- Aug 29, 2016 at 4:07 pm #3423449
I know most here don’t seem to prefer videos like I do so below is a brief writeup if you don’t want to watch my video trip reportAug 29, 2016 at 4:08 pm #3423450
The past 4 years I had taken one of my sons on a big summer trip so this was my first solo adventure since 2011. While I had gotten down to 11 lb base weight back then, over those years I’d added back in a few luxury items so my base for this trip was close to 14. My total pack weight with 6 days of food and 1 L water was 26.5 lbs. I purposely went with a no-cook menu this time because they had just put a fire ban in place, but I did still take my alcohol stove just in case.
The loop heads south from Green River Lakes TH to Three Forks Park. It ascends Tourist Creek with a jaunt up to the plateau containing lake 11085 next to Mt. Solitude. It took me 6 hours to gain that 2800′ in about 3 miles. I was surprised by how dry lake 10090 was. For a while I kept thinking I hadn’t made it there yet. I then went over to Flagstone Lake (10890) where I camped on the ridge west of it.
The next morning I climbed 1400′ to Klondike Pass and headed along the Divide above Sourdough Glacier to Baker Lake. A quick storm brought a little sleet/snow and then the sun broke out again for a while. I saw a pair of hikers who went across the moraine and down into the Pixley Creek drainage and then shortly afterward 3 other BPL members showed up from Grasshopper Glacier and stayed the night just above me. We had a nice chat about various things. No more rain that night but the forecast was calling for 50-60% chance of Tstorms most of the next day.
We got back onto the Divide the next morning, and I dropped down to Connie Glacier while they continued on to Downs Mtn. Since it was such a quick trip, I decided to head on to “Hourglass Lake” (Nancy Pallister’s name for it). I made it around the west side of Kevin Lake without getting wet, but the thunderstorms hit me when I was nearly out of the Kevin Lake outlet gully. I waited through 20 minutes of hail and 40 of rain in the gully. About a half hour later after I crossed a large “meadow” I waited another hour. I got tired of waiting and headed on anyway, discovering the info for this lake was another area I didn’t necessarily agree with Nancy, namely the cliffs coming into its drainage and the “good camping” that was available. All I found was a tiny single site after 20 minutes of looking.
The clouds remained the next morning but started breaking up as I neared Bear Lake. The camping there was much nicer on the shelf west of Daphne Lake outlet, and I enjoyed a long sunny day there since I had left myself with a short trek (< 3 hours). I easily could have continued on toward Crescent but I was in no hurry at all. The clear night saw temps plummet well below the forecast. I had wondered why I seemed a bit cool until I noticed all the crystals glinting in the moonlight and checked my thermometer… 18 F. I had just worn my normal clothes and DriDucks jacket (I don’t carry a puffy) with my REI SubKilo bag.
Thankfully, the morning was clear as well and I dried my bag before packing it away. Even though I didn’t really need to, I did use my stove on a large patch of dirt to heat my ice water for breakfast that morning. The route finding today was the most challenging but easily corrected. Twice it wasn’t clear which neighboring gully or fork I should take but the number of lakes make it easy to keep everything in check. I’ve always been a map and compass person but I had fun confirming my position on the map with the inreach SE I’d gotten for this trip. Once I made it to the valley south of Crescent, I deviated from Pallister’s route and went to the top of that ridge since I had intended to head out via Osborne Mtn rather than Roaring Fork. I’ve always thought don’t lose elevation if you don’t have to. That ridge dropped me right onto the saddle between Faler and Native/Crescent Lakes and I set up my tarp right there. I could have continued over Osborne, in fact, I watched a packrafter do just that after I had my tarp up, but I preferred to do that last steep climb in the cool of the morning and didn’t want to finish so late that I couldn’t get a nice meal in Pinedale so I just stayed put. It was pretty breezy (gusts to 25 mph I’d guess) most of the time and after I was there a few hours, suddenly the smoke from wildfires came pouring up the Roaring Fork valley. The speed and thickness of it made me a bit nervous, especially since I had seen no shelters down the hill at the popular Crescent Lake. I figured I’d just keep an eye on that direction all night. I did see many satellites and meteors, but no fire glow.
A sunny morning saw me gain the Osborn Mtn plateau in nearly the same time as that packrafter so I was pretty pleased. Great view from up there. Ironically, my most difficult time came from getting down from Osborne. I hit the “red saddle” just fine and was expecting the trail to go down into the valley toward Mill Creek, but even though the trail I was on fit the description Pallister had given at the start, it was just contouring around the mountain. I kept giving it a chance but it never went the direction I thought it should. By the point it was obvious I was not on the trail I really wanted I wasn’t about to backtrack since this trail was still going the direction I needed. I lost it every so often and then found it again, but it became clear that it was becoming (if it hadn’t always been?) a major game trail. Once it reached the west side of the mountain it started to thin out a bit and I lost it a couple more times, but after some scouting would always find it. Then it petered out into what looked like a major resting/grazing area so I just took off downhill on my own and then came to an opening where I could see a pretty clear path to the bridge over the Green. I’m pretty thankful I had trained to build up my lower body (and that this happened on the last day), because I would have been in some pretty bad knee pain otherwise (which had happened on my last solo trip). I plunged into the Green to rinse off and then headed into Pinedale for ribeye and ale before the long drive home.
