Like many people, at the beginning of the New Year we found ourselves reflecting on the previous year. Last year at this point in time we had just arrived in New Zealand to begin our three month “adventure in paradise” (to be followed by one month in Australia) and it was definitely a trip of a lifetime. It was the highlight of 2012 and we consider ourselves to be extremely fortunate to have had this experience.
We also found ourselves thinking about the preceding years and other great trips we have done, especially since we first started living and traveling fulltime in our motorhome back in April 2010. The highlight of our first year on the road was the three months we spent in Canada and Alaska and in 2011 it was the three weeks we spent backpacking on the John Muir Trail in California.
So what’s next for us? At this point in time we plan to spend the upcoming summer in our “home” state (our domicile), Washington State. We are considering either hiking the portion of the Pacific Crest Trail that bisects the state from north to south or doing the portion of the Pacific Northwest Trail that crosses Washington State from east to west. You can be sure that John will take plenty of photos and I’ll have too much to say about it.
Where we have been - Wind River Range in Wyoming
9/3 - 17 2012
In this post:
- Backpack trip – 5 days/4 nights to the Cirque of the Towers and through Hailey Pass
- Backpack trip – 5 days/4 nights to Titcomb Basin and Indian Basin
We have wanted to visit Wyoming's Wind River Range for a long time especially the Cirque of the Towers. The Wind River Range is such a large area and it can accommodate a large number of backpackers without the “crowded feeling” of a National Park. However, the Cirque of the Towers is the best known area, it is especially popular with rock climbers, and is relatively accessible being only about 9 miles from the Big Sandy Lake Campground. With this in mind we decided to wait until Labor Day to start this trip in hopes the crowds would decrease. We also watched the weather forecast very carefully as it is not called the Wind River Range for nothing.
|Haystack Mountain and Big Sandy Lake within the Wind River Range in Bridger National Forest, Wyoming|
|Jean (lower right) approaching the Cirque of the Towers; Watchtowers, Overhanging Tower, Wolfs Head and Pingora Peak|
We could also look back at Arrowhead Lake at the base of Warbonnet Peak
|Watchtowers, Wolfs Head and Pingora Peak within the Cirque of the Towers within the Wind River Range, Wyoming|
The outflow from Hidden Lake creates a beautiful waterfall that is apparently unnamed which doesn't seem quite fair.
Lizard Head Peak, North Popo River with Cirque of the Towers in the distance within the Wind River Range, Wyoming
The next morning was still cold, despite the sunshine, and still windy. The evening before I had done a little “excavating” in a large crack in a rock in a moderately successful attempt to shelter from the wind while we cooked and ate supper. I had hoped we wouldn't need it for breakfast but were once again grateful for it.
Jean hunkered down in some rocks at our campsite below Lizard Head Plateau within the Wind River Range, Wyoming
Valentine Lake (L) and Dutch Oven Lake (R) seen in the distance within the Wind River Range, Wyoming
... and across the South Fork of the Little Wind River where we rejoined the Bears Ears Trail toward Grave Lake.
|Campsite Marms Lake within the Wind River Range, Wyoming|
All of our photos from this backpack trip are on Flickr.
|Pylon Peak, Watch Towers, Wolfs Head and Pingora Peak Cirque of the Towers within the Wind River Range, Wyoming|
After returning home, cleaning up and getting our gear put away we started making plans for another backpack trip. We watched the weather forecast and a week later we started another 5 day/4 night backpack trip in the Wind River Range within Bridger National Forest, Wyoming.
We started at Elkhart Park on the Pole Creek Trail but took the the side trail to the right and past some very attractive lakes including Miller Lake ...
... and Sweeney Lake.
At the next trail junction we took a short side trip over to the appropriately named "Photographer's Point" (we could have gotten here faster if we had stayed on the Pole Creek Trail but where's the fun in that?).
The trail continued to be easy but the views of the mountains gave a "look at things yet to come".
We decided to stop for the night at the lovely Hobbs Lake ...
Hobbs Lake within Wind River Range, Wyoming
We were now getting some great views of mountains ...
... as well as of the changing "moods" of Hobbs Lake. It's funny, we always talk about how much we want to see mountains and can forget how much we enjoy seeing the many lakes located within them.
Hobbs Lake within the Wind River Range, Wyoming
The next morning we continued on toward Indian Basin, our destination for the day.
