Wind Rivers III

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Wind Rivers III

Postby Wandering Daisy on Mon Sep 24, 2012 6:49 pm

8/06 Day 28 Day off in Lander.

My friend was able to find two 26-inch zippers at Walmart in Riverton while I repacked. I sewed the zippers right over the broken tent zipper and was good to go. Only problem is that they were not “reversible” zippers and not giving this much thought, I had sewed them on so that they were easy to manipulate from the outside, but quite the trick to get them started opening from the inside. I washed clothing, packed food, drank beer and visited. It was a nice relief. My pack for the next 11-day and last segment was a comfortable 35 pounds.

My “continuous” through hike was foiled by eliminating the connection from Alpine Lakes to the Dinwoody. This “missing link” of the route just turned out to be too risky to solo and logistically difficult without the packer resupply. However, I had been over the missing link by several different routes in the past and had good photos of the area. My disappointment was more that I had “failed” my original goal. But I was now free to simply wander around the northern section with no particular “agenda”. The northern section had the more difficult travel so leaving it for last was a good call. On the other hand, by late season the air was filled with smoke from regional forest fires so most of my photos are really bad. Few lakes had fish on my route, so this time I left fishing gear behind.

8/07 Day 29 Drive to Dubois, Torrey Creek TH to Bomber Canyon (191.8). 5.2 miles/+1990 ft./3.0 hrs.

The air was filled with smoke from forest fires as I drove to Dubois. I stopped by the Forest Service office to check out current conditions, finding that my planned exit via Whisky Mountain trail was closed due to grizzly activity. Some unfortunate cows had wandered up the trail and the grizzlies were feasting on them. I had planned on entering via Bomber Creek so this did not affect me but I would have to play it by ear for exit. There were many options so I did not commit myself to any “agenda”. I ate a bad lunch in town before I drove to the Trail Lake (Torrey Creek) trailhead. The road thankfully was much improved since I was last here. By the time I started up the trail at 1:15 it was hot as hell and the smoke thick.

I painfully trudged up the dusty trail taking my first real break at the south end of the large meadow at 8,500 feet elevation. Flowers were dried and droopy and grass was straw colored. I followed the use-trail up Bomber Creek, mostly easy with a few sections of deadfall. I spotted several nice established campsites along the way but decided to keep walking as long as I could. The trail goes through thick timber that has unfortunately been marred by bark beetle kill. The steep uphill section and heat did me in by the time I reached the top of Bomber Falls. My enthusiasm was at a low point. I stopped at 5PM and set up my tent on a rock bench just above the creek, and unbeknownst to me, just before the burned area left by the fire of 2006. It was peaceful by the creek, the water gently flowing. By 7PM the sun dropped below the canyon wall and I was too tired to force myself to stay up until dark. Puffy clouds produced a few sprinkles. On my last trip I was amazed at how long my little I-Pod Shuffle lasted on one recharge, so now I allowed myself an hour of music every night! Surprisingly, I met nobody even though I was on a major trail for half the time. Between the grizzly alert and the smoky skies, many people just stayed home.

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Bomber Creek next to campsite

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Smoky Bomber Canyon

8/08 Day 30 Bomber Canyon to Bomber Lake (198.8). 7.0 miles, including 4.4 day-hikes/+1360 ft./7.0 hrs.

It was a very warm night. I was up at 6AM under hazy overcast, smoky skies. I left at 7:30 and immediately entered the devastated 2006 burned area where the trail has been obliterated. At first it was not bad, but became more difficult as I continued. I knew there was a use-trail on the other side, but could not find a suitable river crossing; I was just too lazy to wade! I had been up this canyon in the 1990’s when it was filled with a lush green forest. Now only ghost trees were remaining.

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Burned trees in Bomber Canyon

I totally misjudged the distance I would have to go over tedious talus by staying on the south side. The route through the boulders kept pushing me farther up into even more hideous talus. Finally I was able to return to the creek, only to find that travel along the creek also had its very difficult parts. At one point I had to lift my pack up a rock cliff to continue. The creek was now a waterfall and crossing with my heavy pack was not something I wanted to do. Just at the end, things got easier and I arrived at the outlet area at 11AM and set up in a large established campsite.

