The Windrivers in Wyoming have been on our radar for a few years as many people we have encountered in the USA mention this area as one of their favorites. We decided to do an 8-day journey through the northern Windrivers ending at Titcombe Basin, thus allowing us lots of time to explore. Of course, now the Southern Windrivers remain on our "to-do" list, that ever-lengthening wish list!
An easy drive down brought us to Pinedale, a fun little mountain town with the Windrivers in sight. By the way, there is lots of accomodation now as many motel chains have been built. ( previous trip reports mention a scarcity of motels) We set up the shuttle the next morning by leaving a car at the Elkhart trailhead and then heading out to the Green River lakes campground and a short dayhike to acclimatize as the altitude is 8000 ft. and over. A beautiful hike along the east side of Green lake was enjoyed before preparing for the next morning's departure.
The forecast was rather bleak for this day and the weatherman did not let us down! We headed up the west side of Green Lake towards Porcupine Pass, a lovely treed valley with a few fun creek crossings( These would have been near-impossible after the rain!) After a few hours of overcast sky, the skies opened and we found ourselves in a must-find-camp situation...and a perfect camp appeared! This area does not require permits and allows random camping which definitely increases enjoyment of the wilderness. The rain stopped in the evening, allowing us to dry everything with a welcome campfire!
Ah, the next day remained warm and sunny and in less than 3 hours, we arrived at Porcupine Pass, a gorgeous alpland! After a leisurely break, we headed south down the trail along Dodge Creek and then west ( up again, along beautiful flower meadows) towards the Lozier Lakes(another beautiful alpine basin). We made camp at Kenny Lake and enjoyed a swim ( ouch, colder this year due to lots of late snow) and the sunset!
We awoke again to sun and made our way along trail to New Fork Pass, and then had a fun exploration day off-trail south towards NoName Lakes, where we set up a great camp at an unnamed beautiful little alpine lake. There were a few other people near last night's camp ( the fishing was good at Kenny Lake) but we saw noone as soon as we left trail. Midday, we left our packs for a couple of hours to climb a subpeak of Glover Peak, a fun scramble with incredible views! Lots of snow provided some fun glissading and lots of water meant there were quite a few mosquitoes at times, but easily controllable with headnets and good ol american 100% Deet!
Our off-trail route continued the next morning until we met the Doubletop Mtn. trail which we followed to Summit Lake. We headed southwest along the Highline trail into the snowy and stark Elbow Lake basin, towards Shannon Pass. We then headed to Upper Jean Lake and another great camp spot with terrific views! An incredible lightening, rain and wind storm arrived that night but we weathered well through it and awoke to another sunny morning!
We followed the Highline Trail past Lower Jean Lake and through another stream crossing, thus cementing the theme of this trip as " I'm going in!". We arrived at Fremont Crossing ( this one thankfully bridged!) where we left packs to visit the Big Water Slide for an hour or so. Back in this area, we occasionally met other hikers but had seen noone for the last few days. We headed south on the trail after lunch and then set out cross-country past a series of tarns towards another wonderful camp spot on Island Lake, where we would stay for 3 nights and day hike into Titcombe and Indian Basins.
We explored Indian Basin for a full day hike with the usual sun until early afternoon when clouds would arrive for a few hours ( sometimes with a little rain/hail) and then evening clearing. It was very enjoyable to be pack-free and we had fun route-finding amidst all the lakes and granite.
The next day granted us a full packless dayhike into Titcombe Basin, a well-known area for hikers and mountaineers. We did a fun scramble up to a ridge between Mistake Lake and Titcomb lakes with great views in all directions. We also checked out the Titcomb Outflow falls visible from our camp and meandered back to camp along the Island Lake east and south shores. ( Our camp was on the west shore but there are many possible sites!)
The last day was a short cross-country to meet the trail heading west to Seneca Lake, Photographers Point and the Elkhart trailhead. It presented many unexpected ups and downs and a lot more people entering various areas of the wilderness. We arrived at the trailhead in about 6-7 hours , having enjoyed a fantastic trip in a great area....already planning our next sojourn into the Windrivers!