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Topic: Another Winds TR, from early September< Next Oldest | Next Newest >
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PostIcon Posted on: Sep. 30 2012, 2:51 pm  Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

An overview of our trip to the Winds in early September.  Now that I think I’ve semi-mastered the art and science of posting photos to this site, I’ll do this TR in several installments so I can get a reasonable number of pix in.  Special thanks to swimswithtrout and Dorf for advice on planning this trip!

Monday, September 3

We fueled up at the Wrangler Café in Pinedale  and headed for the trailhead.  Only about a 15 mile drive northeast of Pinedale to Elkhart Park, on a paved road, nonetheless.  The parking lot was huge and still quite crowded, although we expected things to thin out pretty well as the Labor Day weekend ended.

Right at the start was a nurse doing a study on altitude acclimatization.  Folks like us coming from the comparative lowlands of the southeast were ideal subjects.  She took our blood pressure and a couple other readings and we filled out a survey.  We also met two guys from Chicago who were doing a day hike from Elkhart but planned to go next to do the whole Teton Crest in four days.  We took seven days to cover less ground than they were planning.  They appeared only a bit younger than us, and we hoped they could do it and smell the roses at the same time. We all at least passed the nurse’s screening and hit the trail somewhere around 10:00 AM.

We had four miles to go to reach Photographer’s Point.  It was predominately a steady uphill; although on a gentle grade, it was still uphill. It had us thinking about the altitude acclimatization we had—and didn’t have.  A lot of folks were, in fact coming out, many with dogs.  After having spent so much of our time hiking in national parks, it was interesting and surprising to see so many dogs.  Also saw several llamas, which might have been on a training run: Barney the llama wasn’t all that cooperative!

We passed one group that had done much of our route in reverse.  One guy gave us some tips on campsites at Mary’s Lake, our night #1 destination.  Hiking here would be different than the national parks we were most used to in at least one very significant way.  You can pretty much camp anywhere, just not within 200 feet of a trail or lake.  That means you’d have to locate suitable campsites, not be “directed” to them as in the parks.  We found that to be both good and bad ….

At Photographer’s Point the vista to the high country opened up.  We could only identify Gorge Lake below; most of the other lakes were hidden by all the ridges.  Several other groups stopped there for a break and the view, including a group of six or so who were taking at least ten days, with a resupply on Friday.  The guys from Chicago also showed up and we got a team photo with the mountains in the background.



Then a shorter stretch to where the trail branches to either Seneca Lake or the Pole Creek Lakes and beyond.  We’d come back via Seneca, but were heading east along the Pole Creek trail.  Eklund Lake is right near the fork, then the Two Top Lakes, and finally Mary’s Lake.  I got to Mary’s first when two of the large group showed up.  I came up from a camp site to meet them—they then proceeded, without asking to walk down and set up in that camp site!  I came close to saying something, but …..

When the boys arrived we found another (probably better) site just above the south side of the lake.  Greg’s shoulder was definitely hurting and he benefitted from a break from the weight at least every hour or so.  We set up camp; the location worked well with good access to water and a decent view of the lake.



Tuesday, September 4

It wasn’t as cold in the morning as we expected.  Breaking camp, our route was substantially downhill.  The terrain was very pleasant, with sporadic nice views.  We took three breaks during the day at, collectively, three of the nicest spots to break we’d ever had.  The first was at the crossing of Monument Creek, then at a good rise near the Pole Creek Lakes, and finally at lower Cook Lake.



The “lower” trail to the Cook Lakes wasn’t all that well maintained and I pulled out the GPS at one point to be sure we were on track. We were, quickly came to the intersection with the Fremont Trail and soon were at the upper Cook Lake.  There’s almost a beach before you get to the campsites. We found a decent one in the trees above the lake.  Several of the large group also ended up there.

After setting up camp I took a short hike to check out tomorrow’s route toward Wall Lake.  This would be our primary off-trail adventure.  SwimsWithTrout, Google Earth, and the girl at the Great Outdoor Shop all indicated it was manageable, it was still the unknown. On the way I saw our first marmot of the trip. Then looking down in the valley before the first major climb to Wall Lake were two moose.  Mama definitely had her eyes on me and I wasn’t heading out into that open area by myself.  She and baby then headed up to my right and stopped again for a good stare.  I decided this was far enough for the day and headed back to camp.