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Bomber Lake under weird colored haze

It was too late in the day to go over Goat Flat to Downs Lake. A family walked by – they too had been “tricked” by the burn and ended up missing the crossing and trail. After washing clothes, I went back down the creek, crossed and found the trail which was a fine easy-to-follow well used trail! Returning I followed it as it went all the way to the outlet and then crossed on logs. After a brief rest and bath I decided to hike up to Turquoise Lake since sitting at Bomber Lake was getting boring. I found a less than easy to follow use-trail nearly all the way. Unfortunately the sun was not in the right spot for photos and the air still hazy so all I got were so-so pictures. Back in camp I cooked dinner and took another bath. Then after dinner I scouted for the best route up to the gully that leads to Goat Flat.

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Turquoise Lake- smoke and shooting into the sun does not do this spectacular lake justice

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Smoke cleared briefly at sunset- South wall of Bomber Canyon



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Re: Wind Rivers III

Postby Wandering Daisy on Mon Sep 24, 2012 6:55 pm

8/09 Day 31 Bomber Lake to Mile Long Lake (207.2). 8.4 miles, including 5.3 day-hikes/+1880 ft./8.5 hrs.

I awoke to fairly clear skies assuming the dark bank of haze to the west was smoke. At 7:15 I headed up towards Goat Flat. I only got up about 100 feet and realized the dark sky was not smoke but black clouds roaring in from the west. I could not safely go over Goat Flat. Should I retreat back to the campsite and wait a day? I just could not see doing that so I reluctantly descended and headed to Mile Long Lake deciding to first do the “northern” part of the route which was not as weather dependent. It spit rain off and on all day. Every time it cleared, I wished I had gone over Goat Flat and every time it got nasty I was glad I did not! Overcast conditions added to the gloom. I passed under Spider Peak, disappointed with the poor lighting. Then I continued north hoping to traverse into a hidden valley behind Spider Peak but hit a cliff so bagged that idea. I continued traversing past another lake and reached the outlet of Mile Long Lake, when the sun finally peaked out. If I were brave I may have been able to jump rocks; I am not brave so I waded across and it was surprisingly deep but thankfully short.

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Spider Peak

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Hidden Valley behind Spider Peak

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View from Outlet of Mile Long Lake

I hiked the mile to the inlet and set up my tent but did not unpack. At noon I headed up to check out a pass to Ram Flat that I had not been over for nearly 40 years. The hike up the valley was very beautiful with a spectacular view of a glacier hanging to the south wall. With careful route finding I stayed mostly on steep grassy slopes by following game trails. The last 400 feet gain to the pass was all talus and I could see enough that I did not go to the top. On the return I tried out another very steep gully that looked like it too would go to the top but the top section was too steep to be considered a backpack route.

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Stream from valley that leads to Ram Flat

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Hanging Glacier

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View back to Mile Long Lake

I got back just in time to jump in the lake as rain began to fall and I dove into the tent until it quit at 4PM. I decided to go back to the outlet where there was better camping. Just as I was setting up the tent rain began again. Then I remembered that I had left my garbage bag under a rock at the lake inlet, so walked back and retrieved it, getting soaked by the rain. By now I was exhausted and was glad to sit down and cook dinner in a dry spot under trees. When the rain quit, it was nearly 8PM, getting dark and pesky mosquitoes came out so I went in the tent. It was overcast, but not a breath of wind and warm. I felt good about my accomplishments for the day. From 10PM to 11:30 an intense storm rolled through with lightning and close claps of thunder. I was glad to have moved to a well-protected campsite. Sadly, as I later learned, this storm also started the Alpine Lake fire to the south, a fire that is still burning on the Reservation and spewed smoke into the air for remainder of the trip. (As of Sept 22 the fire has burned over 50,000 acres.) I slept poorly all night as the waves loudly slapped the shore of the lake. I should have put in my ear plugs.
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Re: Wind Rivers III

Postby Wandering Daisy on Tue Sep 25, 2012 12:19 pm

8/10 Day 32 Day hike to Ross Lakes (213.4). 6.2 miles/+1820 ft./8.5 hrs.

