Wind River Hiking

Amal Flower Kay

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Feb 17, 2016
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Hey all,
I've used BP for awhile but just recently made myself an account so this is my first post!
I'll be hiking for ~31 days in late July/early August, and a strong front runner for places to go is the Wind River range. I've done parts of Yellowstone and the Bighorns, and this summer me and my friends are looking to do a little bit more off-trail hiking in preparation for our 41 day trip to Alaska in the summer of 2017. Does anyone have any experience hiking the winds? I'm looking for good places to put in as well as some good ideas for more hiking off-trail.
Thanks!
Amal
 
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Bob

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Welcome ....... you will find the WInds are a favorite here. Run a search for them, you will find a lot to occupy your reading time. A lot of TR's, pics and maps. I also have a south to north high country traverse route we did in 2009, a lot off trail, posted in the BCP resource section. Pick up a copy of Nancy Palister's, Beyond Trails in the WInd Rivers.. it's the best reference out there.

Snow and mosquito's will normally be abundant in late July/early Aug. But if you plan good you can see a lot in 30 days....
 

muir_mountain

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Welcome! Definitely pick up Nancy Pallister's book, as well as Joe Kelsey's "Climbing and Hiking in the Wind River Mountains (3rd ed)." Those 2 books are essential. You'll find that the Wind Rivers are the best mountain range in the lower 48 for off-trail travel to get ready for Alaska.

My suggestion, especially if you are going on glaciers in Alaska, is to do a route similar to Route #41 in Pallister's Book. You can then link it with Route #31 in her book. You can link many of the routes into an epic Traverse of the range (about 135 miles). I have a SummitPost page on what I call the Wind River Range Traverse (WRRT) that I put together. Best of Luck!!

Here is the link: http://www.summitpost.org/wind-river-range-traverse/938163
 

Bob

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Interesting route.....check out mine in the resources section of this form or my post. We did south to north in 2009...similar to your route....... Total ended at 115m....

Hope your weather holds like ours did...
 

muir_mountain

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Interesting route.....check out mine in the resources section of this form or my post. We did south to north in 2009...similar to your route....... Total ended at 115m....

Hope your weather holds like ours did...
I saw yours earlier, and looked like a good route. Aren't the Winds absolutely spectacular??? I'll be doing my route late August/early September this year! I'm writing the following description as to how and why I'm choosing the route I'm doing, in order to help others who are interested in a grand Traverse of the range.
The beginning and end of our routes are quite different, but the major middle section is nearly the same.

To start, I decided on going east then north, winding through the Atlantic Creek and Stough Creek drainages to meet up with the Middle Popo Agie River (All described in Nancy Pallister's book). I have not yet seen a Wind River Traverse start this way, most go north to Sweetwater Gap like your trip. While you decided to continue north past the Deep Creek Lakes then to the Cirque of Towers, I decided to cut west into the little Sandy Creek drainage and north to Temple Pass. This was just a personal choice, because I wanted to visit Temple and Deep Lakes again. Your route is definitely easier with less elevation gain, and also with fewer people (mine goes past Big Sandy Lake). As far as scenery, I couldn't say because I've never been to Deep Creek Lakes. All I know is the Temple Lake cirque is spectacular, as well as the view from Jackass Pass.

From the Cirque of Towers, our routes diverge again. Your party chose to go over Texas Pass, north through the East Fork Valley, over Bonneville Pass, and finally to Middle Fork Lake. This seems to be the most-used and accepted route northward from the Cirque. However, for reasons due to scenery, I chose to take the Lizard Head Trail northward to Valentine Lake, then northwest to Grave Lake and then Baptiste Lake. From Baptiste Lake, I chose the off-trail route to the upper Grave cirque, north over Roberts Mountain plateau, and west down to Wykee Lake, giving the backpacker the chance to explore the entire North Fork drainage on the Indian Reservation. From Sonnicant Lake, I'll take the Kagevah Pass trail west to Middle Fork Lake.

