Hailey-Washakie Loop

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Jackson

I like to go outside.
.
Joined
May 31, 2015
Messages
1,624
July 13-16, 2019

The high snow levels of this past winter and spring, combined with having to study for the bar exam all summer, have made for a summer generally lacking in outdoor exploits for me so far. Thankfully(?), the bar exam is in a week and a half, and after that, I can be free of the shackles of the guilt of not studying if I ever want to go out for an overnighter or something.

Despite the lack of trips so far, I had a really good one in the pipeline, and it had been planned several months in advance. My good friend Sam, his brother Nathan, and their friend Brian were coming out in July for a backpacking trip in celebration of Sam's wedding in August. After presenting them with some options that are usually decent in July, the group settled on the southern portion of the Winds, likely a loop incorporating the Cirque of the Towers and Dads Lake areas. That decision was made in January or February of this year. The snow kept piling up after that, it took forever to warm up out here, and it was looking unlikely that the Winds would be great for mid-July. We came up with a few alternatives and then watched the weather to see if our original plan would work. Fortunately, we had a few weeks of high temperatures in late June and early July that really helped melt out the area we wanted to visit. Unfortunately, we later found out that that would result in more mosquitoes than any of us had ever seen.

We changed the plan slightly and ended up avoiding the Cirque and therefore most of the crowds. I believe the number of groups we encountered on our 4-day trip was less than 10, which surprised me since we were in the Big Sandy area. Anyway, on to the trip. I'm sharing a lot of photos here. There was just a lot to see.

We got out to the trailhead in the early afternoon on Saturday. Lots of cars there, but also plenty of spaces to park still. To set the tone for the majority of our trip, we got swarmed by a ludicrous amount of mosquitoes as soon as we opened the car doors. We applied bug spray, readied up, and headed off. The destination for the night was Dads Lake. I didn't take a ton of photos along the way, but here are a few.

79800

Brian entering Fish Creek Park. This was Brian's first backpacking trip. Heck of an initiation, handled deftly by him.

IMG_20190713_145457.jpg

Sam and Nathan just after crossing Fish Creek.

79802

Dads Lake coming into view.

79803

Columbine in the rocks above the lake. The wildflowers were a few weeks out from peak. Not much wildflower action on this trip.

79805

Camp.

79806

The best bear hang tree I've ever found. I camped at this same spot last year and was in awe then as well.

79807

Nathan mobbed by mosquitoes as he looks at our proposed route.

79808


79809

Nice evening.

The next day, whether our route would be a go was uncertain. We were headed over Hailey Pass and around Grave Lake. Then through Ranger Park and over Washakie Pass the next day. We were pretty sure we could make Hailey Pass, but not so sure about Washakie Pass. The trouble was that, if we went all the way over Hailey and around to Washakie and couldn't make it over, we'd have a reeaally long final day. Fortunately, only 15-20 minutes after starting out the second day, we came across two women just below Marms Lake who said they had come over Washakie Pass on their trip. There was definitely snow, but it was supposedly doable. Game on.

79810

Marms Lake.

79811

Approaching Washakie Creek.

79812

Maybe one of my favorite views on earth.

79813


79814

Crossing Washakie Creek. Tons of HDR on these from my phone, which has an automatic HDR setting that has to be re-disabled every time you open the camera app. I'm too lazy for that.

79815

We made it around Skull Lake quickly.

79816

Then to near Mae's.

79817


Started hitting snow as we began our climb to the pass. It covered the trail in lots of places, but it wasn't hard finding our way.

79818


The lakes below the pass were frozen and awesome.

79819


79820

Not too much farther.

79821

Crossing the outlet of the second lake.

79822

Sam nearing the top of the pass.

79823

Happy to be here.

The descent was incredibly steep, and the trail was covered in snow too steep (to us) to glissade. We found another way down on the rocks.
79824


79825

We kinda skied this part on our feet. Nathan glissaded the upper part.

