Global Adventure - Wind River Range

Trip

Global Adventure - Wind River Range

Spend 13 days thru-hiking some of the most iconic wilderness in the United States: Wyoming’s Wind River Range. This very strenuous route (130+ miles total, 10+ miles per day, up to 4100’ gain per day, at elevations between 10,000’ to 12,000’) offers intense physical challenge rewarded with incredible mountain views, glistening alpine lakes, and time to explore the stunning Titcomb Basin and Cirque of the Towers. Participants must have experience and confidence with strenuous backpacking on rugged terrain, including off-trail travel, boulder-hopping, steep scree slopes, low-hazard snowfield crossings, and swift water crossings. Participants must also be in excellent physical condition, and demonstrate their ability to do 11 miles and 4100’ gain in a single day with a fully-loaded backpack to an elevation above 10,000’. Participants will need to carry all their own gear, including up to 7 days of food, stove/fuel, shelter, and sleep system. NOTE: THE MEMBER FEE SHOWN IS FOR THE FINAL 50% PAYMENT.

  • Fri, Aug 25, 2023 — Sat, Sep 9, 2023
  • Global Adventures Committee
  • Backpacking, Global Adventures
  • Adults
  • Very Strenuous
  • Challenging
  • Mileage: 124.3 mi
  • Elevation Gain: 25,163 ft
  • High Point Elevation: 11,870 ft
  • Pace: 2.0

Arrive in Boulder, WY the afternoon of Friday August 25, 2023 and spend two nights at the Big Sandy Lodge, acclimating to the elevation and going on a dayhike along the Continental Divide Trail.  We’ll take a private shuttle north to the Green River Lakes trailhead the morning of Sunday August 27 to begin our 13-day, 130+ mile thru-hike of the Wind River Range.  After exiting on Friday September 8 via the Big Sandy trailhead, we’ll return to the nearby Big Sandy Lodge for one night to rest and enjoy a farewell dinner.  On the morning of Saturday September 9, participants will depart for home or other explorations in the area.

NOTE:    Participants are responsible for their own transportation between home and Big Sandy Lodge in Boulder, WY, both before and after the adventure.  Alaska Airlines offers daily nonstop service between Seattle (SEA) and Jackson Hole (JAC), and Big Sandy Lodge is 100 miles from the Jackson Hole Airport.  Big Sandy Lodge is approximately 1000 miles / 17 hours from Seattle via car.

Itinerary Highlights:   

Described by Andrew Skurka as one of the finest mountain ranges in the world, the Wind River Range is a backpacker’s paradise.  Forty peaks soar above 13,000’ and over 100 summits top 12,000’, towering over scenic alpine meadows, forests, and over 2,300 lakes and ponds.  We’ll be doing the quintessential backpack through the core of the Wind River Range, along the Continental Divide Trail from Green River Lakes in the northwest to Big Sandy in the southeast.  Along the way, we’ll give ourselves extra time to explore two of the premier destinations in “The Winds”: the stunning Titcomb Basin in the north-central section of the range, and the jagged peaks and spires of the Cirque of the Towers in the south.

The trip will start in Boulder, WY, with a 2-night stay at the Big Sandy Lodge and an altitude acclimatization dayhike along the Continental Divide Trail from the nearby Big Sandy trailhead.  We’ll then be shuttled to the Green River Lakes trailhead to begin our 13-day, 130+ mile thru-hike of the Wind River Range.  Our itinerary includes an on-trail resupply on day 7 (via horse + wrangler) and offers multi-night stays at 3 camps so that we can rest, fish, or spend time exploring.  Several opportunities for extra side trips will be possible, and we’ll decide as a group if these side trips will be done.  We’ll finish our adventure at the Big Sandy trailhead and then enjoy a night at the nearby Big Sandy Lodge before returning home the next day.

The highest point of our adventure is 12,000’, and all of our nights will be spent above 10,000’.  Our daily elevation gain will range from 660’ to 4100’ (with an average of 2000’ per day), and mileage will vary between 7 and 12 miles per day (with an average of 10 miles per day).  We will carry and manage our own food, shelter, and sleep systems on this adventure.

A map of our full itinerary is available.

Time of Year:    Late August to early September is generally considered to offer the best weather window in the Wind River Range.  We’ll be trekking during a time when – typically – the previous winter’s snows have melted, stream flows are past their peak, and insects and thunderstorms are reduced.  That said, the weather can – and does – change quickly from warm sun to thunderstorms, high winds, rain, hail, and/or snow at this time of year, and all participants must therefore be prepared for adverse weather conditions.  Average high/low temperatures from https://www.ncei.noaa.gov:

  • Big Sandy trailhead (elevation 9,080’) 72°F/42°F in August and 65°F/36°F in September
  • Cold Springs (elevation 9,630’) 69°F/45°F in August and 62°F/40°F in September

Lodging:   2 nights in cabins at the Big Sandy Lodge in Boulder, WY, followed by 12 nights on trail in our own tents, followed by a single night back at Big Sandy Lodge.  The cabins at Big Sandy Lodge are rustic, one-room log cabins offering accommodations for 2 people per cabin.  The cabins are furnished with bedding, towels, wood-burning stoves, and kerosene lamps.  There is no cell service, land lines, or electricity.  Modern restroom and shower facilities are centrally located to the cabins.  On trail, we will carry and manage our own shelters and sleep systems, and privies will not typically be available.

Food:   While staying at Big Sandy Lodge, all meals are included.  We’ll be treated to hearty breakfasts and dinners served family-style in the lodge dining room, and sack lunches will be provided daily.  Big Sandy Lodge is unfortunately unable to accommodate food allergies or dietary restrictions.  While on trail, participants must supply and carry their own food and stove/fuel, and will need to safely store their food (and other scented items) in either a bear canister or Ursack.