In addition to the haze and high overcast conditions, thick clouds in the east made for less than perfect photography. I debated whether to haul the pack down to Ross Lake to camp or just take a day hike. I chose the latter and was mighty glad by the end of the day! This was the first time in 32 days that I camped at the same site two nights in a row!

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Sunrise at Mile Long Lake

It took an hour to reach the inlet and two more hours to reach the outlet. The inlet area of Upper Ross Lake is “moose city”. I saw lots of tracks and droppings but thankfully did not run into a moose. I had been here previously when it was very soggy and swampy; this year it was nearly dry. There is no easy way around Upper Ross Lake if you miss the very difficult to find use-trail; I ended up missing it and bashed through a lot of brush. I vowed to be more diligent in staying on the trail on the return. Reaching the outlet it still was overcast and hazy and photos turned out very gloomy. There were logs across the outlet creek but it looked very difficult so I did not go further.

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Upper Ross Lake

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Crystal Lake

On the return I stayed high and traversed to Crystal Lake, pretty much following a game trail all the way up. The hidden cirque was quite scenic and the clouds began to lift and a bit of hazy sunshine peeked through. Unfortunately my photos do not do it justice. I dropped down and picked up the use-trail and this time followed it carefully. The trail is quite improbable- including a short cliff to ascend that requires some rock climbing. The narrow path traverses on top of cliffs with sheer drops to the water. At one point I went up too high and had to come down. The little used trail basically stays quite close to the shoreline and deadfall makes it hard to follow. Weather improved as the day went on so afternoon photos turned out much better.

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View from Inlet to Upper Ross Lake

I was back at my camp by 2PM, washed clothes, took a bath and finally ate lunch at 3PM. In spite of my early return I was very tired. I think that the previous day had worn me out! I needed photos of the lower Ross Lake but as tired as I was when I returned to camp, I was glad I did not try to go the extra three miles. Conditions were not good for photos anyway. I went to bed embarrassingly early. It rained and drizzled all night.
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Re: Wind Rivers III

Postby Wandering Daisy on Tue Sep 25, 2012 12:27 pm

8/11 Day 33 Mile Long Lake to Downs Lake (221.8). 8.4 miles/+2910 ft./7.6 hrs.

I awoke at 6AM, unzipped the tent fly, and there was a moose staring at me. I instinctively yelled at it and it ran off and then kicked myself for not taking a photo first. I measured the distance from the moose footprint to my tent and it was 20 feet! It was still cloudy and I took down the tent, very anxious about the weather and resigned myself to the possibility that I would have to go back to Bomber Lake and sit out weather there for another day. This time I dropped down to the meadow below Mile Long Lake and crossed, inadvertently choosing a spot where numerous braids of the stream were hidden in the willows. Luckily there was a nice game trail on the other side that led all the way back to Bomber Lake. This return route was much easier than the route I took going over to Mile Long Lake.

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Spider Peak viewed from creek below Turquoise Lake

I arrived at 9:45 and the clouds were lifting so decided to “go for it”. I headed up the 1,600 foot gully to Goat Flat, luckily finding a good game trail all the way up reaching the edge of the plateau by 11:30. I was happy to find a small stream in the gully from which I gorged on water.

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Bomber Lake from ascent gully to Goat Flat

It became very windy and huge threating clouds were now on my back. I got snowed on! Anxious about the weather and with the fierce cold wind blowing, instead of stopping to get bearings I bolted off over the plateau. I now have been across Goat Flat three times and have gotten lost three times! The plan was to try a route that traversed east around the high point this time. Soon I was so disoriented that I simply turned around and aimed for the highest point, knowing that if I followed the high points I would eventually get to the edge that dropped off into Downs Lake. One false high point lead to another and it seemed I walked forever before I reached the edge. I walked the extra half mile to the edge just be sure before dropping into the shallow gully that leads to the route down off the plateau. I was relieved when at 1:30 I came to what I call the “oasis”, a lush little bench at 11,700 feet fed by snowmelt. Here mountain sheep droppings are abundant and the sheep have made a nice trail down the headwall into a lower lush unnamed valley east of Downs Lake.

