On our 2020 and 2021 trips to the Wind River Range, we explored the central and southern ends of the range. For 22, we decided to visit the northern end of the range. On this trip, we entered at the Green River Lakes trailhead and spent five stunning days on the trail.
The view over the Green River Lakes to Square Top is, for many, one of the four iconic views of the Wind River Range, along with Titcomb Basin, Island Lake and Mount Fremont, and Cirque of the Towers. Less obvious from those photos, though is that not far past the lakes, the trail reaches spectacular meadows and then climbs to a high country of equally magnificent alpine lakes.
In August 2022, we backpacked a new part of the North Cascades for us: the Devil’s Dome Loop on the western edge of the Pasayten Wilderness. We hiked the route clockwise, from the East Bank Trailhead, taking four days and three nights.
This was a stunning loop that took us to parts of the North Cascades we had not visited. We enjoyed excellent weather and beautiful views.
Our total distance, including a side trip, was about 41 miles, and 10,800′ of elevation gain. Trail conditions made the route more difficult than the stats would imply.
For our second trip to the Wind River Range, we did a four-day, three-night backpacking loop through the Middle Fork Valley. This took us to Middle Fork Lake, Bewmark Lake, Lee Lake, Lake Donna, and Pronghorn Peak. This route offered stunning landscapes and solitude.
The centerpiece of our summer 2021 Wyoming trip was five days backpacking the Teton Crest Trail. We started at Granite Canyon and camped at Marion Lake, Death Canyon Shelf, South Fork of Cascade Canyon, and Holly Lake.
As with many summer backpacking trips in the west, storms shaped our experience on the Teton Crest Trail. We were glad to be prepared and fortunate to mostly be in camp when they hit, but the weather also curtailed some of our explorations.
Kyle and I had each visited Yellowstone National Park on our own. I had spent about a week there when I was a kid and passed through several times on cross-country drives. Kyle had visited only briefly on his move to Seattle, and was unable to stray far from parking lots because he was traveling with a dog. We decided to take advantage of our summer 2021 Wyoming trip to spend a couple of days in Yellowstone together, before heading to the Tetons.
On our way home from backpacking Ediza and Thousand Island Lakes in the Ansel Adams Wilderness, we added a day for Lassen Volcanic National Park. Because of smoke from wildfires, we decided on a day of short walks and hikes combined with stops at various viewpoints, rather than climbing Lassen Peak.
For the first part of our July 2021 Cascades and Sierra Nevada road trip, we visited central Oregon, stopping in Bend, Newberry Volcanic National Monument, and Crater Lake National Park. Each of these destinations merited more time than we had, but we still enjoyed the three days we had to explore.
One summer at Cold River Camp, another guest presented on backpacking the Muir Trail and through the Ansel Adams Wilderness. This presentation inspired our summer 2016 backpacking trip from Tuolumne Meadows to Yosemite Valley. The image that most stayed in my mind, though, was a sunset photo at Thousand Island Lake.
Kyle & I finally visited in July 2021, stopping at Newberry National Volcanic Monument and Crater Lake National Park on the way there, and Lassen Volcanic National Park on the way back. This made for a one-week road trip with three days of backpacking in the middle.
Compared to the photo that inspired our trip, the sunset over Thousand Island Lake sunset was muted, but it was still excellent.
While a graduate student, I was fortunate to tack a couple of days in Yosemite National Park onto the end of a conference. That was enough time to hike up Half Dome (this was in the days before permits) and to explore Yosemite Valley. While stunning, I knew I had just scratched the surface of the Yosemite’s wonders.
I later saw a slide show of a hike along the John Muir Trail, which further motivated me to return. Kyle and I talked with friends–Joe and Jeremy–about a proposed trip. We decided to focus on the section from Tuolumne Meadows to Yosemite Valley. This would take us to Cathedral Lakes, Sunrise Lakes, Clouds Rest, and Half Dome.
We set about applying to permits by fax. On our third try, we secured permits for our desired route for 21-24 July 2016.