We stopped for a quick lunch but got going quickly because, as you can see, the clouds were building.

79826

Mount Hooker.

The entire trail from here down to Grave Lake was a mess. All the hillsides were just flowing marshes, and the trail was a creek. We came across a few members of a NOLS group looking in vain for a camp site. I think they ended up camping near Baptiste Lake.

We got to a pretty big creek crossing, and it started raining and hailing. We hid in the trees for 15 minutes and waited it out. Then we crossed the creek.

79827

Hail and rain spraying off the rock.

79828

Preparing for the crossing. So much water everywhere.

79829

Brian making the crossing. He and I crossed in an unnecessarily deep spot. I was a bad example and led him through it. Nathan and Sam picked a smarter route that only came up to their knees.

We walked and walked to Grave Lake and then around it. Grave Lake was really cool. It's just so big, and it feels so remote and isolated. There's also not many good places to camp along it. And it takes forever to walk the length of it.

79830

Grave Lake looking east. Those clouds are from the storm that hailed on us.

There was a decent sized creek to cross midway around the lake. I didn't get any pictures, but the current was very strong. We forded it and continued on.

79846

Because Grave Lake is so large, its outlet is likewise very large. There's a killer bridge going across it. Nicest backcountry bridge I've ever had the pleasure of crossing.

79847

Last look at the lake before heading into the forest.

By the time we had gotten around Grave Lake, we were beat. Time to start considering places for campsites.

79848

We found a very secluded spot in the middle of the forest between Grave Lake and the Little Wind River. Shockingly, the mosquitoes were not as bad as they had been at Dad's Lake.

The next day, we went through Ranger Park, then up to Washakie Pass. Beautiful walk. Strenuous at times. I've been writing too much so far, so I'll just let the photos talk for a bit.

79849


79851


79850


79852


79853



79854


79855

Washakie Pass. We decided just to go straight up the snow, using our poles for stability. Nathan led the way, kicking steps and showing us how it's done. Both he and Sam have some experience on snow and glaciers, so Brian and I deferred to them.

79856


79857

There was a lot more elevation to gain than it appeared.

79858


79859

No selfie this time.

79860

You could see way out into the flat parts of western Wyoming.

79861

East Fork Basin in the distance, looking real nice. Hope to go there another day.

79862

I took this to remind myself that the trail was a creek for most of the way down to Skull Lake.

We kept walking. Made it back across Washakie Creek, and headed on toward Dads Lake. We got rained and hailed on again, about the same time of day as the previous day. Opted to set up camp in Fish Creek Park, for an easy hike out the next morning.

79863

Sam making the ford at Washakie Creek.

79864

That view.

79865

The last remnants of the storm. We got very warm in all our rain gear after this.

79866

Night 3 camp in Fish Creek Park.

The mosquitoes in Fish Creek Park were nearly nonexistent at first. We had a good breeze and it kept them at bay. The breeze died though, and they were even worse there than they had been on our first night at Dads Lake. We ended up going to bed at 7:50 just to get away from the bugs. It was so comforting being the tent and not having to think constantly about your personal swarm of hundreds of mosquitoes following you everywhere. I have never seen mosquitoes this bad on any trip I've ever done. They were bad when I visited Dads Lake and Skull Lake in mid-July 2018, but that experience paled in comparison to this one. We all agreed that we'll save Winds trips for August and September now.

Another note is that Nathan discovered an old elk carcass about 100 yards from our tents. There was a pile of bear scat next to it. After a cautious approach and a quick look, we determined that the scat was at least a few weeks old. Probably not a concern. Still interesting to me though, as it was the first sign of bear I've come across in the Winds. Couldn't tell if it was grizzly or black bear though. I should've taken a photo for the scat scan discussion thread.

Watching the mosquitoes from the comfort of the tent's mesh wall.

