Friday, January 27, 2012

Visiting Island Lake in the Wind Rivers

Mount Fremont and Jackson Peak above a tarn near Island Lake
While filling some book and print orders recently, I noticed a couple of print requests from the Wind River Range - both from the same trip.

Some images require more blood and sweat than others, and these were such an example!

Let me tell the story.

We arrived at the Elkhart Entrance parking lot late in the evening.  We moved all our gear from the back of my truck to the front cab, and crawled in under the canopy to sleep for the evening.  We didn't sleep much.  Shortly after 2:00 am, some local yahoos showed up and began trying to break into vehicles and vandalize them.  They also defecated on the hoods of vehicles, targeting specific out-of-state license plates.

Fortunately, we were not the only ones sleeping in our vehicles, and soon car alarms began going off.  With the added help of our voices and flashlights, the goons sped off.  We were able to provide a description of their vehicle to the ranger in the morning, and received assurance that they would watch our vehicle in the coming days.

Evening light on Elephant Head.
With that headache out of the way, we packed our gear and began our trek up the Titcomb Basin Trail in the morning.  We were only about 2 miles up the trail when it happened; I turned my ankle and crumpled to the ground in pain.  I couldn't seem to walk it off, and the pain grew worse as I rested.  In my mind, we had traveled too far (from Washington) to turn back.  We still had 8 more miles to hike to get to Island Lake - our desired camp.

Eventually, with the help of trekking poles, I was able to force some weight onto the ankle and get back on it.  We continued up the trail at a snail's pace, probably 1/3 of my normal hiking speed.  I found myself focusing on stepping squarely each step; a tedious and disconcerting process.

We successfully arrived at Island Lake late in the day and found a nice campsite.  It would be our home for the next few days. 

With the ankle injury, there would be no wanderings into Upper Titcomb Basin or Indian Basin on this trip, as originally planned.  I had explored both areas on a previous trip and desperately wanted to return for photography.  Instead, I focused my photography around Island Lake in mornings and evenings, which offered some benefits and new learning experiences.

What did I do during the middle of the day?  Mostly rest and soak my ankle.  After all, I had 10 miles of hiking ahead of me to get back to my truck!

We still enjoyed our trip immensely.  How could we not with such beauty all around us?  After all, we were in the Winds!  We experienced beautiful sunrises and sunsets, afternoon lightning storms, and beautiful rainbows.

I managed the return hike to my truck without issue, but was forced to cancel our trek into Cirque of the Towers due to the ankle.  I have subsequently returned to both these places and am happy to report I have not experienced any vandalism or theft issues, only more incredible times.

If you wish to see more images from the Wind River Range, you may check out my Wind River Gallery.

Thanks for visiting!


  1. Wow, what spectacular scenery! Those mountains seem to go on for ever.
    Looks like you an amazing adventure. I found your photos while planning a backpacking trip of my own.

  2. Thanks Jacob. I hope you have an excellent backpack!