Wind River Range Part 1- Cirque to Shadow Lake

Ugly

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Shadow Lake.

In early August a few years of waiting came to fruition in a big way.

Sometimes I plan a trip down to every detail. For this one, we had a few possibilities, but except for a desire to get up into the Left Fork Lakes area and an open midweek timeframe, this trip was largely unplanned. We ended up doing a low-key, pretty common loop. The weather was not a surprise and overall was a special kind of perfect.
The only thing that was actually planned was the food. Almost every trip I try something special to eat or drink, and this trip had a few of those.
If you want to ignore the commentary and just see the sights in this report, then I am cool with that.

The drive in. Hours of backroads, rigs and antelope, before the peaks grew closer.


We headed first for Big Sandy. Clear waters and easy hiking.


Time passed much slower than these cascades where we stopped for some Lolokai Hi-chews, fresh from my wife's trip to Hawaii (The link between these two trips was important... she does not backpack and sometimes complains that I travel for work and then also disappear for days at a time into wilderness... she spent 10 days in Hawaii without me... so no complaints about this trip...it is called leverage ;) )


The wind was picking up as we hit Big Sandy. We wandered the shores for a little while, the cobwebs of work life and other stress were finally feeling cleared out, or perhaps blown out as the clouds raced overhead.


Time to decide where to go.


The decision was easy. It was windy, but not stormy and we had made good time. I had wanted to spend a night up Deep lake and near Temple, but since it was a Tuesday we hoped the crowds would be less and we could get to the Cirque and then head elsewhere for the rest of the week.



These would have to wait for another trip.


We were being whipped around a lot by the wind as the Cirque came into view.

Instead of going up Jackass, we cut across to look for a place to stay the night. You can see the trail up Jackass on the right side of this photo, more like a gouge than a trail. the faint line climbing to the left is what we took.

You can see my buddy leaning back into the wind. The gusts added extra spice.


We got some water and sporadic sun, here by Arrowhead.


I love being able to "see" wind as it races across lakes.


So spectacular.

We had dinner at Hidden Lake, the little turquoise gem on the left. I will not attempt to name the peaks.

After finding a secluded campsite, tucked down in some tumbled boulders and looking back up at Warbonnet, we pulled out the supplies for dinner and went boulder hopping. We had only had some donuts at 5am for breakfast, then snacks for lunch and it was well after 5pm... my stomach grumbled.

Hidden Lake.
Beauty.


Dinner was tortellini, swimming in home-made sun-dried tomato pesto, italian blend cheese, salami, bacon bits, sliced green olives, and a little extra butter for good measure. After dinner we just sat there in silence for long minutes at a time just taking in the granite, silence broken only by random gusts of wind and a few minor rock falls behind us.



I watched the clouds race overhead.


Back at camp the sunset threatened to be nothing, but for literally one, maybe two minutes, there was a little bit of color, then only grays and blues.


We were in bed early with full stomachs, which meant I was up early as the billion stars, in a now mostly clear sky, were winking out as they were drowned by the slow warming of dawn. I watched the headlamps of climbers as they picked their way first to Pingora, then up her granite sides.



On our way to Texas Pass.




As we climbed we were distracted for over an hour by countless bouquets of color. We soaked up some sun as it warmed up and just enjoyed it.








We hit the pass nicely warmed up, but as we broke out a lunch of pastrami and a wedge of dill pickle, wrapped in a tortilla with a bit of mustard, we were soon in our windshirts.


Looking down the other side.





When we rounded the corner, this view smacked me in the face.


and kept coming...




We hit Shadow Lake so early in the afternoon that my friend wanted to keep going, but I had taken a single look at the view and was not budging. We wandered a bit, setup camp, and were contemplating a dip when a stray storm passed overhead.
Dinner was Pho ramen with a little fresh basil and the last of the pastrami covered with a healthy dose of hoisin and sweet chili garlic sauce.

Absolute awe.
(and I got myself in the panorama)


Sunset.