The hike out in the morning was quick. We stopped for ice cream and sandwiches at the Farson Mercantile, and headed home. Awesome trip, even with the mosquitoes. We were fortunate all the passes were a go. A few days earlier may have been trickier. Who knows? Anyway, we all had a great time. Thanks for reading!
 
Last edited:

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Born to Hike

Member
Joined
Jan 14, 2017
Messages
70
July 13-16, 2019

The high snow levels of this past winter and spring, combined with having to study for the bar exam all summer, have made for a summer generally lacking in outdoor exploits for me so far. Thankfully(?), the bar exam is in a week and a half, and after that, I can be free of the shackles of the guilt of not studying if I ever want to go out for an overnighter or something.

Despite the lack of trips so far, I had a really good one in the pipeline, and it had been planned several months in advance. My good friend Sam, his brother Nathan, and their friend Brian were coming out in July for a backpacking trip in celebration of Sam's wedding in August. After presenting them with some options that are usually decent in July, the group settled on the southern portion of the Winds, likely a loop incorporating the Cirque of the Towers and Dads Lake areas. That decision was made in January or February of this year. The snow kept piling up after that, it took forever to warm up out here, and it was looking unlikely that the Winds would be great for mid-July. We came up with a few alternatives and then watched the weather to see if our original plan would work. Fortunately, we had a few weeks of high temperatures in late June and early July that really helped melt out the area we wanted to visit. Unfortunately, we later found out that that would result in more mosquitoes than any of us had ever seen.

We changed the plan slightly and ended up avoiding the Cirque and therefore most of the crowds. I believe the number of groups we encountered on our 4-day trip was less than 10, which surprised me since we were in the Big Sandy area. Anyway, on to the trip. I'm sharing a lot of photos here. There was just a lot to see.

We got out to the trailhead in the early afternoon on Saturday. Lots of cars there, but also plenty of spaces to park still. To set the tone for the majority of our trip, we got swarmed by a ludicrous amount of mosquitoes as soon as we opened the car doors. We applied bug spray, readied up, and headed off. The destination for the night was Dads Lake. I didn't take a ton of photos along the way, but here are a few.

View attachment 79800
Brian entering Fish Creek Park. This was Brian's first backpacking trip. Heck of an initiation, handled deftly by him.

View attachment 79801
Sam and Nathan just after crossing Fish Creek.

View attachment 79802
Dads Lake coming into view.

View attachment 79803
Columbine in the rocks above the lake. The wildflowers were a few weeks out from peak. Not much wildflower action on this trip.

View attachment 79805
Camp.

View attachment 79806
The best bear hang tree I've ever found. I camped at this same spot last year and was in awe then as well.

View attachment 79807
Nathan mobbed by mosquitoes as he looks at our proposed route.

View attachment 79808

View attachment 79809
Nice evening.

The next day, whether our route would be a go was uncertain. We were headed over Hailey Pass and around Grave Lake. Then through Ranger Park and over Washakie Pass the next day. We were pretty sure we could make Hailey Pass, but not so sure about Washakie Pass. The trouble was that, if we went all the way over Hailey and around to Washakie and couldn't make it over, we'd have a reeaally long final day. Fortunately, only 15-20 minutes after starting out the second day, we came across two women just below Marms Lake who said they had come over Washakie Pass on their trip. There was definitely snow, but it was supposedly doable. Game on.

View attachment 79810
Marms Lake.

View attachment 79811
Approaching Washakie Creek.

View attachment 79812
Maybe one of my favorite views on earth.

View attachment 79813

View attachment 79814
Crossing Washakie Creek. Tons of HDR on these from my phone, which has an automatic HDR setting that has to be re-disabled every time you open the camera app. I'm too lazy for that.

View attachment 79815
We made it around Skull Lake quickly.

View attachment 79816
Then to near Mae's.

View attachment 79817

Started hitting snow as we began our climb to the pass. It covered the trail in lots of places, but it wasn't hard finding our way.

View attachment 79818

The lakes below the pass were frozen and awesome.

