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TR: Wind River II (Cont)

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TR: Wind River II (Cont)

Postby Wandering Daisy » Sat Sep 22, 2012 5:18 pm

8/03 Day 25 Upper Golden Lake to Bald Mountain Basin (172.2) 10.1 miles/+2110f t./7.0 hrs.

I had two full day’s food plus one breakfast left and needed to get over the Continental Divide and back to my car parked at Elkhart Park. My original plan was to go from Alpine Lakes, over Alpine Col and Indian Pass and then day hike up Titcomb Basin before hiking out. The risk of not having crampons on the Knifepoint Glacier over Indian Pass was too much for my taste so I instead stayed on the east side of the Divide, day-hiked Brown Cliffs and now retreated back to Upper Golden Lake. I was disappointed that I would miss the spectacular Titcomb Basin. I now had the choice of getting over the Divide via Angel Pass or Fall Creek Pass. I preferred Angel Pass since I had not been over it in 40 years and needed to evaluate the route. Fall Creek Pass would be the alternative longer but easier route. In lieu of Titcomb Basin I would spend a day in Bald Mountain Basin and the Cook Lakes; a bit of a sorry substitute but places somewhat new to me.

I awoke early and was packed up and headed up to Angel Pass by 6:40. I followed cairns marking a use-trail up to Lake 10885 arriving at 8AM in time for some nice morning lighting for photographs. The use trail ended but it was easy travel to Lake 11125 where the wind really picked up. As I was headed west to Angel Pass a strong gust knocked me over. These were not the conditions I wanted for the class-3 ledges on the descent from Angel Pass. Reluctantly I turned around and headed to Fall Creek Pass. The detour would add extra miles but it was a safe route in high winds.

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Lake 10885

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Lake 11125 and Angel Pass on horizon

Once I dropped into the Timico Lake drainage it was much less windy. As I sat on a rock eating a snack two fellows passed right under me without seeing me. They descended down Fall Creek. I decided to instead follow a use-trail that descended the next drainage to the east. It was an interesting experiment! The two young fellows were obviously going faster than I was. We would see which route was better! When I reached Timico Lake I kept looking but never saw them. My route passed Timico Lake on the east; theirs passed on the west. I sat on a rock at the outlet of Timico Lake and soon here they came, walking down the west side of the lake. At my age when I can beat two strong young fellows I feel pretty good. Goes to show route finding is as important as speed. I will have to concede, they were carrying heavier packs. We exchanged greetings and then parted ways.

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Lakes on south side of Fall Creek Pass

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Timico Lake

Last time I walked the Fremont Trail it was a real roller coaster. This time I decided to drop to Baldy Lakes – a slightly longer route but with a bit less elevation gain and I had never seen Baldy Lakes, which were nice but not spectacular. I ran into two NOLS instructors who said they too would be camping near Spider Lake and hoped it would not disturb me. As a NOLS Alumni I never am disturbed by NOLS groups; rather it brings back fond memories. Ascending from Baldy Lakes the wildflowers were fantastic. At the top of the pass to Bald Mountain Basin is one of the Wind River Mountain’s finest views. I soaked it in. Unfortunately smoke in the air from wildfires spoiled the photos. The Fremont Trail is the major trail on the west side and I met several groups. I left the trail and headed to the outlet of the “other” Spider (several Spider Lakes in the Wind Rivers) arriving at 1:40 PM. I dilly dallied around for half an hour trying to find the perfect campsite with a panoramic view, settling on a site about half way between Spider Lake and Lake 10442.

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Lake 10442

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Camp near outlet of Spider Lake in Bald Mountain Basin

After setting up, I took a chilly bath between wind gusts, washed clothes and then hiked up to Spider Lake. From 5-6PM I fished the small pond next to my campsite catching six fish barley larger than sardines. Nevertheless it was fun and any amount of fish added to dinner is great. The NOLS group was camped across the outlet creek from me. Trying to stay out of the tent until dusk, I walked around taking sunset photos. All in all it was a nice afternoon.

