Silas Canyon (Popo Agie Wilderness) - August 2023


"The mountains don't care."
Feb 15, 2020
This year - for the first time - my oldest son joined my brother and I on our yearly "guys trip". Obviously we cut down the intensity a lot from our normal trips, but this one ended up about as special as any of the others. And very relaxing, too!

I'd always had Silas Canyon flagged as a possibility for a quick weekend trip - owing to its easy-ish access and proximity to Lander. The trailhead is certainly a bit crowded over the weekend, but there's plenty of space out there and we were able to find our own space to enjoy. Camping at Island Lake was spectacular and a quick jaunt up to Thumb Lake on Day 2 was well worth it. We even had a bit of luck fishing!

But most of all I just loved having a few days in the wilderness with my brother and my son.

Day 1: Christina Lake TH to Island Lake
We crashed at a hotel in Lander the night preceding our hike - ate some pizza and swam in the indoor pool. (Kids love a hotel pool. :lol:) On Saturday morning we started in high spirits - the plan was to hike about 5 miles up to Island Lake and camp there for two nights. The trailhead was pretty full, but the hike itself was beautiful.

Hiking with kids results in a few extra snack breaks - not complaining about that.
Entering the wilderness.
Crossing a stream.
We had a lazy lunch at Upper Silas Lake.
And a little nap, too.
I really enjoyed the trail as it got higher and clearings became more common.
We did a little fishing from our dinner spot before settling in.

Day 2: Day Hike to Thumb Lake
After a leisurely breakfast, we hiked the last mile up to Thumb Lake. This lake is only a little higher than Island Lake, but is largely above treeline so the views are spectacular. Really enjoyed the short hike. We're not the best fishermen, but we had a bit of success and a wonderful time. After returning to Island Lake, we did a bit more fishing in the late afternoon. Just a beautiful day all around.

Wonderful view from our breakfast spot.
Looking down on two unnamed lakes (left/center) and Island Lake (distant center) on our way up to Thumb Lake.
Arriving at Thumb Lake.
My brother's first fish of the trip - not exactly a trophy, but fun nonetheless.
Never managed to land one of the bigger fish (we saw a few), but had a decent amount of luck on the fly rod w/ the little guys.
Teaching the next generation of backcountry trip reporter.
Can't go to the Winds w/o at least a little rock hopping!
Seconds before I am hit w/ a (pretty icy) snowball.
"Daddy, do you know where we're going?"
Lazy afternoon fishing. My son and brother caught a few, though I'd apparently used up all my luck at Thumb Lake.
Brought the e-reader so we could both do a little reading at bed time.

Day 3: Island Lake to Christina Lake TH
The final day would be short and sweet - just a 5 mile return to the Christina Lake trailhead. The trail was much less crowded today compared to the weekend - not sure we saw anyone on the way down.

Good spirits on our way out.
Had to get an extra cheeseburger w/ our post-hike McDonald's.

Certainly not my most intense trip of the year, but possibly the most special. My son has done a few backpacking trips previously, but this was the most ambitious yet - I foresee many more to come. It's only a matter of time before I'm the one holding us back. :lol:
That's one of my favorite canyons out of that TH. Relatively easy hike and good fishing. Congratulations on the goldens. I got skunked (again) last Sept. Must have fished it for 2 hours and didn't even see any. Island is always good for cutts. Lots of tall dead trees make picking a safe camp sometimes a bit challenging. It's a great feeling to pass along the outdoor tradition to the next generation.
The nap photo is awesome, looks like a great trip
I love seeing your son out there enjoying the wilderness with you. So great to start 'em young! (And hooray for Harry Potter to keep them reading!)