Trailhead Conditions Report 8/22/2020

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It’s been a couple of weeks, but I thought we’d share a few things about this late summer-early fall season that should be on everyone’s minds. Starting out with some good news, put away the bug nets, cause the bugs are gone! With the freezing temperatures returning at night, the bugs have slowly died off (for the most part) for the season.

On the note of temperature, expect mountain lows just below freezing (0*C) and highs in the low to mid 70s. August also sees an uptick in afternoon thunderstorm activity, so trip plans should reflect being off high peaks and passes before the weather rolls in each day. Mountain-forecast.com is a great resource for tracking weather in the high country. You can use the drop down menu to see forecasts for Gannett and the other high peaks throughout the range.

For those attempting the Wind River High Route, or any variation of the route, be aware that the cornice on Knapsack Col has melted away enough for passage on the lookers-right (from Titcomb Basin side) on scree and talus.

For those going for a Gannett Peak summit, be aware that snow snow-bridge on the Gooseneck Glacier route is OUT. The rock on the lookers-right side of the couloir can be climbed to bypass the bergshrund. Another option is the West Couloir of Gannett, accessed from Tourist Creek via Scott Lake and Mammoth Glacier.

As many of you will notice, there is a large layer of smoke covering much of the West right now. While we currently only have a fire burning North of Rawlins and South of Cheyenne, it is EXTREMELY dry in the Wind River Range this year. Please note that the ENTIRE Wind Rivers and the surrounding Bridger-Teton National Forest areas (this includes the Wyoming Range) are under a fire ban. This means no, “building, maintaining, attending, or using a fire, campfire or stove fire outside a fire structure that is provided by the Forest Service within a designated area.” The exception to this is, “persons using a stove or grill that is solely fueled by liquid petroleum fuels.” Here is a fire map and awareness website for Wyoming. See here for a fire map of the Western United States, and what is currently burning.

Please practice awareness during this time. Western Wyoming has been lucky this year with no major fires in the area. Please visit www.tetonfires.com and click on “Restrictions” for more information and the latest updates from the Forest Service.

With unprecedented usage mainly in the Elkhart Park and Big Sandy Opening trailheads, please keep Leave No Trace principles in mind while out backpacking and fishing. Packing out the trash that you pack in, as well as properly burying and disposing of your human and pet waste are things that you should ALWAYS be doing. Not only does this promote good stewardship and respect to the range, is promotes cleanliness. No one wants to see littered trails in a Wilderness area (Wilderness with a capital “W”). As users who “visit, but do not remain”, it’s our job to keep our pristine lands clean and trash-free, and this all starts with education and a willing appreciation of the beautiful landscape in which we choose to recreate. Rules and regulations can be found on the Bridger-Teton National Forest website.

Responsible use lies squarely on our shoulders. Just as we are expected to know and practice certain rules and laws for safe driving on the roadways, also are we expected to know how to use public land responsibly. Common sense and courtesy for others is a good place to start. If you have questions, the Forest Service office in Pinedale (307-367-4326), as well as our staff at the Great Outdoor Shop will be able to answer any of your questions.

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. There has been a recent uptick in bear activity in the Elkhart Park area. There is no mandate that requires a bear-proof container in the Wind River Range, but you ARE required to properly hang your food above and below treeline. Above treeline, a “rodent hang” is the easiest way to keep your food off the ground.

If you have any questions regarding trip planning or gear, feel free to give us a call at (307) 367-2440 or email info@greatoutdoorshop.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.