1993 Wind River Indian Reservation Adventure

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1993 Wind River Indian Reservation Adventure

Post by Wandering Daisy » Wed Nov 25, 2020 4:50 pm

1993 Adventures on the “Res”: Washakie Park to Bull Lake, Wind Rivers Wyoming

Note: Bull Lake Creek and Canyon burned in the 2012 fire and I am not sure this route could even be done now. I am thankful that I could experience this very seldom visited canyon before it burned. I did a search and do not think I posted this report previously. But if so, well, here it is again! This is a lengthy read with lots of photos, the originals not so good, so a few more recent photos were added. Those who have taken your teens backpacking may also be able to relate to our "mother-daughter" adventure. And an adventure it was!

I had planned this route with two friends; they bailed and my daughter came home early from her summer job. It then became a “mother-daughter” trip. Having only one vehicle complicated post-trip transportation. In retrospect, the route was a bit too gnarly for a 17-year old. I think her “what I did over the summer” essay probably started, “My mother tried to kill me.”

Pre-trip

All our food, repacked in plastic bags, lay on the dining room table. We filled two old gym bags, each with 35 pounds of food. My pack started at 70 pounds and hers 60. I carried the tent and group gear. To save weight we reduced fuel to 10-days with plans to cook on fires half the trip. My daughter took fly fishing gear and in retrospect, we easily could have deleted a third of dinner food as successful as she was. We argued over her paperback book, but she would not bend; she goes nowhere without a book. We shared one pair of sandals. Not thrilled about three weeks with Mom, we made a deal: no heart-to-heart mother-daughter talks, no nagging, no criticizing and no early mornings. Fine, as it would be a parenting break for me too.

Our gear was old, the only new item being a North Face tent, weighing in at 5 pounds (light for 1993). Only later, college expenses were out of the way, would I start purchasing newer light weight gear. For now it was gear from the 1970’s supplemented with clothing from Deseret Industries (the Utah version of Goodwill); old navy surplus wool pants, hideous pink shirt and wind suit, and some amazingly fine cashmere sweaters. Not having the latest gear should never stop you from backpacking!
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We drove from Logan Utah, and spent one night in Lander. Next day we stopped at Fort Washakie to pick up our Wind River Indian Reservation permits; my daughter, being not quite 18, still qualified for a “child” permit for $10 and I had to fork out the $60. The official arched his eyebrows when I said we were coming out Bull Lake Canyon. He said it was not possible; nobody ever came out of there alive. I said I had done the lower section and knew a few people who had successfully descended the canyon. I am not sure if it was fatherly concern, sexism or if he just didn’t think white folk were very tough. We had to sit through about half an hour of patronizing lecture before we were allowed to leave. The rest of the day was spent finding and slowly driving up the ill maintained Washakie Park 4wd road. We were totally alone; this is not a popular entry point to the mountains.


Day 1 (8/2) Mom, you expect me to carry that!?!

We could not pick up our packs! We lifted them on a big rock and slithered under the straps realizing that our first few days would be uncomfortable. We slogged along the faint trail taking 15-minute rests every hour. Thankfully, weather was good. After 2 miles of level travel the trail split and we took the more traveled fork that climbed 1,200 feet up through thin forests until we topped out in terrain of weathered granite with little knobs all over the hillside.
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Now we could thankfully descend about 500 feet to Shoshone Creek. Nearing Shoshone Lake, we were confronted by a knee deep swamp. I sloshed through the swamp and climbed up on a dry knoll at the outlet of the Lake and went back to retrieve daughter and carry her pack. We were both in camp by 4:45 after starting at 9:00 AM. It had taken us 8 hours to go 5 miles, one small step at a time. We camped on the north end, at the outlet. Fishing was easy and my daughter caught several. We kept one 8-inch brook trout to add to our meal since we needed to eat up some food weight! It was early to bed for us. As promised, no discussions; she read and I looked at maps.
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Re: 1993 Wind River Indian Reservation Adventure