We watched the colors disappear and the reflection of the moon play on the waters of Shadow Lake, talking long into the darkness. I did not bring a tripod, but instead was helping my friend figure out some night shots. I eventually propped my camera up on my gloves and took this noisy attempt.


to be Continued...
 

Noun Sequitur

My Feet Hurt
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Oct 24, 2012
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Awesome! I'm more of a desert guy... but your pictures make me want to head to the mountains.
 

Curt

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My wife doesn't backpack either (and has never wanted to) and views backpacking trips as me taking a vacation without her. In my case sending her to Hawaii for a week by herself wouldn't work. She wouldn't want to go without me and it bothers her that I want to do this thing even if its without her. Though she's a country girl that grew up on a farm it mystifies her why I feel compelled to go to the wilderness. How to make this thing work better is something I've been working on my whole married life and I still haven't come up with a good solution yet. I thought I had it worked out when I was taking our kids. They liked it and I thought they would help their mother understand. Mainly she saw it as good father-daughter time - and it was - but she's just as mystified why they liked it. Our kids are grown up now and trips with them are pretty much in the past and I still have this problem. I wish you luck. I hope you come up with a better solution than I have. It just seems wrong that something so good can cause stress in an otherwise wonderful marriage.

I think your pictures are great too. This place is on the bucket list and seeing your pictures makes me want to go even more. Thanks for posting your report. Really enjoyed it.
 

Eric O

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Apr 12, 2014
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My wife doesn't backpack either (and has never wanted to) and views backpacking trips as me taking a vacation without her. In my case sending her to Hawaii for a week by herself wouldn't work. She wouldn't want to go without me and it bothers her that I want to do this thing even if its without her. Though she's a country girl that grew up on a farm it mystifies her why I feel compelled to go to the wilderness. How to make this thing work better is something I've been working on my whole married life and I still haven't come up with a good solution yet. I thought I had it worked out when I was taking our kids. They liked it and I thought they would help their mother understand. Mainly she saw it as good father-daughter time - and it was - but she's just as mystified why they liked it. Our kids are grown up now and trips with them are pretty much in the past and I still have this problem. I wish you luck. I hope you come up with a better solution than I have. It just seems wrong that something so good can cause stress in an otherwise wonderful marriage.

I think your pictures are great too. This place is on the bucket list and seeing your pictures makes me want to go even more. Thanks for posting your report. Really enjoyed it.

You sound exactly like some of my buddies and their relationships with their wives. "She wouldn't want to go without me and it bothers her that I want to do this thing even if its without her." That's literally word for word what a friend told me a few months back when he got into a fight with his wife over doing an overnight backpacking trip with us.

I don't understand this thinking and it's kind of a controlling, manipulative mindset that someone shouldn't do something unless they are doing it with their significant other. I'm sure you and my buddies would all love for their wives to be into backpacking or camping, or any of their interests but they aren't and it's their choice.

I don't have any answers but I can say that tension over backpacking isn't the problem, it's just a symptom. It really has nothing to do with the activity you pursue. I saw the same thing with my grandpa and grandma. She never wanted him to go fishing, which is his one love in life. She literally wanted him to sit next to her 24/7 and watch soap operas and run errands and be attached at the hip to her. It killed the man, literally. He went from being a brilliant, successful and engaging man to his mind withering away within a year of retiring and spending 24/7 with her. He now has the mind of a 3 year old. For all intents and purposes my grandpa is dead. I'm 100% convinced that she hastened the onset of his alzheimer's.

One thing I noticed about my friend's wives is that they don't have their own friends, they don't have hobbies of their own, and quite frankly they are bored, depressed and live extremely easy stress free lives. Contrast that with my wife who is into photography, working out, does girl nights regularly, goes on walks with friends a few times a week, and manages to work 30-50 (runs a day care plus a photography/editing business) hours a week and takes care of our three small children. My wife is extremely supportive of my outdoors activities and even though she doesn't want to backpack at this point in life (kids are our main obstacle, maybe she will in the future) she knows it makes me happy so she encourages me to go and she makes the sacrifice of taking care of the kids by herself so that I can. I only take a few trips a year because it's just not fair to her to handle a 4, 2 and 1 year old by herself on top of working but as the kids get older and our lives become easier (we sleep very poorly at the moment) I can see trips being easier to take.

