Greatly appreciate your input and others. Will of course take precautions towards getting acclimated to the altitude. However, my plan as of now is to simply spend the first night in a motel (@7-8k feet as I recall), and then to basically cover half the miles I 'think' we could hike. Any other suggestions, please let me know. I am smart enough to know what I don't know.
I thought Lake XXXXXX was surely where "whale tail" came from. Sweet golden man. Nicely done. Would be great to catch one as it is always fun to catch a new species. However, we are not very picky by fly fishing standards. I just want a safe, well planned out, logistically solid trip. A 5-6 night trip with scenic camp sites, a small fire each night, solitude, mountain scenery, and some decent places to bend our 4 wts is of great interest.
I just want a safe, well planned out, logistically solid trip. A 5-6 night trip with scenic camp sites, a small fire each night, solitude, mountain scenery, and some decent places to bend our 4 wts is of great interest.
For a mix of accessibility, camping, scenery, and cutthroat fishing, you'd be hard-pressed to find a better area than the North Fork and Victor Lake area (Boulder Lake TH). It's a moderate hike of about 12-13 miles to North Fork. Both lakes have ideal camping conditions and lots of fuel for fires. Basecamp at either NF or Victor (I recommend Victor for its scenery) and then you have tons of options for day hikes to some great, little cutthroat lakes: Lake Prue, the Pipestone Lakes, the unnamed lakes in Europe Canyon, and the unnamed lakes up towards Hay Pass. These waters don't contain any trophies, but the cuttys are numerous and very easy to catch. And of course, North Fork and Victor are loaded with cutts as well. You won't be entirely alone as both NF and Victor receive traffic from outfitters, but the area is so vast it's easy to find some solitude. Bring your frying pan or fish grill, because you'll be feasting on foot long Yellowstone cutthroats.
Hiking out of Boulder Lake TH is a little rough because it's one of the lowest trailheads in the range and is not very scenic because of a huge forest fire for the first 10 miles or so. But that keeps the crowds at bay, and I like that. When I visited Victor Lake, I was able to do the 14 mile hike in one day, but a perfect place to cut the hike in half would be to camp at either Lake Ethel (6 miles in) or Christina Lake (8 miles in). Never fished either lake, but both places have good camping.
I was planning on hitting the Winds next week, but haven't decided on where I was headed.........after talking about Lake Victor, I may have just decided!!
Thanks for your continued assistance. The image is most appreciated as well.
In an effort to help me keep my goals realistic, what is the actual hiking like along some of the routes suggested here? Meaning, is it pretty easy to follow cut trail, hard to stray from. Or is it waist high grass, rocky climbs, and GPS required navigation? If above our pay grade, we may need to hone our skills (and conditioning) on some day hikes and over nighters here in the Smokies. Then take a trip to Wind River next year. Found 2,324,726 mountain images of Wind River Range online, but very few of the actual trails. Eager to hear more about this.
The trails are very well marked, both horses and people use the trails and they get beat down pretty good. Then you also have outfitters using the trails to get their clients up into the back country.
Thanks for that man. I heard about Sweetwater Expeditions in your area and how they use horses to pack in greenhorns like me. Ha ha. Appealing on some level as I am 6'6" 300 lbs, but I have never spent time in remote places with strangers. My worst fear is some guy with a fanny pack kicking a hak e sak singing around the campfire each night and continually asking me to sing along with the songs. Don't ask. Actually had that dream when contemplating a challenging ANWR river float guided trip back when I was first learning how to row a raft. I prefer the unguided trips and held off on this river till I acquired the skill set needed for the rapids. Interested to hear that horses and people travel the same trails. That does provide lots of valuable info as to what trail conditions might be like. Thank you.
Hiking in the Winds can be brutal. I've always thought the hiking in the Winds was always just a little tougher than in Colorado where I live. The trails are obviously well marked and maintained but hiking distances tend to be long and the topography of the Winds makes for tons of mind-numbing ups and downs. And there tends to be mucho stream crossings without the aid of any foot bridges. I don't have any pictures of a "tougher" trail, but here are some pics of scenic trail conditions. There are no pictures of any climbs either. I guess I don't take pictures when I'm huffing and puffing going uphill.
The good, well marked trails in the Winds have one big exception - the Wind River Indian Reservation wilderness area... there the trials are barely marked, roads to the trailheads require good maps and a GPS to follow or you risk a wrong turn, and even the USGS topo maps aren't always accurate. I've done several backpacking trips on the reservation and the backcountry and fishing are top notch... but the route-finding can be brutal.
The tradeoff seems to be less other people, excellent fishing, and no real difference in cost if you aren't a Wyoming resident. I've loved my trips there and am anxious to go back, but we always have to plan on extra hiking time trying to figure out which of the 3 routes marked with stone carins heading across a bare rock area (so no tree blazes to mark the trail) will take to the right spot to follow the trail back into the woods.
I think there was already a mention of this, but just in case - if you go to the Winds, be sure to have bear spray. We've seen plenty of bear sign, and I've heard that the "problem" bears from the Yellowstone area are relocated to the wilderness areas in the Wind River Range... not sure if that's true or not, but I'm not taking chances!