Wyoming's Wind River Range doesn't see the traffic the Teton Range does, but the grandeur of the scenery we experienced on our three-day backpacking trip left us speechless time and again. 

Outdoors with Ruthie - Wind Rivers Hike Day 1

Thunderstorms, problem bears, and dreamscapes: Our approach to the Big Sandy Trailhead in the Wind River Range was an adventure in itself. After traveling on 45 miles of ranch roads, complete with washboards Adam thought might rattle all the bolts off the truck, we pulled into a patch of grassy land near the Big Sandy River. 

 

We'd passed cowboys driving cattle ahead of a storm, moon-scape hills, and sagebrush flats that extended for as far as the eye could see. A quick meal and final prep left us ready for bed just as the rain began to fall.

As we drifted to sleep, a gust of wind hit the truck hard enough to wake us both. I was grateful for our little shelter and the chance to experience a thunderstorm at 10,000 feet.

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Horses make their way on the Big Sandy Lake Trail in the Wind River Range in Wyoming.

The following day dawned bright and clear; we locked up the truck and headed to the trailhead for our trip into the Winds. 

After spending a day in Utah where bears aren't an issue, it was a bit of a wake-up call to learn that a 'problem bear' had been ransacking tents along Big Sandy Lake. So we opted to hike past the lake to Deep and Temple Lakes for our first night.

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Jagged peaks rise above Deep Lake in the Wind River Range.

Awesome and austere: The Big Sandy Trail wandered along the Big Sandy River through lodgepole pine and grassy meadows. At the first break in the trees, we caught a glimpse of the mountains glistening with fresh snow. 

 

The views got better and better the deeper we hiked; Big Sandy Lake glistened jewel-like, surrounded by soaring peaks. The mountains rose right around us at Clear Lake, jagged, treeless peaks cutting into the serene blue sky.

 We traversed giant slabs of stone to reach Deep Lake, and there, our jaws hit the ground. Massive peaks reared up on three sides of the lake, the pale gray walls shimmering with water as the snow melted. Behind Deep Lake, we could see Temple Peak. 

 

Wow, that wind! We knew we were going to camp at Deep Lake, and after a quick look around, we found our home for the night. We set up our tent in a small copse of stunted trees near a breathtaking overlook and took a walk to Temple Lake.

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Ruthie walks toward the tent, perched high above Deep Lake.

Emerald green water shimmered at the base of another wall of mountains; unlike the smooth and austere peaks surrounding Deep Lake, these were jagged and dark. Pockets of snow filled crevices in the rock, and the wind rustled the grass in the treeless meadows around the water's edge. 

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Ruthie watches the colors as the light fades in the Wind River mountains.

Sunset in the high country: After dinner, we wandered back and forth from our perch high above Deep Lake to the ridge of land overlooking Temple Lake, watching the setting sun paint the peaks in shades of lavender, orange, and pink.  

The wind began to howl, and we were glad we'd set our tent in a sheltered spot. As the moon rose and darkness fell, the gusts whipped the tent walls. I knew there was no one near us, and it was a strange and wonderful feeling to be nestled in my down sleeping bag amid all that wild wonder. 

 

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