Post by Wandering Daisy » Wed Nov 25, 2020 5:02 pm

Day 2 (8/3) Stormy afternoon

We both awoke sore and stiff, slowly crawling out of the tent to cook breakfast and pack up. By 9:45 AM we again wiggled into our huge packs and crossed the outlet on boulders. The first part of the day we contoured the hillside traveling west. After the initial willows it turned into easy slabs, game trails in timber, talus, and a well-built old trail once we reached the unnamed pass at 10,840. We dropped into Twenty Lakes Basin and our “trail” now had cairns. We passed Lake 10,647 with its many good campsites but it was early so continued until we came to the Twenty Lakes Trail which although was unmaintained, was located on the USGS map. A mile up the trail we arrived at the outlet of Trail Lake at 2 PM just as black storm clouds billowed above us. Luckily we set up the tent before the sky opened to dump nearly 6 inches of hail on us for nearly four hours. It remained cloudy and cold until the sun went down. We had traveled 4.5 hours and went a little under 4 miles. Our heavy packs were still holding us back and we still struggled to get them up on our backs. We had earned a rest day for fishing and day-hiking!

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Day 3 (8/4) Rest day

After a leisurely breakfast we hiked up towards Tepee Pass, through a beautiful high meadow taking in views of Trail Lake below. When we returned to camp my daughter opted to read while I reconnoitered our next day’s planned route over Wykee Pass. The north shore of Roberts Lake was so rocky that I instead climbed the hillside while heading towards the pass. Although steep, the route was primarily up grassy slopes. Years earlier I had gone over this route, but from the pass I could not see an obvious descent on the north side all the way down to Wykee Lake. Back in camp I decided the safer option would be instead to take the long route backtracking on the Twenty Lakes Trail. My daughter caught a nice batch of fish, and although tasty, living off fish did little to reduce the weight of the food we were carrying. Overall it was a nice day and pleasant evening.
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Day 4 (8/5) “You call this a trail!?!”

It was cloudy from the start. We packed up and at 8:30 headed back down the Twenty Lakes Trail. Soon we were hunting for the gradually disappearing trail. The mosquitoes were horrid in the dead muggy air. Coming to Raft Creek, my daughter crossed first, as she is as home in water as on land, slithering from boulder to boulder to avoid the waist deep water. She then threw our one pair of sandals to me and I reluctantly crossed, not nearly as at home in the water. By the time we were both across and had our shoes back on a half hour had passed. We descended to the unmaintained trail from Movo Lake to Wykee Lake. After 5 miles of climbing over fallen logs and many rest stops, we set up camp at 3:00 PM, half way along the shores of Lake 9,530. Rain began in earnest at 4:00, giving us a break to cook dinner without getting soaked, and then rained steadily all evening. Taking everything in stride as long as she can snuggle in the tent, read her book and not have me ask too many questions, life was OK with my daughter. I was less relaxed in my “worried mom mode.”
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Day 5 (8/6) Unexpected people and minor mishaps

We awoke to sunshine spending the early morning drying everything and did not get on the trail until 9:45. Slowly heading upstream on little more than a game trail, we lost our way many times and were soaked by the wet vegetation. Mosquitoes gave us no rest. This was not a pleasant day and I was beginning to worry, but my very calm daughter was not disturbed about bugs nearly as much as I was. As we neared Wykee Lake, I looked up towards Wykee Pass; it would have been a fine route, much more pleasant and probably easer too. Twenty-twenty hindsight at Twenty Lakes!

The trail improved nearing Wykee Lake where we met a fellow from South Carolina. As we approached our ford of the North Fork of the Little Wind above the inlet to Wykee Lake, we decided to simply strip below our waists to wade across the nearly waist-deep water. To our surprise, as we were halfway across an entire troop of Boy Scouts came up behind us. Hopefully as we climbed out of the water on the far shore, the distance blurred details. The trail condition improved as we steeply climbed to Lake Solitude where we found a good campsite on the east bank of the outlet, upstream of the edge of a cliff with a 600 feet drop to the adjacent valley leading to Lake Polaris.

