Sept 2013 Wind River Range / Titcomb Basin

This is the photo slide show of our Wind River Range trip.  The Titcomb Basin is possibly the most beautiful place in the lower 48 and we have the photos to prove it.  The soundtrack on this show is one of our best.  The songs range from the obscure to #1 hits and are performed by everyone from huge stars to alternative artists.  They perfectly convey our emotions during the different stages of this wonderful trip.  Enjoy! [For full screen display click bottom right corner to watch on YouTube]

We had heard that the Wind River Range was some of the best backcountry in the lower forty-eight and had been trying to launch this trip for four years.  In 2013, everything finally worked out.   For some unknown reason, nearly the entire Brotherhood signed up.  We traveled with a record number of eight guys!  It was a great to have the full crew but it did create some challenges with logistics.  In addition to the perennial team of Don, Dave, Kevan, Armando & Donny, we were joined by Billy B.D. Davis (who was a greenhorn last year at Yosemite),  Gregg Anderson (who we all thought was one-and-done after the Paria River trip) and  Jeff (who hadnt been on a trip since 2005).

The advance team of Don, Kevan & Armando flew into Jackson, WY a day early to gather supplies.  They next morning we spent 4 hours of finding bear spray, fuel, sandwiches, cold beer, sleeping pads and whatever else the belated brethren could think of and call in requests of.  We eventually were able to break away to Grand Teton National Park and day hike a bit near Leigh Lake and Paintbrush Canyon.  At about 6:45pm the Advance team met the Sweep Team of Dave, Donny, B.D., Jeff & Gregg at the Jackson Hole Airport.  After additional stops for more liquor and other things that the Sweep team still forgot, we all climbed in a rented 15-passenger van and drove straight to the Best Western in Pinedale, WY.

In the morning, after a hearty breakfast at the hotel and another stop at some store for something else that the Sweep team realized they forgot, we drove to the Elkhark Trailhead (elevation 9,350).  We finally got our boots on the ground at about 11:30am.  It was a long drudge of a day uphill for 7 miles to Hobbs. Lake (10,070 ft), which was a fabulous campsite.

On Day 2 we woke up to a brisk morning with overcast skies.  We had a 5 mile up and down hike to Island Lake.  That sounds like an easy day, right?  Not for us.  The altitude put a serious butt-whipping us Florida boys.  Practically speaking, we had zero acclimation time and it would affect us the whole trip.  The skies cleared at about the time we reached Island Lake (10,346), which was possibly the most beautiful campsite we have ever been to.  The plan was to stay for 3 nights.

Our plan on Day 3 was to day hike 8 miles out & back to Titcomb Basin.  We woke up to a light blanket of snow.  After some medical treatment to Kevans blistered heels and some general lollygagging, we got off to a very late start.  Given our continued issues with the altitude, it was nice to hike without heavy packs.  We reached Titcomb Basin and it was everything as advertised.  The scenery ranked as possibly the best we have ever seen.  Once we reached Lower Titcomb Lake , the guys split up.  Don & Donny continued on the trail to look for the next hidden lake.  Dave, Armando, Gregg, Jeff and Billy scrambled partway up Mt. Fremont (2nd highest peak in WY) for better views of the basin.  And Kevan stayed back to nurse his blistered heels.  Everyone got what they wanted.

The plan on Day 4 was to hike back out toward to Titcomb Basin for further exploration to possibly Indian Pass.  Things changed when we received a weather report from a fellow backpacker that a big snow storm was coming in.  Being Florida boys with zero winter camping skills, we thought the prudent thing to do was to hike back to Hobbs Lake for the night and then hike out a day early.  Our hike back to Hobbs Lake was as good as expected.  But the altitude continued to take its toll on us flatlanders.

The improvised plan on day 5 was to break camp early and hike out ahead of the incoming storm.  We woke up at 6:00am to a drizzle of sleet and brisk temperatures of about 24F.  Fortunately, the sleet stopped just long enough for us  to have our breakfast and break camp.  Our 7-mile hike back to Elkhart Park was up & down but overall dropped 1,000 ft in elevation and in a steady snowstorm.  For us tropical guys, that hike out will be one of our most memorable.

Because we hiked out a day early, we also had to improvise our logistics in town.  Fortunately, the Pinedale Best Western had rooms for us despite it being prime hunting season.  Brother Gregg Chairman of the Tent Anderson, used his company connections and got us a night at a beautiful condo in Teton Village.  There, we experienced a bit of indulgence and luxury never before seen on an A-B trip.  If we keep this up, our spouses will want to go next time.

Although we clearly made the right decision to get off the trail ahead of the snow storm, we now had to kill two full days of terrible weather in the small towns of Pinedale and Jackson Wyoming.  The visibility was so poor we could not even see the Teton moutains.  As much as we were disappointed with the rain during our play days in town, we are grateful that the weather gods had once again blessed us with with great weather during our time on the trail.

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Below are some short raw videos taken by Gregg:

 

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