Southern Winds tour 8/23/19 - 8/28/19

Hiker Seth

May 15, 2019
After a whirlwind week of dropping off my oldest at college, I jumped on the plane to SLC from DCA with my gear, while the rest of my family headed back to Maine. As I drove to Big Sandy on Friday I could see lots of lightning that was nearby. I was afraid that I'd be waiting it out in the car for a few hours but it all pushed off southeast and the weather turned, and stayed, nearly perfect for the rest of the trip.

First view of the goods.


I had grandiose plans of heading up and around Lee lake and back over PITA pass, but as time drew closer I moderated my plans to focus more on the area over the divide towards Baptiste lake and that area, and I'm glad I did. If I had stuck to my original plan I would have missed a bunch of things I'm glad I saw. Day one was still a big one. I put in 15 miles to get to East Fork valley.

Day one, the goods.


Camp was pretty solid


The next morning I was up and out heading for Baptiste lake via Hailey Pass. I was going to try the cut over behind Pyramid lake to the pass that Mark P did but I couldn't summon the will to scramble up it, so I just went up the usual way from the bottom.

Kitty tracks by Pyramid lake?



View East from Hailey pass


Baptiste lake


Caught 13 Cutts between 15 -20 inches. It was nuts.


Next morning sunrise was spectacular on Mt. Hooker


Time to move out, one last look back. This was my favorite spot of the trip.


Went down to Grave lake where I hooked up with three nice Mackinaws in the first five casts, then I got shut out. They aren't much for holding still for pictures. Wind was an issue and it would become a bigger issue later.


Looking North on Grave lake.


Here is where things went sideways for me. I made the relatively easy bushwack from Bears Ear trail up to Spearpoint lake. Finding any campsite was a challenge. Finally I found something compatible and went about setting it up, although it was closer to the lake than I should have been. Again, it was this or go full retreat down low. The problem was it was now late afternoon, the winds started to gust in to the 60's, and I was afraid if I bailed that I would still be out of luck. I guyed it out as best I could and went in to hunker down mode. Fishing would have to wait until tomorrow. I was seeing waterspouts on the lake, it was something. Overnight the winds abated but then a coyote (I believe) decided to post up about 50 yds away and yip all night. Good times, good times....


My first and only Goldbow




Time to pack up and ship out again, this time another big day back down the hill and up across the Lizard Head plateau. The trail that never seems to end. That descent was a morale killer at the end of the day after no sleep the night before.


Finally to camp at lower Bear lake under the Lizard. I was spent.


The next morning I went over to the Monolith and Papoose lake. Caught two dozen small cutts. Why I took no pictures closer is beyond me.


You know where this goes from here. I had to see the Cirque up close at least once. It lived up to the hype despite the crowds, which weren't very crowded. However, I live in NE and hike in NH, you haven't seen crowds like that, trust me.


I met a couple from Syracuse at Lonesome lake and we joined forces to head up to climbers camp for the evening. They were even kind enough to share libations with me. A very happy, unexpected treat.


Morning light on Warbonnet and Warrior


One last harrowing moment before the great escape down to Big Sandy. We descended to the right of Arrowhead lake. As we were still negotiating the talus a climber on the cliffs above kicked off several rocks, one being well in excess of 100 lbs. They sped at terminal velocity over the trail, luckily not close enough to us to be a huge concern. He did at least yell rock. Dying at the end of the trip was not on my radar.


This was far and away my best trip yet. Yes there are very cool isolated places to see in the Winds, and I hope to get to more of them, I have seen some. This trip had a lot of WOW factor plus 90% perfect weather. I was stoked every day to be out there and I felt great the whole trip despite having a really poor appetite. That happens to me a lot hiking, why I don't know? As soon as I hit the Boulder store I got an apple danish and a root beer. It was heavenly. Then after cleaning up I went to the brewery in Pinedale and threw down.

Before heading to the airport I had breakfast with Moose.


Children will wear you out.....fact.



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I ❤️ GYE
May 31, 2015
Nice! I had been looking forward to seeing this one. You got to some awesome places on this one. I'm envious of your first night's camp!

Have the bugs finally died down? I was hearing they were still pretty bad even in the first part of this month.


Aug 18, 2015
What a great trip! How were the crowds? Looking forward to the Winds in 2 wks. Might see East Fork when my nephew joins me a week later. 15 mi is a long first day though! Was thinking about base camp somewhere between the Washakie Crk crossing and Skull, explore East Fork as a day hike, then head over Texas.

Noticed the net you were using seemed to have a carbon fiber handle? I keep debating whether to pack one due to weight. The Ti versions are pricey. Nice goldbow!!

Great photo of Arrowhead. Always wondered about that path vs the boulderfield to the South.

Hiker Seth

May 15, 2019
@Jackson , Bugs were almost non-existent. It was great.

Nice! I had been looking forward to seeing this one. You got to some awesome places on this one. I'm envious of your first night's camp!

Have the bugs finally died down? I was hearing they were still pretty bad even in the first part of this month.

Hiker Seth

May 15, 2019
@OldBill, I saw a "lot" of folks in the spots that you would expect, going in and coming out, around Grave Lake, and of course the Cirque. Aside from that it was not crowded by my definition. I only camped alone at Spearpoint, which was a bonehead move anyway. I'm used to the White Mountains of NH where 100+ people a day is pretty normal, which is why I'm not there this weekend.

I think the handle of my net is plastic made to look like CF. It's a cheap folding Amazon one. Weighs around 12 oz but I felt so bad about how I was handling fish last trip there that I decided it was worth it. Glad I had it for the bigger fish I caught. Happy I wasn't fly fishing as those folks had to fight constant strong wind. Saw one guy at Baptiste, he didn't appear to be having fun as he watched me absolutely crushing cutts with my spinning rod.

To get to East Fork I didn't go up past Skull, I stayed on the Freemont trail until I hit the East Fork river, then headed cross country until the use trail appears. It's pretty well worn from horse packers. Your way is a good idea though for a shorter first day. It's worth seeing.

If I was going to the Cirque day one I would absolutely use the trail to the left on Arrowhead and head straight to climbers camp vs Jackass and going down to Lonesome, despite the rocks falling from the heavens.
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May 25, 2018
Makes me homesick seeing and reading this. I did a very similar loop to this but in the other of my favorite trips ever. I miss the Winds...they have everything I love bout the mountains, and you can certainly avoid the crowds very easily.


Jan 11, 2018
Beautiful granite walls, fish galore, decent weather by Winds standards, and breakfast with moose, what more could you want?

Hiker Seth

May 15, 2019
Thanks all.

Little update. A friend of mine thought the tracks I found were wolf like, so I sent the pic off to a wildlife biologist in WY. He said the two different sizes would be consistent with a wolf as the front paws are smaller than the back ones. Thought its was likely that they were from a wolf. I also wonder if the yelps I heard at Spearpoint may be wolf?


Jan 15, 2017
Very nice! Absolutely love East Fork Valley. Nice catches too! Thanks for sharing
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