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View towards Gannett Peak from Goat Flat

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Unnamed valley east of Downs Lake

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Downs Lake from small pass to the east

I reached the outlet of Downs Lake at 3PM. I had just set my pack down when three young handsome fellows came by carrying a huge spotting scope. They were hunting guides trying to find the mountain sheep since hunting season started in four days. They and their horses were camped at the lower end of the unnamed valley. These three jeans clad cowboys spurs and all were as surprised to see me, an old lady, as I was to see them! I swear two were twins with the bluest eyes I have ever seen. The weather had improved but a cold wind still blew and puffy clouds remained. The storm had blown out the smoke and for the first time of the trip I was able to get good photos.

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East side of Downs Lake from outlet

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West side of Downs Lake from outlet

I found a hidden spot in the outlet steam to take a bath, hiding from the spotting scope, just in case. My campsite was tight – well protected in the scrub timber but little room to move around. Shadows hit the site by 6PM so I cooked an early dinner. It was a great day and I was so relieved to be over Goat Flat. For the next few days my route could handle poor weather, although I hoped for good. Downs Lake is one of my favorite places in the Wind Rivers and I was soaking in all its glory. I rewarded myself with an hour and half of music! I slept poorly for no reason. I was comfortable and warm but had to get up and pee three times!
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Re: Wind Rivers III

Postby Wandering Daisy on Tue Sep 25, 2012 7:15 pm

8/12 Day 34 Downs Lake to Grasshopper Creek (225.6). 3.8 miles/+1185 ft./5.75 hrs.

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Sunrise at Downs Lake

I made a point to get up for early morning photographs. When on the east side of the Wind Rivers, sunrise is the best time for photography. I left at 7:45 and decided to try to go directly down to Twin Lakes instead of backtracking to the use trail. This certainly did not save any time! I was able to follow game trails but had to bushwhack in a few places. I had to wade across the inlet stream and then wade across another stream. Going was rough and although I followed a game trail to the divide to Molar Lake, it was not an easy route. The topographic map did not seem correct with a few minor streams erroneously located. On the south side I waded across the inlet stream to Molar Lake only to have to re-wade at the inlet. Luckily I could hop across rocks downstream of an ugly log jam at the outlet. I saw fish in Twin Lakes but there was no sign of fish in Molar Lake.

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Molar Lake

I then stumbled upon an absolutely amazing elk trail. The terrain is so rough that I am not sure how I would have made it without this trail. I followed fresh tracks, ran into three elk at a tiny pond barely shown on the map. From the pond I climbed a gully adjacent to a cliff to a notch where I encountered a huge log jam. I scouted and decided that I had to go under the logs. My legs are not as long as the elk’s; they evidently go over it. I took off my pack and dragged it under the logs and squeezed under myself. The drop to Grasshopper Creek was steep but the elk always found a good route. At the bottom I bashed through low willows to the stream taking a long break and eating lunch. The stream was roaring and milky from the melting Grasshopper Glacier upstream.

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Milky Grasshopper Creek

I tried not to think of the fact that I had to cross this stream to continue my route. I turned upstream and found the elk’s path through willows that were thick and over my head. The trail continued upstream over cliffs and rock slabs, descending steeply to an upper meadow where it ended. I continued upstream to find a higher campsite, but returned to the meadow where the trail ended and camped at great campsite under trees. It was a hot sunny day so I washed my hair, a mistake I realized once the icy water hit my head! The creek was so milky that I hunted for better water finding a small drip of clear water that came off a cliff near my campsite. It took a few hours but the mosquitoes finally found me. Late afternoon I wandered around taking photos. I hit the sack at 7:30 and put in my ear plugs since the creek was so loud. Stars were out at 10PM when I got up to pee.

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Flowers near campsite

Evening Views
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Wandering Daisy
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Re: Wind Rivers III

Postby Wandering Daisy on Thu Sep 27, 2012 12:31 pm

8/13 Day 35 Grasshopper Creek to Lake 10475 (232.1). 6.5 miles, including 4.4 day hike/+2200 ft./6.7 hrs.