Wednesday, September 5

The morning was significantly colder, somewhere around 30 degrees.  Even before we broke camp, we saw several groups heading up toward Wall Lake.  There is a trail marked on the topo that goes about halfway to the lake, then it disappears.  We were advised the way is pretty obvious, and it was.

The route to the lake wasn’t very bad, and we stopped for a brief break overlooking the lake.  A beautiful mountain setting, with pretty vertical rises on both the east and west side. We understood that you couldn’t go all the way along the shore line, so we followed one group of young climbers along the boulders about halfway up along the east side. It was somewhat unnerving to have to traverse the large boulders, but the footing was very good and it really wasn’t as difficult as it initially looked.  After passing the spot that you couldn’t pass at the lake, we made a line down toward the north end of the lake.





A nice cascade fed into the lake at that point.  Not much water running now, but I suspect it would be real pretty earlier in the summer. We took a short break at that point, and scouted our route up to the Wall-Island Pass.  The one photo on Google Earth looked pretty benign, but it appeared we had a couple of climbs to reach the top.  So slowly we made our way. At one point I stopped to check if we needed to make a real hard left, but we were headed up properly.  The second climb was almost all boulders again, with a small snow field near the top.  The snow was a nice break, and the footing was fine for 100 feet or so. Finally we made it to the top none the worse for wear.



We still had a good trek ahead of us to get down to Island Lake.  No official trail, but periodic cairns along the way and it’s pretty impossible to lose your way—just head down and to the north.  Several other folks were moving down along with us, including a solo hiker who had camped the night before at the head of Wall Lake.  The way down from the pass took longer than expected, and we were all starting to get a bit tired. Finally we had a good look at Island Lake.  After reading so much about bit, it was great to have this vista and know we were about there. We hoped to get into Titcomb Basin for camp, but that was getting uncertain given the time and our increasingly tired condition.

It’s a steep drop right down to the lake. We quickly met a solo hiker and his dog who we had seen at Photographer’s Point on Monday. We asked about camp sites; he didn’t have great suggestions, but another guy suggested we go on up about a mile to Pothole Lake at the start of the basin. Greg’s shoulder was hurting, and Rick had developed a pretty good headache, so we stopped for about a 30 minute break. Greg was willing to go on, in great part to avoid having to set up and break camp an additional time. Rick agreed and we trudged ahead.

The campsites at Pothole didn’t inspire us, so we went further. I reached Lake 10548, right below Lower Titcomb, and took off my pack to scout for a campsite.  Nothing looked great—either too close to the water, too rocky, or not flat enough. The guys came up and finally Rick had a suggestion on the top of a small knoll. At the time we thought we were “settling,” but agreed later that this was a pretty cool site after all.

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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 01 2012, 12:25 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Great trip and writing.
Bridger is the most visited, per acre, of any wilderness in the FS Rocky Mountain Region. It is also one of the least enforced, with on two full time Wilderness Rangers. I really do not know how many more years that "wilderness" can survive the impacts with some limitations.

It is also with some gratefulness extended to the folks in this century in the majority who have maintained wilderness ethics sufficient that it is not much worse.


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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 02 2012, 8:43 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(fquail @ Sep. 30 2012, 2:51 pm)
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The “lower” trail to the Cook Lakes wasn’t all that well maintained and I pulled out the GPS at one point to be sure we were on track. We were, quickly came to the intersection with the Fremont Trail and soon were at the upper Cook Lake.


There's a Y fork on that trail right by a fording spot which has no sign post or other marker. I've walked through the intersection three times during a couple hikes in the past few years and every time have not noticed the other arm of the trail leading off to the side.

Nice pix. You hit some spots that we visited in August, but you had some nice clear skies to enjoy the views.
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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 06 2012, 2:45 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Your descriptions and photos brought back some good memories. Thanks for sharing.

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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 06 2012, 5:16 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

You're making me want to go hike there--and I just did!  Clearly one or two trips in the Winds are not enough.

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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 07 2012, 9:52 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

One or two trips are not enough? One or two decades worth of trips are not enough!

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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 07 2012, 10:52 am Skip to the previous post in this topic.  Ignore posts   QUOTE

Great stuff, thanks for sharing.

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