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Topic: Wind River Range Conditions Report - 7/29< Next Oldest | Next Newest >
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hawkinss Search for posts by this member.

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PostIcon Posted on: Jul. 30 2012, 8:13 am  Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I'll write up a nice report with pictures in the next couple weeks, but I thought I would drop a few lines regarding conditions I experienced in the south central Winds last week.

My route was:

Day 1: Big Sandy to Cirque of the Towers
Day 2: Camels Hump Summit Scramble to Texas Pass to Barren Lake, Dayhike to Shadow Lake
Day 3: Illinois Pass to Washakie Lake, Washakie Peak Dayhike
Day 4: Offtrail to Grave Lake via Spearpoint Lake, Pilot Knob Scramble
Day 5: Baptiste Lake, Glissade Peak Scramble
Day 6: Pyramid Lake, scrambles of Pyramid Peak & Midsummer Dome
Day 7: East Fork Dayhike, Scramble Mount Geikie
Day 8: Back to Big Sandy

Snow - really none to speak of on my entire route.  The only real snow was the east side of Washakie Pass and it could be avoided if you are skittish on snow.  I would say snow is a non issue right now in the Southern Winds.

Bugs - Bugs are really heating up in the Southern Winds.  The first 4 days we hardly noticed them, but the last 4 days they were terrible!  If the winds aren't blowing expect some serious bugs the next couple weeks at least.

Fishing - First of all, we know nothing about fishing, seriously, nothing.  We caught lots of fish in Barren Lake and Washakie Lake, and a few fish in Mae Lake.  We got skunked in Grave Lake and Baptiste Lake, although we did see fish in these lakes.  Pyramid Lake does not have any fish at all!  Just one side note, the fishing in Washakie Lake is UNBELIEVABLE, again we don't know anything about fishing, but we caught many, many large trout in Washakie.

Crowds - there were over 60 cars in Big Sandy parking lot, but once you leave the Cirque you hardly see anyone.  We went full days and never say another soul.  The people we did see were mostly NOLS students on the 28 day course.

In closing, I would like to say the Winds are absolutely amazing.  The combination of scenery, climbing, fishing, and opportunity for solitude is truly unmatched in the lower 48.

If anyone has specific questions, I am more than happy to answer.
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PostIcon Posted on: Jul. 30 2012, 1:51 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Sounds like a great trip.

Last August I did the counter-clockwise loop of Big Sandy, Cirque, day hike to Texas Pass, Lizard Head Trail, Valentine Lake, Grave Lake, Baptiste Lake, Hailey Pass, and back to Big Sandy. On that trip we did not go cross country nor scamble up mountains. Which area would you say was the highlight of the trip?

Also, thanks for the report on the conditions. I am heading out Aug 7th-17th for Elkhart Park to Indian Basin, to scramble up Fremont, Titcomb Basin, Knapsack Col, Green River, and scramble up Square Top.

Look forward to seeing the pictures.
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PostIcon Posted on: Jul. 30 2012, 2:12 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(riverrunner03 @ Jul. 30 2012, 1:51 pm)
QUOTE
Which area would you say was the highlight of the trip?

Hmm, very hard decision.  If you put a gun to my head I would say that the Baptiste Lake Cirque and the East Fork (aka Desolation) Valley would tie for top spot.

When I was there I was thinking that the Baptiste Lake Cirque is ALMOST as stunning as Titcomb Basin, but not quite.  The downside to Baptiste Lake is that the USA only owns a small portion and a permit is required for the upper 90% of the lake and the northern peaks.  We did not have a permit from the native americans so we did not proceed past the large sign placed in pristine wilderness.
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PostIcon Posted on: Jul. 31 2012, 2:34 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

As a person that only ventures into the Winds to fish, I say thank you for the fishing report.  Great to hear about the cutts in Washakie.  That's a shame about Pyramid........it used to be a trophy golden lake but I am afraid it's declined terribly because it's so easily reached from the Big Sandy Openings (I had no luck at Pyramid either last summer).  

Maes Lake is great fun to fish.  I fished it hard last summer, and it fished great for high country browns.  Browns have become ubiquitous in the large tailwater streams and rivers of the Rockies but they are a rare breed in waters that touch the clouds.  

Cheers
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PostIcon Posted on: Jul. 31 2012, 2:36 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Oh hey BTW,

What was the Big Sandy TH like this summer?  Last summer when I used it, the forest service was starting to dismantle the campground there in favor of putting in more TH parking.  Is the parking lot expanded yet?
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PostIcon Posted on: Jul. 31 2012, 6:41 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(countr21 @ Jul. 31 2012, 2:36 am)
QUOTE
Oh hey BTW,

What was the Big Sandy TH like this summer?  Last summer when I used it, the forest service was starting to dismantle the campground there in favor of putting in more TH parking.  Is the parking lot expanded yet?

