Wind River Range Backpacking

Backpacking in the Wind Rivers... a dream come true! Josh Stafford and I checked off one of our top 5 hiking trips, and it was quite the adventure with Tim Thornton and Chris Simon joining us for two days of exploring the Winds. I even had a couloir named after me–which should tell you something about how much "hiking" we technically did (pun intended). Right Chris? :)

We started our hike to base camp (Big Sandy Lake) on Sunday afternoon, and were excited beyond belief. We've heard too many heavenly stories about the Winds, and this trip had been a long time coming. Just look at our faces.

Josh Stafford (left) and me (right).

Chris Simon (left), Tim Thornton (middle), Josh Stafford (right).

The hike to Big Sandy was relatively easy and "flat as Kansas", as Scott Austin likes to say. "Flat as Kansas" in our book equals around 800-1,000 feet of elevation gain. This is starting at around 8,000 feet above sea level of course. How I love being in the mountains!

The view at Big Sandy Lake was pretty decent.

iPhone Panorama - Wildflowers along the bank of Big Sandy Lake.
Nothing too exciting relative to my home in the Tetons, but definitely not disappointing!

We found our campsite around the east side of Big Sandy Lake atop a hill with a superb camping view.

Our humble campsite... :)
After setting up camp, we headed off to Clear Lake which is a couple miles east of Big Sandy.

Wildflower on the trail to Clear Lake.

Clear Lake was definitely a grand sight! Josh began fly fishing immediately as I took an off-trail mission to capture the stream cascading down granite slabs.

Stream running down from Clear Lake into Big Sandy Lake.

Nice waterfalls and neat views!

When I returned Josh was busy catching fish (brook trout), and then the sunset started hitting the clouds and mountains!

Josh bringing in a brookie.

Panorama of Clear Lake

Alpenglow is the best... :)

Last of the evening light.

We hiked back as it darkened to night. Dinner was an awesome mix of cous cous and chicken in tortilla wraps with hot sauce! Thanks to Josh for the idea.

We arose early in the morning and were greeted with sunrise alpenglow on the surrounding mountains. As I took photos, the boys made oatmeal and mint hot cocoa (the best!) for breakfast.

Morning campsite view.

After breakfast we packed up and trekked back around the north side of Big Sandy where the trail breaks off towards Cirque of the Towers (our top destination). We left our excessive gear hidden in the woods and began what would be an epic day of "hiking" according to my definition. And I'll let these photos and videos tell the rest of the story:

iPhone panoramic view from the north side of Big Sandy.

Stafford flyfishing a pool along the way.

View of trail heading into Cirque of the Towers.

Looking back at Arrowhead Lake with part of the Towers on the right.

iPhone panorama of the Cirque of the Towers from Big Sandy Pass.

"Ussie" as some call it. :)

Climbing up Mitchell Peak

iPhone panorama of the view from Mitchell Peak

This guy was a beast... 50 years of climbing it!

Best of hiking buddies!!! :)

"Ussie" towards Cirque of the Towers

Gorgeous canyon views.

Back at Big Sandy, rainbow on the east side.

That was a long day of hiking. But so worth it!

On the drive back we stopped at Subway in Pinedale right before it closed. It was some of the best food we ever tasted. :)

I hope you've enjoyed these photos and videos from our awesome experience. We certainly had a blast together as friends and brothers in Christ!


  1. Wow, awesome pictures. thanks for sharing. that is why you carry big glass and three extra legs!

  2. Looks like you had a great time! Love the pictures!!! I know what you mean about loving just being in the mountains! Me too :)

  3. Derrick I just LOVE all the pics! Thanks for sharing and even including wildflowers! :0) And all the gorgeous mountain views! You will have to take us there sometime. Love you! Mom


Post a Comment