Toad Lakes and Ponds. There are a couple wildfires in Wyoming with subsequent smoke in the air. 

It was exciting to discover partially frozen Eyrie Lake.

Then it was time to work our way up the next slope. 

Lightning Lake on top, Zig-Zag Lake to the left, Footprint Lake at bottom. 

Finally we found the namesake shape of Footprint Lake

We arrived at the shelf and found it plenty wide for safe passage. 

Then it was time to traverse around Lightning Lake

Our goal is still the ridge on the other side of Lightning Lake.

Lightning Lake had many faces. 

Working our way up. Where’s Keith? 

The final push to the top. Can you find Keith? 

We made it to the first viewpoint where we could see Canyon Lake

We found a good lunch spot before scrambling just a bit higher. 

And a treacherous cornice. 

We had a great view of Stough Lake basin including Lightning Lake, Footprint Lake, Shoal Lake and Big Stough Lake

What did our route look like? 

Our ramble wasn’t many miles but it sure was a workout. 

Back at Footprint Lake, it was siesta time! 

Another night with glorious views. 

The next morning we were treated to a colorful sunrise. 

We returned to the trailhead via Roaring Creek Lake, first enjoying a view of Wind River Peak, the highest mountain in the Winds, thus aptly given the namesake. 

The finale was crossing Roaring Creek Lake.

Hike Details:

  • Date(s) Hiked: 8/2-4/17
  • Mileage: Approximately 22 miles
  • Elevation Gain/Loss: Unknown, but a LOT. Thus far in the Winds I’ve found very little flat.
  • Trail Conditions:
    • Tree obstacles: All clear!
    • Overgrowth: Main trails, zero. A bit on the secondary trails to the lakes
    • Signage: Confusing at a couple junctions; mileages inaccurate
    • Terrain: Good on main trails with some snow and muddy muck conditions
  • Water: Plentiful
  • Camping: Plentiful
  • Solitude: Moderate. We only saw the Llama Mamas between the trailhead and the basin. There were a few groups camped in the basin. We crossed paths were several groups near the trailhead as we exited.
  • Bugs: Plentiful although I didn’t need deet
  • Precip: Thunderstorms daily in July and early August
  • Temp: Lows of 30’s to 40’s, highs 60’s to 80’s.
  • Jan’s Cherry Picker Delight Scale: 4++ cherries (out of 5). Would be a 5 if trails weren’t so mucky from livestock.

Tips:

  • Be prepared for altitude, elevation changes, weather changes, snow, bugs and navigation.

Resources:

WY – Stough Creek Lakes, Southern Wind River Mountains, Popo Agie Wilderness

Under crisp blue skies, Bill and I said goodbye to beautiful Tayo Lake. This is a continuation of a trek which started at Sheep Bridge Trailhead and traversed counterclockwise to Deep Creek Lakes (link to Part 1), then south through Ice Creek Lakes and on to Tayo Lake (link to Part 2).

We hiked cross country in search of Coon Lake.

From Coon Lake we hiked to Mountain Sheep Lake.

Back at the Ice Lakes/Tayo Lake junction, it was time to say goodbye to my new friend Bill. He was headed north, while I began the eastern trek to hopefully complete my counterclockwise loop. 

Based on beta, crossing the Middle Fork of Popo Agie River may be my turnaround point. I’d been told it could be too high, to look for braided waterways for safer crossing, but instead I found a wide slow shallow outlet. 

The worst part was wading through the 6-8′  stretches of muck on both edges of the outlet crossing. 

I’d been stressing about this crossing since the beginning of the trip. I was so glad to have it behind me, avoiding a dreaded reverse course. 

Tayo Park. I passed through many of these meadow or green belt areas and sadly didn’t seen any big wildlife.

I’d asked Bill about Sweetwater Gap and he said it wasn’t memorable, so I’d planned to skip this short out and back. It was getting late and I was thinking it was about time to find camp. 

I didn’t consult my map and for some reason thought I was supposed to take the Sweetwater Gap Trail #700 to connect with Stough Creek Lakes Trail #702. Along the way I heard crashing water and just had to go off trail to find this waterfall. Maybe this was why I was destined to take this trail?

Looks like Yogi liked this trail also. 

I found a nice campsite and the next morning continued upward to the gap. 

Bill was right, nothing too memorable. Looking south into Bridger Wilderness.

Looking north into Popo Agie Wilderness. 

The Sweetwater Gap Trail, as well as the Stough Creek Lakes Trail were used frequently by livestock thus they were quite mucked up. 

I stopped at the waterfall again to enjoy them in much better light. 

