Wind River Range Restoration, Wyoming
- Work on trails amidst the wildflower meadows and granite peaks of the legendary Wind River Range
- Hike to local glaciers and explore alpine valleys, lakes, and rivers
- Base camp under towering 12,000-foot peaks
- All on-trip meals
- Project tools and professional supervision
- Pack support for tools, cooking equipment, and food
|Dates||Aug 31–Sep 6, 2014|
Please note that the trip dates and leader have changed from what was originally published. If you have questions, please contact us.
Celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act by helping to maintain trails in the spectacular Popo Agie Wilderness near the Continental Divide in the Wind River Range. We'll also have opportunities to fish remote lakes, hike to walk-up peaks, and photograph vast vistas and beautiful fields of wildflowers framed by soaring spires of granite.
The dramatic Wind River Range in west-central Wyoming boasts spectacular mountain vistas along the eastern slopes of the Continental Divide. Here is the Indian-named Popo Agie (po-Po-shia; rhymes with ambrosia) Wilderness of the southeastern Shoshone National Forest. Covering more than 100,000 acres, this area of streams, lakes, glaciers, steep valleys, and abundant wildflowers offers spectacular mountain views. Wind River Peak, 13,192 feet, is spectacular and usually still snow-tinged in August.
This rugged wilderness is located just north of historic South Pass, the Gateway to the West for the famous Oregon Trail, where covered wagon ruts are still seen. Wildlife sightings might include eagles, deer, moose, elk, black bear, bighorn sheep, marmots, and pikas. Fishing is excellent in these remote rivers and lakes! (A Wyoming fishing license is required.)
The severe winters in Popo Agie are especially hard on trails. So there will be plenty for work for us to do. Our project and base camp will be located in the Stough Creek Lakes Basin. This area has a string of trout-filled lakes popular with fisherman and it's bordered by the 11,804-foot Roaring Fork Mountain.
Work planned includes replacing an aged puncheon bridge with a new one (about 16-feet long). A puncheon bridge is a low bridge that usually spans a section of trail that accumulates standing water. To construct the bridge, we will be using all natural resources that we find near the work site. Other work will include installing check dams to prevent trail erosion and cleaning up/destroying illegal camps too near the shores of the surrounding lakes.
We will be guided by two forest service employees throughout the trip. They will provide training on tools, coordinate the work effort, and participate heavily in the actual work project itself.
Note: For anyone who enjoys trout fishing, since we’ll be situated near the Stough Creek Lakes, it is suggested you bring your fishing gear. You can purchase a fishing license in Lander, WY.
Please arrive in Lander the day before the trip to check in at the U.S.F.S. Washakie Ranger Station, located on the SE corner of U.S. 287 & WY 789 in Lander (street address is 333 East Main). An abbreviated sign-in sheet and messages will be on the outside bulletin board for after-hours use. Try to arrive in time to attend a 5:30 p.m. light supper (provided by the trip leader) and important trip briefing that will be held at the City Park shelters at the south end of Third Street in Lander. You must be at the City Park shelters by 6:00 a.m. on the first listed trip day, packed and ready to go. We will caravan to the trailhead some 25 miles away at 9,500 feet. Participants will need to arrange their own transportation and, of course, carpooling with other participants is encouraged (the trip leader will help facilitate communication between participants). The road to the trailhead is suitable for passenger cars, but vehicles with high ground clearance are recommended. The first provided meal is trail lunch fixings on the first day of our backpack hike (Sunday). The U.S.F.S. will horse-pack all our food and cooking equipment.
We will work four days, with one free day available to fish, hike, climb, or just relax. The last meal provided is the hike-out lunch on the last listed trip day. Do not plan to fly home on that last day of the trip; we cannot be certain just when we'll arrive back in Lander. Do plan to attend a Dutch-treat, good-bye dinner in Lander that evening. About three weeks before the trip, the leader will send all trip members a newsletter with all the last-minute-details.
The closest commercial airports are at Riverton, Wyoming (24 miles NE; 30-minute drive); Denver, Colorado (300 miles SE; six-hour drive); and Salt Lake City, Utah (~275 miles SW; five-hour drive). Van shuttle service is available from Riverton and Salt Lake City.
Do keep in mind that the Sierra Club does not provide transportation for you to or from the airport. It's a great idea to communicate with other trip members to organize carpooling. With your permission, the trip leader will share cell numbers and email address to allow participants to organize their own ride sharing to help save on fuel usage and travel costs.
