The Weather is the Weather….

August 28, 2006 at 9:55 pm 1 comment

Panorama from Photographers Point

For our annual Wind Rivers hike we initially planned on a loop starting and ending at the Green River Lakes trailhead taking in an ascent of Greeley Point via Porcupine Pass (see post). The roster for this hike had been whittled down to Patrick and Paul (Nils’ mom wouldn’t let him go), so we decided to plan a different hike and save the Porcupine Pass Loop for another year. The new, improved plan was to start from the Elkhart Park trailhead Friday afternoon, making our way to, and camping at, Island Lake that evening. The next morning we would hike up Titcomb Basin and ascend Bonney Pass. A left at the pass would take us to the summit of Miriam Peak (13,080 ft.). After eating a Cheeseburger we would turn around, return to the camp at Island Lake, pack up, and hike out by sunset. At least that is what we planned.

After a 4+ hour drive from Salt Lake City to Pinedale, Wyoming via Evanston, Kemmerer, LaBarge, Big Piney, and Marbleton we were ready for lunch. Our old standby had closed and become a Chinese-American restaurant – anything-American food is scary, so we drove on to the Sugar Shack for, what else – a Cheeseburger; Patrick had a Philly cheesesteak sandwich. Tasty.

About 1 pm we arrived at the Elkhart Park trailhead. We wanted to get to the far side of Island Lake today so that next morning we might have an easy time of hiking up Titcomb Basin to Miriam Peak. We followed the Pole Creek trail towards Photographers Point. The hiking is mostly through Douglas Fir and Lodgepole Pine forest with a few open meadows here and there providing unobstructed views of the distant range. By the time we got to Photographers Point, we were worried about the weather. A light, misty rain and distant thunder was a warning of what was ahead for us. Without taking in the view we marched past Photographers Point towards Eklund Lake. The rain was picking up and by the time we passed Barbara Lake it started hailing. In a hollow just short of Hobbes Lake we pulled out the tent and waited out the storm while munching on beef jerky and trail mix. But the storm lasted only 1 hour and we could finish the hike to Island Lake with no problem. In a stiff, cold wind we set up camp on a knoll overlooking Island Lake.

At 2:30 that night we looked out of the tent to see a skyful of stars, including a great view of the Milky Way (not the candy bar). But by sunrise it had clouded over again. We abandoned our goal of Miriam Peak but decided to hike up Titcomb Basin anyways, to take in the scenery. We set off, without burgers, for what was to be a pleasant, brief, walk-about in Titcomb Basin. The clouds loomed low above the basin floor masking the peaks above us.

It was high mountain country in late summer, so almost any type of weather was possible, and we both had enough backpacking experience to know to be prepared for almost anything. Well, two out of those three were true! Then it started snowing! Between the two of us, we could have clothed one person properly. Paul had the jacket and gloves … but he was wearing cotton shorts. Patrick had pants .. and well, that was about it for him. Now in our defense, it did not start snowing until we reached the far end of Timcomb Basin and it did not start with snow. It rained first, then hailed, then snowed. So we were set-up! Upon returning to our packs and uncovering them from the snow, we hastily packed-up our remaining items and attempted to get on the outward bound trail as quickly as possible. A Snickers bar, which was consumed with great urgency, cracked with each bite. Neither of us could manage our fingers well enough to open a Zip-lock bag without the aid of our teeth. The snow was that sort of snow that could fall for hours. We contemplated hiding-out in the tent. The thought last about half a second. The way the snow was falling, that seemed like a bad idea. It really felt like we were in for it. Our boots were full of ice cold water. Did we mention we were cold? We put our heads down and started the trek out. One of us must have done something right in the not TOO distant past, because within a hour, just as we climbing to the pass to Little Seneca Lake the snow petered out, the sky lightened, and the blue sky began to appear. We stopped to turn around and were rewarded with some of most beautiful views either of us have ever seen. As we watched, the clouds thinned and rolled up and over Fremont, Sacagawea, Helen, and Jackson Peaks.

With a beautiful, sunny, 50 degree day we could hike back from Titcomb Basin in relative comfort. It appeared that the storm had scared away most hikers, so we had the trail to ourselves, by and large.

Almost everybody that has hiked much in the Winds has passed by Photographer’s Point on the way to Island Lake, Pole Creek Lakes, Jean Lakes, or anywhere else in the central part of the range. The view from the rocks bordering the trail as it makes a turn towards Eklund Lake is amazing – you can see peaks ranging from Glover to the north to Bald Mountain towards the south with Fremont, Helen, Henderson, and Arrowhead in between. But there are views, and there are views. A short hike DOWNHILL skirts along a small cliff area until you reach a small mound of rock jutting out into space. It’ll be obvious. This is the real Photographer’s Point – a place worthy of a Cheeseburger; and check out the view! We arrived in time for a late lunch. The burgers had been packed with about a pound of dry ice to keep them frozen for the duration of the hike. That morning we ditched the remaining dry ice and allowed the burgers to thaw. The buns had been stored in a tupperware-type container and Patrick had remembered to bring packets of mayonaisse, ketchup, and mustard.

All in all, despite the weather, it was a great hike. We talked about another hike next year – camping in Titcomb Basin with day hikes up Miriam and Dinwoody Peaks, the Butress, and maybe Fremont Peak. Bring your Cheeseburgers!

Patrick, Paul – August 26, 2006 / Photographer’s Point, Sublette County, Wyoming (10,056 ft.)

Storm Clouds Mount Lester Looking at Indian Pass End of the Storm

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Entry filed under: Wyoming Summits.

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1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. John  |  August 30, 2006 at 10:44 am

    Great Pictures! I truly wish that I could have joined you

    Reply

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The Mission

To encourage, enable, and document the consumption of a Cheeseburger on every summit on earth.

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