From Middle Fork Lake, our routes are the same all the way to Lower Alpine Lake, where you got turned around due to weather. Although most parties choose to continue north to Alpine Lakes Pass then west to Indian Pass, I wanted to get to see the North Fork of Bull Lake Creek. I found a route called "Goat-Friendly High Route" in Nancy Pallister's book. It looked perfect, as it traversed the high plateaus east of the Brown Cliffs to get to the set of lakes above (south) the North Fork Bull Lake Creek. Pallister refers to this area as "Shangri-La," apparently for a good reason! I was intrigued. From Shangri-La, I plan to do a day hike up to "Glacier Panorama." Then go south up the Knife Point Glacier and over Indian Pass.

From here, most traverse routes go north to Upper Titcomb Basin and over Knapsack Col, meeting the highline trail at Peak Lake and following it north down to Green River Lakes. You chose to take the Highline trail from Island lake all the way to Green Lakes, another solid option if the party is tired or the weather is bad.
After reading a spectacular trip report on Bear Basin, I knew I had to find a route that went through that spectacular country. This is the biggest contribution I offer and the largest deviation from most traverses. The crux of the entire traverse is getting from Titcomb Basin to upper Tourist Creek, the start of the off-trail route north through Bear Basin. There are 2 options: 1. Using the Split Mountain Pass route to Scott Lake, or 2. Highline trail all the way down to Three Forks Park, then crossing the Green River to ascend Tourist Creek.
The first option is (likely) technically challenging because of having to descend Mammoth Glacier to Scott Lake. That is the route I'm going to try this summer--the most direct route. Option 2 is guaranteed not to have technicalities (class 2-3), but requires a significant detour and 4000 feet of elevation loss and gain.

I just thought I'd throw my ideas out there. Let me know if you have any questions of other ideas! Thank you.
 

Absarokanaut

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I do not know the Winds as well as some of the folks at bpbasecamp.freeforums.net; I highly recommend that you check out the Mountain States forum there as well as the great resources you're finding here.

If you do the CDT through the Winds I want to share something with you. When the CDT leaves the Winds and gets into the Absaroka it abandons the divide for a LONG time. This section of the Divide is part of my favorite place on earth, broad plateaus rimmed by all kinds of amazing cliffs. And unlike the Winds you will get a real taste of the kind of fauna you will see in Alaska. From north of Bonneville Pass near Brooks Lake you can stay on the Divide Crest for a long time and get all the way to Marston Pass. Up there you will certainly see that this largest sub-range of the Rockies is the closest thing to interior Alaska you're gonna find in the 48.

Aiko & Barret On Austin Crest.jpg
Austin Ascent Barret 2008.jpg
Absaroka West Pass.jpg
Absaroka Cub Creek June 2103.jpg
Absaroka From Union.jpg
Austin Peak, Tetons July 02.jpg
 

muir_mountain

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I do not know the Winds as well as some of the folks at bpbasecamp.freeforums.net; I highly recommend that you check out the Mountain States forum there as well as the great resources you're finding here.

If you do the CDT through the Winds I want to share something with you. When the CDT leaves the Winds and gets into the Absaroka it abandons the divide for a LONG time. This section of the Divide is part of my favorite place on earth, broad plateaus rimmed by all kinds of amazing cliffs. And unlike the Winds you will get a real taste of the kind of fauna you will see in Alaska. From north of Bonneville Pass near Brooks Lake you can stay on the Divide Crest for a long time and get all the way to Marston Pass. Up there you will certainly see that this largest sub-range of the Rockies is the closest thing to interior Alaska you're gonna find in the 48.

View attachment 42116 View attachment 42117 View attachment 42118 View attachment 42119 View attachment 42120 View attachment 42121
I just did a trip report on this very place! Absolutely amazing, and also one of my favorite places on earth. The Absarokas, as a whole, are undoubtedly the most wild mountain range in the lower 48.
However, the northern Winds are the most "wild" section of mountains in the American Rockies, if not for fauna, but for absolutely trail less, glaciated terrain. Probably the largest section of trailless alpine wilderness in the Rockies. A true gem.
 