Accommodations and Food
If you arrive to Lander early, free camping is available at City Park at the south end of Third Street. It is a small, but beautiful, park with ample space to pitch a tent, lots of shade trees, and public restrooms (but no showers). You can hike about nine blocks north to downtown and then about six blocks east to the ranger station. Lander (pop. 7,200) is home of the famed National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS), which offers dorm rooms and showers. Many motels and several bed and breakfasts are also available (the Best Western, located across the street from the ranger station, is affordable and convenient). Also of interest is The Sinks Canyon State Park, where the Middle Popo Agie River disappears underground to emerge half a mile away at The Rise. There is a beautiful two-hour practice hike in Sinks Canyon from Bruce's Bridge to Little Popo Agie Falls, both west on Rt 131. Camping is available in Sinks Canyon State Park (for a fee).
While in the backcountry, we will be tent camping with only the amenities brought in by the pack train and on our backs. You will need to bring all of your own camping gear, including your tent, sleeping bag, ground pad, etc.
Come with the attitude that food is part of the adventure. Food weight and quantity must be carefully calculated and all waste must be carried out at the end of the trip. Our meals will both satisfy appetite and be a social gathering after a day's work or play in the wilderness. The menu will be a healthy, nutritious, high-energy, backcountry cuisine. Meals will be vegetarian with some opportunities for meat during the week. We will have a group commissary with everyone taking turns in meal preparation. Before applying for the trip, folks with food allergies and/or strong preferences must contact the leader and cook to see if they can be accommodated.
Our backpack trip from the trailhead to the camp area will be between six and seven moderate-to-strenuous miles. We’ll start at about 9,000 feet and work our way up via switchbacks to an extremely beautiful pass, which is just over 10,000 feet. At the pass there is a spectacular view, including the snow-clad Wind River Peak. It is well worth the hike up!
The trip is supported by packers who will take all our food and kitchen gear. But as a bonus they will also take some of our personal gear. On the 2013 outing, they took two stuff sacks from each participant. Most participants handed off their tents and their heaviest other stuff sack. According to our agency contact, the packers will provide the same ‘load-lightening’ service for us on this trip (thank you, guys!). So this will definitely help significantly lower the weight of our individual packs. Participants should focus on arriving for the trip in good physical condition. Conditioning requires three to four months of aerobic exercise, such as bicycling, running, or swimming. The better shape you are in the more you will be able to enjoy the trip!
Preparation should also include hikes with your pack and a 30- to 35-lb load. The hardest part is hiking in; you'll be in much better shape hiking out! Be especially diligent with exercise if you live near sea level. You may want to come a few days early to acclimate to Lander's 5,400-foot elevation.
Equipment and Clothing
In addition to your regular backpacking gear, bring two pairs of sturdy leather work gloves, long pants, a long-sleeved shirt, and boots for protection during trail work. We will provide food and the equipment for cooking, but you should come with your own personal eating utensils -- a bowl, cup and spoon. You will also need a day pack to carry your lunch, water, gloves, sunscreen, etc. to the work site each day. A comprehensive list of equipment needed will be provided with the departure newsletter. While we do provide a first-aid kit, you should have your own moleskin, Band-Aids, aspirin, etc. for dealing with the little aggravations of life. Remember to bring any personal medications you need. We will bring a means to purify all the water used in the commissary, but you should bring some means of purifying water when you are away from camp.
- The folding U.S.F.S. forest map "Shoshone NF, Southern Half" will do for most purposes; the Wind River Range, Southern map from Earthwalk Press is also great and can be ordered on-line.
- The ranger station and local outdoor stores in Lander stock most local maps.
- Wind River Range South Wyoming Outdoor Recreation Map, Beartooth Publishing.
- Adkison, Ron, Hiking Wyoming's Wind River Range, Globe Pequot Press.
- Kelsey, Joe, Climbing and Hiking in the Wind River Mountains, Sierra Club Books.
- Wyoming's Wind River Range, American & World Geographic Publishing.
- Hebard, Grace Raymond, Washakie: Chief of the Shoshones, Univ. of Nebraska Press.
We reduce soil erosion into streams by spreading trail water before it can reach them. We also improve the best trail path and block shortcuts that would increase erosion. We emphasize the Leave No Trace philosophy. We will learn about other local conservation activities and initiatives from the Forest Service during the trip. Current projects and plans can be found using the following link: http://www.fs.fed.us/r2/shoshone/projects