Horse Ridge to Mount Febbas (Wind River Range) - July 2021

TheMountainRabbit

"Because it's there."
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I'd put together a little "bonus" Wind River trip when laying out my longer trip coming up this September and wasn't sure when/if I'd get a chance to do it. When my wife/kids ended up going out of town for a long weekend, I figured I should take advantage and see what I could do. It was a wonderful trip, though it'd probably be better suited for later in the year (less water/bugs) and another couple of days/nights would've made for a much more relaxing experience; I also had to cut out a portion I wanted to do through the Dry Creek Basin due to my time constraints.

The views started out a little hazy and got worse throughout the trip - fire season has arrived. Bugs were terrible through the low, wet, and more protected portions, but that was to be expected and a decent wind kept them away in most open spaces. I lucked out with weather overall though; Horse Ridge is very exposed and tough to bail from, but I was able to take my time through that section with clear skies overhead all day.

In total, the trip ended up being ~48 miles and 13,300' elevation gain in 3 days/2 nights.

Day 1: Glacier Trail TH to Ink Wells (14.27mi - +5,496'/-3,009')
I hit the trail around 7AM and the weather was impeccable - there was a light haze everywhere on the horizon, but nothing to complain about.
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The trail up to Goat Flat/Arrow Mountain was fairly unassuming, but there was just the right amount of wind to make for very comfortable walking. I hadn't slept well the previous night, so at one point I stepped off trail a took a little nap.
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After descending a bit through a small burn scar, the trail passes a number of very nice lakes (Phillips, Double, Star, Honeymoon). When I was returning on Day 3 the fish at Double Lake were incredibly active - I wished I'd had my rod and a little more time.
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My goal at this point was to get up to Horse Ridge and I wanted to avoid going all the way to the bridge at the Ink Wells junction - this made for an interesting little adventure getting across Dinwoody Creek. I knew there was a poorly maintained Forest Service trail that roughly followed the Ink Wells drainage up to Scenic Pass, but I didn't have much luck locating it - based on the map location, I don't think I would've wanted to cross there anyway. I went upstream into Downs Fork Meadows until I found a section where the creek split into two slow moving sections. The first I was able to cross easily in waist deep water, but the second involved a few feet of swimming. Fortunately it was still quite sunny and I found a nice slab above the meadows to relax and dry out for a bit.
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From here to Ink Wells travel was less than ideal - lots of blowdowns and standing water with no clear direction. I decided to aim for the lowest drainage to the Ink Wells area and ended up finding a few pretty good ramps. Mosquitos at Ink Wells were terrible, but I was ready for some sleep anyway so I passed right out.
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Day 2: Ink Wells to Dinwoody Creek via Horse Ridge/Mount Febbas (12.22mi - +4,083'/-3,439')
Today was the day I was excited for and my optimism was rewarded. It took a little more bushwhacking out of the Ink Wells area, but as soon as I broke the treeline the views were expansive and the breeze kept the bugs/heat at bay.
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The travel was very straightforward and the undulations in the ridge gave alternating views of the Dinwoody Creek and Dry Creek drainages. As elevation increased the vegetation naturally gave way to more rock and eventually some ice. I was occasionally spotted by a large herd of elk - primarily cows and calves - that tended to stay one rise away from me.
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Noel (or Knoll) Lake at 12,165' was surprisingly well sheltered on three sides - you could probably make a nice camp there in good weather. Horse Ridge in general is very exposed with pretty poor bailout options, so probably not the best idea without a reliable forecast in hand.
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Chimney Rock
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Looking down the eastern arm of Horse Ridge appeared to be more of the same, but I would've liked to have gotten a better look at the North Fork Bull Lake Creek drainage - the day was wearing on however and I was still planning to get down to Dinwoody Creek for the night.
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The panoramic view of the Continental Divide from Mount Febbas was astounding.
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By the way if anyone wants to jog up there and correct my entry in the summit register, I'd be much obliged. I just looked at my picture and apparently I thought it was September... The tiny notebook register was placed there in 1996 and only contains a couple signatures per year - only one from last year and mine was the first of 2021. I'm sure there are parties that don't bother signing, but it was certainly a lot smaller than most registers I see these days. I guess most people who tackle the long approach are focused on Gannett.
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Getting down was a fun adventure in low Class 3 terrain and "scree skiing", but not too bad overall. I was happy to be going down and not up and appreciative of the beta I'd received from a friend that climbed up this way a couple years ago.
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A quick shot of the northwest side of Blaurock Pass which I should (hopefully) be tackling on my route later this year.
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Down in the basin looking at the appropriately named Heap Steep Glacier.
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The sun setting over Gannett with no clouds, but plenty of smoky haze...
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Day 3: Return via Glacier Trail (21.81mi - +3,719'/-6,850')
The smoke only got worse from there. The views down the Glacier Trail remained fantastic however.
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New trail routing for Downs Fork bridge, if anyone is interested.
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Had a weasel cross my path as I continued down the trail - it's been a while since I've seen any mustelids on trail so it was a pleasant surprise.
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Back on Goat Flat and the smoke just continues to get worse - I could smell it pretty strongly at this point.
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The welcome sight of my truck (still a mile away) at the end of a long day...
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It was a fantastic trip and one I feel very lucky to have squeezed in. At this point my summer trip schedule is pretty locked in, so it's great to sneak an extra one in when the opportunity presents itself.

