Cirque Of The Towers

Christian

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Jun 2, 2012
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161
*Most of these pictures are iPhone pics. Not my usual carefully composed tripod shots with a DSLR, so lower your expectations here.

A while back I went to Cirque Of the Towers with my friend Taylor. We left on Pioneer Day, the 24th. It was basically 4 days and 3 nights, with much of Thursday and Sunday spent driving there.

Day 1, Thursday the 24th was spent making the surprisingly reasonable drive out to the Winds. We hit a bird on the way there, which was about all that was memorable about the drive. Wyoming has a lot of big, empty and boring areas to drive through on the way.

We got there fairly late, maybe 6:30 PM, and arrived at the vehicle filled Big Sandy trailhead parking area. We had enough time to hike the 6 miles to Big Sandy Lake and arrive just as the sun went down. The hike is long but very flat, so it wasn't too bad.
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Sunset at Big Sandy^

We were too lazy to set up the tent, so we just slept on the ground. That was a fairly good idea except I got a mosquito bite on my eyelid while sleeping. Thank goodness I brought an Afterbite Ammonia pen, works great at making mosquito bites stop itching and go down slightly.

The next morning, a little fishing by Taylor resulted in many fish, but all were small. All catch and release. I shot pics at sunrise with my Canon, but the cloudless skies we had the whole trip would only produce faint puffs in the night that dissipated at sunrise, so the pics suffered.


Next it was 4 miles to Cirque of the Towers, with a decent amount of elevation gain, past many beautiful lakes and flowers and peaks.

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^ Sunrise Pinnacle? and North Lake with a delicious clear stream flowing in.

After North Lake, you have options for how to get around Arrowhead Lake. You can walk right of it and go over a fairly high elevation gain granite pass, or left and go over a flat but scrambley boulder field. I didn't know, so I went right, while Taylor went left. After this, there is another choice, ascend Jackass Pass to the right or go left and have a leisurely walk into the cirque. I was tired from the difficult bypass while he had energy front the easy boulder field, so he went over Jackass and I took the easy way.

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^Above Arrowhead lake, notice how it looks like an arrowhead....


After this we had a little trouble regrouping in the cirque, but once we found each other it was a lazy evening and morning of just hanging out in the most amazing mountain area I've been in. The cirque is crisscrossed with so many streams and rivulets, full of a rainbow of wildflowers, and has two delightful waterfalls in it. The granite walls all around remind of Yosemite mixed with Zion without the people.

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^ Just getting into the cirque

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^ Wildflowers out in force near lonesome lake

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^Lonesome Lake and Pingora peak

I have some pics of our awesome camp, but I don't have them right now, but it was great.

At the crack of dawn I got up to try to get my wall hanger shot, but this morning the faint little morning clouds weren't where I wanted them, so I just tried to get something in any direction. Ultimately didn't get the shot I wanted, but that's just a good excuse to go back :D
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^ Mitchell peak above the pool that flows into the waterfall with orange skies. All these shots are stitched panos because the scenery is so much bigger than my 16mm lens.

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^ Spinning around in the same spot as the last shot .

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^ Warbonnet over waterfall

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^ The shot I wanted to have great clouds with but got none

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^Rainbows of wildflowers everywhere


After these pics, I went back to sleep for a bit. We woke up and visited a lake that's above some other less photogenic waterfalls upstream from the above. Not sure if it's named, but it was deep blue.
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And very, very tasty. The best water I've had

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^Yum.

We were surprised to see all kinds of strange critters in the water of this lake that was forming directly from the snowfields and above the tree line. Hmmmm....


After this, we broke camp and headed back to big sandy, where we camped for the 3rd night. We took the easiest routes past arrowhead lake now that we knew about them. There were some fun icebergs in the water...

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^ 'bergs in Arrowhead Lake

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^Schiestler Peak above Big Sandy lake

The final night was uneventful, but I had to shoot the Milky Way. New moon and no light pollution was awesome!!

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Sunday was the day I was sick of backpack food and unending Mosquitos, and I was craving fast food. The 6 miles back to the car from Big Sandy seemed really long, but it was worth it for the Wendys in Green River, WY.
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^River flowing from Big Sandy to the parking lot.


On the way back we saw the bird we hit on the way in. Poor guy. :(

The End.

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slc_dan

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Great trip!

I just got back last night from a Windies trip, and saw the Cirque via a very different angle. It really is spectacular.

I would be happy with the no clouds, most get dumped on bad in the Winds.
 

WasatchWill

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Awesome. I hope to get to that area in the next year or two.
I'd really like to do the route from Green River Lakes on down along the Highline to Shadow Lake, up and over Texas Pass into the Cirque, then out via Jackass Pass and finish at Big Sandy TH. I reckon it would take about a week and of course someone to shuttle.

Sent from my HTCONE using Tapatalk
 

Nick

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Nice! You were probably pretty close to the end of bad mosquito season up there. August is usually pretty nice. How did you like that Lifestraw filter? I picked one up but hated it. I thought it was way too hard to suck through and you don't always have a nice slab of granite to lay on.
 