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The evening was plagued with loosing things. Somehow when I unpacked, a towel went missing. I could not find my pen so now only had a short backup pencil. My daughter decided to pee at our scenic overlook, set the toilet paper down and it rolled off the cliff. She came back to camp and just said with no drama, “you would not believe how far toilet paper can roll.” Our afternoon storm was about to hit so we dove into the tent. Soon it was pouring down rain and any hope of salvaging the toilet paper roll was gone. Now the book, so stubbornly insisted on, would be our salvation. A requisite amount of reading was required and those pages would be “recycled.” Our routine now was for my daughter to read at least 20-30 pages, tear them out and share the read pages as toilet paper. Surprisingly, this worked out better than expected!
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Re: 1993 Wind River Indian Reservation Adventure

Post by Wandering Daisy » Wed Nov 25, 2020 5:20 pm

Day 6 (8/7) Another day-hike

We awoke to sunshine, quickly washing clothes and hanging them out to dry as we cooked breakfast. A nice wind was keeping the bugs at bay. After breakfast we decided to circle around the very large Lake Solitude. First we headed due south towards Moraine Lake with a stop at a viewpoint looking down on Lake Polaris. Crossing under Petroleum Peak on snow and talus, we walked around the lower Ice Lakes to frozen Darren Lake. After reaching the upper Ice Lake, we headed back to camp circling Lake Solitude on the opposite shore and observed many better campsites. Isn’t it always the case that wherever you choose to camp, a better site is found somewhere else!


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Back at camp, the cold wind continued to blow, a blessing keeping down the mosquitoes and a curse freezing us as we bathed. Although it was too windy for me to fish, my daughter tried and caught a fish with an oversized head and delicious pink meat. Our dinner was again a pig-out as we tried to reduce our ration weight while still enjoying fish.


Day 7 (8/8) Spider, not Heebeecheechee

The day started cold and windy but clear. We were packed up and on the trail by 8:30 with clouds already building. We met two fellows at Sonnicant Lake before we left the use-trail that continued to Lake Heebeecheeche. My daughter would rather have reported to her classmates that we camped at such a cool sounding place as Heebeecheeche, but alas, we headed off-trail to Spider Lake. Our route took us through open timber and passed several grassy meadows. After about 4 hours and about 4 miles travel, we reached Spider Lake. The weather was too uncertain to take a chance at going over the next pass on the Continental Divide, so we found a nice flat campsite nestled in dense krumholzt vegetation on top of a mid-shore peninsula. The weather deteriorated as I explored the terrain towards Lake Heebeecheeche while my daugher stayed in camp to read and catch dinner. It spit rain and was windy all afternoon. Back in camp, we built a fire and cooked dinner, taking shelter inside the tent early and it rained hard all night. We were glad to have zero-degree rated sleeping bags in spite of their weight.


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Day 8 (8/9) Mountain passes

We set out at 9:30 ready for a big travel day; we would cross two passes, both on the Continental Divide. The weather was very unpredictable and windy and as we headed towards Odyssey Pass I was hoping it would not storm. The route was easy, ascending low angle slabs and grassy slopes. Near the top we were walking on boulders covered with snow from the night’s storm. After some careful footsteps, we began a difficult traversing descent heading towards Photo Pass. Everything looked very wintery for August with the south side of the pass still covered in patchy snow. The view into the Middle Fork area south was spectacular.


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The north side was almost solid snow and after avoiding it as much as possible we finally had step onto the steep slope. I gave my daughter a refresher on using her ice axe. After a few lessons I was assured that she could stop herself. The run out was good so even if she failed to stop I did not see any dire consequences. We headed down. I rounded a bend and got too far ahead. Stopping to wait I heard nothing and waited, and waited. What had happened to her? I kicked steps back up the snow slope, and heard a muffled cry. She had fallen and was face down in the snow, pinned by her pack, hanging on to the end of her ice axe for dear life. Although she was only about 10 feet above a safe flat spot, she did not know it. I lifted her pack off her and she was livid! Where was I! It probably was the longest 10 minutes of her life. She had done great but thereafter never wanted to go on snow again. I am sure this would be her first reference to “my mother tried to kill me.”


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We continued down. Finally at the bottom we sat on big flat rocks in the creek and ate snacks in a spectacular setting of cliffs, meadows and the impressive silver strand of the South Fork of Bull Lake Creek. As I was changing film in my camera, I dropped an empty roll of film in the South Fork of Bull Lake Creek and was washed away, gone forever. Luckily I always take lots of film and thank goodness it was not the roll with our pictures. I was thankful I did not drop the camera since it was not mine but borrowed from a friend just for this trip.