I awoke at 5:30 to light rain and was so discouraged I went back to sleep another half hour. I decided to get up and cook breakfast no matter what and soon clouds thinned and rain quit. Much smoke was still to the northeast. I left for a day-hike at 7:30 hoping to at least get to a point that had a good view of Grasshopper Glacier. An eerie orange glow filled the air and the sun was a bright orange blob on the horizon. It remained hazy all day.

In about half a mile, the creek was pushed up against a cliff and I about gave up. I would have to climb up over the cliff which turned out no problem since from the top I could traverse instead of drop back to the creek. I was surprised to find more excellent camping and clumps of trees far upstream, nearly until I came to the rocky moraine, the terminus of the Grasshopper Glacier in the 1960’s. The glacier has melted back significantly.

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Cliff on Grasshopper Creek

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Upper Valley

Above the moraine, on the north side hill, grassy ramps continued almost all the way to the unnamed lake at 11,700 feet due north of the Grasshopper Glacier. This would be the route one would take to gain the broad saddle on the Continental Divide east of the Connie Glacier. Years ago I had walked down the Grasshopper Glacier; now that the glacier has melted back nearly half a mile a mile of ugly loose moraine would have to be crossed. The snowfield directly below Baker Lake was icy and steep, confirming that this would not be a short-cut up to the Divide. When grassy slopes ended I had to ascend a short section of steep rocky scree before reaching the bleak lake at 11,600 feet elevation with marginal camping. I took a few quick photos, ate a snack and returned and was back at camp at 11:15. I could not get a good photo of the Grasshopper Glacier due to shooting into the sun and the smoke in the air. I had personally witnessed the demise of the Grasshopper Glacier, visiting this area in 1969, 1990’s and now 2012.

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Anemic Grasshopper Glacier

The smoke resulted in a cooler day and the creek was running nearly a foot lower than it had the previous day so I packed up, carefully putting everything inside so if I fell in the water I would not lose anything, and headed back to the point where the elk trail came down to the stream. It took me three tries to find the elk trail through the willows. Grasshopper Creek used to be highly braided and easy to cross. In 2007 a lake on the top of the Grasshopper Glacier melted to the base of the glacier sent a surge of water down the drainage, altering the course of the creek. It was now highly channelized into one narrower but swift deep channel with only a few places that remain braided. This was the only spot where the creek braided into four sections. The worst part about crossing was that I could not see the bottom through the milky water. I had been worrying and dreading this crossing for days! I kept on my hiking shoes and gaiters; my wading shoes simply were not sturdy enough. The first braid was ankle deep and no problem. The second was swift and the most difficult. I nearly lost it half way across the over-the-knee water with cobble bed. The last two braids were mid-calf and swift but easy.

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Heading back down Grasshopper Creek

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Grasshopper Creek below crossing, looking upstream

Once across troubles were not over. Unfortunately, I had to go up over a cliff and then traverse a steep hillside on ledges to reach the notch and intersect a use-trail that descended to the lower sections of Grasshopper Creek. This was no easy cliff; I had to lower my pack in two places. The traverse was a “fall, you die” exercise. I inched my way along as carefully as I could, breathing a sigh of relief when I reached the notch. I descended on the use trail a short distance, then decided I would rather simply traverse on the numerous game trails to my destination. I followed fresh elk tracks, spooked three on the way and spotted the herd (about 25) at the lake below my destination on the opposite shore. They saw me and moved into the trees. I passed a nice campsite but a noisy elk made it clear that I was not welcome and it was not going to move. On I went and found the perfect campsite. The site was full of elk droppings but there was evidence that a few people had camped here.

