Wind River Range Priorities

Cburton

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Joined
Sep 3, 2017
Messages
22
First post here. I've read the site off and on for a few years planning trips, and it's been really helpful. I've dug especially deep into the information on this site on the wind rivers, which has been awesome.

I leave for my trip next Thursday September 7th, and we'll start at Elkhart Park TH mid morning on September 8th and have seven days to hike.

I'm running into a semi serious problem. There are just too many areas I want to see! I know, I'll have to return to see more of the winds. As of now, we plan to hike in via the Pole Creek trail and spend our first night somewhere around Upper or Lower Jean Lakes. Then by peak lake, over Knapsack Col, through Titcomb Basin, into Indian Basin, the off trail route by Wall Lake. Then past Cook Lakes and through Spider Lakes Basin and over the off trail pass and over to the Golden Lakes. Back over the Divide via Hay Pass, off trail just west of the divide past long lake, to halls lake and then Middle Fork Lake. I'd like to see Bewmark Lake and the. Hike past Lee and Donna Lakes. Then through Bonneville Basin and over to the East Fork. Then catch the Fremont or Highline Trail for the way back to Elkhart Park TH.

I recognize this is a reasonably ambitious route for 7 nearly full days on trail. We plan on not crossing the divide if weather turns bad.

Our priorities are scenery, solitude and fishing. We can cover around 15 miles on trail in a day with up to 3000 feet of gain. Off trail probably closer to 10 miles. We know fishing time will be somewhat limited.

I've heard great things about the scenery in the golden lakes area, but I've read mixed reviews on the fishing. We're not super picky with what species we catch. I'm open to some changes in the route if it sounds like it would be a better fit.

With that in mind, what would you cut out or change? Is the route way too aggressive? Are we missing anything near any area we're planning on being?

Thanks so much for the help!
 

Lincsco

Member
Joined
Jul 31, 2017
Messages
24
Here's my quick thoughts. I've had good luck fishing at lower jean, cook, spider and Halls. In fact, I had an evening at cook where our group caught nonstop fish for 2 hours or so. Even for the Winds it was spectacular. I've heard good things about middle fork and rumors that wall may have a few good fish hiding in it. The Goldens are beautiful and there are very few people that make it over there. However, I've spent 2 solid days fishing them and was totally skunked. I have talked to other people that have caught stuff there. East Fork is awesome. I tried to get back in there earlier this year but it was still snowed in.

Your route may be aggressive but definitely doable. If you don't get over the divide, the east fork drainage is a pretty amazing spot. You could easily spend a day exploring it. I also like Europe Canyon if you want to spend a day there.

Regarding your goals - the scenery will be unparalleled. You'll have periods of solitude but I would expect at least a few friends at the jeans, definitely in Titcomb, and maybe around wall and cook. After that, you hopefully won't see many people until you jump on the freemont trail (although every time I think I'm totally alone, I usually run across a NOLS group). As for fishing, you'll definitely do well along the route. Let me know if you have any other specific questions I can answer.
 

Cburton

Member
Joined
Sep 3, 2017
Messages
22
Lincsco,

Thanks a ton for the detailed response. I'm really intrigued by the east fork area and the drainage containing Donna, Lee and Middle Fork Lakes to its north. Would it be worth saving some time/miles going straight to Titcomb Basin instead of heading up to Peak Lake and through the upper parts of the Titcomb Basin via Knapsack Col? Or also cutting the part over the Divide and into the Golden Lakes drainage in order to have more time to explore the basins on either side of Bonneville Basin? It will be my first time in the Winds, so I'm sure I'll really enjoy whatever areas I end up seeing. I'd just really like to see some of the more spectacular areas that also have a bit more solitude. I plan on taking my wife up there in the next few years, so I'll be doing some scouting for that trip as well.
 

Artemus

I walk
.
Joined
Jun 25, 2012
Messages
4,404
First post here. I've read the site off and on for a few years planning trips, and it's been really helpful. I've dug especially deep into the information on this site on the wind rivers, which has been awesome.

I leave for my trip next Thursday September 7th, and we'll start at Elkhart Park TH mid morning on September 8th and have seven days to hike.

I'm running into a semi serious problem. There are just too many areas I want to see! I know, I'll have to return to see more of the winds. As of now, we plan to hike in via the Pole Creek trail and spend our first night somewhere around Upper or Lower Jean Lakes. Then by peak lake, over Knapsack Col, through Titcomb Basin, into Indian Basin, the off trail route by Wall Lake. Then past Cook Lakes and through Spider Lakes Basin and over the off trail pass and over to the Golden Lakes. Back over the Divide via Hay Pass, off trail just west of the divide past long lake, to halls lake and then Middle Fork Lake. I'd like to see Bewmark Lake and the. Hike past Lee and Donna Lakes. Then through Bonneville Basin and over to the East Fork. Then catch the Fremont or Highline Trail for the way back to Elkhart Park TH.