We passed Island Lake on the way. This was apparently a common spot for backpackers to camp as it is easy to dayhike to Indian Basin and Titcomb Basin. However, we prefer to camp closer to such scenic areas in order to be there for late evening and early morning light which tends to be better for photography.
So we continued on toward Indian Basin and had a decision to make when we reached the junction with the Titcomb Basin Trail. We could either continue on or take a side trip to Titcomb Basin. We had planned to go there the following day but the weather forecast we had seen before starting this trip indicated the weather would begin deteriorating in the next few days. However, the weather was good at that moment so we decided to take the time and do a side trip to Titcomb Basin.
And I believe we definitely made the right decision!
The late afternoon light created a veritable "light show" with shadows moving quickly across the basin highlighting different facets of the jagged mountains as it went.
We then headed back to the Indian Pass Trail toward Indian Basin to look for a place to camp.
We felt lucky to find a place that was sheltered from the wind although we had to do a bit of excavating before putting up our tent. It is our preference to use established sites but we had only seen one and it was immediately adjacent to the trail.
The next morning we continued up into Indian Basin, first crossing this nearby stream.
Before long we began getting views of the basin ...
... and the unnamed lakes within.
However, the angle of the morning light and orientation of Indian Basin was not the best for photography. It may have been quite good the previous evening and perhaps we should have come straight here. But a photographer cannot be in more than one place at one time so a choice always has to be made. I still believe we had made the right one this time.
So we headed out and decided to revisit Titcomb Basin on our way ...
... and it was once again the right decision and well worth the time and effort.
|Titcomb Lakes and Titcomb Basin within the Wind River Range, Wyoming|
|Wind River Range, Wyoming|
|Wind River Range, Wyoming|
|Island Lake within the Wind River Range, Wyoming|
|Jean on the bridge at Freemont Crossing within the Wind River Range, Wyoming|
Clouds moving in over our campsite in the Wind River Range, Wyoming
|Sunset over our campsite in the Wind River Range, Wyoming|
We had planned to take the Highline Trail to the Pine Creek Canyon Trail and be out another two nights but that now seemed out of the question. Fortunately, we were at a location where we could shorten the trip to only 12 miles so we decided to try to hike all the way out. I was unhappy about having to shorten our trip. However, we couldn't ignore the fact that the sky was becoming noticeably hazier, undoubtedly due to distant forest fires so maybe it was time to head home.
|Smoke from distant forest fires beginning to obscure the mountains within the Wind River Range, Wyoming|
Big Water Slide within the Wind River Range, Wyoming
|Jean crossing the outflow of Lost Lake within the Wind River Range, Wyoming|
|Our campsite at Hobbs Lake on our fourth and last night out within the Wind River Range, Wyoming|
We stopped by "Photographer"s Point" on the way out and were dismayed by the smokey haze now obscuring the distant mountains ...
|The view from Photographer's Point on our last day within the Wind River Range, Wyoming|
The view from Photographer's Point on our first day within the Wind River Range, Wyoming
Jean and John on Donahue Pass along the John Muir Trail in Ansel Adams Wilderness, California (September 2011)
|John and Jean in front of Mt Balloon on Mackinnon Pass while on the Milford Track in Fiordland National Park, New Zealand (March 2012).|
This next bit is just something that Jean has been thinking about.
The Art in Backpacking
We love to backpack but when I tell that to someone who is not a backpacker it is not unusual for them to look at me like I am crazy. They can’t figure out why anyone, much less a 58 year old woman with bad knees, would willingly carry a heavy pack over rough trails for miles and miles only to sleep on the ground at the end of the day.
|Jean on the John Muir Trail in Sequoia National Park, Wilderness, California|
I’ve already written a bit about our “backpacker mentality”, however, it isn’t essential for non backpackers to understand any of that because carrying the pack, hiking on trails and sleeping on the ground is only a means to an end, not the end itself.
Our campsite in the Weminuche Wilderness Area, Colorado
The fact is that the primary reason we backpack is our love of “art”. However, most museums, art galleries, performance halls and theaters are located within large cities; surrounded by traffic, crowded with people and filled with noise. As a consequence we find it is nearly impossible to find the quiet and the solitude that we need to fully appreciate the efforts of the artist.
