Cirque of the Towers
Wyoming - USA

July 15 - 24, 2005
 


Cirque of the Towers

Date: July 15 to 22, 2005

Destination:  Cirque of the Towers, Wind River Range, Wyoming USA

Our intention was to hike out to the Cirque of the Towers and spend 7 days climbing the peaks in this spectacular area.  However, due to a bad mosquito infestation of the area our time there was cut short and we spent some time driving around Wyoming, visiting sites of interest.

Robert:  Highpointer who at the time had been to 47 state highpoints with only Mt. Rainier left to climb in the lower 48.  3 years of rock climbing experience.

Jane:  Hiked to Granite Peak, Montana in 2002, summitted Gannett Peak, Wyoming in 2003 and Mt. Hood, Oregon, in 2004.  3 years of rock climbing experience.  (This report was written by Jane.)

Weather & Clothing:  In general the weather was good.  Cool in the mornings, requiring long sleeves, then warm to hot in the afternoons.  Jackets required when climbing as the upper peaks were cold even at mid afternoon.  There was still snow around, at our campsite and to access the peaks.  We wore long pants and long sleeves the whole time because of the mosquitoes.  At times we even wore our Gore-TEX rain jackets just to keep the bugs from biting.  This made it a bit hot but at least we weren't donating blood to the little suckers.  Late August and September would be better months for this area as there are apparently less mosquitoes.

Books consulted:  Climbing and Hiking Wind River Mountains by Joe Kelsey and trip notes on the Internet.  We actually took the book with us.  It's a heavy book so it might have been better to just carry photocopies of the Cirque area.
 

 


Setting out.
  We flew from Atlanta, GA (alt 1,200') to Salt Lake City, UT (alt 4,200') on the night of July 15.  Due to bad thunderstorms around the south east US our flight was delayed.  So, instead of departing at 8:51pm we only pulled away from the ramp at 1am, after being at the airport for 6 hours.  This meant that we only landed in Salt Lake City at 2:30am.  With all the confusion going on in Atlanta they got our baggage all mixed up so that we only got our bags at 3:30am.   By then the car rental place had closed so we couldn't get a car.  The other problem was that Robert had sent our stoves by UPS to the car rental agency as we could not take these on the plane, so we were committed to stick with the company where we had reserved a car.  They only opened at 6am so I blew my ThermaRest mattress up, got  my pillow out and went to sleep under a row of chairs near the baggage carousels.  Robert snoozed in a chair.  Then at 6am we caught a shuttle to the car rental place.  The sunrise on the mountains surrounding Salt Lake City was spectacular.

Day 1.  Saturday, July 16, 2005
We left the car rental place in Salt Lake City at 6:45am and got to Big Sandy Lake trailhead at 2pm.  The dirt road to the trailhead is not well marked but we found our way there.  We were both very tired so we napped in the car for 2 hours before getting our gear out and into our packs.

We set out at 5:15pm with very heavy packs, resting for 20 minutes after every hour of walking.  Robert's pack weighed about 67 pounds and mine was around 55 pounds.  With Robert weighing in at around 140 pounds himself this was no easy pack to carry.  Next time we may rent lamas to do the carrying.


Jane heading north on Big Sandy Trail.

We hiked, hoping to reach Big Sandy Lake, but by 8pm we still hadn't reached it so we stopped at the first water source we found which was a large grassy swamp off to the east of the trail.  The mosquitoes were bad so we quickly set up tent, had dinner and heading into the tent.  This being bear country we hung our food in a nearby tree but left the stove outside.  It looked like we might get rain so we brought all our gear inside, which made sleeping a little cramped.  During the night Robert had to get up and go save the stove and accessories as the wind was so strong it started blowing things around.  I kept on thinking that trees might start coming down around us, but we survived the night with no real event.

Day 1
Setting out from Big Sandy Lake trailhead
Day 2
Hiking into the Cirque of the Towers valley
Day 3 & 4
Climbing Overhanging Tower and Pingora
Day 5 - 8
Heading out & sightseeing in WY

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