I recognize this is a reasonably ambitious route for 7 nearly full days on trail. We plan on not crossing the divide if weather turns bad.

Our priorities are scenery, solitude and fishing. We can cover around 15 miles on trail in a day with up to 3000 feet of gain. Off trail probably closer to 10 miles. We know fishing time will be somewhat limited.

I've heard great things about the scenery in the golden lakes area, but I've read mixed reviews on the fishing. We're not super picky with what species we catch. I'm open to some changes in the route if it sounds like it would be a better fit.

With that in mind, what would you cut out or change? Is the route way too aggressive? Are we missing anything near any area we're planning on being?

Thanks so much for the help!
Ambitious is an accurate assessment. How many miles is your current route? Does it get done with 15/10 mile days? My opinion is you are rushing it and there is little padding in the plan for weather or relaxation.
 

Lincsco

Member
Joined
Jul 31, 2017
Messages
24
I also tend to agree with Artemis. I know some people like to cover as much mileage as possible but I really like to slow down and enjoy the Winds, especially because I'm not a big fan of hiking in the rain and with 7 days at least a few showers are inevitable. I did a big traverse of the Winds several years ago and ever since, it seems like I've just been targeting specific areas I want to see again and further explore.

I've never done knapsack col but it is on my list. I would suggest doing it if I were you. Here's a cool report of it: http://www.greatoutdoorshop.com/knapsackcol/. On a side note, I highly recommend stopping in the Great Outdoor Shop in Pinedale. Josh and Laura are the owners and great people. Fred is also very helpful. Over the years they've given us great info about routes, fishing spots, campsites, etc.

I hate to steer anyone away from something they want to see but given the ambitious nature of your trip, I would save the Goldens for another time. I haven't been up to bonneville but I'm sure it's amazing. I would spend more time there and in the east fork drainage.
 

Cburton

Member
Joined
Sep 3, 2017
Messages
22
Thanks again for the replies. I worried we were trying to fit a bit too much in. Hard to not want to see it all, but we do like to do a couple of hours of smelling the roses along the way and enjoy 2-3 hours of fishing in the evening.

The more I hear about the East Fork, Bonneville, and the drainage just north of there, the more I want to spend more time there. I'm thinking it might be best to see those areas first in case we want to spend an extra day there, then head north staying along the west side of the divide. That way we'll see as much as we want in the east fork, and then can get as far north as we can with the remaining time, doing knapsack col from the titcomb basin side. Any reason to do the loop clockwise instead? And should we stick with the Elkhart TH still, or would another trailhead be a better fit since our focus is shifting a bit south?
 

Lincsco

Member
Joined
Jul 31, 2017
Messages
24
I've done almost that same trip starting at Big Sandy trailhead and going out at Elk Hart. We didn't do knapsack though. I would probably suggest starting south and heading north. Finishing with Titcomb and Knapsack would be pretty amazing. On a side note, I just realized my profile picture is in the East Fork Drainage.

I'm staying in Pinedale tonight and headed out tomorrow. I just talked to Laura @ The Great Outdoor shop and she said knapsack is definitely her favorite place in the Winds. I haven't been there but it is my top priority next year. I would definitely stop by the shop and see what they say.

Also, pray for some rain to knock down this smoke. This is some of the worst I've seen.
 

Cburton

Member
Joined
Sep 3, 2017
Messages
22
We're definitely going to stop by The Great Outdoors Shop and pick up fuel and a few other last minute things.

I think a shuttle might be a good way to maximize our week. I'll call GOTCO tomorrow.

How long did you spend going from big sandy to Elkhart?

The way I'm calculating the route I would take brings me to just under 80 miles. 30 off trail, 50 on trail. Conservatively, we could do that with 7 days hiking for 7 hours on average each day. I'm assuming roughly 2mph on trail and 1.25 mph off trail. Seems much more reasonable with a shuttle.
 

Lincsco

Member
Joined
Jul 31, 2017
Messages
24
It took us either 9 or 10 days and we used a shuttle (which I'm sure you already figured out). We did jump over to the Goldens and fished them and the Milky Lakes where we got skunked. We also spent a few days in Europe Canyon which was spectacular. We head into the cirque via Shadow lake tomorrow for a few days so maybe we'll run into you.
 

Cburton

Member
Joined
Sep 3, 2017
Messages
22
Looks like we'll just be a couple days behind you. Planning on starting at Big Sandy and heading up through the Cirque and then to the East Fork.

Thanks again for all of your help, and have a great trip!
 

Artemus

I walk
.
Joined
Jun 25, 2012
Messages
4,404
Yes, enjoy the roses! East Fork is one of my favorite places on earth. Summiting Raid from there is exquisite. Use the col north of Raid. And Europe is to die for too. A little teaser from Europe Canyon from last month below. Have fun and explore. The un-trailed areas are even more fun to explore. Surprises abound.

publishSmWr-1-6 copy.jpg
 
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