Wyoming's Wind River Range Golden Trout Epic Adventure Part 1.
July, 25th and 26th, 2014.We had a late start and didn't head out for Pinedale until about 6pm; so we didn't make it to that little friendly town until a little after 11pm. We stayed at a local hotel in order to meet Erick from Ace In The Hole Outfitters at 8am the next morning as our plan was to save two days by having him drop us off at Spider lake just below Angel pass to allow faster access to the Fitzpatrick Wilderness. What a tough night sleep I had as the hotel room was hot and having the air conditioner running didn't help, along with tossing and turning on the uncomfortable bed! All complaining aside I have been dreaming about catching Golden trout for a long time and after countless hours scouring the internet and reading a few books about fishing for them I was actually in Pinedale for our second attempt at the elusive and beautiful Golden trout.
I know I didn't actually fall asleep until well after 2am and my buddy and his son were pounding on the door at a little after six. We ran across the street and had a quick greasy breakfast and headed for the Elkhart trailhead to meet Erick. He was right on time and had a trailer full of horses and mules. He immediately introduced himself and began getting our rides together along with carefully packing our backpacks in bags for the pack horses. We gave him a brief run down of what our plans were and he game us a quick lesson in riding his animals and what to expect along the trail. He had brought along with him Guitar, Teagan, Tiny the mule, Bart the other mule, Chops, Dream, and Buddy. My Buddy was on Buddy, his son was on Dream. I was on Bart and Coltin was on Chops, Teagan and Tiny had the easiest load with our packs. Mine and my buddies pack were close to 55lbs each and the boys were around 40lbs each. We saddled ourselves up with his help and we hit the trail about 9:30 am, the animals were well behaved and we had no problems getting to our first rest stop near Mary's lake just past Elklund lake. Wow, if you have never ridden a horse before you can't prepare yourself for the pain in your knees you'll feel due to the muscles you use to stay up right on the saddle as the horse moves along the trail.
Tiny, Teagan, and Guitar.
Coltin and Chops.
Bart and I. Alright he is a little more handsome than I am!
Guitar, the leader!
After a short rest, I'm absolutely convinced it was done for our benefit, we saddled back up and hit the trail once again. We slowly rode our way over several miles of ups and downs until reaching Spider lake around 13 miles in. It was about 2pm when Erick and his magnificent animals parted ways with our saddle sore group. He gave us some advice on lakes to try and wished us luck before heading back to the trailhead with a friendly wave. He has a great service and is well worth the price, if you are in need of a good outfitter in the majestic Wind Rivers you can find him here:
We shouldered our packs with a groan and hit the rolling hills looking around for a suitable camp site. Our intent was to camp below our formidable foe, the one that bested our group last year with a possible bout of altitude sickness we were not willing to make worse.
It was actually a good thing as we would found out on this trip because Angel ended up being the easiest pass to conquer! Once camp was set we had lunch and the mosquitos found us! They were horrendous! We were under siege all afternoon and well into the evening. We had a name brand bug spray with 40% deet and even a bottle of 100% deet and it would keep them at bay for twenty or so minutes. They would hover just out of the deet's range until it's potency wore down and they were back at it trying to drain every ounce of blood from what ever exposed skin was available. It wasn't until well after sunset that we were given a reprieve from the onslaught. We did do a little fishing that evening in between dodging dive bombing mosquitos and did catch quite a few aggressive Brook trout. They would hit every thing we threw their way.
Our camp was next to a very large boulder the was split in half so we named it camp Split Rock as I try to name all of my camps. Below in the foreground you can see the large split boulder on the left side.
Angel just as the sun began to drop!
Spider with the rising Brook trout.
Breath taking sunset!
One last panoramic.
A little Astrophotography.
Even caught the Milky way right over Spider lake.
Sleep came easy for me that night as I had just purchased a backpacking cot that is and was worth the weight. I have been sleeping on an air mattress for a few years but this backpacking cot was worth the cost. Since I do not have their permission to mention their products I'll just say it is made by a company that makes all types of pads and mattresses for backpacking. I also picked up a larger tent so me and my son wouldn't be crammed into my small light weight tent that I usually use on short trips and wow was the extra room worth it. Coltin is getting stronger and he can handle a couple extra pounds as you'll find out. He did quite well with a 40lbs pack on this trip!