|It seemed like yesterday that Yumi
and I posed at this very spot here at Photographer's Point.
I'm even wearing the same clothes.
Like it usually does, it got chilly at night in
Pinedale and I found myself awakening under every cover on the bed when
I went to sleep with nothing covering me but a sheet. Ward and Reed were
awake in the adjoining room debating who would shower first. It was 6:15
AM and I knew what I wanted: breakfast. I'd hauled a large cooler full
of food and snacks to eat along the way and was ready for some cereal
drowning in ice cold milk and an apple.
While the showering continued, I quickly threw
on my Teva's and took a warm-up hike over to Obo's Deli to get a real
Coke (as opposed to the diet variety) and Danish for a little extra fuel
for our first day. Hell, I'd burn that off in a half hour considering
the pathetic physical shape I was in so I wasn't at all worried about
Upon my return a gentleman sitting on his porch
asked where the milk was. I told him I'd return in a minute and did so,
with about a quart I had left over from breakfast. We chatted for a few
minutes and I returned to our cabin to get ready.
Ward and Reed were about ready to go by now so
I grabbed the room keys and returned them to the office. After short conversation
with Sophia and her husband I vowed to return once again to their establishment
and met the other two guys out front. We were just about ready.
But first, we needed some more gas, coffee, and
I needed to send my postcards. NOW we were ready.
I took control of the vehicle just after 8 AM
and took us upward out of town on Skyline Rd. There had been a wild fire
the previous week that, by all accounts, had threatened the city of Pinedale
and a few resorts and homes on Fremont Lake. A few minutes later we saw
the damage. The hillsides were burned bare of all vegatation so all that
remained were boulders and scorched earth.
The boys were quite impressed at the lakes below
various turnouts along the way, but were in awe when we stopped at the
larger viewing area about a half mile from Elkhart Park. Yeah, they were
in for a treat.
I parked the car at 8:45 and we proceeded to get
our gear together. I had a minor water bladder malfunction as someone's
gear must have been laying atop my suck tube resulting in a wet cargo
area. No problem, I just filled up again at the spigot near the outhouse.
AFter talking with a group that had just got off the trail I sighed the
register and we were off.
Just like last year, the trail gradually climbed
over and through Engleman Spruce and horse shit. I didn't know it at the
time, but dried horse shit is a lot more pleasant to walk through than
horse shit flowing downhill in a torrential rain. But that story is for
|The switchbacks above Eklund Lake took
something out of us but we were paid back in full with the view.
Reed took the lead, with Ward close behind, setting
a rapid pace up the gentle grade. Reed had been having some minor back
troubles the previous few days and wanted to take a "stretch"
break after 25 minutes. Already sweating for 10 minutes I called it a
"sweat" break. We stopped again 20 minutes later and again at
have never lost anything in the back country save
a pair of cheap $8 sunglasses, but the loss of my floppy hat at our 10:00
break would prove to be most unfortunate in the clear Wyoming skies. But
at the time, I didn't know I had left it behind.
We continued up the trail and met the first real
hikers of the trip, a couple of guys from Arizona. They were planning
on heading over to the Golden Lakes, east of the divide, off trail over
Angel Pass. I didn't think they'd make it based solely on the loads each
were carrying, but what did I know? It was only my second trip to the
Winds? We'd leap frog this duo a few times before stopping for lunch at
Reed and Ward were stunned by the panoramic view
which lay before them. While I started munching on my lunch they did a
little exploring around the area and found another "point" to
access some killer views, which I later strolled over at Reed's reccomendation,
to see with one of the Arizona fishermen who had caught up after taking
their lunch about 200 yards from the point. Bad luck for them, actually.
Reed was right: it was photo worthy.
By the time we got back to the others another
pair of fisherman had arrived, mentioning they were at the Golden Lakes
and had caught zilcho. It wasn't a good few minutes for the Arizona pair.
By noon our trio was back on the trail heading
for our first night's camp at Mary's Lake. "Ooops, I forgot my hat"
I said, as I dropped my back and walked the 250 yards back to Photographer's
Point. I had a sinking feeling on the way as I hadn't recalled seeing
the hat while eating lunch. It wouldn't be a good thing to lose it as
I'm very fair-skinned, prone to sunburn.
It wasn't there. Dammit!
I caught up to the others, slathered some sunscreen
on my face, nose and ears while hoping for the best. After 15 minutes
we came to the trail junction at Eklund Lake. This would be new trail
for me and I looked forward to eyeballing Eklund Lake for the first time.
I'd heard the lake was a "catch-all" destination for folks going
to or coming from Titcomb Basin. What I didn't hear about were the switchbacks
on the south side of the lake. I don't think any of us were ready for
this despite the modest climb.
It only took another 20 minutes to arrive at a
few tarns near Mary's Lake and we immediately separated in hopes of finding
the all-important first night's camp. By 1:30 we were set up and ready
for bed, or at least ready to find some way to beat the searing sun and
heat. Essentially, we laid about in partial shade, drank lots of water
and did nothing for a couple of hours.
Around 4 PM Ward and I found enough energy to
take a look around. I'd told him that no matter how good a site you find
(in all honesty ours was not even "average"), there's almost
always a better spot within a couple hundred yards. Our exploration was
rewarded as we did find a better spot to pitch our tents---and only 125
yards away---complete with kitchen rocks that were to utility as Jessica
Alba and Eva
Longoria are to hottness. The sight of us hauling or erected tents
down the meadow would have been semi-humorous had anyone been around.
|My first night's beef and bean burrito
dinner turned out better than expected.
Now that we were finally settled on a campsite
it was time for a little dinner. I'd dehydrated some taco meat, mexican
flavored rice and refried beans at home and was looking forward eating
burritos only to see if everything would work freezer bag style. I foolishly
didn't test everything beforehand but figured, correctly, it would be
edible. I was right, though I had packed about 30% too much. Ward happily
took a few spoonfulls to kill it off.
After dinner we climbed down to the lake and sat
on a large, flat rock for a few minutes before Reed decided he needed
to sleep. The truth would later reveal he really wanted to listen to his
ipod! Ward and I hung out at the rock looking for any signs of life in
the lake. No trout were rising, which surprised me, but there were no
mosquitoes either. A fair trade as I look at it. A gentle breeze made
for a peaceful evening.
By 7 PM both Ward and I were ready for sleep as
well and we retired to our tents. I spent a few minutes writing in my
journal and devising ways I could keep from adding to the minor sunburn
I'd already had. Stupid hat.
Click for a map of our camp site