The weather was fast deteriorating. It began to rain and we set up the tent to wait out the storm (this method of staying dry would be used for the next several days). After about an hour it stopped and we exited the tent to a magic scene of wet polished granite cliffs shining in the post-storm light. The sun now shone and we headed down the drainage about a mile where we found a better campsite at 10,300 feet just as we were entering timber. The entire broad valley is full of superb campsites, game trails and smelled of elk. We set up camp and spread everything out to dry. What a relief, there were no bugs! (1993 was before the infestation of black flies that now plagues the Wind River Indian Reservation.)

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Although we had intended to travel further, the weather was still unsettled and we hardly could pass by the beautiful campsite we had found. We had again only come 4 miles in 5.5 hours continuing our very lazy pace we seemed to be caught up in. Perhaps the spirits of the Reservation oozed into our brains drawing us out of “White man’s time” and into “Indian time”.
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Re: 1993 Wind River Indian Reservation Adventure

Post by Wandering Daisy » Wed Nov 25, 2020 5:39 pm

Day 9 (8/10) Day-hiking, fishing and puking

We again decided we had earned a rest day to fully enjoy our beautiful location to wash, dry gear, fish and just be lazy. We took the fishing gear and set out to sightsee and explore. We were on the back side of Halls Mountain and hoped to find a route over Milky Ridge and into the next drainage containing the Milky Lakes. We started uphill for half a mile southwesterly to a small lake at the end of a small glacier and then headed northwest to another small lake directly under the impressive east face of Halls Mountain before gradually descending northward to a set of small ponds where we fished. We found another little lake and lay in the sunshine. A bit lower there was a flat rock sufficiently away from a shallow pond so that we could wash hair without danger of soapy runoff getting into the pond and we could then dry out on the warm rock like lizards. We took turns scooping water for each other. It felt so good to be clean again. Heading back to camp we fished every little puddle we found seeing lots of little fish but lacking the skill to catch any. The weather remained sunny but cold until a storm threatened early evening, but never materialized.

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During our hike, I had pointed out Miner’s Lettuce to my daughter and she had mistaken my pointing, eating another unknown plant all day. Sometime around midnight she crawled out the tent door and started throwing up. She was giggling and actually silly between barfs. I suspect the wild plant she ate was a bit of a hallucinogen. I was worried as she seemed like she was on another planet. After a few hours she drank some water and settled back into a deep slumber. I felt like a terrible mother, thinking I had poisoned my child. She could now tell everyone at school, “this was the second time my mother tried to kill me.”


Day 10 (8/11) Late start, retreat, change of plans

In the morning I dumped the food and organized everything. We had no more raisins and little trail food remaining. As a typical teen, my daughter had eaten most of the munchies! Well, she earned this privilege by catching us dinner each night. The thought of dumping the excess dinner food crossed my mind, but I resisted. We packed up and left following a trail for about a mile up into a series of lakes at the head of the South Fork of Bull Lake Creek. North of Lake 10,563 we headed for a small pass as the sky let loose. We quickly set up the tent and jumped in.

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When it cleared, unable to get over the cliffs that blocked us to the west, we traversed and started up the northeast side of peak 12,230. The wet slabs were just too steep, so at about 11,500 feet we retreated to two small puddles at 11,360 and set up camp for the night. It rained again until 5:00. As the storm broke the lighting was fantastic and we were in awe as we enjoyed a fine sunset while eating our dinner. We again had not made our goal, going only 3 miles in short breaks in a generally stormy day. It looked like we would have to skip the Milky Lakes and follow Milky Ridge directly north to Alpine Lake. My daughter was either oblivious of our route problems or trusted me implicitly. She never indicated that she had any doubts; I was not about to fess up and get her worried. Having never tried to ascend to Milky Ridge from this side, I sure hoped we were not stuck!



Day 11 (8/12) Ridge walking and bushwhacking

We awoke to rain and headed down passing a cirque hidden in the clouds like a miniature El Capitan, its sheer granite walls peaking in and out of the fog. When we reached the stream above Lake 10,387 we cooked breakfast. Again, we set up the tent to ride out some rain. When it cleared we observed that the gully to our north looked promising so we headed up the grassy slopes at 11:30 and were on top of Milky Ridge at 2:00 finding good game trails all the way up. Walking north we stayed near the impressive drop-off to the west looking down on huge talus fields and lakes. Had we been able to find the route, we would have been down there at Milky Lakes! But given the fine view we now had, this did not disappoint us that much.

