Our last minute decision to go to Titcomb Basin and Fremont Peak in the Wind River Range of Wyoming was rewarded with unexpectedly beautiful scenery.
Some photographic highlights from our trip
My wife Karissa, and I, had some time off in August of this year (2005), and were in need of a backpacking destination. We recalled the advice of a Continental Divide thru-hiker we had a few years earlier. He had mentioned to us a few places along the trail that he had considered worth visiting. Among them was the Wind River Range of Wyoming. We set off from Missoula, Montana in the general direction of Pinedale, Wyoming without so much as a map of Idaho or Wyoming to guide us, but nevertheless we made a mid-afternoon arrival in Pinedale ( only needing to ask for directions a few times along the way). We patronized a local sporting goods store to purchase a map of the Wind River Range, and plan a trip for the next six days. Before leaving I had briefly eyed Fremont Peak, and since the Elkhart Park trailhead (the closest to Fremont) was not far from Pinedale, we selected Titcomb Basin as our destination.
Views from the road of the Wind River Range had peaked our interest and we were eager to begin our trip. After a whole day of driving and anticipating, we were finally off to the Elkhart Park Trailhead. We arrived in the early evening, quickly got our gear together, and were off, needing to find a campsite quickly before it got dark. A friendly fellow hiker pointed us toward Miller Lake, which was slightly off the approach to Titcomb Basin, but nearby. We spend a pleasant night there, although the next day turned out to be a fairly long trek to Titcomb Basin. By the time we arrived at Island Lake (picture below), we knew we were in for a scenic treat, and as we continued on we were not disappointed.
We had watched as thunderstorms developed the two prior afternoons, so the next morning we awoke near sunrise to climb Fremont before the storms developed. Our camp was close by the Lower Titcomb Lake, so we first climbed over a ridge between our camp and Fremont Peak. This put us above Mistake Lake, so we descended to get down by the Lake. We arrived at the perfectly calm just as the sun was hitting the peaks, casting an amazing reflection in the water. We went around the south side of the Lake and started up toward Fremont Peak. Occasionally we would run into some small cliffs, which were easily navigated around. At one point we saw something moving in the rocks. It turned out to be a marten, which to my knowledge should not have been at such a high (above tree-line) elevation.
Soon we arrived at the saddle that overlooks Indian Basin. From that point there was a semi-trail that took us near the top without much difficultly, although I thought I could fell the effects of the “thin” air. From the summit it seemed like we could see forever. We could look down on the Fremont Glaciers, over to Gannet Peak, and even see the Grand Teton. On our way down I remembered to take a picture of Summer Ice Lake, and as you can see below, by this time the standard afternoon clouds were beginning to develop.
Back down at camp we ate and rested during the afternoon, then hiked up to the Upper Titcomb Lake to have a look around. During this time a thunderstorm developed, and while it did not rain on us it made for some exciting scenery. The pictures below (in chronological order) show how the events unfolded. The first was taken at the Upper Titcomb Lake looking back toward Mount Lester. The second was once we had returned to camp with the storm beginning to pass Mount Lester, and the last is around sunset and the storm has passed.
We spent a few more nights making our way to other sections of the Wind Rivers before returning. We did come across a moose on this part of the trip, although otherwise it was uneventful. The many flowers in bloom, combined with the amazing alpine scenery of Titcomb Basin, made for a memorable trip.