Another Wind River Trip Planning! Elkhart/Titcomb/Knapsack/Shannons Pass loop back to Elkhart, or continue to Green River Lakes Trailhead?

Mikjik86

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Apr 22, 2018
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74
Hello everyone,

I am planning a 4 night trip to the Winds in a few weeks and am trying to finalize our route. We do have 2 cars so shuttling is an option.

The original plan was Elkhart to Green River Lakes over Knapsack Col. Doing this route required shuttling and planning a longer drive on the front or end of the trail. I was considering a Northbound hike more likely than Southbound, although I would love to hear your pros and cons of both routes.

After doing some digging I was looking at starting at Elkhart, camping at Seneca or Island lake night 1. Day 2 heading up Titcomb, over Knapsack and camping at Peak Lake or lower weather dependent. Day 3 from here is where I was considering up Shannon Pass and camping at either Elbow lake, or Upper Jean Lake. From there heading back towards Elkhart and camping at Island Lake for the final night. Hike out day 5.

I would love to hear any input on these routes, and even other options with the available time slot we have. It will be 3 of us, 2 very experienced backpackers and one who has done 4 pass loop in Colorado and a couple other trips. So nothing more "off trail" than knapsack provides.
 

Mikjik86

Member
Joined
Apr 22, 2018
Messages
74
Hello everyone,

I am planning a 4 night trip to the Winds in a few weeks and am trying to finalize our route. We do have 2 cars so shuttling is an option.

The original plan was Elkhart to Green River Lakes over Knapsack Col. Doing this route required shuttling and planning a longer drive on the front or end of the trail. I was considering a Northbound hike more likely than Southbound, although I would love to hear your pros and cons of both routes.

After doing some digging I was looking at starting at Elkhart, camping at Seneca or Island lake night 1. Day 2 heading up Titcomb, over Knapsack and camping at Peak Lake or lower weather dependent. Day 3 from here is where I was considering up Shannon Pass and camping at either Elbow lake, or Upper Jean Lake. From there heading back towards Elkhart and camping at Island Lake for the final night. Hike out day 5.

I would love to hear any input on these routes, and even other options with the available time slot we have. It will be 3 of us, 2 very experienced backpackers and one who has done 4 pass loop in Colorado and a couple other trips. So nothing more "off trail" than knapsack provides.
Another more ambitious route I considered was the same first 2 days, then day 3 from Peak lake (or if we camped near Vista pass) we would loop southbound and head towards Green River Pass and camp at Summit Lake or in the Twin Lakes area. Day 4 we would hike back towards the Island lake area and camp for night 4. Day 5 hike back out to Elkhart. I have not hiked these trails and know that miles look easy on maps and was hoping for some experience in the area.

Thank you!
 

OldBill

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Aug 18, 2015
Messages
278
Both work, great area: Jean/Elbow/Peak. Cube Rock pass is a lot of boulders but sounds like no problem for your group. Wouldn't be my choice if it was raining. Peak L is stark camping but gets used a lot. Seneca L doesn't have a lot of good spots for camp. N end towards Little Seneca and Lost Creek Trail is best option IMO without going all the way to Island.
 
Last edited:

Janice

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Dec 5, 2017
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A year ago we were in the Winds and had a fabulous first trip there. We were in most of the spots you're considering - here's my report in case it's helpful for your planning.
 
Last edited:

Mikjik86

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Joined
Apr 22, 2018
Messages
74
A year ago we were in the Winds and had a fabulous first trip there. We were in most of the spots you're considering - here's my report in case it's helpful for your planning.
Thanks for the info Janice, I have already read through multiple times. What were the camping prospects like around Upper/Middle/Lower Jean like? I see little groups of trees, but was unsure of actual flat spots.

On the descent down Knapsack, were you able to avoid walking on the glacier? Did you have traction? I plan to chat with a ranger in the week or two leading up to the trip to ask about current snow/ice conditions. How was camping up in Knapsack? That looks beautiful but very exposed! Haha, amazing stuff if there was a good weather window.