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Abundant game trails eased our descent to a swampy unnamed lake at 9,900 feet. Although swampy it had fair camping on the knob to the north, but we decided to continue on down to Marked Tree Lake in hopes of fishing. Again at 3:30 it stormed with hail and rain but this time we had no choice but to stay out in it. Soon the game trails ended and we were slowly crawling through thick brush. We arrived at our campsite at Marked Tree wet and scratched at 5:00, still raining but too beat to fish anyway. We set up and cooked a quick dinner. It rained all night. Another day foiled by weather, although this time we had gone about 7 miles and about 1,500 feet of elevation gain.

Day 12 (8/13) Drying out and a lazy day

We were up at 7:00 and spent the morning until 10:45 drying out. Packing up we dropped towards Alpine Lake, following a good trail. I hoped we could cross the creek and head up to Brown Cliffs to camp at one of the stunning lakes. Unfortunately, safely crossing the creek near the inlet of Alpine Lake with full packs would be dubious. The plan now became camping at Alpine Lake and day hiking to Brown Cliffs the next day. We found a great campsite about a half mile further on the southeast shore of Alpine Lake, up on a nice rock bench. Our short 1.5 mile day left us with the remainder of the day for washing clothes and fishing. The fishing was fabulous and soon my daughter caught a large fish that we cooked for dinner. It was sunny and windy and no bugs. What a perfect day!


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My daughter is a great backpacker but has one pace and one alone. You can throw a 60 pound pack on her and she does not complain, but nothing changes her pace. She was unconsciously teaching me how to slow down and enjoy nature! So far we had been out for almost two weeks and few words had passed between us. We were both enjoying the wilderness on our own terms and all thoughts of typical contentious mother-daughter conflicts were off limits. I know she had some times of boredom and discomfort but she never complained.

Original plans included Milky Lakes and the North Fork of Bull Lake Creek which now were dropped, leaving plenty of time to exit Bull Lake Canyon. This was fortunate since unknown difficulties lay ahead of us. The stretch of multiple daily storms finally broke and we enjoyed perfect weather the remainder of the trip.

Day 13 (8/14) Day trip to Brown Cliffs

At 8AM we loaded our day packs and headed back the trail to the crossing above the inlet. We walked by a group camped at the inlet. Observing all their gear, they evidently had been packed in. I do not know why we did not see them the previous day. In the early morning the crossing was not too bad. Once we crossed we met a solo hiker who was drying out. It was someone I knew- a NOLS instructor I had worked with in the 1970’s! He had crossed the creek the previous afternoon, fell and submerged his pack. That could have been us I thought.


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After greetings, we continued up the off-and-on “Old Indian Trail” to Brown Cliffs. In about 6 miles we reached the rock ridge east of the lakes and took photos. It was not quite as I had remembered; we came out higher than where I had camped at in the 1970’s. It actually was even more impressive. We reluctantly headed back. The creek was now swollen raising my anxiety. My daughter is a very competent swimmer and I am not, leaving me with a fear of river crossings. I had a few moments that I felt I would be swept into the lake. We were back in camp at 6:15, built a fire, caught a few fish and had a wonderful pig-out dinner. We now enjoyed sitting by the fire as darkness engulfed us, no longer needing to dive into our tent to get out of the rain.
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Re: 1993 Wind River Indian Reservation Adventure

Post by Wandering Daisy » Wed Nov 25, 2020 5:58 pm

Day 14 (8/15) Bull Lake Canyon, here we come!

It was time to start down Bull Lake Canyon. I had wanted to do this for many years. My daughter was not so impressed but good sport that she was, agreed to give it a try. Although I had said we would bail out if it got too rough, it soon became apparent that climbing up out to the trails on the rim was not really an option. I kept this revelation to myself.

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We packed up and got a late 10:00 start. A use-trail climbed up easterly, high above Alpine Lake. It ended and we dropped back to the lake only to again be forced up. Soon we were in deadfall going a dreadfully slow pace as we traveled along the outlet stream of Alpine Lake past two wide spots in the river. We rounded the hill at 8,920 feet elevation and came to the South Fork of Bull Lake Creek where a slimy log had fallen across a small slot canyon high across the raging creek. Within a few minutes we realized that we were not going to walk that log. We divided our packs into small portions and using our day packs ferried many loads sliding across the slimy log on our butts. It took an hour to get across.