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Spider Lake (west side of Angel Pass on skyline)

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View north from camp



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Re: TR: Wind River II (Cont)

Postby Wandering Daisy » Sat Sep 22, 2012 5:27 pm

8/04 Day 26 Bald Mountain Basin to Marys Lake (180.6) 8.4 miles/+1455 t./7.5 hrs.

It finally froze hard at night and the tent was frosted inside and out. I was up at 6:45 and put on everything I had! In the shadow of Angel Peak my campsite never got sunshine until 7:30. Since I was in no hurry, I waited until the tent dried, not leaving until 9AM. Bald Mountain Basin contains over 50 lakes and ponds, most with fish. It is an area of micro-ecosystems under the backdrop of towering peaks; you can camp at your own private lake! Travel is easy and delightful. . I hopped from pond to pond on my way to Upper Cook Lake.

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Small unnamed pond with fish

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Upper Cook Lake as I descended from Bald Mountain Basin

Resting at Cook Lake three women and a teen stopped and talked. They were from Canada and we pretty much hiked together until we parted ways where they continued on the Fremont Trail to Island Lake and I turned south to the Pole Creek Trail and where we encountered gun toting, gun shooting wannabe cowboys. All they could say in disgust was “Americans and their guns!” I could not agree more. Cook Lakes were very impressive and I wished I had time to stay over here.

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Upper Cook Lake along the trail

Although I had been down the trail to Pole Creek Crossing a few times before, nothing on the trail was familiar. For a while I was anxious until I passed a small pond with lily pads that I remembered.

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Pond with Lily Pads

From Pole Creek Crossing to Marys Lake the trail was tedious, dusty, and unpleasant while the air smelled of smoke. All the small lakes and ponds were low on water, full of algae and very dry and tired looking. I had been here in a wetter year and it was very beautiful. Now I was just exhausted and disappointed. Several horse packers passed kicking up even more dust and depositing fresh horse poo which the flies immediately swarmed. At Marys Lake my intended campsite was taken by a large group. I circled the entire lake to no avail and found another large established site nearly next to the trail, had I only seen it the first time. The lake was low on water, warm and full of algae. I managed to get a stealth bath in spite of the crowded lake. Many of the fine trees that surrounded Marys Lake now were brown and dying due to the bark beetle infestation. All this sadden me. I had a pig-out dinner since I ended up with enough fuel and food for another day.

8/05 Day 27 Marys Lake to Elkhart Park (186.6). 6.0 miles/+100 ft./3.0 hrs.

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Sunrise at Marys Lake

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Eklund Lake

I got on the trail early and was surprised that I did not meet anyone until an hour from the trailhead. I passed Eklund Lake, a popular spot but saw nobody. It was a weekend and I expected more. The closer to the trailhead, the more people I met. One group of llama hikers, many climbers headed to do Gannett Peak, kids with parents, old folks, horse packers, everyone!
Always thankful that my car started, I quickly drove to Pinedale to pick up a sandwich than drove to Lander for a hot shower, beer and a great dinner full of fresh garden produce that my dear friend cooked. Her husband, of course, wanted to hear of every fish I caught and every animal I had seen. For a moment I thought I would see if I could find out what happened to “Dog” but could not bear to find out the answer for fear of bad news.

I also did not want to think much about the fact that I pretty much abandoned the through-hike. In order to through-hike, I would have to start back at Elkhart Park, hike to Titcomb Basin and go over Dinwoody Pass, not a pass I would tackle alone, or go over Indian Pass, this time with crampons and continue over Blaurock Pass. Either way, I would end up on the east side near Dubois, with an incredible logistics problem to get back to my car at Elkhart Park. The key to reasonable car logistics for a through-hike is an outfitter resupply on the Dinwoody; my planned resupply fell through so my through-hike pretty much was abandoned.
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Re: TR: Wind River II (Cont)

Postby sparky » Sun Oct 14, 2012 5:20 pm

Absolutely wonderful.....and all the other positive adjectives. Thank you WD.
There is a million ways to be human, all are worthwhile.

True happiness is the absence of striving for happiness.
-Chuang Tzu.
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