Back at Tayo Park, still no wildlife. 

Cool find along the way. 

I love finding the little pops of color. 

Heading back into open grazing area. 

I wasn’t really convinced this sloppy x gate would do a very good job keeping the cows out, especially given the human element of placing the log back in the correct position. 

I was on the final stretch to close the counterclockwise loop as I stepped onto the Stough Creek Lakes Trail #702.

I love bridges and am thankful everytime I find one over waterways or marshy areas. Thank you again trail builders and maintenance crews. 

When there isn’t a bridge, water crossings look like this. If you look around you might find a log, such as this one upstream, or rocks providing opportunities to keep your feet dry. 

Over the years, I’ve become more proficient with log and rock crossings. For some reason today was not my day. I stood on the end of this log and felt slight vertigo. Instead of listening to my intuition, I took a second step, immediately loosing my balance and falling in. I twisted my knee in the process. Thankfully the water was shallow. I’ve never experienced vertigo on a log crossing before. It’s gonna take a while to rebuild confidence. I should have just walked through, afterall my feet were already wet. 

I arrived at Big Stough Lake to find these llamas. Later I met the five gals who used them as pack animals. Convenient yes, but they sure mucked up the trails. 

I spent time exploring the areas searching for a view campsite. I landed near Shoal Lake

This rocky hillside beckoned me to the top so I could get uninterrupted 360 degree views of the area.

Shoal Lake

Views from the top. 

It was hard saying goodbye to this beautiful place the next morning. But given I had very little food left and hoped to meet my friends later that day, it was time to say so long. 

I’ll be back I’m sure. 

So much water coming out of the outlet. 

The llamas were getting ready for another day of adventure also. 

Back on the main trail, my feet were feeling the urgency of town calling. Real food! 

All of the main trails on the loop have been logged out. Some very recently by the smell and look of those trees. Thank you again trail maintainers. You are my heroes! 

Another new find. 

When they are in full blooms, they are going to be an amazing sight. 

My pole gives an idea as to size of the plants. 

There were a couple rubble fields and it sure was nice to have a trail cut through. 

Stough Creek Pass provided some WOW views! I’d love to camp up here, but carrying water up the long steep ascent makes it a highly unlikely possibility. I truly lucked out getting to enjoy these views before the thunderstorms turned this peaceful setting into a forceful one.

There was a little snow on the trail as I started down the pass. Not 15 minutes later, it started sprinkling. I attached my umbrella and kept hiking. Soon it began to hail. 

Then the skies let loose and I got a real soaking as the trails turned into rivers. I was thankful for both my umbrella and Frogg Toggs poncho. The rocks and mud made for a slippery treacherous descent, especially with my sore knee from my water crossing incident of the previous day.

What? Another lake outlet crossing? More muck to wade through at the Roaring Fork Lake outlet. 

I’m standing in the middle of the crossing at Roaring Fork Lake. Swim anyone? Maybe on a different day. I was plenty wet after an hour or so of rain. 

Oh how you have to love Mother Nature.

The completion of the loop. Success!

A few things I picked up on my way out the last day. It’s important to practice LNT (Leave No Trace). 

I could have survived a few more hours on the food I had left. I love it when my planning works out and I don’t carry home extra weight. The Pro Bars are my meal of last resort and they seem to get carried more than ever eaten. I ran out of fuel my last night and had cold breakfast thus the reason my oats were not eaten.

Hike Details:

  • Date(s) Hiked: 7/27-29/17
  • Mileage: Approximately 20-22 miles
  • Elevation Gain/Loss: Unknown, but a LOT. Thus far in the Winds I’ve found very little flat.
  • Trail Conditions:
    • Tree obstacles: All clear!
    • Overgrowth: Main trails, zero. A bit on the secondary trails to the lakes
    • Signage: Good on main trails. Non existent on secondary trails.
    • Terrain: Good on main trails with some snow and muddy muck conditions
  • Water: Plentiful
  • Camping: Plentiful
  • Solitude: Moderate, although I didn’t see anyone between Stough Basin and Tayo except for the group of 5 gals. I saw quite a few people between Stough Basin and the trailhead.
  • Bugs: Plentiful although I didn’t need deet
  • Precip: Thunderstorms daily in July
  • Temp: Lows of 30’s to 40’s, highs 60’s to 70’s.
  • Jan’s Cherry Picker Delight Scale: 4++ cherries (out of 5). Would be a 5 if trails weren’t so mucky from livestock.

Tips:

  • Be prepared for altitude, elevation changes, weather changes, snow, bugs and navigation.