Click here to view on CalTopo
 
Last edited:

b.stark

Forever Wandering
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Awesome. I have to get up there someday. Also thanks for confirmation that particular way off the ridge goes--this is the best confirmation of that I've ever seen.
 

OldBill

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Aug 18, 2015
Messages
214
Great trip! You were moving at a good clip. Also on my bucket list. Think I'd have to use the bridge and would spend a few days fishing Dry Creek lakes. Finding a way off Horse Ridge to Dry Ck while still getting views near Febbas looks challenging. Usual way is using the ridge east of Don's near Pt 12200. Did you see any possibility of descending ridge west of Knoll/Noel near Pt 13185? Looks possible Class 3.
 

TheMountainRabbit

"Because it's there."
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Feb 15, 2020
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Did you see any possibility of descending ridge west of Knoll/Noel near Pt 13185? Looks possible Class 3.
I didn't get a great look at it and I'd be concerned about the bottleneck between the 13,000' and 12,800' contour lines - can't confirm either way though.
 

RyanP

Formerly bob32
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Mar 1, 2015
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311
Awesome. I have to get up there someday. Also thanks for confirmation that particular way off the ridge goes--this is the best confirmation of that I've ever seen.
I was about to type this exact comment! Thanks for the great trip report! What a bummer to have hazy skies during a route like this. Otherwise looks like a great trip though---although 3 days is really blitzing it!
 

Bob

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Nice.... Been weathered out two times, canceled twice cause of smoke once trying to get up there and to dry fork... you do want good skys. The scree slope is one of the few ways off the top end...

Your route accross Dinwoody is one I ve looked at twice up there...... Mine is a little more upstream, at the first 90 degree hook in the trail above where Downs fork comes in...(less water) and going up to the larger lake between Ink and Wells...... Any beta on that while you were there?

Whoa.......... you went 21 miles out? on the last day?!
 
Last edited:

Bob

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Great trip! You were moving at a good clip. Also on my bucket list. Think I'd have to use the bridge and would spend a few days fishing Dry Creek lakes. Finding a way off Horse Ridge to Dry Ck while still getting views near Febbas looks challenging. Usual way is using the ridge east of Don's near Pt 12200. Did you see any possibility of descending ridge west of Knoll/Noel near Pt 13185? Looks possible Class 3.
I think it's too steep, narrow.. I've plotted a possible at about 12689 and about 12260... Gets you to the lakes as well. They are like going off the end by Noel lk.
 

TheMountainRabbit

"Because it's there."
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Messages
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Your route accross Dinwoody is one I ve looked at twice up there...... Mine is a little more upstream, at the first 90 degree hook in the trail above where Downs fork comes in...(less water) and going up to the larger lake between Ink and Wells...... Any beta on that while you were there?
@Bob - I think that would make for a potentially better crossing - particularly in the red circled zone below. The blue circled zone might be doable, but it was really marshy when I went through. When you get to the other side there's a bunch of deadfall, but I think you could follow the path of least resistance and get up there pretty well.

I didn't think the camping at Ink Wells was particularly great, except maybe on the far eastern side - so I'm not sure if it's really even worth it. It is probably better later in the year w/ less water and bugs. But if you're just trying to get setup to be on Horse Ridge early AM or between weather, it is well protected and might be a good option.

capture.jpg


Whoa.......... you went 21 miles out? on the last day?!
Yeah... I don't recommend it. :lol: But you do what you can w/ the time you have.
 

Bob

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Yeah...was looking kinda in between your blue and red box... But your line is spot on. Closer to the blue tho....

I did 16 out DInwoody and it was a killer.....
 

Bob

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TheMountainRabbit

"Because it's there."
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Feb 15, 2020
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Cool trip and nice perspective of the Gannett/Dinwoody drainage. So what is your exact plan for your big Sep trip?
Starting at Green River Lakes and planning to follow the Divide through the northern part of the range - going up north of Downs / east of Crescent Lake and heading south to Dinwoody Glaciers - trying to stay as high as possible. Then Blaurock Pass, Indian Pass (south), and back via Knapsack to Green River Lakes. If we make good time and have the legs after Blaurock we might extend through Alpine Lakes and come over Angel Pass - or even Golden Lakes/Hay Pass. Since the trip is in September I'm expecting some weather considerations to come into play though.
 

Bob

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Go up from Ross lakes on the east ......
 

Bob

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Yeah.... Torrey th......Ross lk.......mile long lake.... Divide .... Grasshopper.... Dinwoody..... Blaurock
 
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I was part of a volunteer trail crew up on Burro Flats round Williams corral back in 1992 for 10 days….it was a fun time…loved your pics.
 

fossana

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That's a decent amount of mileage/gain for a 3 day trip. You really packed it in. Too bad about the haze, but the peaks and meadows were still beautiful.
 
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volyskier

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Jul 15, 2021
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Just found your report and wanted to say that your trip and the time you did the hike to Mt. Febbas from Glacier TH is impressive. That is a heck of a long hike let alone the water crossing you have to make to get there. Well done. I hiked to Febbas from Dry Creek basin, more particularly starting from Don's Lake area up to Horse Ridge and then out to Febbas from there, about twelve years ago. Horse Ridge felt like one of the loneliest spots in the Winds and more moon like than earth like. I'm not sure even pictures can capture the ruggedness and emptiness of that plateau. Anyway thanks for the report and pictures. It brought back some flashes from the past I really cherish.
 
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