Friday, July 17, 2009

Wyoming 2009
Well, the 2009 version of my Wyoming adventures is underway. I plan to focus primarily on the Wind River Range. But, on the way up, I visited Hell's Half Acre west of Casper. This is an area of erosion in the high plains (about 7000'). There was a restuarant overlooking the canyon, so I hoped to have lunch there. Unfortunately, the restuarant is closed, so I climbed through the fences and took a short walk along the rim. Here is what is left of the restuarant and a picture of the canyon.

Then, it was on to Wind River. The mountain range which provides most of the interesting hiking is actually west of the river itself, and includes the Shoshoni Indian Reservation, the Fitzpatrick Wilderness, The the PoPo Agie Wilderness, Bridger Wilderness, the Shoshoni National Forest and the Bridger Teton National Forest. But, before you reach the mountain range, there is a scenic drive along the river itself. Here is a picture of the river downstream from the dam and the lake upstream of a dam along the river.

My second night in Wyoming I camped in Sinks Canyon in the southern part of the Winds along the Popo Agie river. Since the mountains are smaller along the southern end, I wasn't sure what to expect, but it was very interesting. The Popo Agie river descinds from the mountains and disappears into the ground not far from where I camped. Then it reemerges a quarter mile away into a pool. It travels through cracks, sand and gravel between the two. Here is a view of the river from near my campsite.
Here is a picture of where the river goes into the ground, called the Sinks.
Finally, here is the pool where it emerges from the ground, called the Rise.
Although always suspected, for many years it was not proven that the two were connected. But recent dye tests concluded that they are. Interestingly, the ink took longer to emerge than expected, and more water emerged than went into the sink. Very interesting.
Later, I drove to Dubois, the kickoff point into the northern Winds on the east slope. You access the trailhead into the wilderness via a 9 mile gravel road. Then I hiked on the Whiskey Mountain and Glacier Trails up to Lake Louise. (No, not that Lake Louise... I promise I'm still in Wyoming, not further north in Canada.) It was a very interesting hike. Here is a view of the lake from around 85oo foot elevation.

And here is a view of the falls at the outlet of the lake. It was impossible to get a good picture, but it was pretty impressive to see the huge volume of water leave the lake and drop several hundred feet.
I haven't seen too much wildlife, but I did get this picture of a chipmunk getting ready to try to steal my afternoon snack on the bluff overlooking the lake.
Finally, a couple of views from along the trail toward bomber falls. I didn't make the falls. I'm finding out that my old sedentary life in North Carolina has left me in too bad a shape to see all the things I wanted to see. I'm also finding out that July is not the time to visit. The nights are just as cool as when I was here before in September, but the mosquitoes are swarming. Apparently, they come out when the weather gets warm enough in July and the thaw is coming down the mountain. By September they've gone back into hibernation. Besides that, the hotels are outrageously expensive for my occasional night in town. Oh well, I'll see what I can see before I get carried off.

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