A Family Trip in the Winds: Big Sandy and the Cirque


Auribus Teneo Lupum
Dec 27, 2012
I finally made it the Big Sandy trail head this summer with my two older kids. This trip was in the making for the 3rd year now. Work has created a road block for the 2 previous years. I finally checked this one off my bucket list this week.

We pulled out of Idaho Falls Sunday afternoon because of the 4 1/2 hour drive to the trail head. The plan was to spend the night and hike Monday morning. Despite the length traveling to the trail head was quiet the adventure. We saw big horn sheep near a canyon on the Hoback River. Police conducted an arrest on a group of bikers that had police lights flashing up and down the highway like a California car chase. About 10 miles after the Boulder turnoff we came across a one vehicle accident. A hiker overturned his truck on a corner. We helped another driver pull him upright and get him on the road. Luckily no one was injured. B30E8EED-5367-46CF-AE09-0D4EA5FBC820.jpeg6E2B36FB-B88F-49A9-8D5C-11674B979374.jpeg

A snow shoe hare shot across the road as we approached the meadow near the trail head. It became apparent why he was running when a fox appeared shortly after. Several deer were also visible as we approached the trail head. All of the 7 campsites were take at the Big Sandy campground so we found a flat spot near some rocks at the Big Sandy Lodge turn off. As we set up the tent a deer walked out of the trees and through our camp. While setting up the tent we noticed several large paw prints that were at least 3 inches long. There were also tufts of light colored fur and scat in the area. I made sure we had bear spray with us and kept a close eye on my 12 year old daughter. While preparing for the trip I found several accounts of people seeing cougars near there camp. My son took picture of the cougar tracks but his phone was damaged in the lake later in the trip. The night was rainy and then dead calm. We woke up a little late and hit the trail at about 10:30.
After hiking the 6+ miles to Big Sandy Lake. We found a great spot on the south east side near a stream and a chain lake. My son has a great time catching a few Brooke trout while we explored and set up camp.
The next day was the hike up Jackass Pass. I decided to follow the loop through the Cirque counter clockwise because my daughter may not be up to the full loop. My suspicions were proved correct later on. So we simply turned around at the top of Jackass pass want went back to Big Sandy.
My son lost the safety cap to his bear spray. His electrical tape replacement did little to reassure me. I just knew that this would be the beginning of a family story about how my son bear sprayed us all that would be told through the generations. Luckily that was not the case. We found the safety cap after looking for a short time.
As we approached North Lake my son accidentally lead us off trail down to the lake. As he popped up over the rocks he saw a couple swimming and sunning in the boulders. They were full nude. His face turned bright red and his eyes got big. He point and said, “there’s a guy buck naked.” Just then there eyes met and he forced a normal expression saying, “how’s it going?” I yelled over the rocks saying, “we have kids!” The man then jumped into the lake and the women covered herself.we smiled at each other, made small talk with the couple as best we could and moved on quickly.
As we moved off trail along the lakeshore we were forced to scramble and rock climb. We didn’t realize we were off trail until a hiker appeared about 50 feet above us. The last section of the off trail scramble required that I use my hands to support my daughter and she made her way across a shear ledge sliding at steep angle. A few hikers gathered to watch as from their viewpoint it appeared as if she would slide into the lake below dragged by her full pack. The holds were solid and she is fairly experience so she did well. I would not do it again however.
At the far shore of the lake we spotted more tracks that appeared to us consistent with cougar prints.

The climb through the upper lake on North Creek was difficult to follow. We again ended up a little off trail. However, we were able to pick it up just below the pass. On the return trip we chose the climbers trail and bouldered for a significant amount of time. We hiked back to Big Sandy lake and out the next morning. We stopped at the Wind River Pub for a post hike burger. We were blown away. 985DD82A-8D9F-4FA6-B951-986CDA15F97E.jpeg
Overall the trip was an amazing success. I loved watching my daughter out hike grown men and every scout on the trail. We look forward to completing the Dad’s lake section next year.


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So awesome. I loved it all. It must be wonderful to be out there with your kids. I'm still many years off before I can pull a trip off with our two. Your trip report is inspirational and gives me something to look forward to. Thanks for sharing!
Super- your kids look so happy! My favorite photo is the one with your daughter standing, big smile, so great to see a young girl out hiking like that. Funny story about your son's reaction to the naked people. Was this the first story your son told everyone when he got home? Late last year on BCP there was a fair amount of discussion about "hiking naked in Utah" . I was surprised with the feedback, it happens more often than I expected.
Super- your kids look so happy! My favorite photo is the one with your daughter standing, big smile, so great to see a young girl out hiking like that. Funny story about your son's reaction to the naked people. Was this the first story your son told everyone when he got home? Late last year on BCP there was a fair amount of discussion about "hiking naked in Utah" . I was surprised with the feedback, it happens more often than I expected.
As we were approaching the topic was skinny dipping and how it would be the perfect place in the evening.
We once hiked up to Wildrose Peak in DVNP. At the summit register someone had written down that this was their 7th time hiking to the top naked! Would hate to slip and fall on anything pointy!
If you're active enough in the outdoors, I suppose encountering nudes in the wilderness is bound to happen at some point. It's just more surprising when it happens right near a trail that gets so much hiker traffic. Kudos for getting that trip checked off and being able to involve your kids. Looks like it was a memorable trip for many reasons.
Family trips are the best. I recently went on a family trip with my parents and two brothers and we had the best time of our lives. We went to Germany for two weeks and traveled around it by train. We would wake up, check https://www.dbfahrplan.com/de/ and then go to the train station at the time that was shown on the app. We visited a lot of cities and we used to drink and party whenever we arrived in a new city. That was the best vacation of my life and I cant wait to go on another one.
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