The campground is still there.  There was parking for about 75 cars at Big Sandy, and all were full.  I think I recall a sign pointing to additional parking back by the campground, but honestly I did not walk back there as we got a spot in the main parking lot.

They had to cut a bunch of trees down around the parking lot because beetles had destroyed the trees.
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PostIcon Posted on: Jul. 31 2012, 9:47 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Please do post a more detailed report with pictures.  I've been dreaming of the Winds for a few years and hope to make it happen next summer.
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PostIcon Posted on: Jul. 31 2012, 10:00 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(botanist @ Jul. 31 2012, 9:47 am)
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Please do post a more detailed report with pictures.  I've been dreaming of the Winds for a few years and hope to make it happen next summer.

I always do, but it'll take a couple weeks to go through my pics and write something up.  It is always crazy coming back to work after a week away, not to mention the yard is overgrown, house is a mess, need to catch up with my daughter, etc etc.

It was a trip for the ages, and I'll surely follow up with a report.  You should definitely get out to the Winds!
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PostIcon Posted on: Jul. 31 2012, 3:25 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Thanks for posting - I'm heading out there next week and was wondering how the bugs were this year.  Looks like I'll have to bring bug spray. Look forward to reading your full report.
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PostIcon Posted on: Jan. 04 2013, 12:19 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(hawkinss @ Jul. 30 2012, 8:13 am)
QUOTE
Just one side note, the fishing in Washakie Lake is UNBELIEVABLE, again we don't know anything about fishing, but we caught many, many large trout in Washakie.

We did an extremely similar route about a month after you, just the opposite direction, and we only caught average sized brookies out of Washakie (usually 12-15 inchers) - what were you guys catching?
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PostIcon Posted on: Jan. 04 2013, 9:39 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(Slick @ Jan. 04 2013, 12:19 am)
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(hawkinss @ Jul. 30 2012, 8:13 am)
QUOTE
Just one side note, the fishing in Washakie Lake is UNBELIEVABLE, again we don't know anything about fishing, but we caught many, many large trout in Washakie.

We did an extremely similar route about a month after you, just the opposite direction, and we only caught average sized brookies out of Washakie (usually 12-15 inchers) - what were you guys catching?

Slick,

You will have to pardon my ignorance relative to fishing.  The fish we were catching were about 15 inches also, and weighed probably 2 pounds.  I "thought" that these were rather large fish, but judging from your note I guess they were normal.  The ones in Washakie were indeed much larger that the ones we caught in other lakes, but reading your note 15 inches is nothing to write home about.  We were ecstatic to catch the 15 inches trout, and they were delicious.

As far as the species of the fish, honestly I have no clue.  They were very brightly colored, and had spots on them if I recall.

I have never fished somewhere that was so easy to catch the fish, and I thought 15 inches was on the large side, but I guess not.  Oh well.
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PostIcon Posted on: Jan. 04 2013, 9:40 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(Slick @ Jan. 04 2013, 12:19 am)
QUOTE

(hawkinss @ Jul. 30 2012, 8:13 am)
QUOTE
Just one side note, the fishing in Washakie Lake is UNBELIEVABLE, again we don't know anything about fishing, but we caught many, many large trout in Washakie.

We did an extremely similar route about a month after you, just the opposite direction, and we only caught average sized brookies out of Washakie (usually 12-15 inchers) - what were you guys catching?

Slick,

I forgot to ask, how did you like your trip?  We thought the Winds were just beyond awesome.  Where did you go?  Any pics or editorials, I love talking about backpacking.
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PostIcon Posted on: Jan. 04 2013, 12:47 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic.  Ignore posts   QUOTE

I loved my trip - I've made 4 now in two years to the Winds (2 were to the East Fork Valley area, went to Titcomb with the wife, and then did the Hailey/Washakie Pass loop with my old man) and hope to get in another long one this coming summer.  I'm a college student now with a baby coming early this summer, so who knows how things will pan out!  

I haven't posted on here much at all, though I've read about everything relevant to the areas I've gone to, and I'm not sure how people put pictures in the posts...

Just a quick recap of the most recent Hailey/Washakie Pass trip, it was awesome!  

Day 1 - We went the last week of August, and the smoke from the Alpine Lake fire was really bad - when we were by the Washakie Creek crossing, you could barely see the East Fork Valley peaks.  We did make it all the way up and over Hailey pass and down into our campsite on the north end of Grave Lake in a day, and it just about killed my dad!  Poor guy literally feel down a couple times by Pilot Knob, simply from his legs just giving out - but he was the one that didn't want to camp by Mae's Lake, and just get in all the way!  We didn't see much wildlife (pikas, squirrels, fish in the creeks...) or many people - there was a group or two by Marms and one we passed while descending Hailey Pass, but that was it.  Essentially no bugs either with how dry the summer was.

