Friday, May 14, 2010

Big Sandy


I started going to the Wind Rivers about 6 years ago; the first trip I took was the trip everybody takes, Big Sandy and The Cirque of the towers. Being the adventurous spirit that I am I decided instead of taking the conventional route I’d do the trip backwards. This would be the most rewarding experience in my life. The first Problem we faced was finding the right dirt road in the middle of Wyoming.
9:00 p.m.
We past several unreadable signs with shot-gun holes through them. We drove on thinking a readable sign would point us in the right direction; 50 miles later we turned around and started investigating the signs a little closer.
11:00 p.m.
We pull the vanagon into a campsite; 2 miles before the guard station, moral of the story get to Pinedale in the morning.
We started our trek about around 8:00 Friday morning. There was a ranger at the trailhead who warned us about bears. I signed in and was off to find a bear (I think the ranger lied to me.) I had plotted out the trip on my topographical map, I would soon find out that I did not know how to read one very well.
As you trek the Big Sandy Trail you come to fork which will take you to Meeks, V and Diamond


Lake than back to the Big Sandy Trail, or you can continue on the Fremont trail to Mirror lake, Dads and Marms lake. We stopped at Mirror Lake to eat some lunch and try our luck with the fish. Two hours were wasted and not a single trout was caught. We had been told this was a good lake for fish. We must have been confused with the Uintahs in Utah. With disappointment on our minds and adventure in our hearts, we raced to see the next lake just 2 miles away and it was amazing. We wished we had ate our lunch here instead.

 I would have loved to spent more time here but it was mid afternoon and we needed to get to our first camp; Marms Lake. We took a few pictures and raced on, only one more mile and we would be camping for the night. At our destination there were a couple little islands just 100 feet from shore. Then we noticed the sign, DADS LAKE, Confusion came over us like a bowl of oatmeal. There were only three lakes on the map. My first error, we had stopped at a mud hole that was not even on the map, not Mirror. We thought we were at Marms Lake; we scurried alongside the river an hour behind schedule (Awesome!!) To Marms and set up camp.

The next morning we found a stream, loaded up on water and journeyed on. Later we found a dead horse in the stream, glad we had a purifier. We came to our second fork, from here you can go straight to Skull Lake which was part of our plan but with the mix up the day before still weighing heavy, we turned and followed Washakie creek. This takes you to the back side of the cirque. There are a couple more lakes back here, we stopped at Billys and had some lunch, then travelled to Texas Lake. We watched people coming down from Texas pass; there is no trail just boulders and scree. I thought to myself that looks easy to come down. Maybe we should not have done the loop backwards? I questioned myself. We talked with a group shortly before our ascent and they confirmed my fear. “We’ve been through here a few times and have never seen anybody get into the cirque from this side.” Great mistake two.
The assent was hell; we slid at least 200 feet down the steep scree field before cresting the summit. We stood on top of the cirque for about an hour to catch our breath and let our jell-o legs reform. It was a beautiful view of the Popo Agie wilderness and Lonesome Lake our destination. We traversed the snow field over to Skunk Knob, an appropriate name. About 1000 feet below the sheer granite cliff lays a beautiful crystal clear lake. While leaning over the edge to get a better view, the wind decided I should be in the lake; luckily my hiking partner grabbed me before my body was hurled down. We laid on the rock, with our 60 pound packs atop us as weight, till the wind died down, .
The cirque is amazing; everyone should take this trip at least once in their life. I hate saying that as it is the most crowded place in the Winds, which should sum up the beauty. We stayed at Lonesome for the evening and took a few short hikes the following day all of which were incredible. We broke camp around 1:00 and headed for Jackass Pass, this one is steep as well. Arrowed Head Lake on the other side was still iced over a little but we decided to play it safe and did a bit of bouldering around the lake. We finally reached Big sandy, I had hoped to camp here for the night but my hiking assistant could not go another evening without beer and a bath. We raced the last 6 miles out in a couple of hours so we could rent a crappy hotel room. A mountain man rendezvous was going on in town so every hotel within 100 miles was full.
11:00 p.m Kemmerer, Wyoming found crappy hotel with used band-aid in the shower.
Note to self: find better hiking partner.
Originally published on openairlife 5/05/09