Summer in the CPW- Tour 2- East Side

Scott Chandler

Wildness is a necessity- John Muir
Jan 4, 2014
Summer has finally hit Buffalo and the Bighorns and with a balmy 90* day down in town I was ready for my second tour to begin.

I had some trepidations about how this hitch would go. It was Fourth of July weekend and those that have been here multiple seasons talk about this weekend like Armageddon. People every couple minutes, regulation violators out the wazoo. This being my first season I was ready to be overwhelmed.

This tour was my first to the southeast section of the wilderness. When I asked my supervisor for advice on where to go so that I could best represent my job she recommended that the 7 Brothers area is usually the busiest eastern area for the holidays.

Day 1- 7 Brothers

So off I headed. This was to be a six day tour so I had some brief thoughts about food weight. I’ve done ten day hitches last summer but its been a while. These thoughts disappeared when I remembered I got to ride an ATV to the boundary and then it wasn’t even a mile walk until the base camp we have out there.
After ditching gear I headed for the 7 Brothers. These seven lakes sit in a nice string at practically the same elevation, within a couple miles, in a pretty valley. Oh yeah, they’re stocked with fish. So they are popular for that coveted “CPW Experience.” I proceeded to meet two groups at the lakes all day. It was awesome. There was so little action I turned to the fish for some. I didn’t catch anything… but had two hits from a sizeable rainbow, which was enough for me to decide to bring a rod with me on my future tours to the area.

Oh yeah, did I mention it was pretty?

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Lake 1 of 7
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Lake 2
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Lake 3
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Lake 4
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Lake 6
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And Lake 7
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Pano at Lake 7. Apparently there is a beach here when the water is lower.
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Lake 7 with a cloud overhead
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Back at Lake 1
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Towards Florence Pass from the trail
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Bull moose had paddles going

Day 2- Lake Angeline via 7 Brothers

On my second day I figured I should still be in the area to catch any holiday weekend crowd but I didn’t necessarily want to walk around 7 Brothers a bunch of times. So I decided to adventure a little bit, by cutting off trail a couple miles to Lake Angeline. Its another fairly popular destination, probably because it is a lake up at 10,600 feet, and does have a trail to it just not from where I was. So I cut back through 7 Brothers, checking on the couple groups camped up there, and set off into the woods. As far as off trail hikes go it wasn’t bad. Just head up hill that way; through woods, burnt woods, and boulder fields. And “krummholz” aka those high altitude trees that grow all wonky, and are a pain in the arse to walk through. Brittle, thick, annoying.

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Lake 1 of 7 Bros that morn
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Off trail with boulders and krummholz

Reaching the lake was a pretty good relief. I only met one group up there too.
After a lunch break I now had to get back down. I decided to swing by the Frozen Lakes which sit above the 7 Brothers. The boulder field by them was pretty rough but they were worth the visit.
Then I headed back down the ridge to 7 Brothers. I remarkably came back to the same spot I had left too!

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Lake Angeline
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Looking back at what I went up
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Upper Frozen Lake
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Looking down the line of the 7 Brothers

Day 3- Florence Lake

Now for a change of pace. Instead of going going up to the 7 Brothers drainage for another day I traveled up Florence Canyon to Florence Lake and the pass up to the west side of the wilderness. I have only been in similar country in the Tetons. Towering granite mountains, snow and waterfalls everywhere, its an awesome environment. A couple stream crossings just dicey enough to make you swear under your breath. Temps in the lower section of the canyon easily hit 70 that day and up high it was pleasant enough to not feel like long sleeves were needed, even though the lake was still partially frozen (10,800ft) and Bomber Mountain still had snow all over it. I give the snow and ice only a few more weeks before most of it is gone. The up and down plus trail work and a couple contacts made for a full and satisfying day.

