Ladies and gentleman, the mosquitos have arrived. We knew the day would come, but oh, how badly we wished it wouldn’t. Over the course of the week, we noticed the bugs go from just a little annoying to full-on feasting. If you haven’t already, we recommend picking up some DEET — 100% formula is all that works in the Winds, trust me — and treating your clothes and gear with Permethrin spray. For longer trips or just sitting around camp, a headnet can also mean the difference between feeling a little irritated and having a bug-induced mental breakdown. Forgot your defenses at home? No problem! Stop in the shop and we can get you armed and ready.
The snow is hanging around in the high country much later than normal this year. It is melting, I promise, but many popular areas such as Titcomb Basin and Cirque of the Towers are still a no-go for at least two more weeks. I’m just as antsy as the rest of you to get back there, but I keep reminding myself that the longer the snow holds, the fewer chances there are for wildfires to devastate the landscape. As with anything, there is a trade-off, but it will be worth it when we’re exploring a thriving alpine ecosystem come mid-July.
As I’ve stated in previous reports, please take high water levels into account when planning your trip. Peak runoff is behind us now, but streams are still very high and can present hazardous conditions when crossing. This will be the case until most of the snow at higher elevations is gone, at least a few more weeks. And boy, are those crossings cold — I’m still shivering at the thought of the waist-deep ice baths on my last trip. So come prepared, mentally and gear-wise, for spring conditions in the mountains.
Down here in town, community is the word as travelers from around the world come soak up the sun and mountain views alongside winter-braving locals. We all had an awesome time last Saturday at the Soundcheck Summer Music Series with Teton county’s own, Strumbucket, and we look forward to the July 4th show with Wildermiss + Two Runner. If music isn’t your jam, Green River Rendezvous is only two weeks away and will provide fun for the whole family with vendor fairs and daily rodeos. If nothing else, the people watching is top-notch. Come check it out!
Here’s the latest on the trailheads:
Big Sandy Trailhead (9,085’) – Snow Depth: 0″
Big Sandy Trailhead is open. The trail is hikeable to Big Sandy Lake, 6 miles in, but is inaccessible due to snow soon after. I had originally estimated the Cirque of the Towers would be accessible by this weekend, but that doesn’t look to be the case. There are still 4-6′ snow drifts over most of the trail as you ascend from Big Sandy Lake. The situation is even more dire in the vicinity of Jackass Pass. The satellite imagery for the area shows a heck of a lot of white, so I’m pushing back my estimate by two more weeks. The same is true of the trails towards Deep Lake and Temple Basin. It’s pretty wild to think I was standing atop East Temple Peak this time last year.
Scab Creek Trailhead (8,200’) – Snow Depth: 0″
Scab Creek Trailhead is open. I was able to make it all the way to Dream Lake (10 miles) this weekend without encountering any significant snow. Crossing the South Fork was a pain, requiring us to strip to our skivvies and traverse thigh-deep water even at the river’s lowest section. Those I met on the trail said the situation was the same heading to Raid Lake, slightly south. The trails are extremely muddy past the wilderness boundary so boots, not trail runners, are the way to go.
Boulder Lake Trailhead (7,300’) – Snow Depth: 0″
Boulder Lake Trailhead is open. The trail up the canyon is accessible to about Lake Isabella. Hikers have also made it as far north as Macs Lake on the Lake Ethel Trail. This means the snow line is almost above the Highline Trail, a major linkage for the entire Wind River Range trail system. Boulder Lake is a great option right now for those looking to take an extended backpacking trip.
Elkhart Park Trailhead (9,350’) – Snow Depth: 0″
Elkhart Park Trailhead is open. The road, parking lot and campground are all dry. Sacred Rim Trail and Long Lake Trail are ready to hike. I have had reports of hikers making it about one mile past Photographer’s Point before being turned around by deep, slushy snow. This is the main access point to Titcomb Basin, meaning the Basin will likely remain inaccessible for two more weeks. Pole Creek Trail is more like a creek than a trail this time of year so be prepared for wet, muddy hiking.
Spring Creek Trailhead (8,200’) – Snow Depth: 0″
Spring Creek Trailhead is open. The road to get here is short but rough; 4WD and high clearance are recommended. Glimpse Lake Trail is only accessible to Glimpse Lake and no further due to fallen trees. Trapper Lake Trail was cleared of trees to Summit Lake by the US Forest Service last summer; it should be snow-free to the junction with Summit Lake Trail and slightly beyond, around 6 miles.
New Fork Lakes Trailhead (7,900’) – Snow Depth: 0″
New Fork Lakes Trailhead is open. The canyon is entirely hikeable, but Doubletop Trail is still holding snow above Rainbow Lake. The only thing stopping most people from making larger loops out of New Fork Lakes Trailhead is the New Fork River itself, which needs to be negotiated with three times before reaching the head of the canyon. The cascading river makes this trail one of the most beautiful around, but also puts a damper on most early-season hiking.
Green River Lakes Trailhead (8,040’) – Snow Depth: 0″
Green River Lakes Trailhead is open. The Green River Lakes loop is ready to hike, but be prepared to cross a lot of running water along the west side of the lakes. This area receives a lot of inflow from every direction, so flooded and/or muddy trails are the norm this time of year. Clear Creek Natural Bridge is accessible. Slide Lake is accessible if you’re willing to cross a stream with pretty healthy flow. The Highline Trail is ready to go all the way to Three Forks Park and likely now a good distance towards Summit Lake, given the elevation of the snow line. This area is another great option for those who want to explore the backcountry for a longer period of time.
We know it’s been a weird year for the backcountry, so if you have any more questions or just need advice on visiting the Pinedale area, give us a shout at 307-367-2440. Our helpful and knowledgeable staff are always happy to offer guidance. You can also write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Our store is open every day from 8AM to 8PM. We look forward to hearing from you!
Recreate Responsibly, Friends of the Bridger-Teton
Mud Season Hiking Dos and Don’ts, Appalachian Mountain Club
Bear Wise Wyoming, WY Fish & Game
Wyoming Fishing Regulations, WY Fish & Game