Last question, would there be reasonable camping spots at Mistake lake?

I had planned to basically do the loop you went with minus the side trips, and maybe going the opposite direction. We have 4 nights to play with.
 

Janice

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Dec 5, 2017
Messages
737
Thanks for the info Janice, I have already read through multiple times. What were the camping prospects like around Upper/Middle/Lower Jean like? I see little groups of trees, but was unsure of actual flat spots.

On the descent down Knapsack, were you able to avoid walking on the glacier? Did you have traction? I plan to chat with a ranger in the week or two leading up to the trip to ask about current snow/ice conditions. How was camping up in Knapsack? That looks beautiful but very exposed! Haha, amazing stuff if there was a good weather window.

Last question, would there be reasonable camping spots at Mistake lake?

I had planned to basically do the loop you went with minus the side trips, and maybe going the opposite direction. We have 4 nights to play with.
Here's a photo of where we camped north of Upper Jean. If I remember correctly, it wasn't perfectly flat but was good enough, and we're fairly picky. It looks closer to the water than it really was - I promise! Our friends' 2 tents were nearby.
IMG_5642.jpg


Here are a few photos south of Lower Jean:

IMG_5619.jpg IMG_5621.jpg

I don't have pics between Lower & Upper Jean because we had just finished getting hailed on and it looked like more was coming!

But the next day, I took pics between Upper Jean & Shannon Pass, and these show spots where it might work to camp:
IMG_5668.jpg IMG_5670.jpg IMG_5681.jpg IMG_5688.jpg

This is looking southwest toward Elbow Lake
IMG_5673.jpg

The closer you get to Shannon Pass, the fewer options there are - beautiful but rocky!

IMG_5697.jpg
 

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Janice

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On the descent down Knapsack, were you able to avoid walking on the glacier? Did you have traction? I plan to chat with a ranger in the week or two leading up to the trip to ask about current snow/ice conditions. How was camping up in Knapsack? That looks beautiful but very exposed! Haha, amazing stuff if there was a good weather window.
I don't think we had to walk on the glacier, but my photos are making me uncertain (sorry I can't remember - is this the glacier??? Or just leftover snow patch?) Either way it must not have been a problem since I don't remember.

IMG_5773.jpg

We didn't have to walk on the glacier to the right:
IMG_5780.jpg

But there was NOT good traction, and two people in our group were quite uncomfortable with that. But to me it was no worse than the part around Peak Lake which I found more intimidating since there was a lake below I did not want to end up in!

I loved camping below Mt Helen - the view was gorgeous! We had good weather (but COLD at night) - but I wouldn't have liked it in a storm... FYI, the water in the stream near where we camped was very silty and we had trouble filtering. Fortunately our friend had a steripen so we were ok, but we had to wait until Titcomb to get as much water as we really wanted. We hadn't brought our collapsible bucket (that we bring in desert SW) and thought that would have helped.
 

Janice

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Last question, would there be reasonable camping spots at Mistake lake?
I think there might be. I have to admit I'm not usually the one who figures out campsites, as other people tend to be more opinionated about that than I am. So I don't notice whether areas are feasible for campsites; instead, I'm always looking at the wildflowers. :)

Here are some photos from the red dot on the Caltopo screenshot - you can try to judge from them. Maybe other people with a lot more experience in the Winds can give their 2 cents about this...
IMG_5941.jpg IMG_5944.jpgIMG_5947.jpg IMG_5955.jpgIMG_5956.jpg Screen Shot 2022-08-14 at 2.21.55 PM.png (we camped around the blue dot)

Whatever you end up doing, I hope you have a great trip and will be eager to hear all about it!
 

Bob

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Mar 3, 2013
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East Fork, Bonneville Lake, Middle Fork Lake Europe Canyon area.......lot less people. And stunning.
 

OldBill

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Aug 18, 2015
Messages
278
Scab Ck or Boulder L without East Fk would be my choice. I've always done East fk from Big Sandy but then looped North instead of going over PITA pass.
 
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