Rather than drop down the cliffy banks of Bull Lake Creek we found an old trail in a gully east of Pt.9149. It soon split into several game trails. Nearing the bottom we were in a maze of downed logs. The river was roaring and the equally huge North Fork of Bull Lake Creek entered the other side. It was 5:45 so we set up camp on the south side of the river just below the confluence. There was no way we were going to cross, although all information I had gleaned indicated the better route was on the north side. We would be forced to find a route on the south side. For the next three days, Bull Lake Canyon threw the “good, bad and ugly” at us.

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Day 15 (8/16): Good day in Bull Lake Canyon

We seemed to be in a routine of getting started at 10:00. Up to now, we did not feel that we were in a canyon but this was about to change. The 3 miles we traveled this day was entirely on an old trail with tree blaze markers of three small parallel slashes. Game had used this trail and kept it open. At the lower end a few Aspen groves began to appear in between the conifers. As the grade of the creek bed flattened, the river widened into deep slow moving lakes confined by granite cliffs on each side. Hatchet Creek was quite large requiring shoes off and pants rolled up to wade. At the last wide spot at 8,060 we climbed a small buttress, going due east where the river bends north. Looking down the spectacular view we could see two distinct splits that were not shown on the map.


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At the bottom we camped at one of the numerous beautiful campsites near a sandy beach out on the end of a rocky ridge directly across from a stream coming into the creek on the north side. The river again was a pool where fishing was fabulous. In 45 minutes my daughter caught five golden trout and one brook trout. Sunlight was gone early in the deep canyon so we snuggled in our sleeping bags reading until dark.


Day 16 (8/17) Bad day in Bull Lake Canyon

We managed to get out of camp at 8:30 although our early start did not help. Soon we were clamoring through huge boulders. By noon my ankle was getting sore and within an hour I could hardly walk. I could not remember any specific stress that would have injured it and was becoming very worried. What if I could not walk out? That simply was not an option. We found lots of wild raspberries and indulged while hiking.


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As we continued down the river the deadfall thankfully gave way to normal bushwhacking. We passed new deciduous species and hit one very tough patch of slide alder that I got stuck in and had to remove my pack and carry it above my head. Then I stepped on an ant hill and got swarmed by big black biting ants. I shriek; my daughter was quite amused. Not every teenager gets to see her mother literally squirm with ants in her pants.


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We stopped early at a poor campsite amongst a patch of trees. The grade of the streambed was high and the water white and churning with a few small fish in the occasional pool. There were no bugs and the weather was perfect. To the south we were backed up against a cliff and to the north, across the river were better camping on a flat spot, but we could not even think of crossing. This inability to cross would cost us dearly the next day. By 6 PM the sun had disappeared over the canyon rim and a stiff breeze picked up. Thankfully my ankle was improving. It had taken 6 hours to advance 2 miles. At least we had food, the fishing was good and my worries about not being able to walk subsided.

Day 17 (8/18) Ugly day in Bull Lake Canyon

Sun comes late to the bottom of the canyon. We got up without sunshine and started at 9:15 AM. A bright blue sky in the thin slot above our heads told us it was another beautiful day but it was dark and cold down here. Within an hour and about half a mile we were absolutely rim rocked! My daughter walked out to test the creek and soon found out that the water, although calm (really a big lake) would be over her head if she took one more step.

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Serendipitously, we were adjacent to a 6-foot high pile of driftwood! We decided the only thing to do was to build a raft using four sleeping bag straps and 2 bungee cords. After about an hour we had a fine albeit small raft. Not wanting to chance sinking our packs, we decided to swim one pack at a time around the cliff. After loading my pack on the raft we stripped our clothes and stepped into the ice cold water that had just come directly off the Bull Lake Glaciers! My daughter swam and pulled and I hung on and kicked from behind. When we reached shore, we were both blue and shivering. We dried off and both got into my sleeping bag where we hugged and shivered for nearly and hour to get warm.

