5-day Winds trip in early Sep---suggestions?

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RyanP

Formerly bob32
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Mar 1, 2015
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I am hoping to do a 5-day backpacking trip in early September; therefore, I am considering heading to the Winds. I don’t know what route to do though! Does anyone have any suggestions that satisfy these criteria:
  1. Maybe 8-13 miles per day if on-trail, 4-9 miles per day or so if off-trail. Less than 3k ft gain/loss per day or so. These limits depend entirely on how rough the terrain is.
  2. I love easy off-trail travel (meadows/valleys, gentle slopes/passes with mix of grass and granite slabs, etc---think East Fork, South Fork, Macon Lakes, Cook Lakes to Wall Lake, etc.---but I’ve already been to those places). The more of this kind of terrain, the better!
  3. I hate boulder fields and steep/loose talus/scree.
  4. I like consistent scenery and a variety of scenery (I value the journey more than the destination); I’m impatient and don’t want to trudge through boring or unchanging terrain for a long time just to get to the spectacular place.
  5. I like to avoid crowds. I’ve already been to Titcomb and the Cirque, so I’ll probably avoid those this time.
  6. I don’t care about fishing or climbing any peaks (although I would be up for climbing a peak if it’s particularly recommended and not too hard). I probably prefer a traditional backpacking route where I move to a different camp each day, rather than setting up base camp and doing day-hikes.
  7. A loop would be ideal. I would be willing to pay for a shuttle to enable a one-way traverse. I could also do a mountain bike shuttle if the two trailheads are less than 15-20 miles apart or so.
  8. I wouldn't mind doing a route requiring crampons/axe, as long as it is beginner-friendly (as in, I've only practiced with them once before and then used them on a single hike---this was last year. I would go practice again here in CO before going to the Winds, but probably just once).
Basically, I just want to see as many spectacular basins as possible, while avoiding talus and people. Please let me know if you have any suggestions!
 

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OldBill

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Look into a loop from Worthen Meadows TH to Deep Ck Lakes, optional Wind River peak climb, Ice Lakes trail to Tayo Park. Stough Ck Trail back to TH, maybe with side trip to Stough Ck basin. Planning that one as an option myself. Looks like it takes a day to climb Wind River Peak for some great views. May base camp at Ice Ck Lakes to have a much lighter load to climb (offtrail, but easy). Or, full pack and come down near Poison Lake.
 

RyanP

Formerly bob32
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Look into a loop from Worthen Meadows TH to Deep Ck Lakes, optional Wind River peak climb, Ice Lakes trail to Tayo Park. Stough Ck Trail back to TH, maybe with side trip to Stough Ck basin. Planning that one as an option myself. Looks like it takes a day to climb Wind River Peak for some great views. May base camp at Ice Ck Lakes to have a much lighter load to climb (offtrail, but easy). Or, full pack and come down near Poison Lake.
Thanks for the suggestion; I'll look into that!
 

Bob

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Torrey th to Ross lks to mikelong lk to bomber my to Torrey th. Elkhart to Indian pass to shangrila to bloody hell pass to camp lk to timico to Elkhart... Possibilities are endless ... To many to mention
 

OldBill

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Torrey th to Ross lks to mikelong lk to bomber my to Torrey th. Elkhart to Indian pass to shangrila to bloody hell pass to camp lk to timico to Elkhart... Possibilities are endless ... To many to mention
Great ideas and on my list for sure! Said he didn't want boulder fields or scree. Bloody Hell might be an issue.
 
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Great ideas and on my list for sure! Said he didn't want boulder fields or scree. Bloody Hell might be an issue.
Very true. I started to make some suggestions and realized that most of my favorites involve a lot of rocks.

Hard to go wrong out there anyway.
 

OldBill

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I like consistent scenery and a variety of scenery (I value the journey more than the destination); I’m impatient and don’t want to trudge through boring or unchanging terrain for a long time just to get to the spectacular place.
Just noticed this requirement. Sheep's Bridge to Deep Ck L doesn't have much in the way of views. Done that section. Still liked it better than the first 5 miles from Elkhart, especially trying to avoid the horse manure... For the most part, that's the way the Winds are. Tough work to get to alpine. Keeps it from being a dayhiker's paradise.
 

Bob

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Great ideas and on my list for sure! Said he didn't want boulder fields or scree. Bloody Hell might be an issue.
Lol.... Winds off trail and no boulders.... Don't know of many places. Hey, just got back from wildland fire... Will answer your pm
 

Bob

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Bloody hell is interesting....
 