View attachment 79819

View attachment 79820
Not too much farther.

View attachment 79821
Crossing the outlet of the second lake.

View attachment 79822
Sam nearing the top of the pass.

View attachment 79823
Happy to be here.

The descent was incredibly steep, and the trail was covered in snow too steep (to us) to glissade. We found another way down on the rocks.View attachment 79824

View attachment 79825
We kinda skied this part on our feet. Nathan glissaded the upper part.

We stopped for a quick lunch but got going quickly because, as you can see, the clouds were building.

View attachment 79826
Mount Hooker.

The entire trail from here down to Grave Lake was a mess. All the hillsides were just flowing marshes, and the trail was a creek. We came across a few members of a NOLS group looking in vain for a camp site. I think they ended up camping near Baptiste Lake.

We got to a pretty big creek crossing, and it started raining and hailing. We hid in the trees for 15 minutes and waited it out. Then we crossed the creek.

View attachment 79827
Hail and rain spraying off the rock.

View attachment 79828
Preparing for the crossing. So much water everywhere.

View attachment 79829
Brian making the crossing. He and I crossed in an unnecessarily deep spot. I was a bad example and led him through it. Nathan and Sam picked a smarter route that only came up to their knees.

We walked and walked to Grave Lake and then around it. Grave Lake was really cool. It's just so big, and it feels so remote and isolated. There's also not many good places to camp along it. And it takes forever to walk the length of it.

View attachment 79830
Grave Lake looking east. Those clouds are from the storm that hailed on us.

There was a decent sized creek to cross midway around the lake. I didn't get any pictures, but the current was very strong. We forded it and continued on.

View attachment 79846
Because Grave Lake is so large, its outlet is likewise very large. There's a killer bridge going across it. Nicest backcountry bridge I've ever had the pleasure of crossing.

View attachment 79847
Last look at the lake before heading into the forest.

By the time we had gotten around Grave Lake, we were beat. Time to start considering places for campsites.

View attachment 79848
We found a very secluded spot in the middle of the forest between Grave Lake and the Little Wind River. Shockingly, the mosquitoes were not as bad as they had been at Dad's Lake.

The next day, we went through Ranger Park, then up to Washakie Pass. Beautiful walk. Strenuous at times. I've been writing too much so far, so I'll just let the photos talk for a bit.

View attachment 79849

View attachment 79851

View attachment 79850

View attachment 79852

View attachment 79853


View attachment 79854

View attachment 79855
Washakie Pass. We decided just to go straight up the snow, using our poles for stability. Nathan led the way, kicking steps and showing us how it's done. Both he and Sam have some experience on snow and glaciers, so Brian and I deferred to them.

View attachment 79856

View attachment 79857
There was a lot more elevation to gain than it appeared.

View attachment 79858

View attachment 79859
No selfie this time.

View attachment 79860
You could see way out into the flat parts of western Wyoming.

View attachment 79861
East Fork Basin in the distance, looking real nice. Hope to go there another day.

View attachment 79862
I took this to remind myself that the trail was a creek for most of the way down to Skull Lake.

We kept walking. Made it back across Washakie Creek, and headed on toward Dads Lake. We got rained and hailed on again, about the same time of day as the previous day. Opted to set up camp in Fish Creek Park, for an easy hike out the next morning.

View attachment 79863
Sam making the ford at Washakie Creek.

View attachment 79864
That view.

View attachment 79865
The last remnants of the storm. We got very warm in all our rain gear after this.

View attachment 79866
Night 3 camp in Fish Creek Park.

The mosquitoes in Fish Creek Park were nearly nonexistent at first. We had a good breeze and it kept them at bay. The breeze died though, and they were even worse there than they had been on our first night at Dads Lake. We ended up going to bed at 7:50 just to get away from the bugs. It was so comforting being the tent and not having to think constantly about your personal swarm of hundreds of mosquitoes following you everywhere. I have never seen mosquitoes this bad on any trip I've ever done. They were bad when I visited Dads Lake and Skull Lake in mid-July 2018, but that experience paled in comparison to this one. We all agreed that we'll save Winds trips for August and September now.

