We’ve always tried to do something special over the 4th of July weekend. An extra day means extra time to get out and do something out of the norm for the weekend. Push ourselves a bit harder and get to places we would normally not make it to on any given weekend. Colorado has become a place that so many people enjoy, which is great, but it is difficult to find solitude. Even in the most remote corners of the state, especially on a holiday weekend, you are nearly guaranteed to see other people. Thus we decided on Wyoming. We had the Teton’s in our sights, but we came to the realization quickly that if it was indeed solitude we were seeking a National Park certainly was not the place to find it. Ultimately we decided on the lesser known neighbors of the Teton Range, The Wind River Range. We looked at our topo maps and found some lakes that looked like they would make a good loop and went for it!
DAY 1 IN THE WIND RIVERS
We left in the evening with the plan to drive as long as possible and find a place to camp for the night before continuing on to the trailhead the next morning. In typical TRWT fashion, we drove for 8 hours straight through to 2 am and got within minutes of the trailhead before we decided to stop and set camp for the night (morning?).
When you drive 8 hours through the night sometimes you get lucky and discover the best campsite imaginable under such circumstances. We slept here for a few hours along the headwaters of the mighty Green River beneath clear skies and a full moon before taking off into the backcountry the following morning.
DAY 2 IN THE WIND RIVERS
Day 2 we began our trek into the Bridger-Teton Wilderness Area. The day began with stunning views of Squaretop Mountain over the Green River Lakes and headwaters to the Green River (pictured). We continued through vast fields of wild flowers and aspen groves climbing into the sub alpine environment where we came across plenty of recent bear activity reminding us of the ever present danger.
We descended into the Roaring Fork Basin where we were greeted by views of the famous towering granite peaks of the Wind River Range. We continued up the valley in search of a trail leading to Native lake our planned camp for the night. Trails started to fade and even disappear completely. Consulting maps we continued on finally meeting back up with a trail. Exhausted but confident we were on the right track we pushed onward.
10+ miles and 8+ hours later we still had yet the reach the days goal. Our topo maps and surrounding terrain started to match up and we realized we might not be where we thought we were and had most likely ascended an adjacent drainage coming from a different lake than we originally planned. Throughly exhausted we decided to make camp for the night and reevaluate our position the next morning.
DAY 3 IN THE WIND RIVERS
As morning arrived we were confident that we had gotten off of our planned route and were in the drainage leading to Crescent Lake. We opted to continue on this path rather than traverse a steep rocky face to reconnect with our original route. This turned out to be a great decision as the hike to Crescent Lake was straightforward and beautiful. Getting off course turned out to be a blessing in disguise!
We continued past Crescent Lake over a pass topping out at about 11,000’ (the high point of the trip). Gaining the ridge we were rewarded with sweeping vistas of the Range and Faler Lake below. We descended towards the lake beneath the towering jagged peaks. The plan was to continue on to Clear Lake, but given the beauty of this place we had no choice but to set up camp. We spent the rest of the day relaxing in hammocks, fishing and enjoying life! Possibly my favorite day of the trip!
DAY 4 IN THE WIND RIVERS
We woke up to a beautiful reflection on Faler Lake, enjoyed some breakfast, packed up camp and headed down the valley to our next objective, Clear Lake. Once again there was just feint signs of a trail here and there, but we knew we weren’t far from Clear Lake and were
We made it to the shore of the lake only to realize this lake had steep cliffs plunging into it from all sides making walking the shore of the lake impossible and camping out of the question. After consulting our topo maps terrain seemed to flatten toward the outlet of the lake so we decided to make our way in that direction in search of a suitable camping spot.
It was here we encountered some of the most rugged terrain of the trip, a maze of logs stream crossings, thorny bushes and steep cliffs. Our only way to our destination was to climb back up and over the cliffs a very daunting task at the time. Eventually we made it around the major cliff band and descended back to the lake shore where we happened upon a perfect campsite where we were able to jump in the lake, relax in hammocks and feast on freeze dried after what proved to be one of the most challenging days of the trip.
DAY 5 IN THE WIND RIVERS
Our last day in the Wind River Range we woke up to the feint pitter patter of raindrops on the tent, the first rain of the trip. We promptly packed up camp and headed out along the shore of Clear Lake. We were greeted immediately with some more thick vegetation and stream crossings that made for slow going to start. Escaping the forest we were greeted with beautiful views across the lake up the valley the way we had come from and to the peaks beyond (pictured).
We continued on past the outlet to the lake through wet marshes, log jams and thick new growth evergreens. This resulted in the slowest moving part of the trip by far. Finding wild strawberries was a welcome treat through all the frustrating bush whacking and continued light rain.
We finally met up with a consistent trail near the Clear Creek Natural Bridge for the first time since Day 1. We were home free and waded through waist high grasses and wild flowers through the valley back towards the car. Continued rain left us thoroughly soaked. As has become customary once we got within .5 miles from the car we began running with our big packs on hooting and hollering the whole way down back to the car.
We stumbled out of the backcountry sore, tired, bitten, scraped, blistered, wet, but most of all ecstatic to have spent 4 days in some of the most epic mountains in the world with some of the best people I know!
This trip was more fun than I could have ever imagined before taking off. We made mistakes, learned from them, saw the most beautiful and remote places, relaxed in hammocks, fished, feasted on freeze dried food, bushwhacked more than I ever have before and did it all with the best people around. Here’s to the next adventure!