Damned! We had to go back and get the other pack! My daughter had the brilliant idea of using raingear as wet suites. I put on my raingear and I sat on the raft kicking as she pulled swimming. For the return, I beefed up the raft with a few more logs. We loaded her pack and this time, she rode and kicked and I pulled and swam. The wet suit idea was working! By now the sun had hit the water and once on shore we dried off and quickly warmed up. It was 1PM and we had gone half a mile!

After another third of a mile, we were rim rocked again! We spent four grueling hours on 3rd class climbing trying to surmount the cliff. We gave up and came back down. My “water baby” is horrified by rock climbing and was in tears. We now aimed for the riverbank below, lowering our packs with a line of tied together pack straps and bungee cords. We had to down climb exposed friction slabs. This definitely was a bit more technical work than I had wanted to get my daughter into but we really had little choice. I felt like the world’s worst mother. This definitely qualified for the “third time my mother tried to kill me”.

We reached the riverbank and had no choice but to cross the creek just above a waterfall. I was terrified. My daughter, in her typical confidence with water was not and went first through the swift knee deep water as I watched in a parent’s horror. She has absolutely no fear of water. I went next shaking in my wet shoes! We found a campsite and immediately set up camp at 6PM. We had gone one mile in 9 hours!

My ankle was much better and I took off the wrapping. Thankfully, it must have been only a small strain. We built a nice fire with all the driftwood. Our hard day had chilled and dehydrated us and now our muscles ached and our fingers cramped. A very unflattering photo (serves me right) my daughter took of me says it all; dead tired! We enjoy our fire, cook a sumptuous meal and relaxed by the fire well after dark. Few words were spoken save my apologies for the difficulties. Although unfazed by the dangerous crossing, my daughter emphatically reminded me that she hates rock climbing; end of discussion.
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Re: 1993 Wind River Indian Reservation Adventure

Post by Wandering Daisy » Wed Nov 25, 2020 6:08 pm

Day 18 (8/19): Changing ecosystems, deer and snakes

We had camped on the north side of the river in a thick batch of trees. We started out at 8:30, first finding what appeared to be an old trail, giving way to a field of boulders that varied in size from trucks to briefcases. My daughter does not jump rocks, rather climbs up and down each. I remembered my promise not to critique her performance. To our right, Bull Lake Creek was a ribbon of white water cascading over a huge waterfall that we could have been swept down the previous day. I shuttered.


41_BLC_8-19_BelowCrux.jpg

When we reached the confluence of Paradise Creek, the river grade flattened. This little wide spot in the canyon at 6,600 feet elevation with cliffs on both sides had excellent camping throughout. The four miles of canyon ahead of us was straight as an arrow. Most of the time we followed distinct game trails, occasionally we scrambled through boulders and thistle and barbed bushes getting scratched. We passed two campfire rings and ran into a big buck and lots of rattlesnakes.


43_LowerBLC_8-19.jpg


The volume of water in the creek decreased as we hiked downstream. The cliffs were high but with a more weathered look. The extensive riparian ecosystem was slowly giving way to cactus and sagebrush. We camp on the river in a mix of spruce, pine, aspen, cottonwood, box elder, shrubs, sage brush and cactus. It was a hot day and some high clouds formed in the late afternoon. Very small fish were jumping in the river but we did not try to catch any. We stop at 3:00 PM at 6,400 feet elevation, having traveled 3.5 miles in 6.5 hours. We soak our feet, bathed and washed clothes in the warm water.


xx_Carrie_MidBLC_8-20.jpg
xx_BLC_8-19.jpg

Day 19 (8/20) Snakes, swamps and surprises

We are up and off by 8:30 and it was already hot. We encounter more brush as we descend and soon got tangled in a thicket. We continued to find good game trails and occasionally ended up in tough spots where deadfall or rocky stretches slowed us down. But overall, the travel was not difficult. While traveling fairly high on the south slopes in rocks, within a third of a mile two snakes rattled at me, the first one startled me and I jumped, falling over with my pack, nearly rolling down the hillside into the river. My daughter was amused; at least I can provide some entertainment! After that encounter I picked up a long stick and beat the trail in front of me to warn the snakes. After the second snake, I was ready to abandon the shore and walk straight down the river!