Another note is that Nathan discovered an old elk carcass about 100 yards from our tents. There was a pile of bear scat next to it. After a cautious approach and a quick look, we determined that the scat was at least a few weeks old. Probably not a concern. Still interesting to me though, as it was the first sign of bear I've come across in the Winds. Couldn't tell if it was grizzly or black bear though. I should've taken a photo for the scat scan discussion thread.

Watching the mosquitoes from the comfort of the tent's mesh wall.

The hike out in the morning was quick. We stopped for ice cream and sandwiches at the Farson Mercantile, and headed home. Awesome trip, even with the mosquitoes. We were fortunate all the passes were a go. A few days earlier may have been trickier. Who knows? Anyway, we all had a great time. Thanks for reading!
Wonderful TR! I have been very curious how the bugs might be right now in the Winds. From your pics it looks like the snow only left a few weeks ago - Amazing. Really loved your trip report and all the pics. Looks like a great trip! This had to have been good medicine prepping for your bar exam - hope it goes well for you!
 
Joined
Feb 15, 2018
Messages
11
The mosquito's have always been the absolute worst I have ever seen in the Winds for some reason. They must agree that the area is just super beautiful. We once went there with the goal of getting to Grave lake. We ended up running into some people telling us a bear was terrorizing people camping there all week, so we chose another spot. In hindsight, I think they were told that by people wanting the lake to themselves!

Your pictures are awesome, your HDR feature sounds like my phone as well. Is it is Pixel phone? At least to me, it doesn't look like it went overboard with the HDR, but I always wonder why Google makes all the phone settings reset after you lock the screen.
 

Jackson

I like to go outside.
.
Joined
May 31, 2015
Messages
1,624
Your pictures are awesome, your HDR feature sounds like my phone as well. Is it is Pixel phone? At least to me, it doesn't look like it went overboard with the HDR, but I always wonder why Google makes all the phone settings reset after you lock the screen.
Thanks! Yep, it's a Pixel 1. And yeah, I'm puzzled why they wouldn't give you a setting where you can make it so HDR is off when you open up the camera. Especially now that they've made 3 generations of the Pixel, and many others have complained about it too. Oh well. Great phone otherwise.

Also interesting about Grave Lake. I could see it being a hot spot for a bear, but your explanation sounds likely too. Haha.
 

WasatchWill

Ready For More
.
Joined
Jul 23, 2013
Messages
1,410
Good stuff! Judging by the pics, looks like it may have been worth the swarms.
 

OldBill

Member
Joined
Aug 18, 2015
Messages
65
Great TR! The ability to take such great photos certainly calls into question the need for a camera+minipod. I still use an older PowerShot with polarizer lens. The phones now seem to be able to even mimic polarization. But at a steep price!

Thought I recognized a camp chair in one of those shots. Nice luxury item! What were you using for shoes/boots? It looked like folks were carrying camp/wading shoes. I've been trying to convince myself that I'd be comfortable in non-GTX trail-runners and leaving the camp shoes behind, but haven't made the plunge yet. It's cold in those early morning shoulder seasons and more protection from the talus helps.
 

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Jackson

I like to go outside.
.
Joined
May 31, 2015
Messages
1,624
Great TR! The ability to take such great photos certainly calls into question the need for a camera+minipod. I still use an older PowerShot with polarizer lens. The phones now seem to be able to even mimic polarization. But at a steep price!

Thought I recognized a camp chair in one of those shots. Nice luxury item! What were you using for shoes/boots? It looked like folks were carrying camp/wading shoes. I've been trying to convince myself that I'd be comfortable in non-GTX trail-runners and leaving the camp shoes behind, but haven't made the plunge yet. It's cold in those early morning shoulder seasons and more protection from the talus helps.
Yeah, it's insane how well they can stabilize and capture colors. Probably 1/4 to 1/3 of those photos were taken on the move as I was walking. It's taken a bit of practice, but it saves a lot of time when you don't have to stop every time you want to take a picture.

