Wyoming’s Wind River Mountains by Backpack

Usually my posts are related to the Big Bend region of west Texas, but in this post I will share some images of a recent 12-day backpack trip into the Wind River Mountains of western Wyoming.

The Wind Rivers, and specifically the Bridger-Teton Wilderness, are located about 100 miles east of Jackson Hole, Wyoming. They feature rugged peaks, including the highest mountain peak in Wyoming, Gannett Peak. I spent 12 wonderful days there in early August with my two favorite backpacking buddies, Joe and Mike from Dallas, and it was another classic backpack adventure.

Our first look at the northern Wind River Range from Photographer’s Point, about 5 miles in and 1000′ elevation gain from the trailhead at Elkhart Park, north of Pinedale, WY.

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After gaining access to the high country, up in slickrock country (areas of granite left slick by the grinding action of glaciers many eons ago), above timberline, we began to hit the snow.

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After crossing over Shannon Pass, we found ourselves above a gorgeous alpine lake, Peak Lake, where we ran into John and his daughter Liz, who exchanged photos with us.

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Two days later, we made our way past Island Lake and into upper Titcomb Basin, where we set up base camp for two days of exploration. This is a high basin used by many as a base camp for their assault on Gannett Peak, the highest peak in Wyoming. 

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A look up into the upper Titcomb Basin, toward Twin Peaks, at what remains of the Twin Peak Glacier. The ice field of the glacier is prominent on the leading edge:

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The sun rising above the tip of Tower Peak, with a “glory,” or circular rainbow,isible as light is bent by the ice crystals in the atmosphere, much like the bending of light by water droplets into the colors of a rainbow after a thunderstorm:

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The upper Titcomb Basin to the east, with Bonneville Pass visible in the upper left of the image. The route to Gannett Peak takes the climber up Bonneville Pass, down the other side, across Gannett Glacier, and up again to the top of Gannett Peak…then the climber retraces his/her route back down the peak, across the glacier, back up and over Bonneville Pass, and back down into Titcomb Basin. We watched climbers struggling back into camp as late as 11:30 p.m., after almost 24 hours of effort to complete the route.

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Another look back into upper Titcomb Basin with water cascading over the slickrock left by glacier scouring:

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Upper Titcomb Lake with the peaks of the Northern Winds in the background, and some of the fabulous wildflowers blooming along the lakeside:

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A view of the Milky Way as seen from our campsite above Island Lake. There are three meteors visible in this image, a 25-second time exposure taken after the full moon had run its course and finally granted us a dark, clear night sky:

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The prominent, snow-covered dome of Gannett Peak is visible behind the peaks of Titcomb Basin from this vantage point:

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This image captures a 30-second exposure of the ISS, or International Space Station, streaking through the northern band of the Milky Way, as it completes each orbit of the earth every 90 minutes. When the ISS tracks overhead, it is the brightest object in the sky, as the light from the sun reflects off its solar panels:

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A final look at the Milky Way on our last night in the Winds:

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