After doing the Wind River High Route in early August, I wanted to do another route, but one that was less demanding. Fresh Load and Blue Foam had never been there and wanted to do it. Plus, I still wanted to do the Jackass Pass and Texas pass section of the Wind River High Route.
This route is a loop of about 26 miles. It starts and ends at Big Sandy trailhead. We hiked into Big Sandy Lake, over Jackass Pass, and then out the East Fork Valley.
We started this trip with a lot of smoke. As we were driving from Jackson Hole to Pinedale, we could barely see the peaks in the Winds. Wild fire smoke has become a part of summer in the West. It comes and goes and you never know how bad it will be. In late August, 2017, I cut short a trip to climb Wind River Peak. I was supposed to do a 5 day loop, but the smoke was so bad I could barely see the peaks.
We had quite a bit of smoke on the first day hiking into Big Sandy Lake. But it cleared in the late afternoon and was a clear bluebird day for climbing Jackass Pass and into the cirque.
This is an excellent route, about 5 miles a day. You get a nice warmup hike into Big Sandy Lake. We camped there on day one. The climb over Jackass Pass is spectacular and difficult. Even though there is a trail over the Pass, the route is quite complex and strenuous.
We spent our second night at Lonesome Lake. It’s one of the more spectacular locations in the Winds, and a major climbing area, and for that reason, it’s pretty crowded. But we were able to find a lovely secluded campsite a bit down the drainage of the Popo Agie Creek.
On day 3, we climbed over Texas Pass. Even though there is no established trail over Texas Pass, we found a nice trail up though the trees to timberline. Texas Pass gets you up into the alpine, and once you drop into upper Washakie Creek, the route feels much more remote.
We camped in the meadows below Shadow lake and were totally alone. We woke to snow in the morning. Such a difference to my Wind River High Route two weeks earlier: we were too hot on that trip. But the snow stopped about 7:30am, so we could make breakfast and break camp. After that, it was wet shoes for the rest of the day.
On day 4, we hiked out the East Fork Valley to Boulter Lake. This is a very secluded trail. I think most people go in and out on the Fremont trail or the Big Sandy trail.