Hiking in the Wind River Range
05.09.2013 - 05.09.2013
We had long heard how stunningly beautiful the Wind River Range in Wyoming is to anyone who loves the mountains. They are often eclipsed by the Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks, and they are not nearly as developed for the casual visitor.
However, we were fortunate to learn of a hiking trail in the Wind River mountains that seemed accessible to our level of hiking, and would give us a great window into this very special place.
Well! After about 12miles of hiking-- a little over our normal daily limit on a once-in-a-while schedule --we did it!
The Pole Creek Trailhead is about 14 miles northeast of Pinedale, Wyoming. We had camped at Elkhart Park, the trailhead area, the previous night, so we were able to start our trek in the early morning. Good thing, for the trailhead begins at about 9,300 feet elevation, so we acclimated some. Good thing also, the first 3 1/2 miles are up, up, up through forests and mountain meadows. The trail stretched beyond for another mile or so in more open landscape where mere tantalizing mountaintops could be glimpsed. Finally, with little but blue sky ahead, we came to Photographers Point.
What a grand view! Nearly the entire Wind River Range, which includes some of the continental divide, rolls up out of the river valley and fills the view from left to right. The landscape reminds me of pillows piled upon one another, because much of the rocky exposures are nearly white. These rounded bluffs are woven together with sparse layers of green trees. The mountaintops are jagged and strong, topped by Angel Peak at 12,402 feet.
We made a loop hike by picking up the trail past Middle Sweeney, Little Sweeney and Miller Lakes. These are lovely small alpine lakes, and we were surprised to find lily pads in some places. Boulder-strewn shorelines lured us to snack and nap stops here and there.
The tedious return to the RV seemed so long, but we high-fived at the end, knowing we had completed a dream, in a pretty spectacular place.