Wind Rivers 2015

Dave Winters

New Member
May 3, 2016
Wind River Range Backpack 2015
Updated about 8 months ago · Taken at Atlantic Canyon Wyoming
30 Miles, 2 Canyons, and a million fish caught!

Wind River Range
Popo Agie Wilderness
Atlantic Canyon to Stough Ck Basin
August 2015

• 8/9/15: Drove up to Lander via Craig. Went to a great fishing store by the One Stop Shop, then to the One Stop for some supplies. Then to a great day hike later in the day, the Popo Agie Falls. 1 ½ mi up the trail. You slide down the smooth rock on your butt into a pool. Boys had a ball. Then on to the Fiddler’s Lake Campground. I think we got the last site available. Subway sandwiches for dinner and a nice campfire, then slept in the truck.

• Day One!! Parked at Fiddler’s Lake Trailhead, and had an easy 5 mile hike to Christina Lake. Found a nice campsite across the dam, and did some fishing, catching Lake Trout.

• Day Two: Packed up and hiked up to Atlantic Lake, into Popo Agie Wilderness. Popo Agie is a Crow Indian word that most people believe means "gurgling river." When the first white trappers arrived in the area the Crow people were here, and that is what they called the river. It is pronouced: "Puh - Po Shuh" (two words). Atlantic is the southernmost lake in the Winds and this whole drainage is Atlantic Canyon. Rigged up and fished, good luck with small brookies. Cody found a complete horse skull. Billy hiked way up on the mountain above and had a great view. After a nice lunch we hiked up to camp at Windy Lake. Only a mile but a very strenuous bushwack up a steep ravine. Billy finds a great campsite on the north end of the lake. We’re right near timberline, but find plenty of wood for the campfire. I retire early, and as I’m falling asleep, something big gallops right by my tent. I called out to the boys but they don’t see anything.

• Day Three: I wake up just before dawn to some noise in camp. I look out fully expecting to see Cody up and at ‘em, but when I stick my head out of the tent, it’s a bear tearing up one of our water bottles. I yelled at him and he just looked at me. Then Cody starts hollering at him too. He looks at us and takes a step or two toward us. Oh, Shit! Then he just ambled off. When we got up we found he had got into one of our food bags, completely devouring all of our Power Bars and desserts. Cody says, “What a douche!” This is a layover day, so we hiked up to Ham Lake and then up to Upper and Lower Saddlebag lakes. We fished them pretty hard but it was very windy, and we didn’t have so much as a bite. After hiking back down to Windy, we caught three nice Trout. They were loving a dark Buoyant lure. Beautiful fish and real battlers. Stomach samples included some big Caddis cases. We cooked up two of them in the fire, and then hung our food much better!

• Day Four: Moving day. Mr. Bear returned, but couldn’t get our stuff, although he chewed on the Bear Vault. We travel from Windy Lake to the Stough Creek Basin up and over a pass, no trail, Class 4 scrambling on very loose talus and large boulders. Very strenuous and well, dangerous. I step on one huge boulder, as big as a Cadillac, and it wobbles violently. Wouldn’t take that route again! Our original plan was to return over this route on Day 6 or 7, but we changed plans after this day. At the top of the ridge at 12,000 ft. we check our phones and we have service, so the boys call Mom, and get through! New plan is to hike out to Worthen Meadow Trailhead. Went to Lightning Lake hoping to camp there but it was totally above timberline and there were no good campsites. We were so tired, that this was kinda discouraging. With no other options, we shouldered our packs again and headed down valley to Footprint Lake. The boys were troupers the whole day. If anybody was whining it was me! We find a nice campsite and relax with a nice campfire. Long day.

• Day Five: Layover day at Footprint. Fished Stough Creek, Lightning, Zig Zag, Shoal and Footprint Lakes. No fish at Lightning. Smaller Brookies and Cutts everywhere else. One Brookie has a mouse in its stomache.

• Day Six: Move down to Big Stough Ck Lake, the lowest one in the chain. Just a few miles but we wanted to be closer for our hike out. We find a nice campsite, get settled and then fish Big Lake. Great fishing for Brookies and Cutts. They wear out a couple foam hoppers and flying ants. Cody says it’s too easy! At one point I try a bare hook and actually have a take on it but don’t catch the fish.The boys do a cliff jump. Lots of talk about food around the campfire!

• Day Seven: Layover day. I wake early and take my coffee down to the lake, sit on a rock and, watching the sun come up I have a good cry reflecting on our week together here in the high country. We fish our way up to Cutthroat Lake where there are certainly more Cutts, but I comment that some day the Brookies will totally take over and people will wonder about the name…..We struggle to break the 14 inch mark here but never do. I’m running out of food but with fish we make it, although lunch tomorrow on the hike out will be thin.

• Day Eight: Last day. We pack up and hit the trail for the hike out. Lunch break at the top of the pass, then 22 (unofficially) switchbacks on the way down. At the trailhead I flag down the first car I see and a nice couple agree to give me a ride down to Fiddler’s Lake to retrieve my truck. I went back to pick up the boys and we make our way back down and go to check out The Sinks. It’s a State Park where the Popo Agie river flows under ground into a huge cave and reappears ¼ mile down the road. The cool thing here is they have two huge pools where the river bubbles up, and here they have huge trout living, totally protected; no fishing allowed. There’s a vending machine where they sell Trout Chow pellets for 25 cents a pop. You throw them down to the waiting hogs who go crazy for ‘em. The biggest ones have to weigh 25 lbs. and push 30 inches! Cowfish Brewery for dinner, the boys have ribs. I splurge off my diet for a half a chicken. Great food, but $95.00. Ouch.

• All in all, a great trip. A few things we wish we brought:

• More foil. Longer Sporks. Buoyant lures. Lasagna and Fettucine Alfredo. Cup for measuring. More Baddest Bee firestarter. Block ice for the cooler at the car. Granola for breakfasts. Ursack.


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Last edited:


Wilderness Seeker
Apr 16, 2016
Yeah, we're not able to see it unless we're Facebook Friends with you. Time to write a trip report!

Dave Winters

New Member
May 3, 2016
I think I fixed it, just copied and pasted the trip report from my FB album. Somebody post and let me know if you can see it o.k.
Some good pics which I'll post up tonight if I get time....


I ❤️ GYE
May 31, 2015
I can see the text for the report. Sounds like a great outing. I couldn't help but laugh when you mentioned yelling at the bear and your reaction to it coming toward you. Glad it took off the other way shortly afterward!! Looking forward to seeing the pictures.


Wilderness Seeker
Apr 16, 2016
Nice trip report! That class 4 pass sounds scary!! I'm doing a route through the area this summer, and there's a much better route that follows the Plateau to the north and east of the pass you went over. It is described in Nancy Pallister's book "Beyond Trails in the Wind River Mountains." Very highly recommended.
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