Atlantic Canyon, Wind Rivers


Aug 9, 2007
In late July, I made my way back out to the Winds to check out Atlantic Canyon - a pretty untravelled area in the southern winds that had been on my list for a while. @Ndheiner had gone up a few days ahead of us to do a bit of car camping and kayaking in the lakes on the Louis Lake Road. @Aldaron and I knew the spots he hoped to camp at but it was still kind of like finding a needle in a haystack. But lucky for us, Nate had set out a little turn marker for us an hour before we got there. :)


We got to Nate's campsite on the shore of Louis Lake with plenty of time to relax before dark. The sunset that night was epic.


Nate soaking in the last of it as the light faded.

The next day we were packing up and on our way to the Fiddler's Lake trailhead. We didn't know exactly what route we were taking in. The info we had indicated an off-trail route past Tomahawk and Calvert Lakes or another route out past Christina Lake and up. We ended up doing both. Here's a map of my tracks:

View larger map.
When we got to the junction for Silas Canyon we made the decision to head in that way. The hike from Tomahawk up to Atlantic Canyon looked interesting so we thought it might be better to do that in the first part of the hike, not when we were trying to hurry out.

We abandoned the trail near Tomahawk and headed out into the unknown.

The route between Tomahawk and Calvert was very seldom travelled. There were cairns some of the time and a faint trail here and there but it was generally very wild. It was an awesome experience. We even saw a lot of bear sign including the most massive pile of bear scat I've ever seen. Shortly after that, and about a mile from where we camped, we scared something large that crashed off through some trees. Not sure what it was.

This was about the most defined the trail ever got between Tomahawk and Calvert.

We weren't sure where we were camping that night, but when we got to Calvert Lakes, we decided to camp there. There was still plenty of time to hike, but Calvert was really nice with tons of fish rising and a great campsite. There was a plaque on a boulder near where we camped. It read

A Tribute to the Calvert Family
In Memory of
Charles E. Calvert
He represented what was right about Wyoming, and still is.

Kind of an odd description. I figured it must be a politician or something but after looking it up at home, it turns out Charles Calvert was a law enforcement officer with Wyoming Fish & Game. He died of a heart attack in 1965 while attempting to start his snowmobile up in the north eastern part of the Winds, outside of Dubois. Not sure if there was any link to this area or what but they picked a really nice boulder for the plaque. Seems to me like just naming the lakes after someone should be enough without having to glue things to rocks though.

@Aldaron testing his tenkara fly fishing skills. The fishing was hot for a while for decent sized brookies.

Later in the afternoon a storm moved in on us. We were debating hiking to the upper lake right as it was looking nasty. Keith decided to go for it but Nate and I hung back. There was a huge boulder pile to get past and I didn't really want to get stuck in it.

When the rain hit, Nate and I found a nice boulder to hide under. Ice for that cocktail?? :)



We decided to test out my Backcountry Boiler with whatever we could find under our boulder. First step - start a little twig fire in the bottom pan.



The rain cleared and I hopped out and got some photos of Nate blowing the boiler to stoke up the flames.

Boiling water from twigs under a rock.

That night was pretty uneventful. The weather cleared out, the fishing slowed down and we hung around the fire for a bit. The nearby bear activity was definitely in the back of my mind but we had no further encounters.

The next day we headed out towards Atlantic Lake. There is no trail, just more random cairns and paths that appear and disappear. We eventually crested out above it. From here we dropped down toward the lake but in retrospect we should have just started heading straight up towards Windy Lake. There is no trail anywhere and navigation is tricky.

We made it to Windy Lake as more storms were moving in. We scouted around for a site and ended up decided to camp below the lake in the trees.

Windy Lake from near the outlet.

The weather got really nasty after we setup our tents. It never really rained hard but it was cold and windy and was just constantly spitting on us. Not enough to totally need shelter but enough to make things kind of miserable. I tried fishing the lake for a bit but no luck. On the way back down to camp, I tried fishing a tiny stretch of the outlet that was right below about 50 feet of waterfall and right above another 60 or 80 feet. First cast I had a rise, then again... (photo of me fishing by Nate)golden-trout-2.jpg

And then I struck GOLD! This was my first golden trout I've ever caught. What a beautiful fish! I caught one or two more out of this same hole before heading over to camp.