Yep! We all packed little camp chairs--cheap knockoffs of the Big Agnes ones. If it weren't for the bugs, we really could've enjoyed lounging around!

I used trail runners, and the shoes we all had strapped on our packs were just lightweight sandals, etc. for fording all the streams that couldn't be hopped across. And there ended up being more of those than we expected, so we were glad to have them. Brian used trail runners as well, and Nathan and Sam had waterproof boots. Everyone seemed happy with their footwear though. To each their own!
 

Titans

Member
.
Joined
Aug 18, 2018
Messages
553
Great TR, your 'favorite view on earth' looks wonderful, so peaceful. Do you think the masses of mosquitos disappear end of August, early September in that area? Good luck with the bar exam!
 

Jackson

I like to go outside.
.
Joined
May 31, 2015
Messages
1,624
Great TR, your 'favorite view on earth' looks wonderful, so peaceful. Do you think the masses of mosquitos disappear end of August, early September in that area? Good luck with the bar exam!
I've only been to that area in mid-July, so I can't say for sure. But I've been elsewhere in the Winds in August and I don't think I even applied bug spray. Early September is probably even better for bugs.

And thanks! Lots of studying going on this week.
 

RyanP

Formerly bob32
Joined
Mar 1, 2015
Messages
91
Nice trip report! And timely, because I head out there tomorrow! Did you guys bring bear spray?
 

Jackson

I like to go outside.
.
Joined
May 31, 2015
Messages
1,624
Nice trip report! And timely, because I head out there tomorrow! Did you guys bring bear spray?
Yeah, we had two cans among the four of us. I mentioned it above, but the only sign of bear we saw was likely weeks-old scat next to a pretty much fully consumed elk carcass.

Edit: there were two notices at the trailhead board that said that there had been run-ins with black bears at Big Sandy Lake. One in late June, another in early July. No mention of anything elsewhere, but I think bears have been seen all over the area over time.
 

N8Dawg

New Member
Joined
Jul 22, 2019
Messages
4
Great pics and report Jackson. Looks like a good adventure. I'm glad you didn't let those mosquito ruin your trip. It's amazing how such a small insect can be such a huge nuisance. Here is a pic from the worst I have ever seen them. It was by Alice Lake in the Sawtooth's at the beginning of July 2016. This was the only time I ever let them ruin my trip. A 3 day trip turned into 1.5 days because they were unbearable.
20160702_172923.jpg
 

Scott Chandler

Wildness is a necessity- John Muir
Joined
Jan 4, 2014
Messages
1,074
July 13-16, 2019

The high snow levels of this past winter and spring, combined with having to study for the bar exam all summer, have made for a summer generally lacking in outdoor exploits for me so far. Thankfully(?), the bar exam is in a week and a half, and after that, I can be free of the shackles of the guilt of not studying if I ever want to go out for an overnighter or something.

Despite the lack of trips so far, I had a really good one in the pipeline, and it had been planned several months in advance. My good friend Sam, his brother Nathan, and their friend Brian were coming out in July for a backpacking trip in celebration of Sam's wedding in August. After presenting them with some options that are usually decent in July, the group settled on the southern portion of the Winds, likely a loop incorporating the Cirque of the Towers and Dads Lake areas. That decision was made in January or February of this year. The snow kept piling up after that, it took forever to warm up out here, and it was looking unlikely that the Winds would be great for mid-July. We came up with a few alternatives and then watched the weather to see if our original plan would work. Fortunately, we had a few weeks of high temperatures in late June and early July that really helped melt out the area we wanted to visit. Unfortunately, we later found out that that would result in more mosquitoes than any of us had ever seen.

