Not much change in the snowpack over the last week. What you will start to notice is the lack of freezing temperatures high in the mountains. Above freezing temperatures have started to wreak havok on the structure of the snow. What we’re seeing is no freeze-thaw cycle of the snowpack below 10,500 feet; for the snowpack, this means constant melting and settling. By noon on these sunny days, the snow is turning isothermic and the structure is completely breaking down. This is good news for access in the highcountry. For now, still expect snowy trails above 10,000 – 10,200 feet, especially in the trees and on north-facing aspects.
Spring runoff is in full force! Check out the river forecasting tool for details. Plan accordingly for creek crossings, as timber bridges may have washed out due to high water. Fishing will still be a bit slow on the high lakes, but fishing subsurface this time of year will never steer you in the wrong direction. The highcountry fish aren’t too picky, but leech patterns, black/white Wooley Buggers, and small nymphs for the creeks are good general flies for when the fish aren’t rising. Check out Two Rivers’ fishing report here to get a better idea of fishing conditions closer to town.
All trailhead campgrounds are officially open as of June 1. Be aware that there are not usually trash bins stationed at these campgrounds; as you would do on the trail, please pack out what you bring in. This keeps the area looking nice and helps keep the Forest Service focused on opening up trails, clearing downed trees, and performing maintenance. Respectful use of these facilities ensures that they stay available to the public. On the same note, please sign in at trail registers at trailheads. The information gleaned from the sign-in sheets helps our Ranger District in securing federal funds for much needed trail maintenance.
We’ve had several questions regarding the Wind River High Route. Although there are many different variations to the route itself, there are two passes, Indian Pass and Knapsack Col, which are standard throughways to use. Even on an average snow year, it takes these passes until around late-July to be passable snow-free. Depending on your experience climbing snow, it is advisable to take some kind of foot traction (i.e. MicroSpikes or crampons) and an ice axe if you plan on doing the route earlier than late-July. You are the only one who knows your acceptable risk level, so plan ahead and don’t get caught in a tough spot.
The latest news from Big Sandy Opening is snow-free trails to Big Sandy Lake. Expect snow on Jackass Pass and in the Cirque. Lingering snow on peak summits will continue to drench most climbing routes in the Cirque and Deep Lake. As you venture towards the East Fork Valley, expect snow past Marms Lake, although both Marms and Dads Lake are iced-off. Stop off at Big Sandy Lodge after a long trip to decompress with a burger and cold beer!
In Scab Creek, expect to make it to Raid Lake and Dream Lake with some snow on the trails. Most lakes in this area are just beginning to ice off.
Boulder Lake trailhead’s snowline is still hovering around Lake Vera. Expect to make it a mile or so past that until you hit snow. Lake Victor, Pipestone Lakes, etc will still be covered with ice. Please remember that Boulder Creek above the lake is closed to fishing until July 1.
Elkhart Park is seeing the slowest melt of the nine trailheads on our side of the Continental Divide. Sacred Rim is hikeable, but expect some snow to contend with. Expect heavy snow about a mile out of the trailhead towards Photographer’s Point. With how thick the trees are in that area, another week or two is needed to melt the trail out fully. Lakeside Lodge is finally done with renovations! Stop by to grab great food and a cold drink after your Wind River adventure.
New Fork Lakes trailhead hasn’t changed much. No snow in the valley that will stop your day-hiking, but the New Fork River is in runoff, which will flood much of the trail and turn it to thick mud. The trail up to Lozier Lakes and Clark’s Pass will still have deep snow.
Our latest update from Green River Lakes says that the Highline Trail is hikeable to the end of the valley; expect snow past that. The tree bridges at Elbow and Pixley Creeks have been washed out, but crossing is still possible on downed trees. Trail Creek was not passable due to high water flow. Thanks Mark and Twila!
As a very important side note… CLEAN UP AFTER YOURSELF. This means scattering cold fire rings, NOT burning your trash, packing out what you pack in, and (I can’t believe I have to say this one) PROPERLY dispose of your waste, your furry friends included. As more hikers, backpackers and climbers access the Winds, the idea of using the Wilderness responsibly falls more squarely on our shoulders as a collective user group. Use common sense and the seven Leave No Trace principles, so that other users can have an untainted experience and future users can experience the beauty of our wild backyard.
We do share the Wilderness with lots of other creatures. Make sure to do you part in not allowing bears, moose and marmots in the Wind River Range to become habituated to humans by hanging your food and practicing proper food storage. This is true above, as well as below, treeline.
If you have any questions regarding trip planning or gear, feel free to give us a call at (307) 367-2440 or email email@example.com. We carry a full stock of rental backpacking and mountaineering equipment, as well as fishing setups, bear spray and bear-proof containers, fuel and a full assortment of books and maps. Visit us online www.greatoutdoorshop.com to see trip reports, current conditions, or to browse our online store. Follow us on Instagram (@greatoutdoorshopwy), Twitter (@wrrconditions) and Facebook, and be sure to tag us in your Wind River pictures! Our staff is ready to help you plan a Wind River trip or to help with any questions you may have along the way.