Links:

Resources:

WY – Tayo Lake +++, Southern Wind River Mountains, Popo Agie Wilderness

After enjoying a memorable morning at Lower Deep Creek Lake (see previous post for details on the hike to the lake), it was time to dry out my gear (snow fields create lots of condensation, as does setting up in the rain). Sunshine makes me happy! 

As my gear dried I watched the mackerel clouds. Did you know there are a ton of poems about these formations? I think this one is most appropriate, “Low’rin clouds, low’rin skies, Stay indoors if you are wise. Mackerel sky, mackerel sky, Never long wet, never long dry.” 

And after the storm, the flowers were heavy with damp, but all shiny and clean. 

Goodbye for now Lower Deep Creek Lake

It was time to head south on the Ice Lakes Trail #706, that is as soon as I could find it. 

I was trying to avoid this mess, home of the real trail.

After a bit of navigating, I found clear trail. I was prepared to turnaround if conditions were too gnarly.

There was plenty of snow around, but little on the trail that couldn’t be avoided.

Happy splashes of color could be found around every corner. It feels like spring, even though it’s the last week of July.

Blue or purple columbine, just like in Colorado. Stunning! 

And then I found a yellow one. 

Water was rushing gushing creating nature’s music and near constant wet feet conditions. 

This lake or pond was still partially frozen over and the entire surface was covered in a thin sheen of ice. 

Hello reflection! I believe this was Ridge or Cliff Lake

I climbed a hill to catch this view of Jug and Boot Lakes or maybe Ridge Lakes?

Cliff Lake? I was so distracted by the beauty I forgot to notate times on my maps so they’d coincide with my camera time. Please help me out if you know the correct names.

Since I promised myself I’d mostly stay on trail, I avoided further exploration of other lakes in the Ice Lakes Basin and instead headed up to the first pass where rain was threatening. Remember those mackerel clouds? 

The lighting was amazing as I watched the storm ebb and flow. 

I climbed off trail for better views. 

See my umbrella? I hid out under this rock and had lunch waiting out the storm, then climbed to the top of the boulders for more views. 

Oops I overshot and hiked down well below my umbrella rock. Look closely . . . I guess I needed those bonus miles. 

With the storm giving me a bit of a reprieve, I knew it was time to say goodbye to my roost and head to a protected area before thunder and lightning made an appearance. 

You know you’re going to be in for some technical descending when you see a sign like this. Should be fun with wet slick rock.

First easily unavoidable snow on trail. 

The views were outstanding. 

Then back to clear trails. 

As I rejoined the trail after my extra credit sightseeing at the pass, I met Bill who was also hiking south. He is an avid fisherman and was heading to Tayo Lake. It was on my possible list, so we decided to share some miles on this much less maintained trail (Tayo Lake #707). 

Bill taking a walk on the wild side, wildflower side that is. 

Bill caught a beautiful Golden Trout at stunning Tayo Lake. 

About 4:30am, Bill woke up and said I think we are about to get wet. We had to quickly put on our rain tarps as we both enjoyed the stars through the mesh of our tents sans fly. 

I got up to watch the storm. Found this great rock to lounge on while staying warm bundled in down and drinking hot beverages. Let the entertainment begin. Who needs a TV?

The storm commeth’, the storm goeth’, and Bill fisheth’.  Notice the iceberg in bottom left corner near Bill. When we arrived last night there were two large chunks of ice floating not far from shore; after the storm only one remained and it was headed toward the outlet.

To be continued . . .

Hike Details:

  • Date(s) Hiked: 7/26/17
  • Mileage: Approximately 8-10
  • Elevation Gain/Loss: Unknown, didn’t track but plenty
  • Trail Conditions:
    • Tree obstacles: none
    • Overgrowth: none on Ice Lakes Trail but plenty of Willow thickets on the route to Tayo Lake
    • Signage: good, plan for cairn and route finding on the Tayo Lake Trail
    • Terrain: moderate, plan for snow and muck travel
  • Water: plentiful
  • Camping: excellent
  • Solitude: Expect company on the Ice Lakes Trail but less likely on the Tayo Lake Trail
  • Bugs: plentiful but I didn’t need deet
  • Precip: expect thunderstorms in July
  • Temp: Overnight varied and seemed to fluctuate a lot from low 30’s to high 40’s; daytime highs were probably in 70’s.
  • Jan’s Cherry Picker Delight Scale: 4+++ cherries (out of 5) (would have been a 5 if I could have accessed Tayo Lake without mucking through bogs and bushwhacking through willow thickets)

Tips:

  • Be prepared for altitude, elevation changes, weather changes, snow, bugs and navigation.