Laura

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Wow, that is one gorgeous hike! Stan and I are looking for a backpacking trip to take for our 10 year anniversary next year (geez, can't believe it's been that long!) and are talking about something in Wyoming. This just may be the one!
 

TannerT

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That's one of my favorite shots with the falls and peaks behind. I, too, did not have clouds for my shot. Maybe next time. Thanks for the TR.
 

Nick

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Wow, that is one gorgeous hike! Stan and I are looking for a backpacking trip to take for our 10 year anniversary next year (geez, can't believe it's been that long!) and are talking about something in Wyoming. This just may be the one!

You can't go wrong with the Windies! And if you go during monsoon season, you usually get fun clouds too!
 

Christian

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Jun 2, 2012
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Great trip!

I just got back last night from a Windies trip, and saw the Cirque via a very different angle. It really is spectacular.

I would be happy with the no clouds, most get dumped on bad in the Winds.
I like getting rained on as long as I'm in my tent. :)
Awesome. I hope to get to that area in the next year or two.
I'd really like to do the route from Green River Lakes on down along the Highline to Shadow Lake, up and over Texas Pass into the Cirque, then out via Jackass Pass and finish at Big Sandy TH. I reckon it would take about a week and of course someone to shuttle.

Sent from my HTCONE using Tapatalk
That's at least 50 miles, but it would be amazing! I don't get enough vacation time to do the big long backpacks, unfortunately. But I would love to if I had time.
Nice! You were probably pretty close to the end of bad mosquito season up there. August is usually pretty nice. How did you like that Lifestraw filter? I picked one up but hated it. I thought it was way too hard to suck through and you don't always have a nice slab of granite to lay on.
I didn't think it was too hard to suck through. It is annoying to lay on gross muddy ground but there is a simple solution: Scoop with a water bottle and use the straw to drink from it. I have even used it on day hikes so I only need to carry one bottle.
I am curious, however, as to what your go to filter is?
 

Scott Chandler

Wildness is a necessity- John Muir
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Gah! Bad weather kept me from the Cirque this summer and I'm so jealous! Looks like your trip was awesome.
 

WasatchWill

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That's at least 50 miles, but it would be amazing! I don't get enough vacation time to do the big long backpacks, unfortunately. But I would love to if I had time.

I recently did 65 miles in 4 days. If I could do such a trip through the Winds, I'd then take note of the best looking areas along the way and plan return trips in following years to those areas to spend more time exploring and taking in the scenery of those areas. In the mean time, thanks for posting your report. The Winds are one of many places you can never tire of seeing photos of. My only experience with them is day hiking up above New Fork Lakes when I was a young scout. I have been longing to return up that way ever since.
 

Nick

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I didn't think it was too hard to suck through. It is annoying to lay on gross muddy ground but there is a simple solution: Scoop with a water bottle and use the straw to drink from it. I have even used it on day hikes so I only need to carry one bottle.
I am curious, however, as to what your go to filter is?

Maybe I had a bad one, because it was extremely difficult to suck through. It would have been a real struggle to get enough water to stay hydrated with it, whether I was crouching or sucking out of a pot, etc.

My go-to filter varies based on the expected water quality. For the mountains where the water is generally clean and clear, I either use a gravity filter like the MSR AutoFlow or a Steripen Adventurer Opti. I used to prefer the Steripen but the ease and simplicity of the gravity filter is just too nice.
 

Bob

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Mar 3, 2013
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Cirque is nice but there are many more awesome hidden, off the track gems in the Winds........
 

isleroyaleguy

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Jan 23, 2014
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Hey ,
Nice TR....Sweet pics.
I have been waiting for some Winds reports to show up. I am going with my smartphone for my camera too. Works ok.
We will be heading to out there Saturday am. Start Monday on our first Winds trip ever.
Little bit excited, to say the least.
At Log Cabin on the 24th. If anyone around.
IRG
 

Bob

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lol Nick .................... sorry only place to go is the Cirque. Especially stay out of the east side of the Winds...... :p

Isle..... I'd pack a camera....... IMO
 

Artemus

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Jun 25, 2012
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Great photos Christian! Everyone should spend a week a year, every year, in the Windies IMHO.

@isleroyaleguy and @Bob - we are looking forward to the TR's from your epics Windies trips coming up soon. Be safe out there.

- I'm back into the Range for the second time this year next weekend. Last weekend, the bug crux was "easy". The range is damp and the flowers are most excellent this year. Be safe out there all...
 

Artemus

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lol Nick .................... sorry only place to go is the Cirque. Especially stay out of the east side of the Winds...... :p

Isle..... I'd pack a camera....... IMO

x2 on the camera. Photographic documentation for Life :)
 

Christian

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Jun 2, 2012
Messages
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Cirque is nice but there are many more awesome hidden, off the track gems in the Winds........
Yeah, Windies could provide dozens of great trips throughout your life. I want to see the cirque again, but I also want to see Cathedral Lake, Sourdough Glacier, Green River Meadows, Deep Lake, Titcomb Basin, Mt Hooker from the east and west, and Sonnicant lake. Or anything cool there. But southern Utah is gonna cool down soon and I took a canyoneering course last month, so Windies will have to wait.


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