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Elk at lower lake

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Campsite in clump of trees near outlet

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Lake 10475 from the inlet

The lake was deep and the water clear and cold, not like many of the overly warm lakes full of algae that I had seen this summer. I set out my shoes to dry since I had not changed into dry clothes since I crossed, took a bath and lazed in the sunshine. Again, I had chosen a campsite that was in the shadows by 6AM. I cooked dinner and reflected on a good day – good yet long and mentally hard. I was glad to be done. Having been able to cross Grasshopper Creek, I now only had one more crux to worry about, and I did worry! If I were unable to get around Klondike Lake I would have to backtrack and re-cross Grasshopper Creek. For me, river crossings are the most anxiety generating difficulties of backpacking.
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Re: Wind Rivers III

Postby Wandering Daisy on Fri Sep 28, 2012 8:49 am

8/14 Day 36 Lake 10475 to Klondike/Dinwoody Confluence( 239.7). 7.6 miles/+1345 ft./7.5 hrs.

It was so warm at night that I did not sleep well and smoke filled the air when I awoke at 6AM. I left at 7:30 heading for Klondike Lake. I had been up this gully to the lake in the 1990’s on a day-hike. This time, with a full pack, travel was easy to the first small melt lake at 11,300 feet. The steep lingering snowfield that blocked my way up the headwall was a surprise. To the right I spotted a steep but short slot with a large chockstone, trivial without a pack, but impossible with a pack. I tied my 30-foot bear-hanging line to the pack and hauled it up after me. After a short but dicey traverse over wet slabs I could step onto the flat upper snowfield. Although many routes would work I stayed right, passing a small snowmelt pond, to the top of the ridge. Klondike Lake, one of the largest lakes in the Wind Rivers, is located on a ridge that separates the Downs Fork from the upper Dinwoody Creek that drains the glaciers below Gannett Peak.

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Klondike Lake from ridge

From here it was a steep 400-foot descent over grass to the north shoreline of Klondike Lake. I was again disappointed that I was shooting into the sun through smoky air: the quality of photos was terrible. I had never traversed the shoreline to the outlet. Almost immediately I came to a cliff with a narrow grassy ramp that led up about 100 feet above the sheer cliff to the deep blue lake below. I checked it out and determined it would go and returned to get my pack. I carefully ascended - another “fall-you-die” crux. Fortunately there were good hand holds. It looked like one could also traverse much higher over several ledges and cliffs and trade the exposure for a physically harder route. Down the other side, it was a simple matter of easy rock hopping to the outlet. I now knew for sure that I could complete the route and was greatly relieved.

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Klondike Lake from outlet

After crossing the outlet I climbed up the shoulder nearly to another small lake and then descended on a faint game trail to the outlet of Lake 10860, the highest of a series of small lakes that sit on a bench north of Dinwoody Creek. I traversed the bench to the outlet of Lake 10425 where I had originally planned to camp. I spotted a game trail at the outlet. Plenty of daylight remained so I decided to see if this trail continued all the way down to Dinwoody Creek. The trail followed a little creek not shown on the map. The farther I went the more distinct the trail until cairns soon marked the way. I realized this was the rumored “trail up Klondike Creek”, except it did not go up Klondike Creek! Rather, it went up the small creek to the northeast that was a tributary to Klondike Creek. I reached a large established campsite by 1:30.

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Confluence of Klondike Creek and Dinwoody Creek

Stupid me; I thought I could find a better and more scenic campsite two miles upstream at Wilson Meadows. As I stepped off the trail to view a waterfall a pack outfit and two climbers passed on the trail, but they did not see me. When I reached Wilson Meadow the camping was inferior and view uninspiring so I turned around and went back to the campsite on Klondike Creek. By now it was 3:00 and I was beat. I should have camped here in the first place and simply day-hiked to Wilson Meadow. I set up my tent for a splendid view out the door, bathed, washed clothes, ate lots of chocolate, drank tea and soaked in the view. I was surprised to see so few people on this very popular trail. The smoke cleared a bit in the evening so I wandered around taking photos.

