As a southbound thru hiker along the CDT, you'll hear from just about every northbounder that the Wind River Range is on par with the High Sierra and to carry extra food. To make the first part of this as brief as possible, they weren't wrong. Not even in the slightest.
We left Pinedale a couple of days ago to make our first run at the Winds and to really see what it was about. The anticipation was almost overwhelming the last week or so due to the amount of hype that it was getting. When we got dropped off at Green River Lakes Trailhead, we began what set out to be a 15-20 mile hike out of town, but turned out to be nothing of the sort. The first stretch in the Winds leads you along the infamous Green River with outrageous and towering views of Squaretop Mountain looming in the background. Around every corner a new and more astounding view of the iconic mountain presented itself.
With not much surrounding it besides minuscule pine trees and the surrounding smaller peaks, the elevated, glaciated carved geological feature was the centerpiece of the entrance to the greatest region I've yet to hike in.
After countless views and magnified emotions, our group of myself, Mayor, Red Bass, Funny Bone, and Stomper decided that after 6 miles of endless awe, we had to make camp at the base of the mountain right along the Green River. As soon as we decided that the beauty was too grand to pass up, we all set our packs down and started to admire what was really in front of us. Mayor decided to pack a Tenkara fly rod into the Winds, and within a 20 to 30 minute span had his first trout on the line.
A few minutes later after Mayor had cleaned the fish and prepared it on the fire, we were enjoying fresh caught trout on our first night in the Winds. How could it get better?
While we marveled at the sight in front of us, both the trout and the mountain, our tents slowly made their way up and soon the fire was roaring beneath a majestic ridge line leading to Squaretop. We sat around bullshitting, completely awe struck at our surroundings wondering how the hell we were so lucky to be where we were.
As the night wore down, Stomp and Mayor headed to bed while Funny Bone, Red Bass and I stayed up to enjoy the night sky.
It's proven to be one of the most illustrious and momentous places I've ever had the pleasure of camping at, and I imagine that won't ever change.
The second I entered the Winds I knew that there was a deep rooted history linked to the mountain range. As humans I think we all have a pretty good grasp on what really stands out in our lifetime as individuals. Some of us are struck with pure joy and marvel at some of the architecture we have in the major cities. Some of us can't explain how beautiful the lines and curves of a '67 Mustang are, or the pure engineering it takes to create such a thing, but myself?; I'm absolutely enthralled with the Wind River Range. Some gawk at the beauty of the Sierra, and no, I've never seen them, but it almost seems impossible for anything to rival what I've seen in the Winds at this point. I'm
I couldn't and still can't get over the fact that Ive never seen photos of Squaretop. Never once have I seen the mountain that now will be imprinted into my memory forever. Not once have I seen a photo or heard of the most grandeur piece of granite that has legitimately changed my life. John Muir wrote about the Sierra more than anyone, and now, Mt. Whitney and the John Muir Trail are so well known that it's almost become a household name. These mountains are hovering in the shadows of the Tetons due to the Winds being the second largest Range in the state of Wyoming, but my god, I'm not sure that it's an accurate or rightful shrowding.
The history of these mountains is just as impressive as the peaks themselves. The native people of the Shoshone inhabited these mountains close to 4,000 years ago and built villages at elevations of close to 10,000ft during the harvest season of pine nuts. The first Europeans gazed upon these peaks in the early 1800's during the Lewis and Clark expedition, and soon after a few more expeditions were led for exploring and mapping purposes. Less than 250 years ago, these mountains had no 'visitors'. Less than 250 years ago, the only eyes to witness these lands were the ones who had lived there for thousands of years. Now, thousands of travelers each year flock to our National Parks and Wilderness Areas to enjoy the same beauty that caught the eyes of the natives thousands of years ago.
So, anyways, what turned out to be an expected average of 25 miles through the Winds has now dwindled to a slow crawl at best. We are okay with slowing down through this section and then busting miles through the Basin and Northern CO, although it's getting mighty cold in the San Juans.
The best part about this mountain range and our hike through it so far is that everything I just described to you was on day 1. Within 4 hours of being in the Winds I was in love and overwhelmed with joy and emotion. These mountains are much more than just that. They are a step back in time and into our future. I will return here for years to come without question.
I'm going to break this section up into multiple posts because it's so marvelous. There's no way I could write one blog to describe my experience here and have it accurately depict what I've seen and done.
One thing though, you won't believe your eyes.