Absarokanaut

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I've got to look for your report MM. Swims With Trout pointed out to me that the Downs Mt. Quad is most likely the only one in the 48 without a trail on it.
 

muir_mountain

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I've got to look for your report MM. Swims With Trout pointed out to me that the Downs Mt. Quad is most likely the only one in the 48 without a trail on it.
I look at a lot of maps... Downs Mountain is the only quad I'm aware of without a trail on it (secret advice, Bear Basin is DEFINITELY worth your time to explore...).
Gannett Peak, the quad directly below it, is easily the most fantastically alpine and glaciated section of the American Rockies. Not many people realize that the Winds contain the largest glaciers, ironically not Glacier NP. Gannett Peak quad would have my vote for the most inaccessible terrain, and save for two trails in the far corners of the map, is completely trailless.
 
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Absarokanaut

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I enjoyed the high Winds quite a bit, but the South Buttress of Mt. Moran blows it away IMO; but we all have our preferences. I'm a bit older than many folks here, and a bit plump to be kind to myself. I appreciate the easier access to the far less visited area.

MM have you been to Ross Lake and Ram Flat? Whiskey MT.?
 

muir_mountain

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I enjoyed the high Winds quite a bit, but the South Buttress of Mt. Moran blows it away IMO; but we all have our preferences. I'm a bit older than many folks here, and a bit plump to be kind to myself. I appreciate the easier access to the far less visited area.

MM have you been to Ross Lake and Ram Flat? Whiskey MT.?
No I haven't. Beautiful area, I'm sure. I'll be going east of the divide through Bear Basin this summer (and possibly summit Down's Mountains).
I'll be doing the Teton Crest Trail to Paintbrush Divide, then I plan to drop down north to Leigh Creek and continue north to the Bitch Creek and Camp Lake area. I might be able to see the south face of Moran along this section.
Happy exploring!
 

Bob

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MM check out our route from Grassy Lake.......to Phillips creek. It's the resources section here...... We pretty much followed the old Petzholt Highline route across....
 

LarryBoy

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From Middle Fork Lake, our routes are the same all the way to Lower Alpine Lake, where you got turned around due to weather. Although most parties choose to continue north to Alpine Lakes Pass then west to Indian Pass, I wanted to get to see the North Fork of Bull Lake Creek. I found a route called "Goat-Friendly High Route" in Nancy Pallister's book. It looked perfect, as it traversed the high plateaus east of the Brown Cliffs to get to the set of lakes above (south) the North Fork Bull Lake Creek. Pallister refers to this area as "Shangri-La," apparently for a good reason! I was intrigued. From Shangri-La, I plan to do a day hike up to "Glacier Panorama." Then go south up the Knife Point Glacier and over Indian Pass.
North Fork Bull Lake Creek is an absolutely magical area. The hiking is pretty easy (as far as off-trail) goes from Alpine Lakes Pass all the way to the base of Blaurock Pass. You'll fine an old well-made trail somewhere around 43.1495, -109.5717 down most of the way to the creek.
 

Bob

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Shangrila is nice but not spectacular IMO. Brown cliffs over Bloody Hell Pass is not that bad.... good fishing in some lakes here.
We went over West Indian Pass and down Knifepoint to the left....looked better to the right tho from the bottom.... like LB said, easy hiking all the way down to Bull Lake Fork, although we cut over to go over Bloody Hell Pass (brown cliffs)

Not sure of what you are calling places, but its not a day hike from Shangrila to Glacier Panorama (...below Blaurock Pass??) The entire East side is some tough country.

This has pics on East side of Indian Pass: http://backcountrypost.com/threads/wind-rivers-2014-part-1.3610/
This has pics going past shangrila and over Bloody Hell Pass: http://backcountrypost.com/threads/wind-rivers-2014-part-2.3611/
 
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You still need to get up onto Horse Ridge for the best of the best. Or the continuation along the "True Divide" From Gannett to Ross Lks.,the Ultimate in Winds off trail "hikes"
 
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Bob

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SWT ........ making another try for Horse Ridge this year...... :) and over to Bear Basin......
 
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