Summer in the CPW- Tour 5 on the East Side

Scott Chandler

Wildness is a necessity- John Muir
Joined
Jan 4, 2014
Messages
1,099
After a few adventuresome "weekend" days I finally have some interweb to share more summer goodness. The weekend fun will pop up in another TR soon.

So a while ago now (August 1st) I started my fifth tour in the Cloud Peak Wilderness. I'd made the full rotation of our wilderness schedule and was back on the eastern side. My brain was full of ideas of new spots to explore but those ideas were dashed pretty quick. Long story short: rain stinks.

Day 1

I had planned to camp out in Circle Park my first night of the tour. I got a late start at the trail because I was invited to sit in on the first court hearing of the season and quickly an afternoon thunderstorm had boiled overhead. Once cats and dogs started falling on my head my plans to camp out disappeared. The benefit of living on the mountain, near the eastern side, is that I can day trip from my cozy bed. I made it to Long and Ringbone Lakes to find substantial resource damage at Ringbone made by some @#$#@$ sometime. Very disheartening.

Day 2

To make up for my lack of sleeping out the night before I hiked the entire Circle Park Loop+Willow Lake on my second day. While this isn't terribly hard for a good hiker (13 miles) it is a long day for a wilderness ranger who has to talk to everyone and break down illegal firepits at every lake.

Rainy at Rainy Lake (fancy that)
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It stopped while I was at Willow.
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It was nice at Old Crow, but I had to deal with a shore that had significant resource damage to "improve its camping character:mad:" and lots of TP.
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At least Her Lake has little camping potential
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Then I got to Trigger and found three illegal firepits. Because camping without a fire is so terrible.
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Day 3

Determined to spend some nights out I shifted away from Circle Park to 7 Brothers. On my previous tour to the area I spent my time learning where all the expected camp spots were and this time I tried to find the unexpected spots. I only found one, so that was nice. The rain for the day was only drizzly too so the day was nice. After a few back and forths along the lakes I hiked up to a treeless ridge that divided 7 Brothers from Florence Canyon. Very pretty. Then on my way down I stumbled on a couple that had their stock illegally tethered to live trees...

It was a nice day early on. From Lake 1 to 7 it was quite pleasant with few clouds at all.
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Clouds moved in by mid day but never dumped at least.
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In the afternoon I ventured up a hill for good views of 7 Brothers and the mountainline.
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Then on the way to camp the clouds decided they couldn't hold it anymore and got kinda nasty. It was a wet night.
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Day 4

I originally had it planned to backpack up Florence Canyon to better be able to explore the area. Waking up to threatening clouds stopped that idea. Even when I'm paid to do it, backpacking in the rain is not something I enjoy, especially when that rain/thunderstorm would descend on me at 10,000 ft. So I hiked up to Medicine Park where I was requested to take pictures of a wash out of the trail and started my one off trail adventure of the tour.

Florence Canyon sure is nice.
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The Powell Lakes sit in a cirque on the side of Bomber Mountain. The cut out of the mountain is noticeable from everywhere and I'd been above the lakes when I hiked up Bomber. While they call very strongly to be explored, they are quite hard to get to. Their hanging valley sits way up there, first through dense woods and then over rocky barren terrain, all while being very steep. For me, it was awesome! The best hiking experience yet. Reaching the first of the lakes I had hopes, and time, to explore the whole cirque. Then it started to rain. And hail. And rain harder. And Thunder. Jeez. I got to the second lower lake before calling it a day. I'd nearly fallen in the lake twice, slipping on the wet granite. My rain gear was soaking through. I'd felt the hair on the back of my neck stand with lightning. Yeah, it was pretty nuts up there.

The trek up to the cirque is one of the better off trail adventures I've ever had. It follows Powell Creek the whole way as it drops off the mountain.
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And the Powell Cirque is epic. I'll have to return when its not raining.
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That evening I spent naked back at base camp trying to dry my clothes with a camp stove. That doesn't work very well.

Day 5

Wet clothes from the day before back on I looked at the sky. Clouds. Some dark. I scrapped plans to bump over to Elk Lake, which would have risked severe lightning exposure, for a day at 7 Brothers again. Don't get me wrong, 7 Bros is nice, but two days in one tour up there is rough. Especially when no one is up there, because its been raining, and seems to want to continue. But I got some trail projects done which helped validate my decision to stay in the area. When it started to rain again I hiked out to the ATV and my cabin. I was done being wet.

Only a few pictures. I had just been here after all.
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Day 6

Going back to my cabin made filling my final day a little weird. I chose to hike another trail that people use to get to 7 Brothers since none of the rangers had done it yet this season. I discovered the wilderness boundary sign was split in half and that the trail was clear of trees. And it didn't rain on me!

I only brought my phone this day so the pictures were meh. I did like this pano of my morning ATV ride view.
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Every Wilderness Ranger will say they've had times where they've wondered why they do their job. This tour was just one of those times. Severe rain and signs that people don't care, and that no matter how hard you do your job they won't, do that to someone. But they all pass. Now that I've been dry for a few days I have a better outlook on it all. ;) I also had a nice weekend. Again, TR popping up soon.

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Aldaron

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Jun 16, 2012
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signs that people don't care, and that no matter how hard you do your job they won't, do that to someone.

It's fun to watch your faith in mankind approach my own :)

I've always worked off the belief that people who trash the backcountry don't venture deep into the wilderness. But last year I saw several trashed backcountry campsites in the Uintas and it really infuriated me.
 
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