My wife and I both try to be the kind of people that give give give to those around them and part of that is always supporting each other in any endeavor either of us wants to undertake. Unfortunately I find that most people are takers and take time, energy, money, knowledge, freedom, etc from others without an equitable return on their end. My friends are all super nice guys that bend over backwards to make their wives happy. Their wives certainly fall into this category (not saying that yours does) of being a taker, not a giver and I think a lot of it happens because an open and honest conversation hasn't happened and thus no internal inventory of their lives has been forced to happen.


Ok, thread hijack over. Amazing pictures. The winds are high on my bucket list and I really appreciate all the time and effort that the descriptions and pictures take for these trip reports. Thank you again!
 
Last edited:

gnwatts

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Beautiful pics. You hit it just right.
 

Ugly

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Thanks for the compliments. The scenery makes the image... so much good stuff up there, but I will be back in the desert shortly.
 

Ugly

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I hear both of your comments @Curt and @Eric O ... and I have seen the same with some friends, just a really quick personal commentary.

For me, I have been lucky in that going on trips is no longer a true strain on the relationship with my wife. It has just been trying to find a balance. The Hawaii trip was 10 days where my wife spent time with her dad and sister, so I am joking about leverage.

My wife and I pursue some things together and some things apart, but her complaints through the years have become more along the lines of "There you go, running off into the wilderness again" to which she often offers to go and buy things on my list because she knows I love it. For many years I was traveling 60-75% for work. Since I stopped traveling so much she has good naturedly leaned over when I am chomping on chips or something next to her and said "Don't you have to travel somewhere?" It is part of our balance. She likes camping, so long as it involves a boat and family, so we do that too a couple times a summer.

Good on you for taking out the kids. For me taking the kids on trips individually have been cherished times and lately has trumped some other excursions with friends that I have on my list, as there is only so much time to go around. Sorry to my friends who are still waiting for me to be an excuse for them to go to Kanab Creek, or Olympia, or the Canadian Rockies...

Thanks for the comments!
 

Eric O

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Thanks for the compliments. The scenery makes the image... so much good stuff up there, but I will be back in the desert shortly.

If you had to pick your favorite section/view from your trip, what would it be? I know it's hard to chose, I'm just curious since I need to start coming up with idea for my maiden trip to the winds.
 

wsp_scott

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I really like "seeing the wind move across the water" pic. I would not have noticed it if you had not mentioned it, but it is a really cool pic. And damn if the flowers weren't popping.

I don't know what camera you are shooting with, but I have had good results with a gorilla pod and pan head for slrs, it is light weight enough to just stuff in the pack and it holds my Nikon D5100 and 18-105 lens without problems. Nice star shot using the gloves.

FWIW, my wife and I have a very good relationship, but she is somewhat mystified by my love of the outdoors. Every time I mention that I want to go do a couple nights trip, I can see the look in her face that says "why do you want to leave me?" She is happy to let me go, but can't understand why I want to go. I don't think she will ever love it like I do, but I got her to go on her first backpacking trip this summer and I'm taking her to Glacier next summer so there is hope :)
 

Ugly

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If you had to pick your favorite section/view from your trip, what would it be? I know it's hard to chose, I'm just curious since I need to start coming up with idea for my maiden trip to the winds.

We didn't cover that much mileage this trip... but the East Fork Lakes was probably the place I would go back and spend more time in. It may take years to get back there though... too many other places on the list.
 

Ugly

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I really like "seeing the wind move across the water" pic. I would not have noticed it if you had not mentioned it, but it is a really cool pic. And damn if the flowers weren't popping.

