The past week or so was as rewarding as it was exhausting. The section between Brooks Lake Lodge (or the nearest city Dubois) and South Pass City is known as one of the most beautiful because the CDT goes through the Wind River Range. It has been fun continuing to see the NoBo's and they all described the Wind's as their favorite part so far so needless to say I was pretty pumped to get there. After a day and a half out from Brooks Lake Lodge and still finding myself in marshy forest, I was starting to think the Wind's were a NoBo conspiracy but by the evening of the second day I started to see snow covered peaks and knew I was close.
Two of the big decisions a CDTer is faced with in this section is whether or not to take the Knapsack Col and The Crique of the Towers alternates. The traditional CDT tends to stay at lower a lower elevation (around 10,000 feet) on the western edge if the Wind's. But the two alternates gives thru-hikers the opportunity to climb some elevation, go over a few more passes and see some incredible parts within the range. The challenging thing about this year in particular is that the Wind's had an extremely high snow year, we're talking 350-400% of normal huge. So from early while I wanted to take the alts, I wasn't sure if they'd even be feasible without my ice age and crampons that I shipped home way back in Montana.
Approaching Green River Lakes
Entering the Bridger Wilderness
I'd made it a point to ask all the NoBo's I passed if they'd done the alternates and the snow levels. They other factor I had to keep in mind here is that they are doing everything in the reverse of how I'll be doing it. That nuance may not seem like much but in my experience I much rather go up a snow field than have to come down one and by all accounts of the NoBo's the east face of the mountain was still shrouded in snow- the face I'd be descending. All in all I decided take a hybrid alternate for Knapsack Col, which let me see the grand mountain without having to climb over it and took Shannon Pass instead- a much safer route. But, of course, I still wanted to see the snowy face of the monster so I ended up walking a few miles back northbound on the trail just to have a glance before continuing on southward.
The snow pack up here around 11,000 feet is still pretty thick.
Throwing snowballs in August, there's a first for everything. Near the top of Shannon Pass.
Knapsack Col is visible way in the background. (Hint: one of the ones covered in all the snow)
The next couple days were definitely not as logistically confusing and I hopped down into Pinedale to meet up with Breakaway who was coming out to hike with me again. I'm so incredibly happy and greatful he's joined me out here for these bits, driving all the way from Jackson to do so. Breakaway and I found an amazing camp spot- one of my favorites of the whole trail and were treated to glowing redish-orange mountains for sunset that evening.
Breakway crossing Pole Creek.
Sunset at camp
This one is for you dad! I found your lake :)
A day later and I was heading down The Cirque of the Towers alternate. This alternate consist of three major passes, each one sending you straight up the side of a mountain only to come straight back down on the other side. The first pass I encountered was Texas Pass which mostly consisted of me crawling up a scree field on the way up, crossing a snow field at the top and navigating around snow fields on the way down. And to be honest, this set the pattern for the other two passes ahead both of which contained the same challenges in unexpected orders. In all The Cirque of the Towers was stunning. If you ever find yourself in the area I'd recommend going out to the Wind's to check it out.
A snow co ered Texas Pass
The view on the otherside of Texas Pass
Had to get a photo with the sign
The view coming over the unnamed pass
Looking back at the unnamed pass
Back to cows and sagebrush
Now on to the Red Desert,