Wednesday, October 6, 2010

4 days, 34 miles

The first weekend in October, I was invited by my uncle Jade to go up to the Wind River Mountains, and possibly attempt Gannett Peak, the highest point in Wyoming. The weather was predicting to be unseasonably warm, so we went for it.

We've been talking for years about going up there, and he's even attempted Gannett before. (He ran out of time, food, and water, so he didn't make it.) He's been in those mountains many times, and knows his way around up there pretty well. The only other way I would have been able to do this would be to hire a professional guide. There was no trail for a good portion of this hike, and I'm forever grateful for Jade's knowledge of these mountains.

It is a very remote area, (one of the most remote in the U.S.), and you have to hike for a long time to get anywhere. It's also known as backpackers paradise.

So my brother Kody and I headed up to Cokeville, then the 3 of us drove up to Pinedale, WY Friday night. We stayed in a hotel and packed up our gear for the 4-day trek.

Saturday morning we headed out at 5am, ate a hearty breakfast at a local cafe, then drove about 1 1/2 hours to the trailhead. There is a hot springs near there, so the steam was coming off the river that morning. It was incredibly beautiful. We saw a family of moose: A cow, a calf,

And the buck:

Here I am at Green River Lakes Trailhead, 8,094 ft. Our first goal was to get to Three Forks Park, which was 11.5 miles in. The route there is pretty flat, and gorgeous!

Kody & Jade on the bridge near the trailhead.

Along the trail, Green River Lakes on the right, Squaretop Mountain in the center.

Squaretop Mountain. 11,695 feet.

The minty green color in the river is caused by the minerals from the Glacial melt. It was so cool looking! Almost looked like soapy dishwater.

That pass just to the left of the center of the pic is Tourist Creek, which is the pass we climbed up.

We stopped at Three Forks Park (11.5 miles in), and ate lunch, took a little nap, then headed across the river to make our way up Tourist Creek. Which should be re-named. It's not welcoming at all. It should be called Punishment Pass or something.

Filtering water up on Tourist Creek. We did this a lot.

This picture can kind of give you an idea of what it was like. Kind of.

In fact, it took us 4 hours to go only 1.3 miles! We stopped when it was getting dark, and set up camp at about 10,000 ft.

Our camp spot the morning of day 2.

We started climbing again, and I was so excited to be able to see these high mountain peaks and glaciers!! It was breathtaking. We ate lunch at this lake.

Here's our first view of Gannett (13,804, on the left).

Mammoth Glacier was awe-inspiring.

We climbed to about 12,300, a total of 17 miles in, and couldn't go any further. It was going to be getting dark soon, so we stopped at a flat spot to set up camp.

So we dropped our packs and headed up to see the views:

Words can't describe the feelings I get up here. And in no way can pictures ever do it justice.

Gannett is above me on the left.

Looking west, toward where we just came from.

A tiny section of Mammoth Glacier:

Bergschrunds breaking away from the mountain.

Here's our camp for the second night: 12,300 ft. I kept getting out of breath doing the simplest of things, and when we tried to go to sleep that night, my heart rate wouldn't go down to it's resting rate. It took a while to fall asleep.
We heard something walking around in the rocks that night. Probably a big-horned sheep, since they live up there. We never saw one, but saw LOTS of tracks and poop from them. And a hunter coming down who had gotten one, with all the meat in his backpack, along with the huge horns!

It had taken 2 full days to get there, and we only had 2 days to get out, with a storm looming, so we couldn't attempt Gannett. We packed up early and headed out. Here's a view morning of day 3:

I was glad we had made the decision to get out of there quickly. The storm moved in, and it definately got a lot colder! Here's a view of Gannett on our way out, covered in clouds:

This was probably the worst part. Going back DOWN Tourist Creek. It took forever, and it's a lot more difficult when you have a heavy pack throwing your balance off.

Crystal Clear Waters

Almost there. We just need to get down to that meadow! (Three forks park) As soon as we hit the bottom, it started raining. I had been praying, and I was SO grateful it didn't hit when we were climbing down those rocks. They get very slippery when they're wet, and it would have been horrible trying to climb down on slippery rocks.

We camped at Three Forks Park on night 3. Built a fire, (the first of the trip), dried out our clothes, and examined our blisters and bruised toenails.
I heard an elk bugling during the night. It was so eerie, and SO awesome! Here is the sunrise of Day 4:

Then we packed up and headed out, hoping to not get caught in the rain. We were lucky enough to avoid it.

34 miles in that treacherous country will give you an appetite like you've never had before!

I can't wait to go back.


Jessica said...

You amaze me!

Amy said...

Wow! That is the coolest thing ever!! You rock!

Melissa said...

Gorgeous! The Wind Rivers are amazing, I'm so impressed you took such a big trip. The storms are a little scary, for sure. Glad you had such a great time.

Angie said...

You are AMAZING!!!

Alyssa Elledge said...

Oh my gosh these pictures are gorgeous!!! I admire you and how fit you are to do something like this. Such a cool experience, I'm sure. I love the outdoors! Thank you for sharing :)

Tara said...

Wow - breathtaking! You are such a good photographer!

Kim said...

HOLY COW!!! That picture of the stars in the sky is BREATHTAKING!