Wind River Range

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Backpacking Trip:
Continental Divide Trail, Wind River Range, WY

Dates: Mon Aug 12 to Thur Aug 22, 2013

Location: Wind River Range, WY

Trip details: 80 miles total including layover day exploration (estimated at 10 miles)
Elevation gain = 14160', elevation loss = 11600', peak elevation = 11,500' Texas Pass

Estimated Trip Cost: $450 per person
See cost details at bottom of trip description for what is and is not included, actual cost could be higher or lower depending on the number of participants

Maximum number of participants: 10

Date of last revision: 7/13/2013

Trip Description

Continental Divide Trail - Crest of the Wind River Range

This backpack will go through some of the most spectacular wilderness regions of North America on a section of the Continental Divide Trail (CDT) that runs through the Wind River Range in WY. We are starting at the Green River Lakes Trail Head (TH) and ending at the Big Sandy Campground TH, traversing sections of the Bridger Wilderness, and Bridger Teton National Forest. We will leave the CDT to spend one night in Titcomb Basin, and two nights in the Cirque of the Towers. The Cirque of the Towers is world renowned for backpacking and mountaineering. This will be a spectacularly beautiful but physically difficult backpack on high altitude rocky trails in a remote region of wilderness.

The backpack is 8 days total on trail with 1 layover day in the Cirque of the Towers. The trip includes 1 tourist day after the trip and 2 travel days for a total of 11 days. Backpackers must carry food for 8 days from lunch on day 1 to lunch on day 8. Breakfast on day 1 and dinner on day 8 will be in a restaurant. As we will be traveling above tree line for much of this backpack, bear canisters are required. There simply won't be trees to hang bear bags from. The first day will be used for travel time, buying stove fuel, and repacking gear. We will spend the first night and last two nights in a motel.  The on trail layover day would be used for other activities such as: dayhiking, photography, or licking our wounds. There are tremendous opportunities for off-trail dayhikes in this region. Photographically speaking, it will be a target rich environment.

This entire trip is rated strenuous and is suitable for experienced, physically fit backpackers with the appropriate gear. All participants must have previously and successfully completed at least three weekend backpacking trips, or one week long backpacking trip, within the past three years. They also must engage in a regular physical fitness program on a weekly basis - working out at least four to five days per week. All participants must be able to backpack at 8,000' to 12,000' of elevation.  Participants should be able to get along well with others.

Individual pack weight will vary but most people will be carrying from 40 to 60 lbs. Each person is responsible for providing their own gear and meals. If people want to, they may elect to share tents, meals, stoves, first aid kits, and water filters. A roster of trip participants will be posted, and I will coordinate sharing this common gear with participants. This is a backpacking trip for backpackers only. Trekkers and ultralight backpackers do not qualify - you aren't backpackers, you're dayhikers pretending to be backpackers. If you can't hump 1/3 of your body weight, you aren't a backpacker. I think if people have significant injuries or illness, ultralight backpacking might be a good idea and may be the only option they have if they want to continue backpacking. But I'm not seeing that, what I see are able bodied people who want to do it. In some cases 6'2", 200 lb men, who are 20-30 years younger than me, without any significant health problems, who only want to carry a 20-25lb daypack on a week long backpack. Ultralight backpackers are Darwin Awards Wannabe's.

Some rock scrambling is always a possibility on a backpacking trip, so participants should have good eye-hand-foot coordination. This is a backpacking trip, not a mountain climbing or rock climbing trip - all travel will be on hiking trails. But some of these trails are very rocky, steep, and rugged. Participants will have to fill out an information form regarding their relevant medical history, physical condition and conditioning, prior backpacking experience, and backpacking gear. All participants must sign a liability release.

Required Gear

  •  sturdy, waterproof, broken in hiking boots that fit you properly
  •  Teva's or equivalent for stream / river crossing and around camp
  •  two sets of socks
  •  properly fitted and adjusted backpack, 4500 to 6000 cubic inches
  •  pack rain cover
  •  small lightweight tent
  •  sleeping bag plus pad, rated to +35 F
  •  light weight backpacking stove & fuel (we will buy fuel out there)
  •  personal first aid items (no scented toiletries)
  •  water purifier/filter and/or water purification tablets
  •  rain suit - ponchos are not allowed it's potentially too windy above treeline, they can act like a sail blowing you off a cliff
  •  extra clothes (include long sleeve shirt and long pants as well as shorts and T shirt), synthetic only
  •  base wicking layers, synthetic only
  •  insulation layers can be fleece, wool, or down
  •  swim suit (optional)
  •  sunscreen, sunglasses, hat with visor or brim, we will be above treeline for much of this trip
  •  light but warm knit hat
  •  1 pr light to medium weight gloves or mittens
  •  headlamp, extra bulb and batteries or two lights
  •  baseplate compass readable to one or two degrees - declination correction strongly preferred - mirror for emergency signaling to aircraft
  •  topographic map
  •  toilet paper + trowel
  •  matches in waterproof container, fire starter for emergencies
  •  pocket knife
  •  whistle
  •  unscented biodegradable soap, wash cloth, backpacker towel
  •  backpacking food - see details below
  •  bear canister REQUIRED for all food, toiletries, garbage - except what you carry for the first day - see requirements below
  •  2 quarts or liters of water or energy drink
  •  insect repellant
  •  mosquito headnet (optional)
  •  40' of 1/8" nylon line for hanging things (optional)
  •  dry waterproof bags for your sleeping bag, clothing, camera, film, electronics (sleeping bag required, the rest is optional)
  •  huge, light, cheap duffle bag to protect your backpack from the airline bears
  •  drivers license, health insurance card
  •  sufficient cash and credit cards for gas, meals, and other expenses


