Wind Rivers 2007


Jan 19, 2012
I've been debating on whether or not to share this trip for a long time. This is the trip that got me into backpacking. While it was the most physically challenging trip I've ever been on (part of that being my first trip and being out of shape), and yet it was also the most awarding! I just fell in love with being in the backcountry and the high alpine terrain! The reason I haven’t shared this trip is mostly because my friend who took me to this place swore me to secrecy, although I've talked with a handful of few people that have been to this area of the Wind Rivers. So it’s not like no one knows about it, but in respect to him I am omitting and details of the location.

The only backpacking trip I had ever been on before this trip was a short, easy hike a few miles up Green Canyon near Logan a few months earlier. Little did I know what awaited me that August. The plan was to head in on a Saturday and come back out the next Saturday. We were going to take two days to hike in and two days to hike out. The weeks prior to going I had started throwing things I wanted to take into a pile. A few days before we were to leave, it became apparent I had too much stuff, so I cut out a few things. Then I tried packing my pack and threw out some more. I had probably packed and re packed 3 or 4 times, each time thinning out items I decided weren't needed. By the time we were ready go I had thinned my pack down to around 55 lbs. I thought I could handle that just fine, but the bruises on my hips that lasted for days proved otherwise.

Saturday morning we rolled out and headed to Pinedale where we grabbed some greasy burgers for lunch and then onto the trailhead. It was about 1pm when we hit the trail (I try to get started much earlier now days). For the first 4 miles the trail was very easy going, like walking the river trail in Logan Canyon. I was having a blast and moving along pretty fast. Then we had to the climb up out of the canyon we were in. The trail went up and up. My pace slowed to a crawl. I was dying, and that greasy burger for lunch wasn't doing me any good. So many times I thought of how easy it would be to turn around and go back to the car, but I wouldn't let myself do it. I knew if I gave in I would regret it for the rest of my life, so I pressed on. After about 7 miles (much shorter than we’d hope to make it the first day) it was getting dark and we quickly found a place to make camp. It was a pretty horrible place to camp. The ground was sloping and almost no room to pitch a tent, but we didn't have much choice as we were all dead tired and it was getting quite dark. After eating some food, we laid out and watched the Perseids Meteor shower that was going on. We even saw a few shooting stars!

The next morning we packed up camp and headed on up the trail. Luckily we were close to being up out of the canyon and at roughly the same elevation we would be for the rest of the time. After a mile or so of climbing the trail started to level off and I was doing much better! Soon we came to a lake where we took a break. A few tried fishing, but I just took in the scenery while watching them fish and rested.

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The trail climbed a little more after this lake and soon we were “at elevation”. Finally!

A few miles from camp. The peak in the back is the one we climbed!
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Eventually we made it to the spot my friend had camped at many times before and we quickly setup camp and then went fishing! This fishing was fantastic. Having never caught a fish on the fly rod before, this was the perfect place to learn! The fish were so aggressive, they tore our flies apart after a while. I was in heaven! We spent the next four days fishing the two streams between our camps and the lakes nearby. My favorite was the little stream next to our camp. The stream consisted of many small pools to fish with boulders around to stand on. Each pool was separated by rocks and these boulders and the stream would flow over and around these making small cascading falls. It is one of the prettiest little streams I've seen in the Winds. Sadly, I was too busy fishing to get many photos of it.

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On one of the days, we decided to climb to the top of the mountain we had camped next to. This ended up taking most of the day (up and back), but the views on top were amazing! At over 12,200’, this was the highest I've ever climbed (still is)!!! After taking a few photos on top we quickly started down as a thunderstorm was off in the distance and looked to be heading our way. The hike down was a bit unnerving as the big rocks and boulders would move a little when you stepped on them. This wasn't too bad until you hear a rock behind you start to slide from the person behind you and for a half second you thought it was going to come down on you!

Jagged peaks of the Wind Rivers
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View of some lakes we passed on the hike in.
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View from 12,200+'
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View from 12,200+'
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We made it back to camp just in time for a little afternoon shower to come through. We climbed under my buddies backpacking tarp and waited out the rain while enjoying some Pringles! It was quite relaxing. After the rain had passes we hiked down to the lake below camp and caught some nice fish for dinner!

