Wind Rivers, Circling Downs Mountain

Kullaberg63

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Mar 6, 2014
Messages
544
September is arguably the best month for backpacking the western US mountains.

Finally this year we managed to get a week off that handily coinciding with a stellar forecast for the Winds.

From near Dubois we did a loop circling Downs Mountain (northernmost thirteener on the CD?), crossing the divide twice and lake hopping in Bear Basin. The 50ish mile route also included some intimate contact with the rapidly melting Dinwoody complex of ice fields north of Gannet, including the Connie, Sourdough and Continental glaciers.

The off trail portions were rather strenuous, ranging from the vegetation dense traverse of the two Ross lakes to labyrinthine plodding around the many barren and precipitous lake shores of the very remote Bear Basin.

The mellow, but longish Glacier Trail exit finished the trip with scenic and pleasant miles.

We followed almost exactly the route @Bob and co. pioneered here.

We encountered 3 other parties during the entire trip, all of them on the trail portions. As far as wildlife the most exciting were a weasel and five immature Harlequin ducks playing in a rapid. There were recent signs of bighorn, moose and elk here and there. Nothing of bears, tho.

Our camps were at Mile Long; unnamed lake below Kevin; tiny tarn in Gannett creek canyon; and Philips lake.

All images with iPhone 7Plus


Between two bushwhacks along the shores of the Ross lakes


Coming up the last part of the gully above Mile Long lake to Ram Flat and the divide. Continental glacier and Downs Mountain behind


Unnamed lake in Bear Basin


Above Bear Lake, the lowest of the many remote lakes in Bear Basin


Connie Glacier


Connie again, from the divide


Iceberg lake, Sourdough glacier and Klondike peak. It was constantly windy for all five days, and really cold on the divide.


Getting on the northern reach of the Dinwoody Glacier complex. Titcomb Basin headwall from the backside on the left


Descending off the divide after many miles above 12K


Partly frozen lake with the glacier spilling in. Recent large slush avy on the left below Pedestal pk


Where to get a sip of of water?


Bastion Peak and the steep, receding remains of a glacier. Crossing below this on loose, unstable moraine debris in a narrow valley was the crux of all five days.


Baker lake separated by a moraine from the silty Iceberg lake


Sunrise in the talus


Looking back up where we came from. The steep gash directly below Gannett contained our 3rd camp


Descending back into the rain shadow area above Dubois

 
Last edited:

b.stark

Forever Wandering
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Apr 8, 2015
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Great hike. I really want to get back up to that part of the winds again someday. Bear basin and iceberg/baker lake area are amazing. Also very tough. We got pinned on the divide by iceberg lake for a day due to fog. Then we hiked from iceberg lake all the way to the green river lakes trailhead in a day.
 

Ben

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Sep 12, 2014
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1,873
Thanks for sharing that, appreciated.
 

Artemus

I walk
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Jun 25, 2012
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4,414
Well done, Jan. Glad our route satisfied.

Gotta love these high pressures we have been getting to enable safer access to the High and Wild.
 

Kullaberg63

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Joined
Mar 6, 2014
Messages
544
Trivia: the Downs Mountain 7.5 quad, on which we spent 2.5 days, is one of the few in the lower 48 without trails and roads within it's boundaries. The Goddard quad in northern SEKI is close behind with just the JMT barely crossing the top right corner.

Behind a map geek I wonder if anyone can back this up?

For perusing USGS maps, new and old, this .gov site is so much fun, and a complete time sucker.

Screen Shot 2018-09-16 at 18.16.39 by jan nikolajsen, on Flickr
 
Last edited:

LarryBoy

Hiker Trash
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Jan 4, 2015
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Amazing trip! Glad the weather held out for you. That area is one of the most beautiful, anywhere.
 

Bob

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Mar 3, 2013
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I'm honored....... You made it before the fires. See my post under trip planning
 

Bob

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lol.... Now I don't have to post my route or pics. .
 

Born to Hike

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Jan 14, 2017
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Those are some stellar Glaciers! I was up in the Northern Winds in the 3rd week of Sept, plagued by heavy smoke most of those days. Very happy to see you were able to miss all of that!

I loved your TR, will definitely do that route in the future!
 

seekinglost

formerly metalbackpacker
Joined
Jun 18, 2015
Messages
88
I know, those glaciers! I've never been anywhere like the Winds. That was a tough route but a damn good one.

Well I may have missed the smoke in the Winds, but I had had my share of smoke and actual forest fires on the CDT. The Goldstone Fire re-ignited north of Leadore along the ID/MY border in early sept and I was walking through that... rangers closed it hours after I left town and didn't know until I got to Darby several days later. Same thing happened in the San Juans... now that was some THICK smoke!
 

LarryBoy

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Jan 4, 2015
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The Goldstone fire started the day before I went thru and I had no idea until I got up onto the ridge and... oh no, that's a fire like 400 yards from here! Needless to say, I shifted into top gear and got out of there as quick as I could. Within a day or two they had closed the trail.
 

Bob

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Mar 3, 2013
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Very few late summers in Idaho with no smoke
 

seekinglost

formerly metalbackpacker
Joined
Jun 18, 2015
Messages
88
The Goldstone fire started the day before I went thru and I had no idea until I got up onto the ridge and... oh no, that's a fire like 400 yards from here! Needless to say, I shifted into top gear and got out of there as quick as I could. Within a day or two they had closed the trail.

Haha it just adds to the adventure! Of course, I say that looking back. In Subaru commercial voice... "they lived"
 

Born to Hike

Member
Joined
Jan 14, 2017
Messages
146
The Goldstone fire started the day before I went thru and I had no idea until I got up onto the ridge and... oh no, that's a fire like 400 yards from here! Needless to say, I shifted into top gear and got out of there as quick as I could. Within a day or two they had closed the trail.

At least you and @metalbackpacker had some excitement because of the smoke - sounds kind of fun, in a warped kind-of-way, lol..
 
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