We took a nice break at our last ford of New Fork River and we arrived back at the trailhead around three. We had a campsite reserved at the nearby USFS campground. We dropped off a few items that would be safe there, and since it doesn't get dark until ten, we drove the 25 miles into Pinedale for resupply. We started a load of laundry at the new laundromat on the north end of town, found the RV park in town that sells hot showers, bought fresh goods at the grocery store, and celebrated such a great trip thus far by going out to dinner. This was high style for us. We ate at Los Cabos Mexican Restaurant. We both enjoyed items from their special summer menu, a vegie burrito for the Lady and Tacos al Pastor for me. The portions were hardy and the Lady emptied her plate as did I. It was pretty darn good.
We walked up Pine Street (the main street) and stopped in at the Great Outdoors Shop, a place that's been around since we began visiting the Winds. We always enjoy talking with the local folks that work here.
"DEET," the Lady said, "What do you have with DEET in it?"
The young man pointed to the insect repellents, quite a selection as you can imagine, and said, "This one is 30% DEET."
"Got any that's 100%," the Lady cut to the chase.
"Oh, that's right, you guys have already been out on a trip! Here's the stuff you want," he said.
We walked over to the cash register and he continued, "Yup, folks come in here and they want all natural mosquito repellent and they don't want DEET."
"Yes, I know," I added. "All the horror stories, it will take your hide off, your teeth will fall out, change your eye glass prescription, you'll never have another erection................................"
"Yup, but when the mosquitoes are out and you need it because nothing else works, all that no longer matters. Give me DEET!" He rang us up; three bottles.
We were back at camp by nine. The campground was pleasant and quiet. Don't ever bring up the subject of our previous night here, prior to our backpack trip. You've been warned. We were traveling the next day to Green River Lakes, only about 50 miles. Most of our backpack gear was cleaned up and stowed away when we finished up laundry. This was a night to relax.
We were up before dawn, just our habit. We took in the sights with New Fork Lake spread out below us.
It was quiet and still. I heard a "whoosh" sound in the sky. It was almost inaudible but definitely something flying above. It crossed overhead three times. I had a great view of the sky but could see nothing, and with the sun angle anything above should have been brightly lit. I'm not into high tech secret stuff but I am convinced we have something jet like that is extremely quiet, very fast, highly maneuverable, and invisible.
Green River Lakes are on the northern end of the Winds. The last 20 miles of road is dirt that runs along the Green River as it makes a one hundred and eighty degree turn to the south. The Big Bend, it is called. The country is gorgeous, the Green is beautiful in its wide valley.
Nearing road's end, we stopped to watch a cow moose with last year's calf; swamp donkeys.
Green River Lakes Campground is non-reservation and half the campground is tent only. This Sunday, early afternoon, we had no problem getting a great site. This is grizzly country, as is all of the Wind River Range.
Regulations are clearly posted on the campground sign -
"All Attractants must be unavailable to bears at night and during the day when camp is unattended. Attended means that a person is physically present within 100 feet and in direct sight of the food."
This sign is stapled to every table.
We decided not to camp near this unattended campsite.
There are three main trailheads into the Bridger Wilderness, Big Sandy Opening, Elkhart Park, and Green River Lakes. Our intent was to do some exploring with day hikes, get the lay of the land, and possibly venture in deeper with a backpack trip. This was a clear warm afternoon and we oriented ourselves to the area.
This is a world class area. The Green River below the lakes offers flyfishing in a big river setting. The lakes are incredible for canoeing and kayaking. For a photographer, there is something new around every corner. Wildlife and birding abound. And the mountains? Well, they are the Winds.
We went for a swim and continued to wander.
Earlier in the day we watched a young man on a stand up paddle board start out across the lake. We had spoke with him, a custom home builder from the Carolinas. His pregnant wife, a new physician, was relaxing in their rented van with their young daughter. They had flown to Denver, picked up the van, and were celebrating the wife's completion of her medical training and starting her practice in four weeks.
As he headed out, standing on the board, the Lady said she didn't enjoy canoes or kayaks because she doesn't like to sit. When the young man returned, against the wind sitting down, she was even more interested. "Look you can do both if you want!"
The young man explained that a friend of his in Steamboat Springs builds these boards and the specialized paddle. "You are very welcome to try it," he offered.
She was having fun. I need to find some money.
Squaretop Mountain is one of the icons of the Wind River Range and also Wyoming. During the long evening, we walked and watched the light.
The Trails into the Bridger Wilderness are accessed by a large bridge over the Green River where it leaves the lower lake. We watched large trout in the river as an incredible caddis fly hatch was on. Size 18 would have been just right.
Only two fly fishers were working the hatch downstream.
"This is incredible," I said. "I gotta be out here tomorrow evening with my rod!" Yes, I can be that stupid, and I was. Perhaps I was just too relaxed, enjoying this evening, to run and get my rod and vest as I should have.
No one else (the 26 site campground was perhaps a third full) was along the lake the next morning as we walked with our mugs of coffee.
We were curious how first light would illuminate Squaretop.
When we were driving in to Green River Lakes the day before, besides taking in the visuals and on the lookout for swamp donkeys, the Lady had maps and guide books spread out on her lap. She was coming up with ideas. We are good with Rocky Mountain weather and knew we should not waste this weather and its opportunity to go high. I was still kicking myself about that caddis hatch.
The fly fishing couple from the evening before were already back on the Green.
As we approached, the fellow snagged his fly in a tree behind him with a backcast. With years of experience, the Lady was right there. "I see it! Want me to climb the tree?" she asked.
Surprised by the help, he said, "No, I'll go up," and started up the large lodgepole pine.
"No, don't trust the dead branches. Use only green limbs!" He was finding out the Lady was a PE teacher, experienced at giving encouraging direction. And, very experienced in the outdoors and climbing trees. He did well.
"You'd make a pretty good bear cub," I offered as I spotted him.
"Now look to your left," the Lady was still on the job. "See the fly? Take my hiking stick and break the dead limb it's hooked to. I help my husband with this stuff all the time."
I handed him one of the Lady's poles. He reached way out and expertly whacked the branch. The fly went straight down, safely landing next to his rod. He started down.
The Lady continued, "My husband snags his flies in alpine lakes too and I take off my clothes and go in and get them." The fellow's wife finally looked our direction.
"And after about the fourth time," I added, "She starts to think I'm doing it on purpose."
I don't believe the fellow's wife is ever that helpful.
We started for the summit of Osborn Mountain.
Continued in Part Five - Please Click Here