Wednesday, January 6, 2021

Wind River Range-Quality web links

 Here are some links that relate to my presentation about Fishing in the Wind River Mountains that I am doing for the Kiap-TU-Wish Chapter of Trout Unlimited on January 6th of 2021.

There's Gold in the Wind River Mountains-This article convinced me to visit the Popo Agie Wilderness on my trip in July

Wind River Peak Area Fish Surveys

Lakes that are stocked with Golden Trout

Info on Deep Creek Lake

Cool hiking blog about the Tayo Lake Area that I used as reference for my first trip

 Bridger Wilderness Fishing Guide

Troutrageous Article about fishing the Wind River Range

Another Hiker's Blog that I used for reference

 One more hiking blog that had good info about the area I went to.

 Beginner's Backpacking Guide

Article about a fishing trip in the Wind River Range article of fishing the Wind River Range

The Fly Fishing Forum thread about fishing the Wind River Range- photos are gone but there is still some good information

Beyond Trails in the Wind River Mountains- Really good book used for exploring The Winds.

Rich Osthoff's Website for Ordering Books and Flies

  Here is the video I made about my trip in August of 2020.

Blog about my first trip to the Wind River Range in July of 2020

GAIA GPS-The best app for backcountry navigation

Zoleo Satellite Communicator-The one I use

Here is a checklist I made to make sure I don't forget anything on future missions.  This will likely evolve over time and hopefully my pack will continue to get lighter.

General Gear                         

Pack w/ Raincover

Trekking Poles

1st Aid Kit


Water Filter

Bear Spray/Bell

Backup Battery/ Solar Charger

Zolio / Satellite Communicator

Cell Phone

Charging Cables (Apple, Apple Watch, Micro USB

Toilet Paper / Poop Shovel

Maps / Compass



Repair Kit-Gorilla Tape, Zip Ties…..

Rope / Pully- if hanging a food pack 

  Kitchen Sink- Water Sack

Water Bottle(s)

Bear Proof/Resistant Container


Sleeping Bag

Sleeping Pad






Fishing Gear

Rods / Reels

Rod Tube

Fishing Vest/Bag-nippers, floatant, indicators etc…

  Fly Boxes/Flies

Net and Net Retainer




Toothbrush / Toothpaste / Floss


Soap / Shampoo / Bodywash


Bug Dope


Healing Salve- Joshua Tree

  Gold Bond




Socks- 2 for walking and 1 for sleeping

  Handkerchief, Buff

  Rain Gear



  Gloves sun/work

  Long Sleeve Shirt (quick drying)

Pants (quick drying)

  Underwear x 2


  Swimming Trunks (optional)

T-shirt (optional)



  Wool Baselayer- Long Underwear/ Shirt

  Poofy Jacket                                                                         

  Sleeping clothes – Light Long Underwear and long sleeve T-shirt

Food Stuff



Titanium Rods (for Caldera Cone Stove)


  Cup for coffee/measuring



  Fork / Spoon / Knife


Drink Mix


Tin Foil (for cooking fish)

  Coozie (If doing freezer bag cooking)


Wednesday, July 15, 2020


It all started this past winter when I read Rich Osthoff's classic Fly-Fishing the Rocky Mountain Backcountry.  The book instilled me with an intense urge to explore the Rocky Mountain Backcountry myself. 

I immediately began planning and training for my trip.  Here is me walking through Long Lake Park in New Brighton with my pack on.

There are no major hills in New Brighton so I traveled to Bloomington to train on the hills of Hiland Hills Ski Area. 

 Rich talks about the effectiveness of his pattern The Fast Sinking Scud in his book so I ordered a few from him and then proceeded to tie a small army of Fast Sinking Scuds and Mega Scuds.
 I figured this should be enough to get me through a few days of fishing.

On my way to Wyoming I witnessed a rare atmospheric phenomenon know as a "Double Rainbow".  I took it as a sign that I was going to have an awesome trip. 

I always sing the Double Song every time I witness a double rainbow. Sometimes I sing it just for the hell of it.