Trip Itinerary

Day Date Activity
Pretrip - Ship empty stoves & fuel bottles to hotel if necessary (see notes about stoves & fuel), allow 10 days for ground shipping
Monday Aug 12 Fly from BWI to Salt Lake City, UT, pick up rental car(s), drive to Jackson Hole, WY, buy fuel for stoves, check into hotel, repack gear
Tuesday Aug 13 Drive to Green River Lakes TH, leave car which will be shuttled to end TH, start backpack
Wednesday Aug 14 On trail
Thursday Aug 15 On trail
Friday Aug 16 On trail
Saturday Aug 17 On trail
Sunday Aug 18 On trail
Monday Aug 19 Layover day in Cirque of the Towers
Tuesday Aug 20 End backpack at Big Sandy Campground TH
Drive to motel in Lander, WY, ship (ground) stoves and empty fuel bottles home if necessary
Wednesday Aug 21 Tourist day, drive to Jackson Hole, WY hotel
Thursday Aug 22 Drive to and fly from Salt Lake City, UT to BWI


Ranger Districts

Bridger Wilderness, Pinedale District, 307-367-4326
Popo Agie Wilderness, Washakie District, (307) 332-5460
Fitzpatrick Wilderness, Wind River District, (307) 455-2466

Permits are picked up at the TH

Common Items

If people want to share: tents, stoves & fuel, water filters, first aid kits, or meals, you can work that out for yourselves from the trip roster. At a minimum we need one stove, fuel, filter, and first aid kit for every two to three people. I will coordinate this with participants. If possible, we would like to use stoves that accept the same fuel in case one fails.

In addition to the above items there may be some other common gear that we will have to split up - probably not much. Some common gear that I will carry myself includes an altimeter, and a large detailed topographic map. Other items might include the 40' of 1/8" nylon rope - one or two would be enough for the whole group.

Guidebook & Maps

"Backpacking Wyoming", Douglas Lorain, Wilderness Press, 2010
"Wyoming's Continental Divide Trail", Lora Davis & Scott Smith, Westcliffe Publishers, 2000

National Geographic Topographic Maps, Wyoming (the topographic map software that I use)
North Wind River Range, Earthwalk Press, 1:48000, 40' contours, slightly more detail
South Wind River Range, Earthwalk Press
I will be using the Earthwalk maps + Topo generated maps, 1:24000
Wind River Range North, Beartooth Publishing, 1:50000, 50' contours, beautiful maps
Wind River Range South, Beartooth Publishing


Bear Canisters are not legally required for travel in the Wind River Range but we will be above treeline for much of this trip and there won't be places to hang food. In addition to food we also have to put garbage, and any toiletries in the Bear Canister. Bears are attracted to anything with an odor and their noses are 1,000's of times more sensitive than ours. Do not bring toiletries that have an odor. Bring unscented biodegradable soap, toothpaste, sun block, lip balm, and insect repellent.  Bears can be a problem along numerous sections of this route, that's why we have to use Bear Canisters.

A great website about bears

Get Bear Smart Society

Information about bears sense of smell

Horses, Mules, Burros, Llamas

We may meet horses, or other pack animals on some portions of the trail, they have the right of way. Step off the trail 5-10' on the downhill side and wait quietly until they pass.

Deer, Marmots, Rodents

Deer, marmots, and other animals are attracted to urine and sweat to get salt and other minerals. Do not leave sweaty clothing or boots unattended, they may be chewed and destroyed. Marmots can be a problem for stealing food. The good news is that every Bear Canister, by definition, is also a Marmot Canister. Or as a buddy at work calls them, the "Little" Bears.


Weather in the Wind River Range could be anything from warm, sunny conditions to high winds and a snow storm. You must be prepared with gear and clothing to deal with either extreme.

