Lost Twin Lakes, Cloud Peak Wilderness, Wyoming

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Curt

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Feb 1, 2014
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358
It's been hard for me to get out this year. I used up all of my vacation time on other pursuits and I realized that the only way this was going to happen was over a long weekend like Labor Day or Thanksgiving weekends. Thanksgiving is always pretty iffy because of weather and family stuff so I decided to make it happen over Labor Day weekend. I've had my sights set on eventually doing a loop in the Cloud Peak Wilderness in Wyoming that involved going off trail over the mountain tops from Lost Twin Lakes to 7 Brothers Lakes and so I decided to do an over-nighter to Lost Twin Lakes to survey how things looked going off trail there. Plus, I had seen photos that made Lost Twin Lakes look like a great destination on it's own. Two weeks before I was to leave I ran into a friend I had done some backpacking with off and on over the last 20 years and he said he wanted to go too, so the trip was on. My experience with Labor Day trips is that there are always crowds and this was no different. The parking lot at the trail head was so packed we had trouble finding a legal place to park. Probably on most other weekends during the year it wouldn't be too bad.

My phone app indicated that the distance one way was 7.0 miles, but that included a fair amount of wandering around trying to find a camping spot that was away from other campers. The trail head is at 9100 ft and the Lost Twin Lakes are at 10300 ft. That's only 1200 ft elevation gain but it felt like more than that. When I was younger that wouldn't have been a big deal but now that I'm in my mid 60's it's getting to where everything is a challenge.

Since this was an up and back I'll give photos in one direction only.

This waterfall was pretty early on.
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View from a break in the trees.
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Mirror Lake can just be seen through the trees. Surprisingly the trail did not go to it. We ran into several people who had intended to go to Mirror Lake but had missed it.
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Mirror Lake. Not a mirror on this day
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I like butterflies. Last year I went to the Winds in July. Lots of flowers and hardly any butterflies. On this trip there weren't a lot of flowers left but there were lots of butterflies. Taking butterfly photos was a good excuse to stop hiking.
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Back on the trail. Starting to get into the high country.
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The trail occasionally skirted close to the creek. I was surprised by seeing Moose. I think we saw 4 different ones along the way. This cow had a calf with her and we saw them both coming and going. She ignored us completely both times. Even so, we went off trail a ways to get around her.
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Another trail side view.
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Our destination coming into view.
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First view of the lakes.
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View from the lower lake. Someone can be seen fishing on the right margin of the photo. Everyone we talked to said that they had caught fish. One person said that the fishing was better at the upper lake - probably because it's harder to get to and mostly people don't camp there.
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View from our camp site.
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Sunset
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I've been experimenting with trying to get a good milky way photo. This is a composite of a panorama taken about an hour after sunset for the foreground and a panorama taken about 4 hours after sunset for the stars. The stars photo was made of multiple shots and stacked to reduce noise.
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Morning comes.
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My friend near our camp.
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We decided to go over to the upper lake on our way back out. You have climb up a ways to get over to the upper lake. This is a panorama showing both lakes from the pass over to the upper lake.
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Heading down to the upper lake
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Thanks for looking.
 
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b.stark

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Apr 8, 2015
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Looks like a great short hike, glad you got out there. I have always passed up that area to go to the Winds. Have eyed what must be the same or at least a similar off trail route you mentioned. Looks like a neat route, just never have had reason to give it a try. As always great photography.
 

Curt

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Feb 1, 2014
Messages
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Looks like a great short hike, glad you got out there. I have always passed up that area to go to the Winds. Have eyed what must be the same or at least a similar off trail route you mentioned. Looks like a neat route, just never have had reason to give it a try. As always great photography.
Thanks! Looks like you're back from Alaska. Looking forward to seeing a trail report for your hike there.
 

Titans

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Glad you got a trip in during Labor Day week-end. As always, stunning photos @Curt ! Stellar reflections in the photo with your friend. Thanks for sharing.

The Milky Way photo is amazing. I just showed it to Rick, he is also planning that experiment on the next trip and he is wondering what star stacking software you like to use? (Rick has other regular photo stacking software, which he uses a lot).
 

Curt

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Feb 1, 2014
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358
The Milky Way photo is amazing. I just showed it to Rick, he is also planning that experiment on the next trip and he is wondering what star stacking software you like to use? (Rick has other regular photo stacking software, which he uses a lot).
I used photoshop for stacking the stars. The technique I used I got from this youtube video;
(I notice he's got a video for combining panoramas but I haven't watched it yet). Thanks for the comment. I was trying for something that looks realistic but I thought that maybe I overcooked the star part of the photo.
 

Titans

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I used photoshop for stacking the stars. The technique I used I got from this youtube video;
(I notice he's got a video for combining panoramas but I haven't watched it yet). Thanks for the comment. I was trying for something that looks realistic but I thought that maybe I overcooked the star part of the photo.
Thanks for forwarding @Curt ! Rick also went through videos on Lonely Speck to learn the techniques for star stacking, but he still has to actually do the experiment. He uses Luminar (one time purchase fee) for processing and he is considering getting the "Starry Landscape Stacker", which runs on a Mac.
I think your Milky Way photo came out awesome! @NorthwestWanderer - make sure you see this TR.
 

wsp_scott

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Looks like an awesome area. I also like butterflies, but they never hold still long enough for nice photos like yours, well done.
 

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Curt

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Feb 1, 2014
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Looks like an awesome area. I also like butterflies, but they never hold still long enough for nice photos like yours, well done.
My experience with butterflies is that if they don't stop flying even to get nectar it's hopeless to get a photo, but if they stop at all there is a chance. Sometimes you have to chase them to get that chance. Sometimes you get lucky and they pose for you.
 

Ugly

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Great dawn reflection, plus many other photos. This was a great little sidetrack today.
 

Pringles

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Nov 23, 2015
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Great pictures from a nice trip. I did the hike up to the lower Twin Lake a few years ago, in the rain. All the grass looked like emeralds. I hope to go camp there, after your trip report. Thank you for sharing. Pringles
 

Miya

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Beautiful reflections and butterflies!
I love the pale green/grey one. Adorable little guy!
 

ramblinman

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Aug 26, 2014
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Thanks for sharing. I've been to Cloud Peak wilderness many times, always love to see reports from there. I've thought about doing a similar route to what you mentioned; were you able to get a good feel for the possibility of going up over the mountains between the Lost Twin lakes and the 7 Brothers?
 

Curt

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Feb 1, 2014
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Thanks for sharing. I've been to Cloud Peak wilderness many times, always love to see reports from there. I've thought about doing a similar route to what you mentioned; were you able to get a good feel for the possibility of going up over the mountains between the Lost Twin lakes and the 7 Brothers?
Originally I had considered going up Middle Tensleep Creek to gain the high country, but when we took the saddle over to the Upper Lake on the north side of the lakes it was clear when we were at the saddle that it would be easy to continue up to the north - northeast to gain the high country. There are some springs in the area of the saddle so it would make sense to camp up there and then proceed up to about the 11200 contour and take that over to the cliffs above Lake Angeline and Upper Frozen Lake. You can see the ramp clearly on Google Earth. On the ground it definitely looks like it goes. From Google Earth it looks like there's an awful lot of rock hopping involved - maybe nothing but rock hopping from the Lost Twin Lakes to 7 Brothers.
 

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