I arrived at Worthen Meadows Campground in the Wind River Mountains of Wyoming on the evening of July 6th, 2020.  I planned on spending the night here so my body would have time to adjust to the altitude.
 I spent the evening figuring out what to bring and what not to bring with me on the trip.
 It's a nice little campground that sits on the banks of the Worthen Meadow Reservoir.
 I had my pack all loaded up and ready for the hike in on Tuesday morning. I weighed myself with and without the pack on and determined that my 110 liter pack weighed a little over 70 pounds.  That's how you separate the Mountain Men from the Mountain Boys.
 Here is a shot of the parking lot at the trial head.  There was about 15 vehicles there.  
 Not too far into my hike up the Stough Lakes Trail I came to Roaring Fork Creek.  I changed into my sandals and walked across the creek.
 Looking back at Roaring Fork Creek.
 Soon I was hiking up into the mountains.
 After about four miles of walking strait up the side of a mountain my pack became unbearably heavy.  I ended up stashing 11.2 pounds of gear that I deemed unnecessary in this boulder field.  I wrapped everything up in a tarp that I brought with that was also unnecessary. 
I continued on with a much lighter pack.
 Soon I reached the pass. I could see Wind River Peak in the distance from this spot.  My plan was to climb to the top of Wind River Peak.  It looked really far away.
 The trail was very scenic.
 I was so happy.
 Cool little bridge on the trail.
 Cool little stream coming out of a lake.
 The Stough Creek Crossing.
 I don't know what that mountain is called.
 Nice trail through the forest.
 Nice sign.
 Another turning point a fork stuck in the road.
 Pretty flowers along the trail.
 Finally made it to Tayo Park.
 I had originally planned on making it all the way to Coon Lake on day one but I broke my net before leaving the trailhead and had to drive back into Lander to get a new net.  It resulted in me getting a little bit later start.  Who knows if I would have made it anyway. By the time I got here I was pretty exhausted.  Here is a view from near my campsite in Tayo Park.
 My campsite.
 Another view from camp.  Tayo Park is basically a large meadow along the banks of the Middle Fork of the Popo Agie River.  Popo Agie is actually pronounced Popozshah if you don't want to sound like an idiot around the locals.