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Florence Lake
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Pano from Florence Pass on the left to Bomber Mountain on the right
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Headed down
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Day 4- Lake Angeline

Yeah I know, Lake Angeline again. I wanted to transition from the northern portion of this patrol area to the southern so I needed a transition day. So I packed up, went back to the ATV, and rode out to the Lake Angeline trail before headed to Circle Park. The trailhead needed some sprucing up plus I wanted to see what this trail was like. Because the destination was one I’d just been to I did not bring my camera, but I wouldn’t have taken any pictures differing from what I did.

Day 5- Circle Park- Trigger, Old Crow, and Lame Deer Lakes

I’d day hiked into Circle Park a couple times and it was time to see more of it. I had never been to the back side of the Circle Park Loop. Travel was quick because its lower and fairly flat (at least compared to every day previously.) Again I only met a couple people but I did catch a whiff of fire at Rainy Lake. I searched around for a while trying to find the violator but the wind wouldn’t cooperate and I only got a couple sniffs of the offense. It drove me nuts and instantly ruined whatever good spirit towards people I had for the day. I consider all our wilderness regulations good and valid, and violating our fire regulations is the worst of them to break.

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Pretty morning at Rainy Lake

After the smoke scent I only ran into one couple I’d met earlier that day though, so I didn’t have to be the unfriendly ranger.

I went all the way to Trigger Lake then backtracked to Old Crow, two popular on-trail locations for any backpackers. From Old Crow I set off off-trail again to Lame Deer Lake. Which pretty much meant more boulder hopping. Why is everything off-trail around here a boulder hop? I quickly reached the large (for this wilderness) lake and enjoyed watching big rainbow trout feasting on a mayfly hatch. I was kicking myself bad for not bringing my fly rod because it would have been fun fishing. The whole shore was lined with fish slurping up the flies being blown into the water and they had not fear of me. I also got to check out Bighorn Peak from a closer angle. With how I’m scheduled this summer, my guess is that if I’m to summit the beast it would be from this side, and it’d be rugged. There is camping at Lame Deer though, so that will… help. We’ll see if it happens.

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Her Lake
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Trigger Lake
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Old Crow Lake
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Lame Deer Lake
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Feeding fish

Day 6- Willow Lake

For my final day I took a quick walk to Willow Lake. I’m to be in the office by mid day for paperwork so could only fit in something small. At Willow I was greeted by another fish feeding frenzy, this one by Greyling. Again, amazingly not skittish. I also found a fire ring that seemed very fresh, easily from a couple days before tops. There was even melted marshmallow in it, which got all over my gloves as I dismantled the #^$%$. Sadly there is no way to prove anything, even if we looked at registrations and investigated. I also found another fire pit near Sherd Lake that seemed fairly fresh, making either one the fire that I had smelt.

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Willow Lake
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Now I sit at the library, coffee in hand, music playing in earbuds, full, and showered. It is hard to believe I was just out there yesterday, working, filthy and roughing it. Now I have six days off before headed to the west side again. What to do??? I have a pretty sweet plan, but that’ll be in my next trip report.

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Aug 9, 2007
Wowowowowow! Gorgeous shots! I am absolutely loving these Cloud trip reports of yours. Those fish look nice. Have you thought about picking up a tenkara fly rod so you can just have it all the time? ~5 oz for the whole setup and it packs down to maybe 20" long. Some of the funnest fly fishing I've had.


Jan 24, 2012
Wow, this is great. I can see my bucket list is growing again and I need to find a map of this area. Would love to chat with you about trip recommendations.


Ready For More
Jul 23, 2013
Wow. Never even knew this place existed and would have never considered it on my list of places to visit, given that the Winds, Tetons, and Yellowstone get just about all the attention in Wyoming. What a job you have and what an awesome looking place to work in.


Desperately Seeking Sandstone
Jan 21, 2012
Great report! I love to see such awesome pics of unfamiliar places. It just goes to show that there's plenty of great wilderness out there to be explored. We really are spoiled living in the West.:) Keep 'em coming!
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