2011 – Wind River Range, Wyoming Hike

In 2010 we paddled down the Wind River in the Yukon. It was pure coincidence that in 2011 we visited another Wind River. The two of us, along with our friend Doug, hiked the length of the Wind River Range in Wyoming. This trip was “Plan B” for us. Our original plan was to do a month-long off-trail hike on mountain ridges just northwest of Vancouver.

However the 2010-11 winter had almost record snow falls. By June it was clear that the long ridges of alpine meadows and granite slabs we planned to hike along were going to be covered in snow at least until mid or late August. We couldn’t delay that trip because we had firm plans for our Gwaii Haanas sea kayaking trip later in August.  So we had to look for an alternative.

Doug has hiked in many parts of the world.  When he meets American hikers he often asks them where the best places are to hike in the US.  He gets two consistent answers: the Sierras in California and the Wind River Range in Wyoming.  The three of us did a nice hike in the Sierras in 2009 so we decided to give the Wind River Range a try.

We started the trip with the 1,900 kilometer, three day drive from Vancouver.  We took a longer, slower route than required so we could visit Yellowstone National Park.  The two of us had never been there and we spent a nice day seeing the usual tourist sites.  We then drove to Pinedale Wyoming to start the hiking part of the trip.

We arranged for a car shuttle with The Great Outdoor Shop in Pinedale.  Ric, their driver, met us at the Big Sandy trailhead at the south end of our trip.  We left our car there and he drove us to the Green River trailhead at the north end.  Ric told us a lot about Pinedale and Wyoming in general and the four hour drive seemed to pass very quickly.  The shuttle service will, if you prefer, meet you at the start point of your trip and drive your car to the end point.  Our vehicle is older, with a manual transmission, and a bit temperamental so we decided it would be best if we drove it ourselves.

We hiked for about an hour that first day to camp at the upper of the Green River Lakes.  We spent the next 12 days hiking a mixture of trails and cross country routes:

  • Trails to Peak Lake.
  • Cross country route over Knapsack Pass to Titcomb Lakes.
  • Trail to Island Lake.
  • Cross country route over a pass to Wall Lake and then Cook Lakes.
  • Trails with a short cross country section to Shadow Lake.
  • Cross country route over Texas Pass into the Cirque of the Towers.
  • Trails and cross country through the Cirque to Jackass Pass.
  • Trails to the Big Sandy trailhead.

It was a great trip; the Wind River Range lives up to its reputation.  Go see for yourself!

Following are two videos and a slide show of our trip.  The first video is a Google Earth tour of our route.  The second video is a compendium of video clips taken during the trip.  You can see the videos in full screen view and higher resolution by pressing the buttons on the lower right.

Now the slideshow. Press the white button on the top right to get a full screen view. Select the first photo and then click the arrows on either side of each picture to scroll through the set.