Jean and a few others viewing the Mona Lisa at the Louvre in Paris, France
Fortunately for us, the works by our favorite artists are not found anywhere in cities. They are displayed in the “Natural World”; our planet's "Museum", where "Mother Nature" is the "Curator". The “works” it contains were all created by the original “Masters” such as “Water” and “Wind”. From the beginning of time, human artists have studied their works and received inspiration from them. These natural creations represent an infinite variety; of colors, textures and shapes so the following collection of photos will serve, at best, as a brief overview.
Perhaps the “works” people are the most familiar with are the colors which, quite literally, represent all of the colors of the rainbow.
|Rainbow seen from the Cassiar Highway in Yukon, Canada|
The “Second Wave” in the North Coyote Buttes within the Paria Canyon-Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness, Arizona
|Middle Fork of the Kings River seen along the John Muir Trail in Kings Canyon National Park, California|
|Sunset over the Endeavor River overlooking Cooktown within Queensland, Australia|
|Mt Adams in the distance seen from the summit of Mt St Helens in Mt St Helens National Park, Washington|
|Near Lake O'Hara in Yoho National Park, British Columbia|
|Te Werahi Beach in Te Paki Recreation Reserve at Cape Reinga, New Zealand|
|Wrangell Mountains in Wrangell – St Elias National Park, Alaska|
|Mokowanis Lake in Glacier National Park, Montana|
|Sunset over the Endeavor River overlooking Cooktown in Queensland, Australia|
|Sunset over the Endeavor River overlooking Cooktown within Queensland, Australia|
|Storm moving in over the Wrangell Mountains within Wrangell – St Elias National Park, Alaska|
|Banner Peak seen from the John Muir Trail in the Ansel Adams Wilderness, California|
|“The Wave” in North Coyote Buttes within the Paria Canyon-Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness, Arizona|
|Sunset over Grand Canyon seen from the Bright Angel Trail in Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona|
|Prusik Peak and Gnome Tarn within "The Enchantments" in Alpine Lakes Wilderness, Washington State|
|Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes in Death Valley National Park, California|
|Mt Ngauruhoe and Red Crater in Tongariro National Park, New Zealand|
|John and Jean (lower right) in one of the alcoves along Coyote Creek in Grand Stair Case – Escalante National Monument, Utah|
|Grand Canyon and the Colorado River seen from the Tanner Trail in Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona|
|Metate Arch in Devils Garden within Grand Staircase – Escalante National Monument, Utah|
|Seen in South Coyote Buttes within the Paria Canyon-Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness, Arizona|
|Zebra Canyon in Grand Staircase – Escalante National Monument, Utah|
|Lower Emerald Lake in Tongariro National Park, New Zealand|
|Rain falling over the Lindis Valley, New Zealand|
|Fairy Falls in the Columbia River Gorge, Oregon|
|Left Fork of North Creek waterfalls just below "The Subway" in Zion National Park, Utah|
|Palisade Creek along the John Muir Trail in Kings Canyon National Park, California|
|The Surge Pool at Pancake Rocks in Punakaiki, New Zealand|
|Lion Geyser in Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming|
|Emperor Falls in Robson Provincial Park, British Columbia|
|Mt Whitney seen from the Eastern Sierra Interagency Visitor Center near Lone Pine, California|
|Sunset over our camp below Mt Whitney along the John Muir Trail in Sequoia National Park, California|
|Sunrise over the Tasman River Valley seen from Mt Oliver in Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park, New Zealand|
|Sunset seen from the Tanner Trail in Grand Canyon National Parks, Arizona|
|Sunset over Guitar Lake seen from the John Muir Trail in Sequoia National Park, California|
|Sunset over Mt Robson and Berg Lake in Mt Robson Provincial Park, British Columbia|
|Our campsite within "The Enchantments" in Alpine Lakes Wilderness, Washington State|
In addition there are the “instrumentalists” we have enjoyed listening to from the comfort of our tent. The range of "Wind" can vary from a soft whisper through trees to a loud whistle through mountains. "Performances" by "Thunder" have enthralled us through more than one night.
|The Esplanade in Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona|
|Lake MacDonald seen from the Sperry Campground in Glacier National Park|
|Jean and Mt Mather in Denali National Park, Alaska|
|Mt McKinley seen from the road in Denali National Park, Alaska|
|Sunrise over Mt McKinley seen from Eielson Pass in Denali National Park, Alaska|
... that can be experienced in the backcountry.
Our campsite on Eielson Pass in Denali National park, Alaska