We have just returned from 6 days of walking through the Wind River mountains. Again we spurned the CDT propper for a more adventurous and wilder route, but moving steadily South.
We started out in the town of Dubois (pronounced: Doo-Boys) and after aprox 15 miles of trail into the Fitzpatrick Wilderness, left preformed trails and notions behind and headed straight up Shale Mountain over a wild, broken plateau of tortured looking granite slabs and not much else. It was freeing to be rid of the trail! Our route led through wildly undulating landscape past deep blue lakes rimmed by snowpatches and steel granit slabs. Every 20 minutes the views changed completely. Small alpine flowers gave it their best before the onset of winter: purple primroses, alpine asters and sunflowers.
One afternoon a thunderstorm brewed above our heads and out of nowhere, lightning struck a cliff 200 meters above us. We could see a small cloud of smoke or rockdust followed by a chunk of rock tumbling into the valley. The electric discharge increased our walking pace valleywards considerably.
We spent fun hours bush-wacking through blowdowns and burns until we got to the valley of the Green River and the Green Lakes. The river eventually joins the Colorado (in the state of Colorado) and flows to the Pacific – or rather it doesn’t make it there for abstraction and damming, but that’s where it is headed.
From the Greenriver Valley we crossed into the stunningly jagged Titcomb Basin via a coll called Knapsack Pass which sounds like fun and picknicks but turned out to be a pretty hair raising lose-boulders and semi-frozen scree affair. Luckily the glacier hanging under the far side of the pass had retreated and softened (thank you global warming) significantly and we were able to leave the tottering boulder fields and run down the ice (much safer).
In Titcomb Basin (did I mention it is very beautiful?) we made a base-camp and the next day climbed the 2nd highest peak in the Windrivers: Fremont Peak at 13700 (or there abouts – map and guidebook could not agree on its actual hight) to gain wonderful views of the area (did I mention it is VERY beautiful?).
There was a puzzling absence of wildlife in what is a huge wilderness area. None the less we saw 2 moose, an osprey carrying a fish, the first marmot (yellow bellied) since Glacier National Park as well as the usuals small friendly mammals (Pika, Chipmunk)…and a dead horse (!?).
Now we are resting in Pinedale and are heading back for a 2nd part of the Windrivers tomorrow. Hoping to post some pictures at the next stop (did I mention it is very beautiful here?)