I put a lot of effort into planning my meals for the trip.  This one is called "Thanksgiving on the Trail".
 Tent for night one.
 I tracked my progress for the day on the GAIA GPS app although I didn't start it until I was about a mile in so I actually hiked over 13 miles on day one.  Not bad for a newbie Mountain Man.
 One of my favorite pieces of equipment for the trip was my Trail Designs Caldera Cone stove.  I used a type of solid fuel known as Esbit Tablets for all my water boiling needs. It worked really nice. Here is an Esbit Tablet that has just been lit on fire.
 Such a great little setup.  The pot rests on the titanium cone and then everything folds up and fits inside the pot once the cooking is finished.
 The morning of day two.  I had just crossed the Middle Fork of the Popo Agie River.
 After every trail crossing I would remove my sandals and thoroughly dry my feet with a camp towel before putting my socks and shoes back on.
 I passed the cutoff for the Ice Lakes Trail. 
 Mountain scenery.
 A little creek along the trail.
 The outlet at Poison Lake. It was cool to plant my trekking poles into a snowbank on July 8th.
 Looking up at Wind River Peak.
 Looking back at Poison Lake on my way up to Coon.
 More piles of snow.
 The stream coming down from Coon Lake.
 The trail up to Coon Lake.
 I noticed five points in the distance and decided to name them after my five nieces.  I christen thee points Avynn, Ellia, Eden, Autumn and Zina.
 There was a wicked wind coming off Coon Lake from the west.  The continental divide is right on the other side of Coon Lake.
 Cool mountain scene.
 Cool inlet on Coon Lake.
 I found a spot on the west side of the lake that was a little bit out of the wind.  After eating lunch and setting up my tent I decided to take a nap before heading out for the evening fish.  I was pretty exhausted.
 I just thought this mountain was super cool so I took a lot of photos of it.
 My tent for night two.
 View from campsite on night two.
 I fished for a little while in the late evening.  I hooked a beast of a trout but my double surgeons knot failed and I lost it.
 I was so happy.  It was good to be in The Rocky Mountain Backcountry.
 It must have been cold that night because there was ice formed in my water thing on Thursday morning.
 I skipped breakfast and broke camp.  It wasn't long before I got this nice Cutthroat Trout by blind stripping in a Mega Scud.
 Not as big as the trout I am used to catching in the Driftless but still a nice specimen.
 I started making my way back around Coon Lake looking to see if I could spot fish.
 I look back at the ridge that I camped on the night before.
 There was two nice goldens swimming around in this inlet but they swam away fast when they spotted me.
 I just kept gazing into the depths.  I wasn't seeing any fish.
 So many flowers though.
 When I would get bored I would pick the petals of the flowers and say, "She loves me, she loves me not.".  It brought me back to my childhood.
 A small glacier melting into the Lake.
 I had cast out blindly into the lake at one point and this guy appeared as I was stripping the mega scud in.  I hollered in delight when I saw it was a Golden!
 I was so happy!  My first Golden and a nice one to boot.
 Such beautiful colors.
 Looking along the banks of Coon Lake.
 Coon Lake Shoreline.
 I could see multiple golden trout swimming over these two lightly colored spots on the lake bottom.
 The water was so clear.
 My flies were all so expertly tied.
 Got this one and many others on the Elk Hair Caddis. It was easier to see takes on the Caddis than with the Mega Scud so I used the Caddis for quite a while nailing so many trophy Goldens I lost count.
 I just loved how they glistened in the sun. 
 I had a small solar thing to charge my phone and watch and I also had the Zoleo which is a Satellite Locator and messenger.  I was nice to be able to message my dad and others from the backcountry.
 Finally was hungry enough for breakfast.  A nice little breakfast burrito really hit the spot.
 Leaving Coon Lake. 
 There was a Mule Deer in front of me on the trail.
 There he is!
 The flowers reminded me of my garden at home.
 She loves me, She loves me not.
 Stream coming down from Tayo Lake.
 The trail up to Tayo. 
 There were several small cairns marking the trail up to Tayo Lake.
 Tayo Lake was beautiful.
 A nice little bee joined me as I rested on the banks of Tayo.
 I ran into a group of four dudes from Las Vegas and their dog. Here's two of the dudes and their dog. 
 I had the dudes take a picture of me.  I look really fat in this photo but oh well.
 There were just so many little flowers everywhere I looked.  It would have been a shame not to photograph a lot of them.
 Flower flower in the grass
Growing in the mountain pass
I love you so much.
 Badass Golden from Tayo Lake.
 I had left my camera gear and tripod in the boulder field so I had to manage getting some decent hero shots with my phone. It was tough but this one turned out kind of cool.
 The shores of Tayo Lake.
 Tayo Lake at sundown.
 Looking south from the outlet at Tayo Lake.
 Tent site for night three.
 Some kind of Ramen Salad that I decided to turn into a wrap since I had a surplus of tortillas.
 Evening in the mountains.
 So cozy in my little tent.  The REI Quarter Dome SL1 performed marvelously on the trip.
 Getting up early and boiling water for breakfast and coffee.
 Early morning in the mountains. My plan today was to climb to the top of Wind River Peak and I wanted to get an early start.
 A little pre sunrise light in the mountains.
 Mountains at daybreak.
 Tayo Lake in the morning.
 On a ridge above Tayo Lake I spooked up a baby Elk.
 Looking back at Tayo Lake.

