Lester Pass Loop

Discussion in 'Backpacking' started by Jackson, Dec 19, 2016.

  1. Jackson

    Jackson I like to go outside.

    Messages:
    800
    Location:
    Salt Lake City
    10-12 August, 2016

    I never know how to name these. Lester Pass was a prominent landmark that we walked over, so I guess I'll make it the namesake of this thread.

    I went to the Wind River Range with two friends, Gavin and Dan. As usual, the responsibility of planning the location and route fell on me. Everyone usually has me plan the route because they don't like to or don't know how to, I guess.

    So we headed out and the drive was fine. I remember reading that the road to Elkhart Park is paved all the way, but when we drove it, it was all ripped up and they were doing a lot of grading. Most of the drive was on dirt. Anyone know whether they are (were) resurfacing it or reverting it to a dirt road?

    We got to the trailhead and signed the register. At least 90% of the groups who had signed listed Titcomb Basin as their destination. Impressive.

    We cruised through the first few miles to Photographers Point. I really liked the walk through the forest.

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    Standard view from Photographers Point

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    Pond at Photographers Point

    We talked briefly to a guy and his two sons who were headed to 1000 Island Lake to fish for a few days. Then we got moving toward Pole Creek Lakes. There were so many ponds and lakes along the way. Very pretty.

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    Lots of ponds/lakes like this

    We eventually made it to the big Pole Creek Lake, and we headed over toward the others. Some stormy clouds had rolled in, so we looked for a good site, and found a great, flat spot backed up against a hill with some trees. We set up camp and had dinner on a big rock hill nearby. We had only seen one group since we left the Island Lake trail. Right on.

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    Pole Creek Pond

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    Crappy campsite picture

    The clouds never produced any rain, and they broke in time for a nice sunset.

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    We headed out toward Lester Pass the next morning. Got a fairly early start. The walk was very nice. Lots of water and rocks.

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    Meadow below Cook Lakes

    I remembered reading about a fairly large stream that we would have to ford near this area. We never ended up having to cross any high, swift streams. I guess the flow was just not very high when we passed through. This one was fun though.

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    We crossed through some more meadows as we neared the junction with the trail leading to the Cook Lakes and Wall Lake. Maybe I'll make it to those someday. There's too much stuff to see.

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    Meadows

    We passed the junction and continued on. The trees began to thin out and we walked higher. The lakes up here, like Tommy Lake, were awesome.

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    Unnamed lake. I believe it's just identified by an elevation on the map.

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    Tommy Lake


    Walking up to Lester Pass was awesome. The day was sunny and warm. Gavin and I decided we'd go for a swim later in the day.

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    Approaching the pass

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    Great views all around

    As we neared the pass, we came up on a family who asked us to take their photo. The parents were backpacking with their two daughter, aged 7 and 10 if I remember correctly. Amazing that kids that age were out fairly deep in the mountains backpacking. I'd never have done that at that age. I've seen the light now though.

    Lots of big rocks at the top.

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    The walk down the other side was great. You could see so many of the Northern Winds peaks. Reminds you that there's so much out there that you still have to see.

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    We got down to the junction with the Island Lake trail, and we stopped for lunch. A llama pack train passed by us. I had only ever heard about those before. Interesting. We passed them pretty quickly after we got going again. I guess they don't make you that much faster. Maybe less tired though...

    We passed Little Seneca Lake and went over to Seneca Lake.

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    Little Seneca Lake

    When we got to Seneca Lake, we decided it was time for a swim. Dan said he'd be sitting it out. We picked our way down to a rather inconvenient spot so we'd be able to change out of our wet clothes in privacy. I didn't get any shots of us in the water, but I promise we actually jumped in. Twice. We timed the whole thing very poorly because some heavy clouds rolled in, the temperature dropped, and the wind picked up right before we jumped. Oh well. Had to do it. That water was very cold.

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    Gavin putting his socks back on

    We made our way back up the steep slope and found Dan. We kicked it into gear and headed down the trail. It started to rain, so we put on our rain gear and kept going. There were a LOT of people headed in toward Island Lake and Titcomb Basin.
    We were getting pretty tired by the time we got to Hobbes Lake. We decided to keep going, and we ended up finding a decent place to set up on the southern end of Barbara Lake. We needed to get out fairly quickly the next day, so this would put us within a nice striking distance of the trailhead. Would've been cool to have camped at one of the lakes up higher, but oh well.

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    Camp at Barbara Lake

    By the time we had our tents set up, it was only 2 in the afternoon, so we just lazed around all afternoon. The clouds had gone away for a few hours, but they came back with a vengeance. We quickly ate so we wouldn't have to eat in the rain. Then we had thunder and lightning, rain, hail, and snow. It was pretty cool. The clouds broke as the sun was setting. Great timing.

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    I believe these are mammatus clouds. They didn't become as bulbous as others I've seen.

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    You do what you have to do to get the right angle for your photo.

    The sunset was so good. It started off really bright, and it became more red as the sun dropped lower.

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    The temperature dropped to the low 20s that night, so all the rain and snow froze on our tents. In the morning, all we wanted to do was get moving, so we threw all the wet stuff in our packs and flew down the trail. We made it out in good time.

    Great trip! I need to summit a peak or fish or something next time I go.
     
    Last edited: Jan 6, 2017
    HomerJ, Yvonne, someguy and 14 others like this.
  2. isleroyaleguy

    isleroyaleguy Member

    Messages:
    167
    Nice report Jackson,
    I really love that area, and your trip was definitely different than most posted here.
    But something I would like to do.
    Fishing is great throughout the Winds.
    It's well worth the extra weight for gear.
    Thanks for sharing
    Cheers
    IRG
     
    Jackson likes this.
  3. danger02ward

    danger02ward Love the Mountains!

    Messages:
    200
    Location:
    North Ogden, Utah
    Love those beautiful sunset pictures! Sounds like an awesome trip!
     
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  4. Vegan.Hiker

    Vegan.Hiker TR or it didn't happen

    Messages:
    1,768
    Location:
    Mahwah, NJ
    That's some really beautiful stuff right there. Sounds like a great trip.
     
  5. stephjas1

    stephjas1 New Member

    Messages:
    5
    Location:
    Utah
    i wanna go, I wanna go, I wanna go. What awesome pics! Well done.
     
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  6. Nick

    Nick Post 'em if you got 'em!

    Messages:
    11,542
    Location:
    Utah
    Awesome. I did a similar route a few years back. I'll never forget it.
     
  7. Jackson

    Jackson I like to go outside.

    Messages:
    800
    Location:
    Salt Lake City
    Thanks! If you go, be sure to spend more than 2 nights there. We hardly had time to take it all in.
     
  8. Jackson

    Jackson I like to go outside.

    Messages:
    800
    Location:
    Salt Lake City
    Thank you. I referred to your trip report several times as I planned this one, actually. So thanks for the great write-up. I wish we'd have had time to see the Cook Lakes like you did.
     
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