Fall 2016: Wind River Range

The Wind River Range is a mountain range in western Wyoming that lies to the south of Grand Teton National Park, which itself lies south of Yellowstone National Park.  It was the first segment of my adventure.  It included separate journeys that started from two trailheads: Torrey Creek and Big Sandy.  Here, I will not distinguish between the two.  (See also my Summer 2020 trip to “The Winds” that focused on a section of the CDT.)

The first 8-10 miles were nice but not great, much like this view.
Many trails don’t reveal their wonders until you get away from the trailhead.  Here, The first 8-10 miles were nice but not great. This view was one of the best.
When the trail reached 10,000 feet the landscape suddenly opened up. You probably think this is just a barren landscape, but to me it is wide open space. I’d rather spend a day here than in a forest. Perhaps I’m odd.  I do wish it were sunny, though.
I was starting to see that the Wind River Range is a land of rocks. To me, they were anything but boring. I couldn’t get enough of them.
If only you could see that the hill in the background is filled with rocks.  When placed in this location, the response of any 7-year old would be, “I wonder how many rocks are here!”
Hail. It doesn’t look like much, but at the time it was getting cold and I was wondering if I was an idiot walking blindly into a thunderstorm at high altitude. Fortunately, there was no lightning.  And the preciptation did not last much longer.
“Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore.” Here begins a journey thru a weird forest of rocks and denuded trees.
It was weird and slow-going thru this stretch. The trees seem to reach out and grab you as you slowly stumble thru the rocks.
In the Wind River Range, all lakes seem to be surrounded by mountains, rocks and other interesting stuff. Each was a joy.
My kingdom for a more interesting sky!
My kingdom for a more interesting sky!
After walking through forests and by lakes, the trail suddenly entered a U-shaped river valley. This means only one thing, a glacier lies ahead.
The river is a milky white/gray because it is filled by runoff from the Dinwoody Glacier. Even today, it’s grinding down the mountain and sending it downstream.
The fog dances with the mountains after a brief rain shower.
I had been grumbling to myself about not seeing any interesting wildlife on the trip. Then, just 25 feet from me, this moose appeared.
Phelps Lake and another view of the rocky, barren forest from yesterday.
Back to wonderful fields of rocks.


A lake with mountains around it. The rule, not the exception. Never tiring. Give me more.


An unplanned side trip to Shadow Lake begins here. What would it bring?  The beginning of the journey looks nice enough (to say the least).


The agony of it all! I discovered Shadow Lake was home to a gorgeous cirque that could not be captured adequately with a standard camera because the mountains were so near. Here is a panoramic image, but you’ll need to imagine that the scene wraps 180º around you. Sorry about that.


I wonder how Pyramid Lake got its name
I wonder how Pyramid Lake got its name


This view was stunning at the time.  Why won't the photograph show what I felt?
This view from Hailey Pass was stunning at the time. Why won’t the photograph show what I felt?
The trail down was treacherous. I had a NDE.  Well, not really, but I was close.
So Rocky and Bulwinkle had this huge pile of rocks they needed to dispose of. They tried selling them for $1 each but found no takers, and again for $.50 and $.25. In desperation, they tried giving them away, but no one wanted any. Finally, they posted a sign saying, “Warning. Do not steal.” Of course, Boris Badenov now had to steal the rocks. Problem solved.
Ineluctible.  The trail never went down there either.
A lake of rocks? The trail never went down there either.


This picture illustrates one advantage of camping. Imagine a fancy hotel built here at Baptiste Lake. Of course, they charge high prices, with the highest prices going to the rooms that have the best view of the cirque. The food at the French restaurant is exquisite. Some diners even get views. The spa caters to your every need. Not, bad ‘eh? Well, I may not have all that stuff, but I do have the place all to myself.  Not convinced?  Where’s your spirit of adventure?


Pilot Knob watches over Grave Lake
Wilderness and civilization make an odd couple


On this trip, “Oh my!” would become a favorite expression. This picture is one of many that illustrate that phrase.


Two alpine lakes for the price of one. And they are even at different elevations.
Heading down from Washakie Pass



The world-famous Cirque of the Towers is the iconic destination of the Wind River Range
I saw this sign at the beginning and again at the end of my stay in The Winds.  These place names did not mean much to me (other than the first, of course) since none were along my planned route. By the time I exited the Wind River Range, I had visited all of them and camped at one of them.

Totals for the Wind River Range: 8 days, 142 miles

Next destination: Glacier National Park