The guys went to their tents but with the adrenaline pumping from catching some gold, I decided to walk down the canyon a bit and work the stream. I probably caught about a dozen small golden trout down there. Nothing huge but still lots of fun.

Later in the afternoon, the rain cleared out and we were able to build a fire and be outside without freezing too badly. It was still totally overcast though. We were there in camp when I noticed the sky turned colorful back through the trees. We ran out of the trees to see this up towards the lake.

I ran and grabbed my tripod and went up and worked the outlet waterfall. The sky was great all over. It was hard to pick where to point the camera.

The last bit of color over Windy Lake

@Ndheiner and @Aldaron back in camp

That night after we went to bed, I was laying there drifting off when I heard Keith making some noise. Then I hear him say "We have a problem". It turns out Keith had inadvertently taken on a bed buddy. He left his pack in his vestibule but heard something mess with it so he pulled it into his tent. Next thing he knew he was snuggling with a pika! I never got up to see it but it was still pretty funny to hear him deal with it. I think he had to empty out his whole tent to get it to leave. Did you get any pictures of that little guy @Aldaron?

The next morning was crisp and clear and the hike out was easy although pretty long. We took the route over past Christina Lake this time Which made for about a 10 mile day.

It was pretty interesting to walk the Christina Lake 'Road'. I would much rather walk a few extra miles than have to drive anything through that!

All in all it was a nice little trip. I definitely wouldn't recommend it to everyone though. The route finding and navigation is difficult and you spend a ton of time in the trees without any views.

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I have not gotten up high this year, very jealous.
Beautiful shots.
What a great area, it looks so pristine and beautiful. And I really love the waterfall shot.
And great to see you had so much luck with the Golden Trouts.

I really want to start fishing next year. It was so tempting this summer and I wished I had a rod.
What would you recommend for a beginner? Are there specific sizes of rods and if yes, on what does it depend which size to choose.
Nice report and great photography Nick! I wonder if Keith actually played with a pika or whether it was a skunk, or squirrel or other... ?? :whistle: I have never had a pika approach a tent or camp myself much less climb into a tent.
Did you get any pictures of that little guy @Aldaron?

No, I didn't get a picture of it...I was too busy making sure that the small, gray critter inside my tent with me wasn't chewing up all my gear or biting me!

I have never had a pika approach a tent or camp myself much less climb into a tent.

It was definitely a pika! :) I had the tent pitched out in the grass, and there were a few small holes around. I didn't think anything about the holes until after I got inside my tent, and I started hearing something scurrying around outside the tent. I laid there for a minute and got worried that something like a mouse out in the grass might try chewing through my pack that was in the vestibule. So I unzipped the tent and pulled my pack inside. I laid there for a second and thought, "Boy, I hope I didn't just bring some critter into the tent with me." So I reached over to look inside my pack, and before I even touched the pack, I see a small, gray animal just staring at me! That's when I told Nick we had a problem! I didn't look closely enough to see what it was, I just wanted it out of the tent! I unzipped the tent door and reached behind the animal and tried to push it out. It hit the lip of the bathtub floor, bounced off, and disappeared back into the tent!

Yeah, that was fun. So now I had an unknown animal, that I figured was a mouse, somewhere inside the tent. I then jumped out of the tent and just started pulling out all of my stuff. Luckily, it had stopped raining, or that would have been really unpleasant. I got everything out and still couldn't find it. I then went through all of my gear outside the tent and still couldn't find it. I then stuck my head back into the tent and saw it hiding in the front right corner of the tent. And that's when I saw it was a cute little pika. He was shaking all over, and I felt sorry that he was so scared.

I then grabbed the only thing left inside my tent: my bear spray. I used the bear spray cannister to push him towards the door and over the lip of the floor.

So, Art, I think the only reason he was in my pack was because it was probably setting on top of his house. And the only reason he ended up in my tent was because I took him in there! :)

The funniest part to me: the only time I've ever used my bear spray was on a pika...
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