- Jan 15, 2018 at 8:12 pm #3512581
I am longtime lurker and new subscriber to backpackinglight.com. I am in the midst of developing a long trail for the state of Wyoming, ala the Colorado Trail, the Arizona Trail or the Enchantment trail. I have a preliminary route developed and am planning on hiking the trail myself this upcoming summer 2018. I have hiked many sections of this proposed trail before and see no reasons why these routes can’t be connected to create one long “Wyoming Trail”.
A little about myself before I get into more details since many of you are unfamiliar with me. I am 33 and lived in Wyoming for the last 13 years. I have completed the Wind River High Route, the Wyoming Range Trail, been charged by grizzlies twice, done solo ski transverses of the Gros Ventres and Teton Range and have countless other extended trips throughout the state, both on and off trail. All said, I have well over 200 nights in the Wyoming backcountry. I have a Masters in Geography and am currently a PhD candidate in the Program of Ecology at the University of Wyoming.
I am highly confident in my route planning/ map production (being a geographer helps) and have seen the increase in interest of long trails and thru hikes over the years. Many states now have a long trail or thru-hike and I feel I am well positioned to make this a reality for the state of Wyoming. With an abundance of public land and some of the best and most wild country in the lower 48, I am surprised this hasn’t happened or been proposed to date.
As of now the route is about 900 miles in length and utilizes existing trails with very minimal dirt road walking to connect some pieces (less than 15 miles total across the state and theoretically no off-trail bushwhacking). I expect there to be some changes and am very adaptable to that. The proposed route starts at the Colorado border and ends in Cooke City, MT. The Medicine Bow Mountains, Great Divide Basin, Wind River Range, Gros Ventres, Wyoming Range, Salt River Range, Snake River Range, Tetons, Yellowstone, Absaroakas and Beartooths would all be included in the proposed trail.
I have reached out to some knowledgeable figures in the thru-hike and long trail development world and received both critical and helpful feedback. Obviously, this is a work in progress, but have received some preliminary funding for outreach and development (I already own all the gear necessary and have a summer stipend, so all funding is allocated towards outreach and development). If anyone is interested in helping developing or an early adapter to the Wyoming Trail, I would be very psyched and interested in talking with you. Thanks again for taking to the time to read this and I assure you I will not be spamming the board with future correspondences.
RobertJan 16, 2018 at 3:03 pm #3512732
Dean F.BPL Member
@acrosomeLocale: Back in the Front Range
Post a map.Jan 16, 2018 at 3:45 pm #3512741
Jerry AdamsBPL Member
@retiredjerryLocale: Oregon and Washington
charged by Grizzlies twice? interesting…Jan 16, 2018 at 4:39 pm #3512750
Lester MooreBPL Member
@satoriLocale: Olympic Peninsula, WA
Sounds like an great idea Robert. Can you post an overview map – sounds like a winding course through some excellent country. Would love to connect a route through the Winds and the Gros Ventres in one trip, but this sounds even more interesting. Where were you charged by grizzlys?Jan 16, 2018 at 5:05 pm #3512753
George FBPL Member
Sounds very good, something I would love to explore. It would really help to see a map, even a rough preliminary one, to get a better feel for what you are putting together.Jan 16, 2018 at 5:34 pm #3512756
Jeffs ElevenBPL Member
He was crossing a toll bridge. Budget cuts have the animals working for their own protection.Jan 16, 2018 at 6:25 pm #3512763
John VanceBPL Member
@servingkoLocale: Intermountain West
Sounds like a worthwhile endeavor. Add me to the list of those that would like to see a map of the proposed route.Jan 16, 2018 at 8:46 pm #3512782
Please don’t do it. There are plenty of famous thru hikes, leave Wyoming wilderness a wilderness.Jan 16, 2018 at 10:24 pm #3512799
I really appreciate all of the encouraging responses. And to the one naysayer Arthur, I mean come on man, me proposing a long trail on a website like backpackinglight, even if it gains traction, is not going to spoil the Wyoming wilderness… Wyoming is a huge area and these times are a changing for better or for worse.