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These were the best tasting fish I've ever eaten!
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On the day before we were to start heading out (Thursday), we decided to fish some of the lakes above camp, making a loop up one drainage and back down the other. The fishing and scenery was great! As the day wore on we started to make our way back down to camp. Along the way we came to a lake as we were walking along the shore my friend said, I just saw a huge fish! Now the funny part was that my friend had told us that there was no fish in this lake as he had fished it many times before and never caught or seen a fish. At seeing the fish my friend casts his line in and after a few tries to hooks one! It ended up being the biggest fish any of us caught on the trip! We sure did tease our friend about the fish in “No Fish Lake”, as we call it now!

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"No Fish Lake"
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My buddies fish he caught in "No Fish Lake". It's a cutthroat, the red down its side is blood.
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Earlier, this same day, my buddy and I had come down with a stomach bug and by the evening we were making frequent trips into the trees and feeling pretty bad. We blame it on some expired Mountain House, but as we don’t know for sure if it was expired or if it was something else that made us so sick. I still haven’t eaten Mountain House’s Chicken and Rice since then though…

The next morning we were still sick, but not having to run to the trees as much. We packed up camp and started the first day of our hike out. It was overcast most of the day and drizzled on us for a few hours. Eventually we got to the lake we had planned to camp at. We chose this lake because it has monster brookies in it and right about the time the sun sets the fishing is spectacular! When we got to the lake there wasn't a place to pitch a tent. Fires had burned the area years ago and there was dead trees laying everywhere. We decided to press on to the next lake 3 miles ahead. But before heading on we decided to filter some water. As we were filling our water bottles I asked my buddy who was still sick and weak (I was mostly over it by now) for his water bottles so I could fill them for him. He said he didn't need any as he still had 1-1/2 litters (started with 2). As events played out later I wished I would have said something to him and I almost did, but I figured with it being overcast and drizzling most of the day he didn't need that much water.

Nice view on the hike out!
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As we hiked on to the next lake to camp, my sick friend was slowing us down. Two guys decided to go ahead to scout a campsite, while the rest stayed back to help my friend. As it was starting to get dark we came to a ridge. Below we could see the lake we were going to camp at as well as the lake further below at the trail head. All this time a storm had been rolling towards us and all of a sudden we found ourselves in the middle of a lightning storm on this exposed ridge with nowhere to go for shelter. Someone yelled, “WE GOT TO GET OUT OF HERE”! And we all took off running down the trail to the lake below. The two guys who had went ahead said it was quite entertaining to watch these three head lamps moving along on the ridge and then all of a sudden they took off racing down the switch backs! It honestly was the scariest moment I've ever been in while in the mountains!

After reaching the two that had gone ahead we quickly through up our tents and dove inside just as the rain hit. It rained and the wind blew hard for many hours. I remember hearing the waves crashing up onto the shore nearby while in my tent. It was quite the storm!

The next morning my buddy was doing much worse. Luckily it was only 3 miles to the car. We made slow time though. My buddy was really slow and having to constantly stop and rest, even with us lightening his pack. Two of the guys head out ahead and made it to the car, but didn't know he was doing so poorly. I decided to leave him with the other guy, get to the car and drop my pack, and head back to carry his pack. My feet had some bad hot spots and where on fire so I moved not much faster than my friend. Eventually I made it to the car where my friends where. I told them my friend wasn't doing so well and I was heading back to help him after I changed my socks. They took off at hearing that and helped bring him back to the car. He must not have been that far behind me as it didn't take them long.

Eventually we made it home. As for my sick friend, we found out that he had been extremely dehydrated. He went to the doctor the next day and was told he should have had an IV in him to re-hydrate him and probably should have been flown off the mountain. He got ulcers from being so dehydrated and missed about a week of work from it (he never calls in sick). Luckily he made a full recovery and has even gone backpacking again a few times since! Now days I pay a lot more attention to how much I and others in my group are drinking. I am so glad I stuck with it and never turned back like I wanted to that first day. I fell in love with the Winds (and backpacking) on this trip and have been back every year since except for last year!

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Desperately Seeking Sandstone
Jan 21, 2012
Great report! I know that the first day of my first backpack I was questioning whether I was cut out for it or not. Like you said you just have to keep going. I learned something useful from every trip I took this year, and I'm a better backpacker now because of it. Thanks for sharing your first with us!


Jan 19, 2012
Thanks guys! It was a lot of fun to write this TR. It stirred up all the emotions and feelings for my love of backpacking and has got me stoked.... Too bad it's January. :(
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