Provisions: There will be no opportunities for shopping during this adventure, so participants must arrive at the Big Sandy Lodge on August 25 with all necessary on-trail provisions, including food, stove fuel, and toiletries.  Each participant must arrive with 3 caches for this adventure:

  • A 7-day supply of food, stove fuel, and toiletries for the first portion of the trek, with the food and other scented items stored in either a bear canister or Ursack. Each participant must carry this first cache of food, fuel, and toiletries in their backpack when we start on trail.
  • A 6-day resupply of food, stove fuel, and toiletries for the second portion of the trek, stored in an Ursack. We will drop off these resupplies at a packer prior to starting on trail, and these resupplies will be delivered by the packer via horse + wrangler to a location approximately midway through our trek.  Each participant must carry this second cache of food, fuel, and toiletries in their backpack after we pick up these resupplies approximately midway through our trek.
  • Any snacks needed for our acclimatization dayhike along the Continental Divide Trail.

Backcountry Permit: The trip leader will obtain all permits needed for backcountry travel in the Wind River Range, and all permit costs are included in the trip price.

Leader’s Experience:   Colin Chapman (colindchapman@gmail.com) is an active backpacking instructor and trip leader with the Mountaineers.  Colin has led many Mountaineers backpacking trips and winter overnight snowshoe trips in the Western US, including trips into areas – such as Ginkgo Petrified Forest and the Enchantments – with extensive off-trail travel or challenging terrain.  Colin has completed the Wonderland Trail and John Muir Trail, and has Wilderness First Responder certification.

Participant Requirements:   Must be a current Mountaineers member with an up-to-date waiver on file.  This outing includes strenuous hiking on rugged terrain at high elevations (including off-trail travel, boulder-hopping, steep scree slopes, and, depending on snowpack levels, snowfield and swift water crossings) for multiple successive days.  Participants must therefore be in excellent aerobic condition with good balance and confidence traveling on such terrain with a fully loaded backpack.  Participants must also have the endurance, experience, willingness, and flexibility to deal with extended periods of significant mileage, substantial elevation gain/loss, and inclement weather (cold, rain, hail, snow, wind, lightning).  Participants must be comfortable with off-trail travel and route-finding, and must understand that route adjustments could be required in the event of unanticipated weather or trail conditions.  Recent experience with multi-day strenuous backpacking, plus a positive attitude and a demonstrated ability to get along well with groups under demanding conditions, will be very important. 

As nearly the entire trek is at elevations between 10,000’ to 12,500’, individual participants could experience altitude sickness and may as a result need to take appropriate prescription medications or terminate their trek in order to descend to a lower elevation.  Participants who have experienced altitude sickness in the past are predisposed to altitude sickness in the future; such participants must (a) provide trip leader with physician approval for backpacking in the Wind River Range and (b) are strongly encouraged to bring appropriate prescription medications such as Acetazolamide (Diamox), Deximethazone and Nifidipene.  

NOTE: As a Mountaineers group we will operate as interdependent, capable travelers making our way together and helping one another succeed and be safe.  You are responsible for your own safety and that of your fellow travelers.  At any time, if the route, weather, or other conditions become dangerous, we will exit early or find a safer, alternate route.  See daily trip profile, attached.

NOTE:  Participants must be fully vaccinated to participate in the trip.  In addition, participants are expected to practice conservative covid behavior before and during transit to the trip including masking and avoiding crowded indoor spaces whenever possible; and that they will carry covid self-tests on the trip and use them at any time when they experience a symptom commonly related to covid.  Any positive test will mean that the participant will need to leave the group and quarantine at their own expense for at least 5 days (or longer if not symptom free) before rejoining the group.

Trip Price Detail:   $1000 including food and lodging before and after the thru-hike, shuttle service to the beginning trailhead, and transport of resupplies to the trail.  Travel between your home and Big Sandy Lodge in Boulder, WY is not included.  On-trail consumables (food, fuel, toiletries, etc.) are not included, and must be provisioned by each participant prior to arrival at Big Sandy Lodge.  Ursack needed for packaging of resupply is not included.

Registration Instructions:   Please complete and submit the application form at the button below.   After reviewing your application the leader may get back to you with additional questions.  If you receive the leader’s approval to join the roster, you may register for the trip and pay the 50% deposit ($500) via the Mountaineers website.  The remaining 50% balance will be due July 12, 2023.  Spots on the roster cannot be held without a deposit, and registration will close as soon as the roster fills.  Applications will be collected for 2 weeks before the final roster is chosen, and selection will be based on overall fit with the trip requirements and NOT based on the date of application.  As soon as you have registered you will be asked to complete an online Trip Agreement and Liability Release forms.

Application     Trip Agreement     Release

Supplemental Information

Cancellation Policy:  Your trip price is non-refundable, unless we are able to locate a qualified replacement.  If a qualified replacement is located, you will be refunded your payment up to that date less a $100 administrative fee.

Route/Place

Wind River Range



  • Earthwalk Press Southern Wind River Range Hiking Map

    Earthwalk Press Northern Wind River Range Hiking Map
  • See full route/place details.
Roster
Required Equipment

Required Equipment

Prior to the start of this adventure, the trip leader will send participants a series of emails with information detailing altitude sickness prevention/symptoms/treatment, resupply preparation, arrival/departure logistics, recommended gear, and GPS routes.  Gear sharing is encouraged and will be coordinated by trip leader.  Participants must bring gear suitable for an extended backcountry trek with potentially inclement weather (cold, rain, hail, snow, wind, lightning).

 

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