Links:

Resources:

WY – Deep Creek Lakes, Southern Wind River Mountains, Popo Agie Wilderness

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 next day I began my trek from Worthen Meadows which contains two trailheads, Sheep Bridge and Roaring Fork, making for convenient loop opportunities. 

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.” 

I was beyond excited to be on maintained trail flanked by aspen trees, which I have on my list to enjoy the changing colors this fall. 

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.

It’s about 3 miles from the trailhead to Sheep Bridge itself, which provides safe passage across Middle Popo Agie River.  

Who let the cows out? Yes, there’s open grazing along parts of the trail. Yield to these wild beasts! 

I truly love visiting the various wilderness areas of our country. 

Another junction, another decision. I choose Middle Fork Trail #700

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.

First of the season penstemon, although a breeze was preventing a great capture. 

I transitioned to Pinto Park Trail #708 at this junction. 

Elephant Head Orchids are indeed a rare beauty. They are much smaller here than in Washington. 

This was a tough choice junction. If I continued on the Pinto Park Trail, I could see Baer and Echo Lakes. 

But as I was getting tired, I elected to take the Deep Creek Cutoff Trail #709 with a plan to camp at or near Pinto Park Lake. This sign might need a little TLC. 

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. 

This Columbine was so striking in it’s pure white. 

It was a low overcast morning, making Lake 10054 look a bit dreary and not very inviting. 

The trail continued to be gorgeous and in great condition. Thank you trail maintenance crews! 

And then I found snow, nothing on trail that couldn’t be avoided.

These flowers were small and low to the ground. 

These were quite prevalent at around 10,000′. I’m guessing a type of lupine? 

This was a curious grass and possible seedpods or buds, again around 10,000′ elevation? 

Two more beauties I’ve not previously seen. 

Then there I was at the end of the line, looking directly at the outlet of Lower Deep Creek Lake

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. 

Looking east from the Lower Deep Creek Lake outlet. Maybe finding early spring maintained trail is a bit much to ask. 

Lower Deep Creek Lake as it started sprinkling. 

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. 

First light the next morning confirmed my decision to wait out the storm. 

To be continued . . .

Hike Details:

  • 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)

Tips:

  • Be prepared for altitude, elevation changes, weather changes, bugs and navigation.

Links:

Resources:

WY – East Torrey Creek, Northern Wind River Mountains, Fitzpatrick Wilderness

Cloud filled skies greeted me as I drove toward the Torrey Creek Trailhead. 

I’d passed through the Tetons earlier that day and witnessed Mother Nature’s fury. As the temperatures quickly plummeted 20 degrees, heavy rain, hail and winds blasted for a couple hours, I was reminded to pack accordingly for my upcoming trip. 

With 2.25 million acres and 110 miles to choose from, how did I decide on this trail as my first experience in the Winds? Well as most of you know I’m an opportunist. When friends needed help with a shuttle between trailheads, it made sense to start where I’d be meeting them especially as my goal is to hike more, drive less. 

The ranger station in Dubois was closed when I arrived so I headed out blindly hoping to find decent conditions. I’d recently seen a trip report of the loop I planned to hike which started on the Glacier Trail #801; I’d packed accordingly.

Based on Nancy Pallister’s book, Beyond Trails in the Wind River Mountains of Wyoming, “the overall rating for this trip is EASY although off-trail navigation skills are critical.” Feeling a big pudgy and out of shape after abstaining from serious hiking the past couple of months, I figured EASY was exactly what I needed. And so it began . . . nice trail, beautiful bridge, perfect temperature, blue skies . . . 

Showcasing the power of snowmelt on West Torrey Creek. 

I was even welcomed with a rainbow.

I was ecstatic to be hiking this groomed trail in near perfect conditions. 

All too soon, I left maintained trail and followed the old trail to Bomber Falls, so named due to a WWII B-17 bomber crash site. According to Ron Adkison’s book, Hiking Wyoming’s Wind River Range, “expect to encounter faint tread, a tangle of fallen trees, and steep pitches.” I rate it a B+ for unmaintained trail conditions; it was pretty easy to follow, with not too many obstacles but the steep was really steep and could have used some nice switchbacks.  

The falls are hard to see in this photo but they were impossible to ignore with the constant pouring of an incredible amount of water. 

I was spent by the time I reached Bomber Basin, a mere 5.5-6 miles from the trailhead, albeit with 2400-2600′ of elevation gain. Looming thunderstorms helped cement the decision to spend the night next to this lovely stretch of East Torrey Creek. 

From a nearby bench, I had views of upper Bomber Falls, and was wooed to sleep by it’s lullaby. 

