Monday, August 18, 2014

Into the Winds - July 2014 - Part Six

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It was raining in the morning. We still walked early with our rain gear on, but we ate breakfast inside, pancakes for the Lady with maple syrup and fresh peaches. It was promising to be dreary and rainy day. We decided to make this a moving day.

We have never entered the Winds from the east side and one of our options was backpacking into Lower Ross Lake for a few days. I had heard Ross has large rainbows and cutthroat. We figured it was worth a shot moving in that direction. We headed north. We stopped mid afternoon in Jackson for a coffee and a stroll. We still had on rain gear. Teton National Park was socked in and raining. We turned east toward Togwotee Pass and Dubois on the other side. A side road to the north - Turpin Meadows - intrigued us. The Buffalo Fork of the Snake and Turpin Meadows was a nice discovery. Here are the trailheads into the Teton Wilderness on the southern edge of Yellowstone. We pulled into the USFS Campground and found it quiet, mostly used by equestrians doing trips into the Wilderness. The signage got our attention.

A large red sign announced that the closure to tents was because of recent bear activity. As we walked in the evening, we did discover a few dispersed camping areas. At the end of one spur road was a small car parked in such a way to hide the tent pitched beyond. I guess they didn't want to get into trouble with the Forest Service. Do these people even think?

The storm started to break and we were happy with the view.

We walked for around an hour and a half after dinner. A large four point buck welcomed us back to our camp.

We were surprised with this buck's activities. He was enjoying dining on a fresh pile of horse apples; munching away. We were learning something new. Apparently good stuff passes through that the horse can't use that is attractive to big bucks.

The campground is run by a concessionaire and the host was a woman named Liana. That's what the wood sign at her camp site told us. One thing we noticed about Idaho and Wyoming. The concrete CXT outhouses are showing up everywhere. Here in California, the two holers are marked for use by both sexes with the universal male and female outlines. If, it's not in use, make yourself at home, gender does not matter. There is no difference inside. In Idaho and Wyoming one side is for men and one side for women.

Using my proper male side of the CXT before turning in for the night, I noticed that Liana was getting tired of cleaning up after the men.

Fog settled into the meadows overnight. It started to break up at dawn.

It was looking like a nice day ahead.

Construction work slowed us down crossing Togwotee Pass. We stopped in Dubois and visited the National Bighorn Sheep Center. One thing you need to know about Dubois, leave your attempts at French pronunciations at home unless you want to be hung up by your heels in the town park. This is America, by god, and you are in Do Boys.  

Just south of Dubois is Trail Lake Road and the Torrey Creek drainage out of the Winds. We were just behind a B-1 bomber starting a ground hugging flight up the canyon. You ever seen one of these big planes out in the wild? It was impressive. I couldn't reach the camera in time. This confirmed my suspicions that the military makes use of the Winds for training.

We found the USFS trailhead at roads end. From the signage we saw on the way in, most of the area is Wyoming Wildlife land that is critical winter range for the bighorn. You are warned to only camp in designated camping areas. Only problem, with all the warnings, where you can camp is not clearly marked on the ground, especially at the trailhead. There are no developed sites and where it is evident people have camped had dirty user built campfire rings and a denuded  hammered look. Even if it was legal, this was a place we would not stay. Lower Ross Lake was out.

Just to the north of Dubois was Union Pass, a dirt road over the Winds and back into the Green River Valley.

It was a nice long drive on this quiet weekday. We did not meet another vehicle after passing the new housing developments on the Dubois side - happening all over Wyoming's mountains. It is a broad summit with no big vistas. You do pass through some very nice high valleys and parks,  grazed by cattle. It looked to be a very popular place for maggots and Camp Bubba.

We found our way back to Green River Lake. Our spot was empty, waiting for our return. We had unfinished business and the weather was cooperating.

The evening walk took us to now familiar places.

Fog was lifting quickly as we walked at first light the next morning.

We were hiking up the Green River today. It is six miles to the end of the Upper Green River Lake.

We crossed the Green River.

And headed south along the east side of Lower Green River Lake.

There is a broad meadow area between the Lakes. Clear Creek drops out of a hanging valley on the east side and Porcupine Creek drops out from a hanging valley on the west. Above Lower Green River Lake, the Green River is beautifully colored with glacial flour.

I loved the way the clear waters of Porcupine Creek entered the Green.

The Lady kept us "found" on our map. 

We explored around the north end of Upper Green River Lake and over to the outflow into the Green River.

We met up with two new friends, folks from New York state with a similar pop up camper. We had met that morning and shared stories. They were starting an eighteen day backpack trip doing the entire length of the Highline Trail. They had done incredible planning and had placed two caches in from trailheads containing six days of food each. They had arranged to have their vehicle moved to trail's end at the Big Sandy Opening. We hiked with them to the upper end of Upper Green River Lake.

We shared as much information as we could about the sections of the Highline we have traveled along with a couple of off trail routes. We wished them a great trip!

We turned back but our eyes kept being drawn up the Green River Canyon.

Clouds were building. It was time to head back.

We took the long way back along the lesser used trail on the west side of Lower Green River Lake. We took our time, arriving back at camp late afternoon.

In the evening, trout were going after emerging midges in the Lake.

We could not pull ourselves away from the changing light.

This turned out to be our last night at Green River Lake. I suspect we will be back soon. I'll have my waders along and will have done some research on some things I noticed. This is a wonderful place. Remember my warning at the beginning, if you continued to read further?

We had time for one more exploration into the Winds, one more time to give into that seductive voice. It turned out to be the highlight of our trip.

Continued in Part Seven - Please Click Here

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