We changed the plan slightly and ended up avoiding the Cirque and therefore most of the crowds. I believe the number of groups we encountered on our 4-day trip was less than 10, which surprised me since we were in the Big Sandy area. Anyway, on to the trip. I'm sharing a lot of photos here. There was just a lot to see.

We got out to the trailhead in the early afternoon on Saturday. Lots of cars there, but also plenty of spaces to park still. To set the tone for the majority of our trip, we got swarmed by a ludicrous amount of mosquitoes as soon as we opened the car doors. We applied bug spray, readied up, and headed off. The destination for the night was Dads Lake. I didn't take a ton of photos along the way, but here are a few.

View attachment 79800
Brian entering Fish Creek Park. This was Brian's first backpacking trip. Heck of an initiation, handled deftly by him.

View attachment 79801
Sam and Nathan just after crossing Fish Creek.

View attachment 79802
Dads Lake coming into view.

View attachment 79803
Columbine in the rocks above the lake. The wildflowers were a few weeks out from peak. Not much wildflower action on this trip.

View attachment 79805
Camp.

View attachment 79806
The best bear hang tree I've ever found. I camped at this same spot last year and was in awe then as well.

View attachment 79807
Nathan mobbed by mosquitoes as he looks at our proposed route.

View attachment 79808

View attachment 79809
Nice evening.

The next day, whether our route would be a go was uncertain. We were headed over Hailey Pass and around Grave Lake. Then through Ranger Park and over Washakie Pass the next day. We were pretty sure we could make Hailey Pass, but not so sure about Washakie Pass. The trouble was that, if we went all the way over Hailey and around to Washakie and couldn't make it over, we'd have a reeaally long final day. Fortunately, only 15-20 minutes after starting out the second day, we came across two women just below Marms Lake who said they had come over Washakie Pass on their trip. There was definitely snow, but it was supposedly doable. Game on.

View attachment 79810
Marms Lake.

View attachment 79811
Approaching Washakie Creek.

View attachment 79812
Maybe one of my favorite views on earth.

View attachment 79813

View attachment 79814
Crossing Washakie Creek. Tons of HDR on these from my phone, which has an automatic HDR setting that has to be re-disabled every time you open the camera app. I'm too lazy for that.

View attachment 79815
We made it around Skull Lake quickly.

View attachment 79816
Then to near Mae's.

View attachment 79817

Started hitting snow as we began our climb to the pass. It covered the trail in lots of places, but it wasn't hard finding our way.

View attachment 79818

The lakes below the pass were frozen and awesome.

View attachment 79819

View attachment 79820
Not too much farther.

View attachment 79821
Crossing the outlet of the second lake.

View attachment 79822
Sam nearing the top of the pass.

View attachment 79823
Happy to be here.

The descent was incredibly steep, and the trail was covered in snow too steep (to us) to glissade. We found another way down on the rocks.View attachment 79824

View attachment 79825
We kinda skied this part on our feet. Nathan glissaded the upper part.

We stopped for a quick lunch but got going quickly because, as you can see, the clouds were building.

View attachment 79826
Mount Hooker.

The entire trail from here down to Grave Lake was a mess. All the hillsides were just flowing marshes, and the trail was a creek. We came across a few members of a NOLS group looking in vain for a camp site. I think they ended up camping near Baptiste Lake.

We got to a pretty big creek crossing, and it started raining and hailing. We hid in the trees for 15 minutes and waited it out. Then we crossed the creek.

View attachment 79827
Hail and rain spraying off the rock.

View attachment 79828
Preparing for the crossing. So much water everywhere.

View attachment 79829
Brian making the crossing. He and I crossed in an unnecessarily deep spot. I was a bad example and led him through it. Nathan and Sam picked a smarter route that only came up to their knees.

We walked and walked to Grave Lake and then around it. Grave Lake was really cool. It's just so big, and it feels so remote and isolated. There's also not many good places to camp along it. And it takes forever to walk the length of it.

