Spring just doesn’t want to let up! Did that groundhog see his shadow? This past storm dumped around 6-12 inches of snow in the high country. This pushes things back a bit, but looking at the immediate forecast, it looks like nice sunny days for the forseeable future. Fingers crossed. Other than a blanket of new snow, expect a similar snow line to last week; 10,400 feet in the northern half of the range, 10,500 – 10,600 feet in the southern half. This is subject to change depending on aspect. North and west-facing aspects will hold snow longer than south or east-facing aspects.
The ENTIRE Wind River Range is home to both grizzly and black/brown bears. Hanging your food and other smellables (this means dog food, toothpaste, sun screen, etc.; anything with a scent) is the best way to prevent a bear from ending you, or your trip earlier than planned. Marmots, porcupines, and squirrels will chew on anything with your sweat plastered to it. I’ve lost hats and cork trekking pole handles to hungry small critters. The last thing we want is animals that have been habituated to human presence.
Rivers are running extremely high and fast right now. Please use caution when crossing; there is no ON/OFF switch for the water. There are many potential hazards to getting washed downstream laden with a full pack and clothes. Chucking your pack across the creek, then crossing, will allow you to keep better balance. Trekking poles help with stability in fast running water. If you must cross with your pack, un-clasping all the straps before crossing is by far the safest way, in case you need to get it off quickly.
Most everything stated in the last conditions report applies to this report. The new snow threw a wrench in an otherwise early backpacking season. It’s safe to assume that the conditions in the Wind River Range high country are more on par with an average year.
Out of Big Sandy, the Cirque remains accessible. Snow will be encountered on the Texas Pass loop, especially on Texas Pass. Microspikes and trekking poles are a good idea.
Scab Creek is the most accessible, with a party that came in to say they were able to make it to Rainbow Lake and up on top of Photo Pass, although there was still some snow to contend with. The crossing at the South Fork of Boulder Creek is deep, but not running too fast, and is manageable. The party I talked to said the most recent storm dropped around 6 inches of snow at Dream Lake.
Boulder Lake is quite open as well. Expect to be able to make it to at least Pipestone Lakes snow-free, maybe even further.
Elkhart Park still presents some difficulties. Reports say that Island Lake is accessible, with muddy trails and snow to contend with. Past that, Titcomb Basin will still have quite a bit of snow, although parties have certainly been hiking in and out. The trail around Little Seneca Lake is holding waist-deep water, and the creek between Little Seneca and Seneca appear to be moving swiftly. Particular caution should be used when crossing the creek between Hobbs and Seneca Lake. This crossing is much deeper than it appears and is moving VERY fast.
Spring Creek has turned into somewhat of a swamp with this last storm and all the rain, although the trail gets better as you get closer to Trapper Lake.
New Fork Lake is in similar condition as last week. Expect a snowline in the area around 10,400 to 10,500 feet.
Green River Lakes, similiar to the above New Fork Lakes.
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.