After nearly a week of sport climbing in Wild Iris and a lifetime’s worth of Happy Hours at the Lander Bar, we thought it was about time for some exercise – time for some real alpine adventure.
We prepared ourselves for an hour plus of core shaking, brain rattling washboard dirt road driving to get to the Big Sandy trailhead out in the some Bridger guy wilderness. Everyone we came across warned us about how terrible the road was and it was cake, but never once did they mention the real threat – the mosquitoes!
It reminded me of the time when I was camping outside of Yosemite and everyone said, “You must absolutely hike the Mist Trail,” followed by a pause and a “Do you have a rain jacket?” Never once did they say how those two things were related and tell us to wear our jacket while hiking the Mist Trail because the spray from the falls is so cold and powerful it steals the breath out of you and you about freeze to death.
Anyway we pull up to the National Forest campground at the trailhead and I step out of the car to grab a pay envelope. The car door was open for approximately 10 seconds and approximately 10 million mosquitoes made it inside the car. What followed was a full on battle to get the tent up and make some dinner without getting carried away by the most intense flock of mosquitoes ever.
You see I didn’t pack the bug spray because well I didn’t know that bugs like this could exist and I am afraid that simply having repellent in the car will give me cancer. I may have reduced my risk of cancer by intentionally forgetting the bug spray but my risk of West Nile Virus went through the roof.
The morning was no different; the mosquitoes were out of control. I can’t remember if it was before or after the man dressed like a beekeeper told us that it doesn’t get any better than this that I chucked my trekking poles in the woods in anger. I totally lost it – I was scratching out my eyes like a psychotic and cussing at bugs. We were 5 miles in and I wanted to turn around.
For some reasons I still don’t understand we decided to continue and as we approached tree line, the mosquitoes got – well more manageable. I couldn’t believe it but the hell we had endured was worth it – the Wind River Range is incredible. When you think of Wyoming it probably conjures up images of the Tetons, but those Tetons have nothing on these Winds.
The Wind River Range is a remote mountain range stretching for about 100-miles along the crest of the Continental Divide in the center of Wyoming. There are no roads in the Wind Rivers and most peaks require 20 plus miles of hiking to get to.
We opted for a short (as far as the Winds go) 10-mile hike to the Cirque of the Towers, a spectacular arc of fifteen, 12,000-foot plus jagged peaks that make up a segment of the Continental Divide. The Ciruqe wasn’t the only incredible thing to see but seriously everywhere you looked was an amazing panorama of craggy peaks and deep blue alpine lakes.
We met a couple at the top of Jackass Pass who felt so terrible about our lack of bug spray situation that they gave us their spare spray. Usually in those situations I am like, “Oh that’s alright,” but in this situation I was like, “I’ll take it!” We still had to retreat to the tent at 6pm and hike out with our entire body covered and swat like mad, but all in all it was truly worth it and I am never going to leave home without some repellent and one of these fancy head nets.