With that said, I would like this proposed route to gain traction. It’s worthy and it’s a solid endeavor that few outside the thru hiking/long-trail community would be likely to attempt.
Attached is the Caltopo route. It is a collection of my routes, desktop backpacking and a couple of existing gpx routes. Like I have state before, this is a work in progress. I am very, very welcome to suggestions, alternate routes and complete overhauls. I am happy to hear and receptive of feedback and alterations.
And as far as my two grizzly charges go (i have had MANY more encounters, but only two qualify as charges). The first was November 5th 2012. I was doing a trail out of Double Cabin Trailhead, north of Dubois, WY. The route was an 18 mile loop, up the Wiggins drainage and into Caldwell Creek drainage. On the second morning of a two day trip, as I was coming down from Caldwell Pass, I encountered a griz coming uphill towards me. It was a tight trail, with immature lodgepoles lining either side of the trail. I saw the griz before it saw me. First indication that things were not OK. Kept moving forward, called out to alert the griz of my presence. It lifted its head, kept moving towards me. I backpeddled. I was very vocal about my presence. Continual “hey bears” and kept backing away. Mind you, this was the first weekend in November, just before hibernation. The bear kept coming, I pulled the bear spray off my hip. Kept a calm voice and kept backing away. The bear noticed me, was annoyed, swung its head side to side and kept moving towards me. Being inexperienced in my bear spray protocol, I took the can off my waist and removed the safety. But, as I did so, just a small amount of the can was discharged. I kept backing away, not thinking much of it. Kept backing away, calm talking the griz in a backstep. As soon as that bear got a whiff of the small amount if pepper spray that had been discharged, he erupted into a full charge. I thought to myself “this is it, I’m fucked”. At about 10 yards i deployed the can fullly, not knowing what the outcome would be. It stopped the bear dead in its tracks. I opened my eyes seconds later to see the bear shaking its head and turning to saunter down the trail below. My heart was out of my chest. I thought I was dead, but I wasn’t. But now, I was 10 miles from the trailhead, with no bear spray left, and the bear had just gone in the direction I needed to go.
Rather than follow the bear down the trail I just had chased him towards, I decided to bushwack up and over a ridge I was familiar with towards the trailhead. You better believe I was singing, clapping and yelling the whole way back. I knew I was defense-less and vulnerable. I made it back. Called my girlfriend, now my fiance, at the first opportunity. And to this day and everyone forward, if I am backpacking solo, you better believe I am carrying two cans of bear spray.
Long and winded, but that is the first grizzly charge, and the only one where I had to use bear spray. If people are interested, I will share the second story.
More importantly, attached below is my proposed route. This is what this thread is all about. I would love to hear from some of you and will make it a point to be in touch with anyone interested. Thanks again for all the support.
RobertJan 17, 2018 at 12:11 am #3512822
Eric BlumensaadtBPL Member
@danepackerLocale: Mojave Desert
I’m too lazy to look them up so tell us what trails do the northern and southern end hook up with?Jan 17, 2018 at 12:39 am #3512827
Chad LorenzBPL Member
@chadlLocale: Teton Valley, Wydaho
Looks like a fun hike! An (obvious?) alternate eliminates the WY and Salt River ranges. I’d be disappointed having hiked through the Winds for a few weeks to then spend the next 200+ miles in the aforementioned ranges… Why not just keep the big mountain scenery moving and head straight on up through the Tetons?Jan 17, 2018 at 7:34 pm #3512920
The southern end, at the Colorado border, links up with the Continental Divide Trail. I have looked into many other options to link up the Great Divide Basin or the Red Desert with the Winds, but between private land, energy development and lack of developed trails, utilizing the Continental Divide Trail until you reach the Winds seems to be the best option. If anyone has suggestions for a route up the Red Desert to the Winds I would be highly likely to hear.
And the northern terminus, at Cooke City, comes into town using the Republic Pass trail. I chose to end there because Cooke City is very close to the Wyoming/Montana border and allows for a town to end in for transportation/lodging/a good meal and what not.
