Wind River High Route – Photo Journal

Malto and I at the beginning of our Wind River hike / The Smiles before the Storm | Bruce Bridge Trailhead.

At the end of September last year, Greg “Malto” Gressel and I spent the best part of a week hiking in Wyoming’s Wind River Range. The relatively late start date was due to an unavoidable work commitment. Well aware that our seasonally tardy beginning may result in some less than idyllic weather, we had a couple of alternate route plans in place, just in case Mother Nature decided to really turn it on.

Our original idea was to take Andy Skurka’s Route from the Bruce Bridge Trailhead to Jackass Pass, and then more or less combine it with the Dixon/Wilson route through to the Green River Lakes Trailhead.

To cut a long story short, weather-wise things didn’t turn out as we hoped. Indeed, the not unexpected storm front rolled through a mere three hours after we started. By the time we had ascended to Chimney Rock later in the day, we were hiking in driving wind and snow, and visibility was next to nothing. In those conditions, going over the adjacent Wind River Peak and downclimbing the challenging West Gully was not advisable, so we made the no-brainer decision to go with Plan B, which was to descend to Little Sandy Creek, via Tayo and Coon lakes.

By the time we reached Little Sandy on the second morning, the storm continued to rage unabated. As we trudged along the snow-lined watercourse, the idea of a short detour from our alternate route to enjoy the warmth and comfort of Big Sandy Lodge, seemed increasingly appealing. So that’s what we did, and it turned out to be a pretty good decision – both meteorologically and culinarily speaking.

The following morning we awoke to blue skies, dry gear thanks to a wood-burning stove in our cabin, and a sumo-sized breakfast at the lodge. We then pressed reset on our Wind River Range hike, and proceeded to head north on the Dixon/Wilson for the next four days to the Green Lakes Trailhead.


Time: 6 days

Distance: 120 miles (approx.) / 193 km.

Start: Bruce Bridge Trailhead (short drive from Lander)

Finish: Green River Lakes Trailhead

Highlights: Safely negotiating the two day snow storm at the beginning of the trip; Golden and Alpine Lakes; Titcomb basin, and; revisiting the Winds again for the first time since my CDT hike of 2012.

For all the lowdown on ins and outs of the Dixon/Wilson route, see “Adventure Alan’s” comprehensive WRHR guide, which includes maps, trekking notes and GPS information. As for Malto and my hike through the Winds, after that introductory summary, I think I’ll say the rest in pictures:

Colder than a Shylock’s heart and with a heavier than expected multi-day storm front upon us, we headed for lower ground via the unfortunately named Coon Lake | Day 2 (Photo – Greg Gressel)

Malto descending to Little Sandy Creek | Day 2.

Little Sandy Creek | Day 2.

We awoke to clear skies and a sumo-sized breakfast at Big Sandy Lodge on Day 3. Having lost quite a bit of time due to the storm, we hit the reset button and spent the next four days and approximately 80 miles, hiking the Dixon/Wilson Route to the Green River Lakes Trailhead.

Jackass Pass, looking towards Texas pass in the distance (the notch on the far right) | Day 3 (photo- Greg Gressel)

Malto rock hopping in Lonesome Lake | Day 3.

Ascending to Texas Pass | Day 3.

Elk bugling | Day 4.

Looking back as we closed in on Hay Pass | Day 4 (photo – Greg Gressel)

Descending to the incredible Golden Lakes | Day 4 (photo – Greg Gressel)

Cowboy camping amongst the Golden Lakes | Day 4 (photo – Greg Gressel)

To swim or not to swim? | Early morning Day 5 (photo – Greg Gressel)

Alpine Lakes | Day 5.

Malto ascending Indian Pass | Day 5.

Alpenglow in the Winds | End of Day 5.

Camped just above Indian Basin | Day 5.

Sunrise from our campsite just above Indian Basin | Day 6.

Titcomb Lakes | Day 6 (photo – Greg Gressel)

Titcomb lakes | Day 6.

Ascending Knapsack Col | Day 6.

Camped just a handful of miles from the finish, one of the highlights of the final morning was a moose spotting | Day 7.

Nearing the end of our hike at the Green River Lakes Trailhead | From this point we hitched to Jackson Hole, and the following day began a traverse of the Tetons, continuing up to Old Faithful Geyser in Yellowstone National Park.



Wind River High Route – Photo Journal — 6 Comments

  1. Great Pics Cam. Love that place after spending 6 days there last year. One question on your OPSAK bags; do you put food such as “continental” pasta and rice packets in the bags as well?

    • Thanks, Ray. Normally I’ll repackage some dehydrated beans into a Ziploc or two, and then place them into the larger OPSAK (which holds around five/six days food).



  2. I actually bailed off of Wind River Peak in a zero-vis situation via the same route (though in the opposite direction) over Labor Day 2016. Honestly though, I think that the best southern terminus for a traverse of the Winds would be Little Sandy, via Coon Lake Pass, Tayo Lake, and Wind River Peak. Really neat southern section and it doesn’t have the long, boring slog from Bruce’s Bridge.

  3. These are really nice photos, all seasons within a span of 6 days. It is also great that you have a very experienced hiking partner.

    Thanks for sharing.

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