View attachment 79830
Grave Lake looking east. Those clouds are from the storm that hailed on us.

There was a decent sized creek to cross midway around the lake. I didn't get any pictures, but the current was very strong. We forded it and continued on.

View attachment 79846
Because Grave Lake is so large, its outlet is likewise very large. There's a killer bridge going across it. Nicest backcountry bridge I've ever had the pleasure of crossing.

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Last look at the lake before heading into the forest.

By the time we had gotten around Grave Lake, we were beat. Time to start considering places for campsites.

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We found a very secluded spot in the middle of the forest between Grave Lake and the Little Wind River. Shockingly, the mosquitoes were not as bad as they had been at Dad's Lake.

The next day, we went through Ranger Park, then up to Washakie Pass. Beautiful walk. Strenuous at times. I've been writing too much so far, so I'll just let the photos talk for a bit.

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Washakie Pass. We decided just to go straight up the snow, using our poles for stability. Nathan led the way, kicking steps and showing us how it's done. Both he and Sam have some experience on snow and glaciers, so Brian and I deferred to them.

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There was a lot more elevation to gain than it appeared.

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No selfie this time.

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You could see way out into the flat parts of western Wyoming.

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East Fork Basin in the distance, looking real nice. Hope to go there another day.

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I took this to remind myself that the trail was a creek for most of the way down to Skull Lake.

We kept walking. Made it back across Washakie Creek, and headed on toward Dads Lake. We got rained and hailed on again, about the same time of day as the previous day. Opted to set up camp in Fish Creek Park, for an easy hike out the next morning.

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Sam making the ford at Washakie Creek.

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That view.

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The last remnants of the storm. We got very warm in all our rain gear after this.

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Night 3 camp in Fish Creek Park.

The mosquitoes in Fish Creek Park were nearly nonexistent at first. We had a good breeze and it kept them at bay. The breeze died though, and they were even worse there than they had been on our first night at Dads Lake. We ended up going to bed at 7:50 just to get away from the bugs. It was so comforting being the tent and not having to think constantly about your personal swarm of hundreds of mosquitoes following you everywhere. I have never seen mosquitoes this bad on any trip I've ever done. They were bad when I visited Dads Lake and Skull Lake in mid-July 2018, but that experience paled in comparison to this one. We all agreed that we'll save Winds trips for August and September now.

Another note is that Nathan discovered an old elk carcass about 100 yards from our tents. There was a pile of bear scat next to it. After a cautious approach and a quick look, we determined that the scat was at least a few weeks old. Probably not a concern. Still interesting to me though, as it was the first sign of bear I've come across in the Winds. Couldn't tell if it was grizzly or black bear though. I should've taken a photo for the scat scan discussion thread.

Watching the mosquitoes from the comfort of the tent's mesh wall.

The hike out in the morning was quick. We stopped for ice cream and sandwiches at the Farson Mercantile, and headed home. Awesome trip, even with the mosquitoes. We were fortunate all the passes were a go. A few days earlier may have been trickier. Who knows? Anyway, we all had a great time. Thanks for reading!
Looks so pretty Jackson! Thank you for sharing. My soul feels better this morning after seeing this.
 

Jackson

I like to go outside.
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Joined
May 31, 2015
Messages
1,624
Great pics and report Jackson. Looks like a good adventure. I'm glad you didn't let those mosquito ruin your trip. It's amazing how such a small insect can be such a huge nuisance. Here is a pic from the worst I have ever seen them. It was by Alice Lake in the Sawtooth's at the beginning of July 2016. This was the only time I ever let them ruin my trip. A 3 day trip turned into 1.5 days because they were unbearable. View attachment 79892
You may have beat the Fish Creek Park mosquitoes with this one. There was a place or two we walked through in the woods where they were thick like this, but never in camp (thank goodness). You walk through and there are constantly dozens to hundreds of them just bouncing off of you. This picture may as well be of the apocalypse.
 

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