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Views upstream from campsite

Elk “whistled” nearby. Other than the smoke, the weather has been good and I wondered when it would “break” and typical Wind River weather would return. I inventoried my remaining food- three days but one too many dinners and one less breakfast. Trail food was tight. I had plenty of fuel and extra hot drinks, so I cranked up the stove and had more hot chocolate. I purposely set the tent on a windy spot hoping to cool my tent at night but by 8PM the wind died down so I suffered another hot night. An enjoyable albeit stressful day ended. I had finished the northern section of my “through-route” and now only had to return to my car via a well maintained trail. I also had enough supplies to do a bit of exploring of the West Fork of Torrey Creek from Lake Louise which was the northernmost piece of the through-route that I had foregone due to the grizzly bear problems in the area earlier.
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Re: Wind Rivers III

Postby Wandering Daisy on Fri Sep 28, 2012 9:01 am

8/15 Day 37 Klondike Creek to Golden Lake-Dinwoody Lakes (250.3). 10.6 miles/+1275 ft./7.5 hrs.

With uncertainties removed, I finally slept well. I awoke at 5:45 to another smoky day and left at 7:30 for a long walk on the Glacier Trail. With the hot dry weather the trail was beat to a fine dust. It did not take me more than an hour to wish I were off-trail again! I spotted elk grazing near the Ink Wells Trail Junction and stopped below Big Meadow to take some photos of the creek as it flows through a narrow slot. Soon I was going through scorched earth from an old burn where the black ghosts of trees stood juxtaposed to bright pink fireweed and lush green grass. I reached the Downs Fork Bridge by 10AM.

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Dinwoody Creek flows through narrow slot

As the trail continued down the drainage, four horses came by, bells on their necks ringing, with no owners in sight. I moved onto some talus because the curious horses wanted to follow me. Memories of the cows at Washakie Park and “Dog” had me worried. Was I now the Pied Piper? As I started to ascend to Dinwoody Lakes, the owners of the horses showed up and asked if I had seen their horses.

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Downs Fork Bridge

It was hellishly hot and I really struggled up the hill. I found a short side-trail to Honeymoon Lake so I checked it out and took some photos. I met two groups of four and asked them about the smoke. This is when I found out it was from the Alpine Lakes fire and was distressed that one of my favorite places in the Wind Rivers was burning up. West of the string of lakes on the Glacier Trail, is another string of lakes from Florence Lake to Golden Lakes in the upper cirque. I have backpacked through this route before, but with a companion. The off-trail route is rough enough that I did not desire to do it solo. Instead I would continue on the trail to Phillips Lake and then head to Golden Lake, the northernmost lake in the small cirques, and day hike for photos.

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Honeymoon Lakes from Glacier Trail

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Double Lake

The smoke cleared a bit as I passed Double Lake I was happy to get photographs; the last time I was here it was pouring down rain. As I neared the outlet of Philips Lake I heard whoops and hollers – evidently some guys were skinny dipping! Before I ran into them I left the trail and walked through another old burned area, nearly stepping on a poor rabbit on the way to Upper Phillips Lake. There appeared to be two routes to Golden Lake; the first did not go so I had to backtrack. It took some hunting but I found a site at 2:45, and a fine site it was! Someone else had camped here before. I had a huge rock for wind shelter, a nice rock bench to sit on and a splendid view. The only problem was in a heavy rain I would get flooded; I decided rain was not likely. I went to the lake to get water and wash and saw tons of fish, all about 2-3 inches long. Later I found out this was because this lake had recently been planted with fingerling fish. I walked to the next unnamed higher lake and my legs about refused to move. Lighting and smoke again foiled any photos. Back at camp I resigned myself to just sitting around and eating.

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Sunset

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Mountain Sheep

After dinner I heard bleating. A pika popped out of his rock home and perked up his ears too. Then it stopped. I walked down to the lake and sat on a rock and soon saw eight mountain sheep, four closer and four high on a cliff. The four closest were mothers and youngsters. I guessed that the bleating was a little one who got separated from mom or stuck. I watched for a long time and it looked like the mothers were teaching the young ones to rock climb! I slowly moved back to camp and closer to the sheep. They saw me but were not concerned and I was able to get some photos. By now it was 8PM and time to go inside the tent for my hour of music.
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Re: Wind Rivers III

Postby Wandering Daisy on Fri Sep 28, 2012 9:04 am

8/16 Day 38 Golden Lake to Louise Lake (262.7). 12.4 miles/+1770 ft. (4000 ft loss!)/8.5 hrs.