Day 2 - We went to bed at about 8, and woke up around 8 the next morning, they did some fishing at Grave Lake.  It was pretty awesome, caught only Lakers the whole time, and definitely large fish.  We stayed here most of the day, just taking it easy from the grueling hike the day before.   Saw no one today, not even anyone hiking around Grave Lake.

Day 3 - Hiked to the top of Pilot Knob for some good views (smokey again), and made our way to Baptiste Lake.  As people have said, the valley between Grave and Baptiste is beautiful!  We saw the only other people of the rest of our trip here, they were camped at the south end of Baptiste (kind of annoying to me, as it's close to the water, in a bright orange tent so you couldn't get a good angle of the lake and Mount Hooker w/o them in it).  Caught a lot of cutts here - beautiful area, aside from the signs on both sides of the lake signifying the reservation (that's a whole different can of worms there, but growing up in Pocatello, ID on the border of another reservation there made me very opinionated).  Saw a large 6 point elk on the way back to Grave, and caught more lake trout there.

Day 4 - Packed up at Grave and left for the South Fork Lakes.  We made a pit-stop at Spearpoint, and had fun there.  This was the only day we had rain, and seeing the clouds roll in made us leave the extremely exposed Spearpoint area.  It only rained on and off for about an hour and half, and we just found cover under some thick pines and waited it out rather than put on the rain gear and make sure everything is water-proof.  After an off-trail shortcut, we arrived at the the South Fork Lakes, and they were beautiful!  Lots of good cutts from both lakes over the next couple of days.  Didn't see a soul today, but saw plenty of elk and bear sign while going off trail.

Day 5 - Fished both South Fork Lakes, looked at the chute swimswithtrout has mentioned multiple times and couldn't agree more that I would never go up that way!  We were possibly going to leave that way to see the cirque, but that idea didn't last very long.  We also went down and hit both Valentine Lakes, and as far as fishing goes, very disappointing.  Nothing in Upper (it's pretty small and shallow, didn't have any hits and didn't see any sign of fish) and mostly small brookies in Valentine - I'd guess gone are the days of monster golds there.  Again, didn't see anyone at all today, but we did see a few more elk around Valentine Lake.

Day 6 - We had a couple more days planned out for the trip, but we had not planned on getting into Grave in a day, and didn't plan on being able to get out in one either - so after some discussion, we decided we actually hit everything we had wanted to and would head out today (my dad also had a new gun he hadn't used yet, so using an extra day to go shooting sounded fun).  We wrapped around Payson Peak and fished Washakie for a little bit (we had fast action, but we only caught average sized brookies), then continued on.  The pass wasn't as bad as we thought it would be, and knocked it out really fast.  The rest of the hike back went pretty quickly, and starting around Marms we passed quite a few groups going both directions (our first horse too, which is kind of a pet-peeve of mine - side story here - when my wife and I were hiking out of Titcomb we passed an outfitter group by Hobbs Lake where there is water on one side and pretty steep loose rock on the other.  We got a few feet off the trail on the rocky side to let them pass, and the first 6 people we passed were nice, said thanks for getting out their way (which is NOT required, it's only suggested as 'trail etiquette' by the forest service, although I feel the 'etiquette' works only one way with horses in the wilderness) but the last two people's horses got a little spooked and were hesitant to keep going.  The riders who looked like city-slickers, and had the NJ accent to top it off, started getting after us for not giving them enough space.  At this point I was pretty mad, as I was carrying a heavy load for my wife (who isn't an outdoorsy girl at all, but agreed to go with me so I brought along a ton of non-essentials for her - it literally weighed 80 lbs heading out, right about 100 going in), was sick of walking through horse crap and the ruts they caused all along the trail,  I was tired from already hiking miles, and here we were trying to be nice and let them through and he was starting to yell at me!  Women being our better halves, my wife just convinced me to keep going (although it was funny to watch their horses go into the Lake - they obviously had never been riding before!), and I know there are two sides to every issue, but I personally do not care for horses in the wilderness!

All in all, the trip was awesome - it was too bad it was so smokey, but we were in a gorgeous place with solitude and catching a lot of fish - exactly what we wanted!  We saw 1 mosquito, the only positive from the dry year, as not having a camp fire was just weird... Again, if someone could say how to post pictures in the thread here, I'd be more than happy to, but copy/paste won't work, and I don't have my pictures on a URL - I see there is a place to attach files, but I'll wait for a response before attaching a ton of pictures in the case it isn't the correct way!
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