RyanP

Formerly bob32
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Great ideas and on my list for sure! Said he didn't want boulder fields or scree. Bloody Hell might be an issue.
Yeah, I'll look into those four sure (thanks Bob!) but I admit that the name "bloody hell pass" kind of scares me...
 

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RyanP

Formerly bob32
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Lol.... Winds off trail and no boulders.... Don't know of many places. Hey, just got back from wildland fire... Will answer your pm
Yeah, that's what it it's starting to look like. My trip last year in the southern winds met those criteria, so I was hoping to find something similar, but it's looking like I may have to just deal with a steep boulder field or two
 

RyanP

Formerly bob32
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Just noticed this requirement. Sheep's Bridge to Deep Ck L doesn't have much in the way of views. Done that section. Still liked it better than the first 5 miles from Elkhart, especially trying to avoid the horse manure... For the most part, that's the way the Winds are. Tough work to get to alpine. Keeps it from being a dayhiker's paradise.
Yeah, it seems like a long approach is standard there. I was considering hiking up to the middle fork area and then spending a few days exploring the middle fork and Bonneville basin areas. That would fit most of my criteria other than the very long approach to get in to the good stuff. I'll still look into your suggestion for sure
 

OldBill

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Yeah, it seems like a long approach is standard there. I was considering hiking up to the middle fork area and then spending a few days exploring the middle fork and Bonneville basin areas. That would fit most of my criteria other than the very long approach to get in to the good stuff. I'll still look into your suggestion for sure

That's also on my list for this year. I've gone from Scab Cr TH to end of Rainbow L day 1. Had to bail next day due to my down bag getting wet. Walked out in a thunder-hail storm and ran into a bear at dusk.

Europe Canyon is highly recommended by those very familiar with that area.
 

Hiker Seth

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My trip last year may interest you. It bypasses the East Fork/Macon Lakes area you've been to but has some options for relatively easy off trail travel. You do have to exit the Cirque but I'm sure you could figure out an alternate plan if you get creative.

Southern Winds tour 8/23/19 - 8/28/19
 

RyanP

Formerly bob32
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That's also on my list for this year. I've gone from Scab Cr TH to end of Rainbow L day 1. Had to bail next day due to my down bag getting wet. Walked out in a thunder-hail storm and ran into a bear at dusk.

Europe Canyon is highly recommended by those very familiar with that area.
OldBill---Sounds like you have everything on your list!

Europe Canyon sounds great, but it sure looks like a long way in (unless I'm missing a shorter approach). What I'm finding is that the WRR really does lend itself naturally to a longer through-hike; 5 days is really the absolute minimum there from what I can tell (both my other trips there were 5-day trips), and 6-8 seems better for most trips. So many of these places are a pain to get to, but then there are tons of awesome basins to explore once you're in there! I've spent a lot of time this week reading up on the above suggestions as well as other destinations in the Winds, and my list keeps getting longer!
 

RyanP

Formerly bob32
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My trip last year may interest you. It bypasses the East Fork/Macon Lakes area you've been to but has some options for relatively easy off trail travel. You do have to exit the Cirque but I'm sure you could figure out an alternate plan if you get creative.

Southern Winds tour 8/23/19 - 8/28/19
Hiker Seth---that looks like a great trip, but it's very similar to what I just did last year. 'Twas my favorite trip ever though, so I'm kind of tempted to go back...
 

OldBill

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OldBill---Sounds like you have everything on your list!

Europe Canyon sounds great, but it sure looks like a long way in (unless I'm missing a shorter approach).
Yes, it's indeed a long list - inspired in part by posts at BCP. I have a month in the area this year so hope to enjoy a few. Just so many good treks there. Bob's advise will be important in prioritizing a few for safety reasons.
A Segmented Month in the Winds

Yes, Europe Canyon is probably a 4-5 day adventure from Scab Ck. If I hadn't taken a wrong turn, I could have made Sandpoint L day 1.

Hiker Seth: Just looked at that trip again. Great job!
 

Hiker Seth

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Hiker Seth---that looks like a great trip, but it's very similar to what I just did last year. 'Twas my favorite trip ever though, so I'm kind of tempted to go back...
Now that you mention it I think I recall you going not long before me. Whoops.
 

andyjaggy

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You mentioned it but here is another rec for Bonneville Lakes and Middle Fork. That was the area I thought of after reading through your requirements. Passing from Bonneville Basin into Middle Fork Basin does have a lot of talus, but honestly it's not THAT bad, and it's so breathtaking while going over that pass that you kind of forget about it. You might even be able to include East Fork in a trip to that area.
 

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