When I awoke and looked out the tent door I was surprised to see fog! Everything was damp. I ate a leisurely breakfast and sat on rocks at the lake taking photos as the fog lifted. I left the tent up to dry and headed to the upper lakes which were very pretty in the morning sunshine. I did not go all the way to Florence Lake, but to the highest- Lake 10943.

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Early morning fog photos of Golden Lake

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View towards upper lakes

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Upper Lakes

Back at camp I packed up and instead of going back to the trail the way I had come, I traversed off-trail to Glacier Pass. This route was a bit more work with some tricky route-finding but avoided the dusty trail. As I neared the pass I could see a large group on horses coming down, but by the time I got to the pass it was empty. I ate lunch on the pass and then started the several miles of unending switchbacks down the trail meeting two fellows. The original trail was wiped out in a rock slide years ago so a “new” trail was constructed when the Forest Service had the idiotic idea that trails needed to have 2% grades. Back and forth I went, never seeming to get anywhere! By the time I reached Bomber Canyon I was hot, tired and ready to stop. But the views were minimal and I had daylight left! So I trudged onward, crossed the Torrey Creek Bridge and at the trail junction to Louise Lake, and could actually see my car in the parking lot! I was so tempted to just go to the car and drive out to a motel!

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Torrey Creek from Torrey Creek Bridge

I was proud of myself for turning uphill and climbing the 600 feet to Louise Lake. Passing a large family of day-hikers a small boy asked me, “how far to the car?” I had to answer “not far” after I had come 260 miles on my journey! I struggled the last half mile. Too tired to look hard, I simply set up camp at a marginal very lumpy spot pretty much in the day-use area. I took a bath but the lake was slimy and someone had dumped fish guts nearby. I walked back to the outlet where the water was running to get drinking water. As I cooked dinner a very bold chipmunk stole my stove burner and I had to chase him to get it back. All during dinner the chipmunk would sneak near and I would try to whack it with my trekking pole. I never was quick enough to hit the pesky rodent. Persistent for nearly an hour, he finally gave up. I happily ducked into the tent, and slept surprisingly well. I guess lumps are like a “pillow top” mattress.
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Re: Wind Rivers III

Postby Wandering Daisy on Fri Sep 28, 2012 9:08 am

8/17 Day 39 THE END (265.7 miles)! 3.0 miles including 0.8 day hike/+280 ft./2.0 hrs.
I slept in, had a leisurely breakfast and packed up. At the outlet I dropped my pack and crossed the logs to hike to the peninsula on the south side of the lake where there were several large established campsites. I took several photos and poked around. The use-trail to this side involves a short class 3 rock climb. I would not like to do it with a pack on but the peninsula was obviously THE place to camp. I wished I had enough energy the previous day to find this superior campsite. As I walked to the trailhead I met two fishermen, who were going to do exactly that- go the best campsite. At the parking lot two groups were getting ready to go up the Glacier Trail to climb Gannett Peak. I was relieved that others were at the trailhead in case my car had problems. Last time I was here my car had a flat tire, but this time thankfully the dusty car started just fine and all tires were full of air.

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Louise Lake from campsite

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Log Crossing

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View up West Torrey Creek from Louise Lake


The journey was over; I was both happy and sad. It had not gone as planned but I accomplished a lot of what I had set out to do and did gather enough information to develop several reasonable through-routes. Of course, any through-route would include Cirque of the Towers and Titcomb Basin, the two most popular areas in the Wind Rivers. I had been to these areas many times in the past and just did not have time to include them in my trip. Another disappointment was that again, I failed to get good photographs of the northeast part of the Wind Rivers, foiled this time by smoky skies. Guess that means I have a reason to go back another year!
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Re: Wind Rivers III

Postby Eiprahs on Sat Nov 24, 2012 9:10 pm

What an epic journey! Thanks for sharing another great trip account.
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Re: Wind Rivers III

Postby cahikr on Fri Jun 14, 2013 8:16 am

Amazing trip report, thanks for sharing the beautiful photos.
Guess I need to get The Winds on my bucket list.
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