Overall it was a good trip. My hips and calves were a bit stiff/sore while hiking the first day, which surprised me, but they were fine once the tough stuff started. I didn’t mind going no-cook for 6+ days though sometimes I left out the sunflower seeds or raisins I was adding to the meat and ranch dressing. I still didn’t eat nearly all I took which is pretty typical. I skipped breakfast 2 days and didn’t eat maybe a third of my daytime food. Still I only lost a few pounds (though suspect some was converted to more muscle as well). My polycryo tarp held up fine though I didn’t have any serious wind/storms. I do plan to add a temporary “storm door” to the next rev in case of changing winds that seem somewhat common. No skeeters in most places so netting was never needed. I failed to get chapstick (ie, sunscreen) on my hands either soon or often enough so they were somewhat burned by the time I was done. But by far the most annoying thing was my runny nose – my body seems to be allergic to any exertion in any form in any place. :PAug 29, 2016 at 9:10 pm #3423526
John KlinepeterBPL Member
@johnzotkLocale: Northern Rockies, USA
Thanks for both the written and video reports. Well done. I usually skip the videos but I make exceptions for WRR videos.
It would seem that the toughest walking was along Tourist Creek with nothing but awkward size rocks to step on?
I recently bought Pallister’s book and need to start reading.
If all goes well I will be in the WRR next week doing a self-plotted LOW route with some off-trail mileage.Aug 30, 2016 at 5:31 am #3423564
Tourist Creek is likely the toughest simply because of the gain and non-stop length of boulders/talus. It’s my guess (and I was led to believe) that it is tougher closer to the creek and the larger boulders to have to get around, which is why I stayed above it until the lake outlet.
There were many other boulder/talus filled sections, of course. Some were just as difficult but not as long of course. Some were steeper. A couple were loose talus. Just so you know I personally enjoy rock hopping along boulders/talus that’s large enough to not shift much (8-12″ min size). I have good balance and agility and use poles. My knees much prefer going up rather than down the toughest sections so doing this loop CCW was the right choice.
Her book is a nice guide (the best from what I’ve read), especially the maps, but there have been a couple things I’ve taken exception with. One minor thing was plain wrong, and I verified it on my trip 2 years ago. Her definition of “good camping” and mine don’t always match either as you saw in the video. ;)
She says to stay away from Pixley unless you’re a masochist so I was surprised those guys I saw were going down it (but maybe they’re masochists).
I’ve done a few other small off-trail sections but I’ve only been in the northern half of the range (N of Elkhart Park) so far. One of these days I’ll try to get a car to Big Sandy.Aug 30, 2016 at 5:58 am #3423568
Enjoyed the video and trip description. I am headed up to the Winds this Friday for 10 days but still haven’t nailed a route down. I have come up to Faler Lake from Clear Lake and it’s a bugger. I have found that with patience, time, and nerve, most areas are passable. I have always wanted to go up and over Osborne but the weather has never cooperated and the more prudent choice has been Roaring Fork.
Like you, I like to go up high and stay there as long as possible. It looks like I will have similar weather as you did. I have been going to the Winds over Labor Day for decades and overall it seems to have been cooler, windier, and more damp in recent years, but it just may have been timing.
Thanks again!Aug 30, 2016 at 3:40 pm #3423648
I’ve read there used to be a trail continue past the arch but now there’s lots of downed trees. Must be pretty bad to make the 2000′ climb and several extra miles worth it! Shame some of the horse folks don’t take some saws to clear it up again. There’s certainly no hiding on Osborne, but barring lightning, no reason you couldn’t make it. I suppose heavy rain wouldn’t be good for the eastern saddle though.Aug 30, 2016 at 5:13 pm #3423665
It was usually snow, wind, and dropping temps that made us change plans. Yes, the downed trees make for some slow going, like climbing through a huge Kerplunk game.Aug 30, 2016 at 5:26 pm #3423666
Brad RogersBPL Member
@mocs123Locale: Southeast Tennessee
Nice video and TR. Thanks for sharing.Aug 30, 2016 at 6:38 pm #3423673
Not familiar with that game but I’d guess it’s similar to Pick Up Stix I played in the 70s. Like having to hike through/over an avalanche debris field.Aug 30, 2016 at 8:45 pm #3423692
I was going to say Pickup Sticks but figured most wouldn’t know what they were. I also enjoyed the video of you and your son on a trip to the Winds. I haven’t been able to interest my son in any ambitious trips but he does like to camp. We did a lot of cycling together but after he got his drivers license it petered out pretty quickly.Aug 31, 2016 at 5:31 am #3423723
LOL, yeah, same thing that keeps them from getting Eagle many times – work, women and wheels. If you scroll down farther you’ll see the road trips my middle son and I did a few years ago. Most hiking was pretty short but we did the last 60 miles of JMT. The youngest was bummed he didn’t get a trip this year (I’m working a normal job again after 14 years so no flexibility like I had). I’ll make sure we get a week somewhere next year.
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