I don't know what camera you are shooting with, but I have had good results with a gorilla pod and pan head for slrs, it is light weight enough to just stuff in the pack and it holds my Nikon D5100 and 18-105 lens without problems. Nice star shot using the gloves.

FWIW, my wife and I have a very good relationship, but she is somewhat mystified by my love of the outdoors. Every time I mention that I want to go do a couple nights trip, I can see the look in her face that says "why do you want to leave me?" She is happy to let me go, but can't understand why I want to go. I don't think she will ever love it like I do, but I got her to go on her first backpacking trip this summer and I'm taking her to Glacier next summer so there is hope :)

Thanks, and I have tried a friend's rip off of a gorilla pod. It is handy. Usually I do take a tripod, just a cheap one, but forgot it this trip. I was too focused on food perhaps when packing.
 

danger02ward

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Love the pictures! What a beautiful place! The cirque of the towers is high on my list. Thanks for sharing.
 

Nick

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Seriously stunning photos and report.

I'm also going to hop on the spouse-playtime-balance hijack bandwagon. I tried to make my wife like backpacking over the first few years of our relationship. I dragged her all over the place and it didn't really work - square peg, round hole. She did fine and all, but it's not for everyone. Now she doesn't care at all how often I go so long as it makes me happy. In fact, if I don't go on a trip without her often enough, she'll tell me I'm overdue because she really likes having time to herself. We do a lot of our Glen Canyon trips together and it has been a great balance of the kind of camping we can both really enjoy, but even with that, we both still want to spend time apart and I think it's been a key to a great relationship.

I know there's a ton of relationships out there that are not like that (and are still great), and I've heard friends tell me things like "we can't all have it like you" or whatever. Maybe true, but it still bewilders me that such decisions in a relationship can't be made more logically when it comes to making each other happy. I only add my story to this because I think that if more people know that a more equitable balance is possible and works out for others, its more likely to become the norm. The thought of being told I can't go somewhere as an adult "just because" hurts my brain big time.
 

Artemus

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Nice job Ugly! Well photographed and experienced. I have been up and over and all around that Cirque of the Towers and it tickles me pink to see someone enjoy it for the first time like you and you all. Enjoy Wilderness! and protect her.
 

JoshuaDyal

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My wife doesn't backpack either (and has never wanted to) and views backpacking trips as me taking a vacation without her. In my case sending her to Hawaii for a week by herself wouldn't work. She wouldn't want to go without me and it bothers her that I want to do this thing even if its without her. Though she's a country girl that grew up on a farm it mystifies her why I feel compelled to go to the wilderness. How to make this thing work better is something I've been working on my whole married life and I still haven't come up with a good solution yet. I thought I had it worked out when I was taking our kids. They liked it and I thought they would help their mother understand. Mainly she saw it as good father-daughter time - and it was - but she's just as mystified why they liked it. Our kids are grown up now and trips with them are pretty much in the past and I still have this problem. I wish you luck. I hope you come up with a better solution than I have. It just seems wrong that something so good can cause stress in an otherwise wonderful marriage.
Sometimes you don't need to understand everything about each other; sometimes you just need to accept it.

And when one of you isn't accepting without understanding, sometimes that person needs to be gently reminded that they don't need to understand everything, but that they just need to accept it.

I had some similar issues when I got back into the hobby, but I just told my wife that this is MY hobby, it's important to me, and if she's going to try and thwart it, the only likely result is that I'll ignore her and do it anyway, which will make us both angry, or I'll cater to her whims to keep me handy and convenient for her and then resent her for trying to keep me from something that's important to me just because she didn't understand it.

Opposition dried up overnight. Now, the only thing that I still get grief about is how much money I spend on gear and gas and hotel nights on my way out west... but that's on me for assigning her home CFO duties... ;)

It retrospect, that summary doesn't sound like a "gentle reminder" but in reality, it mostly was. Take charge of your own destiny. Being a partner doesn't mean doing what you're told, it means working together.
 
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