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Wind River backpacking trip

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Wind River backpacking trip

Postby Dave B » Mon Aug 26, 2013 12:30 pm

After driving past the southern side yesterday, I'm trying to plan a three day trip into the Winds for mid-September and, to be honest, I'm a bit overwhelmed with all the options and the abundance of information from disparate sources is tough to cobble together. I found this thread, but it's planning for a 6 day trip and I'm unsure how the suggestions offered would translate to a shorter trip.

Most of what we're looking for is a relaxing backpacking trip to wind-down an otherwise productive summer. In other words, we're not looking at bagging peaks at all, we simply want some beautiful scenery, nice campsites and non-grueling hiking (difficulty equivalent of the 4-pass loop).

I'd like to keep the mileage in the 25-30 mile range (higher if minimum elevation gain can be achieved). We'd like the last day to be short enough so that we don't need a pre-dawn start to get back to the car before noon (i.e. 5-7 miles).

Solitude would be nice as well so we'd like to avoid the Cirque and Gannett approaches if possible. Would also prefer south-side access since the drive is shorter.

Thanks in advance!
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Re: Wind River backpacking trip

Postby Kent McLemore » Mon Aug 26, 2013 12:51 pm

No Winds expert here, but Indian Basin from Elkhart Park meets your criteria. Maybe 30 miles RT. Titcomb Basin can be worked in easily. The elevation gain is gentle compared to most Colorado backpacks. Once in Indian Basin I saw 3 people in 3 days. If you prefer to camp below treeline, the lakes along the way offer many nice sites. PM me if you want more info or would like to see photos. It is a magnificent area.
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Re: Wind River backpacking trip

Postby Scott P » Mon Aug 26, 2013 12:57 pm

Maybe try Stough Lakes or the cirque around Temple Lake.
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Re: Wind River backpacking trip

Postby geojed » Mon Aug 26, 2013 12:59 pm

I'd say, head up towards the East Fork Valley area from Big Sandy via the Fremont Trail - Hailey Pass Trail - Pyramid Lake Trail. You could camp there and do a day trip to Baptiste Lake over Hailey Pass and then hike out to Marms Lake to make your last day shorter. The jaw-dropping views of the East Fork Valley and Mt Hooker (a Mini-me of El Capitan) are relatively hidden gems in the Wind Rivers.
East Fork Valley
Image
Mt Hooker
Image

Here are a couple of quick maps I made of it. http://ridewithgps.com/routes/3204448

http://www.mappingsupport.com/p/gmap4.php?q=mymap,203132380232741494958.0004e4df651b501f312cb&ll=42.776651,-109.245047&z=13&t=t4
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Re: Wind River backpacking trip

Postby Dave B » Mon Aug 26, 2013 3:08 pm

Great suggestions so far, Thanks!

Jed, Mt Hooker looks pretty nice, thanks for the map! It almost seems like you can't go wrong anywhere in the winds.
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Re: Wind River backpacking trip

Postby Bullwinkle » Mon Aug 26, 2013 3:53 pm

Did a hike there awhile back that seems suitable for your description. Out of Pinedale on US 191, turn east and go past Fremont Lake on your left to the TH. From there it is a wonderful hike back to the Titcomb Lakes area. Ascending Dinwoody Pass (optional) for a wonderful view of Gannett.
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Re: Wind River backpacking trip

Postby mtn_nut » Mon Aug 26, 2013 6:04 pm

http://goo.gl/maps/ip4Ik

i did this loop last july, and it was a beautiful hike. its around 55 miles or so, but if you have a 4wd you can cut off a few miles and get to the upper trailhead. the valley leading from little sandy lake to temple pass is beautiful.

you can make a shorter loop by going off trail from the upper sandy lake valley to coon lake and following tayo creek to reconnect to my loop. pm me if you have specific questions about routing.

