Photography and Travel, specifically adventure travel and backpacking in remote North America, give me an excuse to stay outside. If kayaks, bikes, backpacks, Jeeps, archeology, geology and wildlife can be included, all the better. Having spent my life working in the fashion and photography industries, I love the unusual, the spectacular, and the beautiful. God has given us a wonderful world in which to live, and I try to open others’ eyes to its wonders. I have shared over 50 years of this indescribable wonder with my wife, Jodie, and we go everywhere together. I hope you will share some of our journey with us.
Hiking – Backpacking – Photography – Kayaking – Cycling – Jeeping – Scuba – Motorcycles – Woodworking – Train Travel – Sunsets with my Wife – Full Contact Pinochle
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Hey Texas. I came across your report on the 2013 Wind River hike. My buddy and I – both in 60’s and washed up federal judges – are looking for next 8-10 day mountain hike. The Winds sound fantastic! I’d much appreciate your advice. Walt (No Ties)
Thanks for your inquiry about the Wind Rivers backpacking. I have some thoughts that might be of help. I’ve backpacked four different trips in the “Winds.” All of them have been 10-day or longer trips. I like to get above timber line and stay there as much as possible. The views are much better, there are fewer people, and the bears are all down at lower elevations.
About bears: there are reports every year about grizzly encounters in the Winds, but in multiple trips there, I’ve never seen one, nor have I encountered any fresh sign, such as tracks or scat. We always use bear cannisters just in case, because there are few places above treeline to hang food.
I’ve hiked both the northern Winds and the southern Winds (there are good maps divided into these two regions) and I like the southern Winds best. Easier access, better grand views, more spectacular peaks. Best access is through Pinedale, WY. It’s a couple of hours from Jackson. You can go out of Pinedale up Freemont Lake Road to the Elkhart Park Trailhead (good paved/gravel road), good trailhead parking. There are several good routes from there. Here are a couple:
Now as far as some suggested loops:
1. Elkhart Park to Hobbs Lake – Pole Creek Trail/Seneca Lake Trail
Hobbs Lake to Island Lake – Seneca Lake Trail/Indian Pass Trail
Dayhike Titcomb Basin – Titcomb Basin Trail
Island Lake to Tommy Lake via Lester Pass – Highline Trail
Tommy Lake to Two Tops Lakes – Highline Trail/Pole Creek Trail
Two Tops Lakes to Elkhart Park – Pole Creek Trail
This is a loop trip that can be altered/added on to in order to make it fit your number of days. I am 69 years old, and my backpack buddies are in their 50’s, and good hikers, but we usually try to keep our mileage to 6-9 miles/day…an easy pace with time for pics. There are a lot of picturesque basins with many day hikes, so sometimes we spend two nights in a couple of different basins for day hikes. If you like to do off-trail, this is a great range to get off-trail, because the route-finding is not difficult if you have good map-reading experience.
Another loop that I might suggest:
2. Another nice loop would be a scaled back version of what we did last year.
Scab Creek to Meadow, might want to stay at Little Divide Lake 1st Night.
Little Divide Lake to Dream Lake
Dream Lake to Middle Fork Lake’
Dayhike Bewmark Lake/ Lee Lake etc.
Middle Fork Lake to Rainbow Lake
Rainbow Lake to Edge of Meadow
Meadow to Scab Creek
Another loop that I might suggest:
3. Big Sandy to Marms Lake
Marms Lake to Pyramid Lake
Dayhike over to East Fork Valley
Pyramid Lake to Graves Lake via Haley Pass
Graves Lake to Ponds Near Washakie Creek via Washakie Pass (These are the ponds we stayed near)
Ponds to Big Sandy
This last one begins and ends at Big Sandy Trailhead.
The best (and most current) maps of the Winds are the Earthwalk Press hiking map:
The three books that will give you all the information on the Winds:
1. Hiking Wyoming’s Wind River Range by Ron Adkison
2. Climbing and Hiking in the Wind River Mountains by Joe Kelsey
3. Beyond Trails in the Wind River Mountains of Wyoming: Off-Trail Routes for the Advanced Backpacker by Nancy Pallister
This will give you a good start for hiking in the Winds. It’s by far my favorite mountains for many reasons. I recommend going very late July to mid-August. These mountains have some fairly high passes and I prefer to not carry crampons and ice axe, and on normal snow years all the passes are passable by August 1. By September 1 you start to get more rain/cold. At altitudes above 9000′ the wildflowers are peaking late July/early August. Mid-July you can still be post-holing through a lot of snow at higher elevations.
Hope this helps. Get back in touch if you have other questions. Thanks for checking out my blog.
Where do you live? I’m down in the Big Bend mountain country of west Texas.
Thanks for a beautiful display of the Big Bend country. Have you spent anytime on the Mexican Maderas del Carmen area? Wondering if it is worthy of exploring. My wife and I will be in area with our bikes, as in human powered, in February. Looking for trail to ride our bikes on. We will be self contained, water?, with tent and bags. Your photographs are first class. Thank you.
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