Route directions said to cross East Torrey Creek to avoid a “mass of horrible talus.” I found the cairns marking the crossing.

Slippery rocks with risky consequences were well beyond my comfort zone; the creek was much too high to cross safely in my opinion. I’d recently heard a saying, “no epic today is worth no epic tomorrows,” and this certainly applied here. 

I met a group the previous night who were returning from Bomber Lake. They successfully traversed the west side which made me feel “if they can do it, I can do it too.” I couldn’t help but remember the photos I’d seen of the beauty to be found ahead. All I had to do was get through a few miles of burned forest, deadfall, swamps and that mass of horrible tallus. 

I was tempted to turn around but I really didn’t want to repeat what I’d gone through, so onward I went. 

I found beauty along the way. 

I finally found snow around 9,500′. My route included travel in the 10-11,000′ elevation zone so I’d come prepared with microspikes and a Black Diamond Whippet. 

As I wandered through meadows, the wildflowers kept me somewhat distracted from the challenging terrain. 

This was the type of scenes I was expecting to find in the Winds. 

After hiking hard all day and not covering near enough miles to make Bomber Lake, I called it a night at the top of these lovely falls.

I was surrounded by beauty but also the never ending rubble. 

And enjoyed a night as queen of the lands. 

With morning came the decision to turn around. I knew what to expect by reversing my steps and the time it would take. With a commitment in 2.5 days, I sadly set forth to conquer those dreaded miles of boulder fields, mud bogs, down trees and so much misery. My body was really hating me. I was carrying a ton of extra weight with cold weather and rain gear, snow travel gear, and bear protection. 

With another thunderstorm threatening it was time to find camp. 

On my way in I’d marked a location as one with water and good views. I arrived just in time to quickly set up my tent and dive inside before the storm arrived with great furry. 

After a couple hours, the storm abated and I went out to gather water only to find these curious steps on the nearby sandbar.  

Upon closer examination, it was YOGI. Look again at the photo with the tent and the proximity. Would have you stayed or moved on? What do you think I did?

Earlier in the day, I found this fresh pile of scat. Maybe belonged to same bear. On this trip I also saw fresh moose scat and a day later saw a moose in the distance.

Other on-trail visitors. 

 

My favorite sightings were marmots and pikas. 

Extra credit was finding a couple of Big Horn Sheep near the trailhead. This area is winter home to a herd of 900. 

I can happily say I survived this trip. I feel humbled. The Winds won this time; I’ll win next time! 

Hike Details:

  • Date(s) Hiked: July 18-21, 2017
  • Mileage: Around 18 miles
  • Elevation Gain/Loss: Around 4,000′ ascent/descent
  • Trail Conditions:
    • Tree obstacles: TONS
    • Overgrowth: Little
    • Signage: None
    • Terrain: EXTREMELY challenging boulder field and deadfall
  • Water: Plentiful
  • Camping: Plentiful
  • Solitude: Only saw the one group over the 4 days
  • Bugs: Plentiful
  • Precip: Afternoon storms
  • Temp: Lows of 45ish, highs 70-80
  • Jan’s Cherry Picker Delight Scale: 2 cherries (out of 5)

Tips:

  • Be on your A game with fitness, prepared for multiple conditions, and good with navigational tools.

Links:

Resources:

WY – Wind River Range . . . just like fine wine, it’s not time

How in the heck did I end up in Wyoming in April? Well this happened . . . a weather episode on the Arizona Trail convinced me to move onward to Utah, where a people episode sent me high-tailing it north. No foul, no harm as I’d always wanted to see the big mountains of Idaho, Montana and Wyoming sporting their winter coats of white. 

The communities of Pinedale and Boulder are considered gateways to the Wind River Wilderness and were a perfect place to spend a few days gathering information for my planned August visit. While in the area I spent some time out and about enjoying the shoulder season. First up was Fremont Lake, the second largest natural lake in Wyoming. 

I hiked Fremont/Skyline Road in search of a peek at the magnificent mountains of the Wind River Wilderness. 

I made it to the Scenic Overlook but was hoping to make it to Elkhart Park and maybe even to Photographers Point. Without snowshoes or skis that wasn’t going to happen. This would have been a treacherous hike without traction devices. At the lower elevations there was a fair amount of ice on bare pavement sections, where admittedly I took a slip and hard fall before I donned my YakTrax (yes my instinct told me to stop and put them on earlier). 

Half Moon Lake shows spring melt was in full swing.

Date(s) Hiked: April 11-12, 2016

Road Trip Day(s) #53-54 out of 88

Tips:

Resources:

Links: