|986||The Worst and the Best - The Winds - Days 3 and 4||2015-08-18|
High on the Lizard Head Plateau looking at Lizard Head Peak
Day 3 started cool and fresh. From our camp we had a good view to the north and could see weather moving west to east across the range. We were sure glad we were south of the stormy weather.
Being our third day on the trail, we had perfected our packing techniques and smoothly transitioned from camp to trail with a bit of breakfast thrown down to satisfy our hunger.
Crossing Washakie Creek
Rejoining the trail we were just a short walk to Washakie Creek. Boulders and rocks gave us a fun route across the creek without getting wet. There were good campsites (better than our last site) close to the crossing.
The weather was staying to the north, but it still looked menacing. We filtered some water at the creek and then got underway.
After about a mile we turned east on the Washakie Pass Trail and began the climb to the Divide. As we approached treeline, we noticed that the clouds were chasing us. It was time to wait and see what the weather was going to do. We hunkered down in a small stand of trees. Lucky for us, the clouds seemed to pass quickly and it was clearing to the west. We resumed our hike.
It was not long before we realized that just the leading edge of the clouds had passed us, the rest of the clouds were approaching quickly. We decided to keep walking through the storm. Maybe it would not be too bad.
The wind, rain, sleet, and hail soon engulfed us. I have been in tougher conditions, but the storm was memorable. Poor, August just kept looking at us and seemingly asking, 'really?'
The climb to the pass was just a walk in the clouds. Our hope was the weather would improve on the other side of the pass. As we crested the pass, we found more rain, sleet and stronger winds. Rats, if anything it was colder across the Divide, because we were no longer climbing.
Descending thru streams of water, it was difficult to stay dry and impossible to stay warm. The area seemed breathtakingly beautiful, but we hardly noticed, as we were only concerned about staying warm. After passing Washakie Lake, we decided we had to stop and get warm.
It was still very cold and raining. We had only traveled 7 miles, but we would have to set up camp in order to change into dry clothes and eat/drink something hot. Quickly, we set the tent and jumped inside. Thankfully, we had carried a synthetic sleeping quilt, as we were three wet dogs huddled in a wet tent!
In the late afternoon, the rain finally quit and things returned to normal. We discussed strategies for drying our clothes. None of the options sounded pleasant. We decided that tomorrow would just have to be better weather.
Augie enjoying the sun
Day 4 did bring better weather. After leaving camp it was about a half of a mile to a clearing and sunshine. The meadow was on the west bank of the South Fork of the Wind River and unfortunately, we were going to have to cross the river. It was going to be a wet crossing, but first things first. In the sunny meadow we took a long break and laid our clothes out to dry. Within thirty minutes the sun had sapped all of the moisture from our soaking wet clothes.
The crossing was wet, but not overly difficult. We had packed Xero Shoes, a very lightweight sandal to use for wet crossings and as a camp shoe. The sandals were perfect.
Our day was just beginning, so we left the meadow and began climbing toward the north end of Lizard Head Plateau. The four mile climb was moderate with great views. A highlight of the section was Valentine Lake.
Nearing Lizard Head Plateau
From the junction of the Lizard Head Trail with the Bears Ears Trail, the route crosses the Lizard Head Plateau. The trail is high, scenic, exposed for 4.5 miles! We kept a close eye to the sky until we re-entered treeline near Lizard Head Meadow. With good weather (like we had), the Plateau is as good as it gets!
Our camp on Day 4 was in Lizard Head Meadow. Along the well traveled North Fork Trail there were many great campsites. Our site was a ***** (five star) and no one was around. It was the best site of our trip, but we deserved it.
Happy Worst and Best Wind River trails