Southern Wind Rivers…….

We pride ourselves in pitching the tent quickly, but maybe not this speedily !!

Our trek along the Wind River mountains of Wyoming has now been completed. We made it to the southern edge of the mountains in prairie country at South Pass City. Its been a great hike taking about 11 days. The supermarket in Pinedale, Wyoming shows that we are in hunting country………..

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Pinedale supermarket

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And autumn is on its way….

Our tent (middle bottom of photo) lost in granite slabs, lakes and mountains. Spider Lakes, Wind Rivers Wyoming.

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Martina makes a river crossing with Warbonnet Peak looming above.

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We approach the Cirque of the Towers looking like the Skye ridge in Scotland – with Scottish weather.

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Cirque of the Towers. Two classic rock climbs here- Pingora Peak’s right hand skyline and the Wolf ‘s Head in the middle.

The end of the mountains… We hit prairie and dirt roads heading for South Pass City, Wyoming

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Mountains of Light and Wind

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?)

Leaving Griz-country

One day in Yellowstone National Park we had just descended into the big valley formed by the Yellowstone River upstream of the big Lake, when we saw 2 horses and 6 mules trotting along the path towards us. They were riderless, bridle-less and looking very naughty. None the less, the lead mule walked right up to me (even as I stepped off the trail to let them past), sniffed my hand which I extended in welcome, and then gave me a dismissive looked and lead his little herd on past us and towards the Lake. 40 minutes later, a gentleman and a black horse gallopped past us as we were sheltering from a rain shower under a large pine. A further 3 hours later, the same gentleman overtook us again, leading 2 horses and 6 mules, all looking very guilty, dusty but also slightly smug. ” Don’t know where they thought they were headed, ” he said to us as he passed. “Home?” I suggest – after all, camping in grizzly country for nights on end is pretty nerve wrecking …

PS: that is NOT one of our photos thank goodness! We’ve still not seen any bears though lots and lots of signs of their omnipresence! We are now heading South and up (in terms of elevation) and will soon be out of range of the Grizzly bears. The one above is shown in full flight – they can sprint at 30 mph apparently!

Yellowstone National Park

Being off the CDT has been great fun! For the last 8 days, we have been in Yellowstone National Park, walking through the park on a route east of the caldera and lake. This is the serengeti of the USA! We’ve seen lots of buffalo (bison!), herds of antelope (they are not real antelope but that’s what they call these aninmals here), elk (wapiti deer) and their shed antlers (too heavy to carry – alas!), wolf tracks (lots!) and more evidence of bears than is good for a peaceful night of sleep: the euphemistacally named “bear cake”, hairs stuck to trees, scratch marks 3 meters high on trees and foot prints (look a lot like naked human feet). We also saw a badger, a fox, coyote, two toads and two frogs and the last third of a snake! Still waiting to see moose.

Because this is Yellowstone, we’ve also walked past steaming springs, lots of interesting vulcanic rocks and other signs of the areas eruptive past. Particularly amazing are pieces of fossilised wood that lie around here and there – some red, some white with clearly visible fibre structure of wood which could easily be mistaken for bleached bits of old timber … but they are 50 million years old! At the North edge of the park we passed an erroding hillside where whole logs of these trees were exposed.

Today we are resting after 9 very hot days in a row (still can’t cope with the heat!) in Cody, tourist town and famous for Buffalo Bill’s travelling show of “the Wild West”. He practically invented the whole romantic cowboy thing.

Brian has worn out his 3rd pair of shoes and my hiking dress (dress number 2) is starting to fall to pieces so we will be shopping for new apparel.

Deliberating over whether to hike a detour through the Tetons or whether to rejoin the CDT in 4 days distance and continue straight towards the Wind River mountains on the CDT.