2015 Summer Journal

Backpacking in the Wind River Range – and a Giveaway!

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Psssst… there’s a special prize at the end of this post! Scroll all the way down (or click here!) to enter a contest to win $50 from Garage Grown Gear

Will and I love backpacking. It’s one of the first outdoorsy activities we did together, and really was what made me take my first step towards the bus adventure when I quit my job to spend 23 days hiking the entire John Muir Trail. When we started the bus project we waxed poetic over all of the backpacking we would do – we could get out every weekend if we wanted to!

Sadly, we haven’t been able to do as much backpacking as we’d like. Luckily, our good friends Sam and Jenna talked us into (it wasn’t hard) spending a quick weekend in the Wind River Range in Wyoming, and our love for backpacking was rekindled.

The Wind River Range is definitely not the most well-known range in the US, but it seems like it might be one of the best kept secrets in the West. Will’s grandparents love to tell the story of the time they backpacked into the Winds, decades ago: Bob and Joanne hiked all day, until Joanne had had enough. She plopped her pack down right in the middle of the trail and declared that she wasn’t taking another step, so there they camped!

We chose to enter the Winds via the Big Sandy trailhead, and hike about eight miles to camp at Deep Lake. We were planning on hiking to the nearby Cirque of the towers, but learned from a friend that Deep Lake is close enough to get a little view of the famous Cirque, without being surrounded by the hoards of climbers swarming to the area… just our style!

We arrived at the trailhead (after driving almost two hours on dirt roads!) and were surprised to see a parking lot FULL of cars. We were happy that our destination was the less-traveled Deep Lake rather than the Cirque, where most people were headed! We organized the gear and set out on the trail, dogs bouncing along beside us.

Hilde, all ready for work in her Kurgo Big Baxter pack!

Hilde, all ready for work in her Kurgo Big Baxter pack!

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The trail wound along Big Sandy creek, through lovely meadows and pine forests, before reaching Big Sandy Lake. We stopped for a rest and a snack along the banks, much to the dogs’ delight.

Will, surveying the map.

Will, surveying the map.

Hilde and her favorite toy, the floating Kurgo Skipping Stone.

Hilde and her favorite toy, the floating Kurgo Skipping Stone.

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After visiting Big Sandy we moseyed our way up to Deep Lake. I was feeling the strain of my backpack – I’d crashed my bike (hard!) the day before and my back, neck, and shoulders were really tight and bruised.

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Jenna climbing up for a better view, with Pretzy on the spot

Jenna climbing up for a better view, with Pretzy on the spot

View of the epic Cirque of the Towers just over my shoulder!

View of the epic Cirque of the Towers just over my shoulder!

After reaching the lake we hiked around for a few minutes before finding the perfect spot to set up camp, off the water just far enough to satisfy our Leave No Trace ethics.

Dinner! Courtesy of Garage Grown Gear.

“Good to Go” dinner! Courtesy of Garage Grown Gear.

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A few weeks before taking off on this backpacking adventure we met up with Amy Hatch of Garage Grown Gear in Driggs, Idaho. GGG specializes in innovative, cool outdoor gear – just the kind of stuff we LOVE to get our hands on! When she offered to hook us up with some backpacking food for the weekend, we jumped at the opportunity.

The first meals we tried were the Herbed Mushroom Risotto and Smoked Three Bean Chili from Good to Go. These are two choices that I wouldn’t have picked on my own – they’re vegan and gluten free, and Will and I are neither. With the first bite, I was sold. I’ve always been a little grossed out by the weird texture of dehydrated meat, but I didn’t know that tasty meatless options existed. In addition to being vegan and gluten free, these meals aren’t loaded with a ton of salt or preservatives. To my surprise, these meals don’t skimp on calories either. We’ll definitely be picking up a few more of these before our next overnight trip.

That evening we were treated to the most incredible show, as the moon rose up and over the dramatic peaks across the lake. Believe it or not, this photo was taken around 9pm, and the moon was the only thing lighting the landscape.

 

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Our first camp breakfast was another gift from GGG, the Hungry Hikers Three Sister’s Scramble.

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Hilde was very interested in the Hungry Hikers meal!

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Hungry Hikers, pre-boil

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The Hungry Hikers breakfast was a little different than the backpacking food we usually go for. Rather than dehydrated food that cooks in its own bag, this was freeze dried food that cooked in the pot. While it was tasty, Will and I are lazy backpackers and prefer food that doesn’t dirty our dishes. If you don’t mind washing your pot after eating, this is right up your alley! If you go this route, make sure to bring some tortillas, cheddar cheese, and hot sauce. The eggs are great and they would be even better breakfast burrito style!

Hilde had her breakfast too (which she carried up in her own doggie backpack!)

Contemplation. Can I eat this yet? Please?

Contemplation. Can I eat this yet? Please?

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We had originally planned on an “epic” day, but I was still feeling sore from my crash so we decided to keep things low key. Will, Sam, and Jenna took Hilde and Pretzel for a run and I enjoyed sunning myself on a rock, while taking in the gorgeous scenery surrounding me.

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The following morning we packed up early and headed out. Something in the air had changed – it was clear that fall was making its way into the mountains.

Will getting Hilde ready for the hike back down. What a goofy face!

Will getting Hilde ready for the hike back down. What a goofy face!

 

So proud of her backpack!

So proud of her backpack!

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Had to include this one. Here we all are, pretty normal, except for crazy zooming Hilde in the background. She didn’t stop for a second the entire hike, she must have covered at least twice the distance we did!

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What a great crew!

Thanks again to Amy and the rest of the Garage Grown Gear crew for setting us up for the weekend. If you love neat, innovative outdoor gear, make sure to enter the raffle below to win a $50 gift certificate!

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  • Ugh. I have to be honest here, folks. I really hope we’ll get to meet y’all while we’re out on the road, but Hilde’s totally stolen my heart. She’s just the sweetest looking bear! No wonder you couldn’t be or stay mad at her when you returned to her accident(s) on the bus after your 50K.

    • Aww, thank you! I saw the first part of your comment in my email preview (“I have to be honest here…”) and got a little worried that we’d done something wrong! Here’s to hoping our paths cross someday soon. 🙂

  • Alicia Baker

    Great blog post! I have been wanting to get out to the Winds for awhile now, and am going to make it happen next summer, along with my dog too! Your pup looks like he had a blast – great photos! – Alicia @girlonatrail