Backpacking in the Wind River Mountains

Photos by Peter Mansbach, Aug 2000 ©.
(No commercial use without written permission)

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The Wind River Mountain Range is in western Wyoming, just southeast of the Grand Tetons, along the continental divide. The west side of the Wind Rivers, where we hiked, is part of the Bridger-Teton National Forest. See map at right - the yellow dot is the approximate location of Titcomb Basin, our destination.

We flew in to Salt Lake City, UT (just below and to the left on the map), spent a night in Park City to acclimatize to the altitude, and drove about four hours to Pinedale, WY. We stayed overnight at a motel in Pinedale, and drove to the trailhead at Elkhart Park in the Wind Rivers. After hoisting our packs, we hiked in along the Pole Creek Trail. We took the side loop past Miller Lake (below, late in the afternoon), and camped at Middle Sweeney Lake.

(All photos taken with Canon 28-135 Image Stabilization lens. I love this lens - it compensates for camera shake, and the photos are noticeably sharper as a result. This isn't visble on these low-res web shots, of course, but is on the 12" x 18" enlargements on my wall.)

[IMAGE - Wyoming map]

[IMAGE - Miller Lake]
Miller Lake

The next day we continued past Upper Sweeney Lake, Eklund Lake, Barbara Lake, Hobbs Lake, an interminable series of small unnamed lakes we called "Faux Senecas" (we were getting impatient to get to the real Seneca Lake). We did finally arrive at Seneca Lake, and made camp at the north end.

On the third day we continued up, and the vista opened up above Island Lake (below), a particularly picturesque lake.

[IMAGE - Island Lake]
Island Lake

We stopped for lunch at the lake, and continued up to Titcomb Basin, chased by some rather dark clouds (below). The storm - complete with sleet and hail - hit us about half a mile before our planned campsite. We crouched in a hollow till it passed. (No photos during the storm - camera safely in pack)

[IMAGE - Island Lake Storm]
Island Lake, storm approaching

We camped for two nights at the beginning of Titcomb Basin, a valley at about 10,500 ft, surrounded by mountains as high as 13,500 ft. The basin is three miles long; this photo (below) only shows about the first mile. We're above treeline here. Yes, that's Sheryl by the lake, preparing to bathe. There's no one around this early in the day - we had the basin all to ourselves.

[IMAGE - Titcomb Basin]
Titcomb Basin

On the fourth day we hiked the six miles up the basin and back, leaving our tent and most of our gear.

[IMAGE - mountain]
One of the peaks surrounding Titcomb Basin

The fifth day we hiked back down as far as Hobbs Lake. We heard that there was a fire somewhere a bit north. On the sixth day we hiked out. We could see the smoke from the fire, and sometimes could smell it. By the time we got back to the trailhead, they were no longer letting anyone in to this part of the park.

[IMAGE - fire] [IMAGE - sign forbidding entry]

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