I received a lot of emails after my last trip report in the Winds, so here is our latest adventure...
We started at Elkhart Park and had an uneventful hike to Fremont Crossing. It is a great place to camp, and if you have never checked out “The Big Water Slide” nearby, you should.
We hiked from Fremont Crossing up past the Jean Lakes which were still fairly snowy. There were lots of swollen streams to cross, but it wasn’t a big deal, just wet. We ascended Shannon Pass, which was also snowy, but the snow was soft enough that it wasn’t a big deal. Descending Shannon Pass to Peak Lake was a little bit tricky because of snow, but was not a real big deal. Traveling over Cube Rock pass was even easier, but traveling down the drainage was a blast. There were lots of small snowfields that were easy to glissade down and the views were spectacular. After Cube Rock Pass, we hiked a long ways down in the trees to the Green River. From there, we hiked to Upper Green River Lake. Of course, it was pretty buggy there.
We hiked from Green River Lakes towards Clear Lake, and the Clear Lake Natural Bridge. The valley and the natural bridge are spectacular, I highly recommend it. The trail effectively ends at the natural bridge, and traveling beyond it to Clear Lake is all bushwhacking. Clearly people make the hike to Clear Lake somewhat regularly as there were quite a few cairns, and lots of logs that had been stepped on. The going is pretty tough and slow though, and it definitely takes good route finding. We climbed above Clear Lake to Faler Lake. That was a huge pain in the butt. Faler Lake is a nice place, but it was surprisingly buggy for being so high up.
We left Faler Lake early and made our way to Lake 11,684 and climbed up the side of the Hunters Hump. The traveling through this high area was tough because it was rocky and snowy everywhere. All of the lakes sort of looked the same and it was very disorientating. The hike up the Hunters Hump is all on boulders and gets old fast. The views from up there are great, and walking across the Continental Glacier is very cool. We didn’t summit Downs Mountain because of scary clouds that were looming near by, and instead climbed the boulders around it. We finally got to the drainage that led to Downs Mountain. It was all snow covered, and with storm clouds looming there weren’t a lot of options. So we tested the snow, and opted to glissade down the whole thing. This was very steep, very scary, and kind of fun too. Definitely not for everyone. Downs Lake was beautiful, but we kept on making our way down to where the trail was and camped there for the night. It was a long day.
This was by far our easiest day. We left our spot below Downs Lake and hiked about 13 miles to the Dinwoody Glacier. This is a really cold, barren, and beautiful place. Right when we get there it started raining/slushing on us. We through our duomid over ourselves like a big blanket and stayed dry and warm enough. The rest of the day we relaxed and prepared to go over Blaurock Pass the next day.
It was a very cold and windy night of sleeping. We wore everything to bed and got up early to climb Blaurock Pass. The snowfields were all very hard, but gave us just enough grip to get up. There was a fair bit of rock scrambling involved too. We got up the pass surprisingly fast, and began to head down at a good speed too. We had to glissade down much of the pass, and then started walking. We eventually got cliffed out, and had to start down climbing. This got really sketchy and we were definitely out of our comfort zone, but ended up OK. We did a couple of very short glissades after that where we actually lost control and hit the ground pretty hard. It all ended up OK. The North Fork of Bull Lake Creek area at the bottom of Blaurock Pass is probably my favorite place in the Winds that I have been to. From there, we hiked past a few small Lake towards Indian Pass (Continental Divide Indian Pass). We had been thinking of going over that and heading back to our car early because we were exhausted. Well, Indian Pass on the east side is almost completely covered in snow. We thought long and hard about trying it, but decided that there were a couple of sections that would have been just too risky to be worth it. So, instead we stuck with our original plan and headed up the Alpine Lakes Pass. This is also a lot of boulder scrambling up that one too. As we were near the top, thunderstorms came rolling in quickly. We were rushing as fast as we could to get over, but when we got to the top and looked over everything was white. The entire way down to Upper Alpine Lake was snow covered, and Upper Alpine Lake was still frozen solid. With lots of hard scrambling behind us, and storms coming over us, there wasn’t much else to do besides glissade. So we went for it, and it was actually pretty awesome. We glissaded right down to the lake and then walked across the whole thing on ice. We worked our way around the Alpine Lakes and down to Camp Lake. We then made our way over to Upper Golden Lake just before dark. Whew, what a day.
We were really burnt out at this point and wanted to make it to the brewery in Pinedale badly. So, we got up early and flew up Hay Pass, much faster than Blaurock or Alpine Lakes Passes. The area around Hay Pass is gorgeous, I highly recommend it. We hiked hard and ran many of the down hills all the way to Elkhart Park. Hat Pass was great, the crossing at Pole Creek was great, and everything went according to plan. A smidge over 11 hours and 34.5 miles later we were at our car, drinking root beer, and getting ready for the brewery.
Let me know if you have any questions!