Also, be aware that the "popular" areas are pretty empty in comparison to the popular areas in colorado.
Last edited by mtn_nut on Mon Aug 26, 2013 6:21 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Wind River backpacking trip

Postby lpyle » Mon Aug 26, 2013 6:06 pm

Depending on whether you go on the weekend or not, Titcomb Basin can be very crowded. Don't get me wrong, it's gorgeous, but if you're looking for solitude you may not get it. Mid-September will be better than the middle of summer, so if you go during the week, it might be OK.

We did a loop hike a couple of years ago in the Deep Creek area. It was beautiful, and we didn't see many people. We did it as a day hike, about 18 miles. You might be able to extend it a bit - I'm not sure without digging out a map. Here are a couple of pictures:

deep lake.jpg
deep lake.jpg (342.02 KiB) Viewed 520 times
Deep Lake
cirque from deep lake.jpg
cirque from deep lake.jpg (189.3 KiB) Viewed 520 times
Cirque of the Towers from Deep Lake

PM if you want more info...we've done an annual trip in the Winds almost every year for about the last 15 years, so we have lots of pictures and ideas for loops.

Oh, and BTW, it's a shorter drive to the southern end of the winds, but the drive to the trailheads on the southern end of the range can be long. Be sure to have a good spare.
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Re: Wind River backpacking trip

Postby uwe » Tue Aug 27, 2013 6:09 am

Did a trip report on Gannett Peak, 2009 I think.
While you do not have to do that peak, it has some info that may be use.

Best of luck. That is a gorgeous area!

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Re: Wind River backpacking trip

Postby skiwall » Tue Aug 27, 2013 7:05 am

lpyle wrote:Depending on whether you go on the weekend or not, Titcomb Basin can be very crowded. Don't get me wrong, it's gorgeous, but if you're looking for solitude you may not get it. Mid-September will be better than the middle of summer, so if you go during the week, it might be OK.


There are also a few lakes in basins just before you get to Titcomb. I've camped there a few times and not seen anybody (but then ran into people when we climbed some of the nearby peaks the next day). I wish I had that map here, although I'm not sure they have names. That hike in is absolutely amazing.

I know you know this, but be sure to take plenty of warm stuff. Our water froze solid and there was lots of ice on the peaks a few years ago over Labor Day weekend. We knew it was going to be cold, but I was surprised that it was cold enough to freeze all of our water solid. Temps during the afternoon were quite pleasant.
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Re: Wind River backpacking trip

Postby HuskyRunner » Tue Aug 27, 2013 8:50 am

Your chances of finding some solitude in the Winds increases greatly by picking a less popular trailhead or increasing the off trail hiking on your trip. We did a trip out of Pinedale (Elkheart Park) just 2 weeks ago and the parking lot was packed but for 4 days we saw few people, 2 nights we had beautiful lakes to ourselves. Tons of people going in, and out, of the Island Lake and Titcomb Basin area but a little off trail hiking and we left the crowds behind.

Typically there are 3 areas where you will see a ton of people:
- Green River Lakes TH and down through the Highline/Freemont/CDT
- Elkheart Park TH going to Island Lake and Titcomb Basin
- Big Sandy Opening heading to the Cirque of the Towers and Dad's and Marm's Lakes.

You can put together a nice loop through all of these areas though and by including a bit of off trail hiking you can get away from people after about the initial 10 miles from the TH.

Off trail in the Winds can be anything from gentle terrain that's no harder than on trail hiking or heinous talus hopping. If you come up with a loop and want some suggestions for a little off trail portion let me know. Looked at your profile and given your experience I would guess you're an accomplished off trail navigator?
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Re: Wind River backpacking trip

Postby shearmodulus » Fri May 16, 2014 2:25 pm

There is extensive beetle kill and fire damage on the areas outside of Half Moon lake near Pinedale, so the deadfall is heinous. Any off trail travel will feature significant log-hopping. That being said, we had the entire place to ourselves in October for three weeks. Never saw another human being except for our group.
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