From, the historical average daily highs and lows for Jackson Hole, WY (6300') in mid August are 82F and 42F. At 11,300' we have to subtract 15F which gives us highs of 67F and lows of 27F. The nights will probably be cold.


Everyone is responsible for providing their own backpacking food for meals and energy snacks. This is not a commissary based trip, they are way too inefficient. Bring more food than you would normally eat at home, but don't over do it - many people lose their appetite somewhat at altitude. As a backpacker, you will appreciate the concept of food as fuel. Bring things that are lightweight, tasty, and nutritious but easy to prepare, cook, and clean up after. Extra points for meals that pass the "Lick Test". If you don't know what the lick test is you should buy the late Colin Fletcher's "The Complete Walker" and read about it. The Complete Walker is the Old Testament of Backpacking, Backpacker Magazine is the New Testament.

Don't plan on buying backpacking food out there, it's too time consuming and we won't have time to do that. All of your food for the entire trip should be packed in the bear canister before we get on the plane. If you see  some fresh food out there that looks good, add it to your pack but don't plan on it. Plan for food, energy snacks and drinks, from lunch on the first day to lunch on the last day for 8 days. We will eat breakfast on the starting day and dinner on the ending day in a restaurant.

Getting 7 days worth of food into a Bear Canister is difficult, but not impossible. If you have a big appetite you will have to carry a large and small Bear Canister. The first days lunch, dinner, and snacks do not go in the canister. It takes practice to get everything in - no hard containers - and Ziploc bags are your Friend!


We will have to treat all drinking water either with a purifier, filter, tablets, UV pen, etc.. I want each person to have at least two quart / liter bottles or bladders, bring the cap for the bladder in case you lose the bite valve. Bring an extra cap if you use Gatorade bottles for your water bottle.

Leave No Trace

We will practice "Leave No Trace" backcountry ethics. This means that we pack out all of our trash and garbage. It also means that we do not use soap or shampoo to wash in lakes or streams. Just swimming in the water without using soap works pretty well all by itself for getting your body "fairly" clean. Use a folding canvas basin and/or wash cloth and soap 100' away from lakes or streams to wash more thoroughly. It's okay to use a tiny amount (couple of drops) of biodegradable soap in the lake or stream just to wash your hands and face.

Stove Fuel

Vapor Fuel Canisters (the simple plan):

Carry the stove in your luggage, buy a vapor gas canister out there. This is what I normally use for three season flight backpacking trips. I will estimate how many canisters we will need for 8 days.

Liquid Fuel (the complicated plan):

We will be shipping our empty stoves and empty fuel bottles to the starting motel. We cannot carry our stoves or fuel bottles with us on the airplane unless they are brand new and have NEVER been used. Once used they will contain fuel residue and cannot be taken onboard the plane. Although this policy varies from airline to airline. NO AIRLINE WILL ALLOW FUEL OF ANY KIND ON THE AIRPLANE! We will ship the stoves via Parcel Plus, or Mail Boxes Etc. they have been trained to deal with empty fuel containers (so they say). We will have to buy fuel out there before the trip, and ship the empty stoves and empty fuel bottles back home the same way in the same boxes. We need to ship the stoves about 10 days prior to our trip departure to ensure that they are there IN TIME as THEY must BE SHIPPED ground. This is what I use for ALL winter trips.

Estimated Trip Cost

The trip cost includes: your share of a rental car, your share of a shuttle, the first night and last two nights in a motel. Not included: everything else, such as airfare, entrance fee, meals, drinks, necessary backpacking food and gear, rental car gas, tips, personal expenses, and any other necessary but excluded expenses.

$450.00 is the total estimated per person trip cost, the actual cost could be higher or lower depending on the number of participants.

Make checks payable to:   Ted Fryberger and mail to me at the address below, do not send any money until you have been approved for the trip.

It is important that each participant bring sufficient cash/credit cards for incidental personal expenses. If the trip plans should change for any reason such as illness, injuries, or the backpack being shortened or extended by a few days due to circumstances beyond our control such as: severe weather, forest fire, high water, snowstorm, bear closure, etc - it could have an impact on your individual cost. 

Participant - To Do

Qualify to go on the trip
Pay total trip costs
Get physically ready for the trip
Get your gear ready for the trip
Make airline reservation from BWI, or some other airport, to Salt Lake City, UT
Airfare is not included in the trip price

It's very important that we all get there as close to the same time as possible so we can all use the minimum number of rental cars. If you schedule a flight that comes in several hours later you will have to rent your own car. If you fly into a different airport you will have to rent your own car.

Trip Leader:

Ted Fryberger
6259 Deep River Canyon
Columbia, MD 21045
Phone: 443-917-2902(W/H)
Cell: 410-428-1868


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