45_BLC_8-20.jpg


At 6,100 feet the river entered a slot canyon forcing us up over a small hill onto a bench where we crossed the trail that climbs up to Cedar Ridge. We instead descended into a large swamp nearing Bull Lake and mucked through black mud while the mosquitoes fed on us. It was hot, cloudy, muggy and buggy. At this point, we were not having fun.
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47_BullLake Inlet.jpg

At the gage station the creek was too swift to cross, so we dropped directly to the reservoir looking for an easier crossing. We spotted two fishermen in a boat. What the heck, I stuck out my thumb; they were as surprised to see us as we were to see them! Unexpected, they came over and took us across the river where we set our tent on a bench and snoozed while they finished their fishing up the river. They said they would pick us up when finished fishing; I really doubted they would return.

True to their word, they returned! We loaded down their little boat, very gently motoring down the lake close to the shore. They opened a cooler and offered us ice cold Cokes. We told them of our adventures. What we did not tell them is that our book was almost all used up so we were mighty glad to get the ride. This generous act saved us a day or two walking in a rattlesnake infested shore with a rim rock that we may have not surmounted, in which case, we would have had to backtrack and climb to the jeep road high above the water on the roasting hot south side of the reservoir.

When we arrived at the dam they asked where our vehicle was parked. I did not have the heart to have them drive that horrible road to Washakie Park so I said we were staying in Lander. They drove us the 70 miles to Lander and dropped us off at my friends’, who were out of town but had left us a key to get in.


Post-trip

Two days later my friends came home and their son took us back to our truck. After a 6-hour drive back to Logan, we enter the “real” world of work, school and civilization. The year following we left Logan; my daughter started college at University of Oregon, I finished my master’s degree and moved to Sacramento, began climbing and backpacking in the Sierra and finally updated my clothing and equipment. The next year, my daughter joined me on a late season Sierra backpack: Twin Lakes-Matterhorn Canyon-Pate Valley-GCT-PCT return to Twin Lakes. This much more “civilized” trip was more to her liking than our previous “Danial Boon” adventure. She especially liked our slow trek up the Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne where she could jump in every swimming hole on the route!
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Re: 1993 Wind River Indian Reservation Adventure

Post by ironmike » Wed Nov 25, 2020 7:13 pm

That’s awesome! Did your daughter ever have any concerns about bears or other critters?

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Re: 1993 Wind River Indian Reservation Adventure

Post by wildhiker » Thu Nov 26, 2020 12:58 am

What an awesome trip! I thought I was adventuresome taking my teenagers on some cross-country routes in the Sierra (at about the same time), but your trip really defines adventure. But I am most impressed by this statement:
"My pack started at 70 pounds and hers 60."
Wow! I thought I was really suffering carrying 60 pounds (my most ever) when we had the little kids. But 70 pounds! And I know from your previous posts that you are not a large woman. You and your daughter give new meaning to the word "tough". One question: since mom didn't succeed to "kill her", does she still backpack on her own, or with her own family?
-Phil

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Re: 1993 Wind River Indian Reservation Adventure

Post by The Other Tom » Thu Nov 26, 2020 6:13 am

Great report. Thanks for digging this up and posting. Loved the old pictures.

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Re: 1993 Wind River Indian Reservation Adventure

Post by Wandering Daisy » Thu Nov 26, 2020 12:19 pm

This trip was before grizzlies migrated into the Wind Rivers and the black bears were much less bothersome (wild and not habituated) than Sierra bears. Additionally my kids grew up with hunting so are very comfortable with wildlife. She learned her fly fishing from her Dad, who is quite the expert- almost a "River Runs Through It" type fisherman.

Well, she does some limited backpacking with her family but the kids are much more involved in sports of all kinds that really eats up their free time. When the grandkids were smaller, she would NOT let me take them backpacking. But now she has hinted that it may be OK!

We carried 21 days food and our old gear was pretty heavy. My sleeping bag was a cheap 4-pound synthetic bag. I let my daughter use my lighter down bag. Actually, 65 pound packs were the normal when I worked for NOLS, so it was not that much of a change. Those old Kelty external frame packs are really good for hauling heavy weight. Our daily mileage was pretty short due as much to the weather as the pack weight. By the time we had to descend Bull Lake Canyon, our packs were significantly lighter. And of course, I was MUCH younger! Thank goodness for the newer lighter gear, or I would have had to quite backpacking.

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