Again, if folks have suggestions I would be very happy to hear them.Jan 17, 2018 at 7:43 pm #3512924
Have you hiked the Wyoming National Recreation Trail through the Wyoming Range? If not, I don’t think you would be disappointed in the least about linking that with the Winds. In fact, I could argue I prefer that trail to the Winds High Route. It is spectacular country, and you have it virtually to yourself. Sure, it’s not the granite peaks and high lakes of the Winds, but absolutely fantastic country nonetheless.
Part of the inspiration of this whole concept was linking the Red Desert, Winds, Wyoming Range and Tetons. The Winds, Tetons and Yellowstone get the vast majority of recognition for Wyoming backpacking, but what one of the objects of this trail does is expose people to the other mountain ranges that Wyoming has to offer.
But yes, I do see your point. One could simply link the Winds to the Tetons by traversing the Gros Ventres, which I have done on skis, and would be an excellent alternative. It also makes the whole trail more accessible and doable, as far as getting people interested in it and also in re-supply. Do people have a strong opinion? Would cutting the Wyoming Range, Salt River Range and Snake River Range make this more attractive? That would bum me out for sure, but again, I would like this to be of interest to a wider audience.
Jan 18, 2018 at 5:26 am #3513033
- This reply was modified 5 months ago by Robert Altimus Rust.
Rex SandersBPL Member
@rexLocale: Central California Coast
Would cutting the Wyoming Range, Salt River Range and Snake River Range make this more attractive?
Does it have to be either / or? The Colorado Trail and Arizona Trail (and probably others) have alternate routes, so there’s a precedent. And people could have a loop option.
Alt routes don’t need to be available on Day 1. Could leave the Gros Ventres as a find-your-own route, with a thick line on the map, until later.
— RexJan 18, 2018 at 7:15 pm #3513101
Excellent suggestion! I couldn’t agree more with that proposal. Leave it as a choose your own adventure style thing. There is a very obvious line linking the Winds to the Tetons via the Gros Ventres, which I have traversed on skis, and is absolutely excellent. A lot of that route was off-trail, which was great on skis, but is above treeline so it wouldn’t make too rough of a summer off-trail route.
Keep the suggestions coming!Feb 14, 2018 at 8:32 pm #3518386
Going to bump this up to the top. More funding and interest obtained weekly! If anyone has suggestions or interest in this trip please don’t hesitate to contact me. A comprehensive resupply list/program will be posted here in this thread in a few days.Feb 15, 2018 at 3:48 am #3518475
Amy LauterbachBPL Member
@drongobirdLocale: San Francisco Bay Area
This all sounds quite fascinating and maybe something to consider doing in the future. One question, what would be the permit situation for a thru hiker? I assume you need them for the Tetons and Yellowstone and possibly the Wind Rivers. Do you know if these could be acquired before a trip or only as you progress along?
James (and Amy)Feb 15, 2018 at 5:05 pm #3518543
Hi James and Amy,
There are only two 50 mile stretches where permits would need to be obtained. The first would be at the southern end of Yellowstone, between the south entrance gate and exiting the park over Eagle Pass. The second 50 mile section is the final segment of the trail that heads down the Lamar River and up and over Republic Pass into Cooke City. Both sections have an abundance of camping and are not “popular” by park standards, so finding a campsite shouldn’t be a battle. Permits for these sections could be easily picked up at the South Entrance Ranger station on your way through that area.
The Teton Crest Trail section is possible to do completely permitless. Camping on the west side of Grand Teton National Park in the Jebidiah Smith Wilderness is standard practice for Teton Crest Trail hikers. That being said, if one wanted to camp within the park they theoretically could with a permit, though I don’t think this makes it any easier.
All other sections of the proposed trail are through National Forest, Wilderness or BLM and permits are not needed (including through the Winds). Attached is a link for a cleaner overview of the trail without labels: https://caltopo.com/m/B113
And attached again is the proposed sections between resupplies (more information on resupply is coming soon): https://caltopo.com/m/TGMH
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