Little Flower in the rocks
Brightly Purple what a shock
When I smell you it's so good
I like spending time in your neighborhood
 There's a little flat area between the Lower and Upper Tayo Lake.
 Flower of the mountains
Beauty flowing like fountains
How do you grow?
So close to white snow
 A stream coming down from Upper Tayo
 Almost like a little waterfall.
 Upper Tayo Lake.
 Upper Tayo from above.  The western shore was still covered in ice.
  Looking up at Wind River Peak.  Little did I know at the time that I was still 3.5 hours from reaching the summit.
 A little farther up the hill looking back at Upper Tayo.
 Another little lake in the distance.  Next time I come here I will see if that lake has fish.
 Just a lot of boulders and elevation between me and the top.  I felt like Rocky Balboa climbing that mountain.
 For the final fifty yards I had to scamper up this snowy slope.  Luckily I was able to use the footholds that others had created in the snow when they climbed it.  I was pretty exhausted at this point and the air was noticeably thinner at 13,000 feet.
 What a view!
 I had never been this high before.
 I was king of the mountain.
 I was so happy.  It was really windy and cold at the top.  Now the challenge would be to get off this mountain without hurting myself.
 I limped back to Upper Tayo.  My feet hurt pretty bad at that point and I figured I should take it easy for a while.  I sat on the banks of Upper Tayo and caught Golden after Golden.  They weren't as big here as the other lakes but they were really easy to catch.  It was like fishing for Sunfish off a dock.
 Little Golden you're so pure
Coming from the water so clear
Can I whisper in your ear
I love you
 This guy loved the Mega Scud.
 The water was so clear I could see dozens of Goldens fighting over my offerings.
 The shoreline of Upper Tayo.
 I'll name you Goldy!
 Walking back down from Upper Tayo after a few hours of resting, catching trout and eating lunch.
 I wondered if the red soil was from iron deposits.
 Back at Tayo.
 When I got back to camp I decided that I would go down to Mountainsheep Lake and see what that was all about.  I had dinner here and cleaned up a bit.  I was too tired to fish but I saw another guy across the lake with a spinning rod.  It didn't look like he was catching anything.
 After dinner at Mountainsheep Lake I had a second wind of energy and decided that I could put some miles on towards the walk out the next day.  I made it about two miles before finding this flat spot for a tent right as it was getting dark.   I slept good that night.
 The next morning I woke up and started trekking.  I was on the other side of the river from the main trail out but I had my phone GPS and it was kind of fun doing some off trail navigation. This little meadow looked like it was used as a camp for the horse people.
 Cool view of the valley.
 Beautiful waterfall.
 Dandelion of the mountains.
 Nice meadow.
 There wasn't as much of a trail on this side of the river that I thought there would be but sometimes I would find a game trail the I could follow for a while.  The animals usually know the best ways through the forest.
 A little pond with no fish in it.
 I came to the Middle Fork of the Popo Agie River and decided to stop and fish for a bit.
 I like fishing rivers.
 The Brookies were hungry.  I caught so many.
Hey little guy.
 I thought if I had ten of these little guys they could make a nice meal.
 The water was clean and clear.
 Panoramic view.
 Another panoramic view.   It was so pretty.
 Little Brookie like a rainbow
Can you help me find my mojo
Coming from the mountain stream
I think I met you in my dream
 Next time I come here I am going to spend some more time at this river.
 This was a total surprise.  I couldn't believe it.  I've always wanted to catch a Grayling.  I caught another one a few minutes later.  I was so happy.
 I got back on the trial and ran into The Four Horsemen from Thermopolis. I told them about how my trip had been and gave them advice on which flies worked best. They pleaded with me to join their posse and become their leader but I politely declined.  I missed my loved ones back in Minnesota.

Can you see the Mule Deer?
 Back at Stough Creek.

Filtering some water before the final push up and over the mountain.
 See how my one trekking pole is fatter that the other. It had broken on my way up to Wind River Peak but I repaired it with some Gorilla Tape that I had brought with wrapped around a piece of plastic.
 Here I am at the pass. A young man from Estes Park Colorado was reading his book up here.  He was nice enough to snap my photo for me.
 Back at the boulder field I was relieved to find my stash of stuff.
 I attached the stash to my pack and continued down the mountain.
 I think I could see Worthen Reservoir in the distance.
 I remembered this bridge from the walk in.  I was pretty close to being done.

All in all it was a pretty good trip.  I am looking forward to future trips into the Rocky Mountain Backcountry.

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