The Wind River Range

The Wind River Range has been on my bucket list for a long time. While I was living in California this item ended up several times on the bottom of the stack, but I never forgot. From Kremmling we drove to Lander, WY on the south-east side of the Wind River Range. I choose Lander in order to later move north-east to the Bighorn Mountains without having to circumnavigate the Wind River Range.

Entering Wyoming from northern Colorado is a lesson in sparsely populated landscapes. Wyoming is the 10th largest state in the union with an area approximately 60% the size of California. Per the last census, the state’s population is 580k. When I added up the population of the 10 largest cities in Wyoming the total city population can be estimated as approximately 280k. That means, only 300k people share the rest of the wide open spaces. Wyoming has the lowest population density in the lower 48 states.

Lander is a community of 7600 people located at an altitude of 5400ft/1650m. Raising livestock and farming grass seem to be mayor sources of income around town. We stayed for one week at a small RV Park on the north-side of town with three other campers. The place could be best described as the backyard of a farm. For $15/night it offered full hock-up services (water, electric & sewer). However, there was nothing else, no internet, no laundry, no washroom, not even a mailbox. The place was managed by an old couple, Joe and Marylou, that lived in a small cabin they had built themselves some years ago. I really enjoyed sitting with these folks in the evening on their porch and listen to their stories. These people were a reflection of the land around them.

While in Lander, the front of the motorhome was pointing west. One late evening, I observed the sky through the front window as a bank of clouds slowly moved eastward and a bright red strip developed way after sunset. This was a western sky, a big sky, a sky that is only visible in Wyoming and Montana.

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Gannett Peak in the Wind River Range is, at 13804ft/4207m, the highest point in Wyoming. However, there are another 40+ mountains in the Wind River Range that are over 13000ft/3962m. Glaciers have sculpted the mountains and valleys of the range and the landscape looks much like Yosemite Valley with its granite surfaces and carved smooth shapes. Access to the Wind River Range from the east-side is limited to a few entry points. I knew the west-side of the mountains would have been the better choice to stay, but I did not want to travel the extra miles. There will be another visit to the Wind River Range in the future, at that time we will stay on the west-side for sure. However, I really enjoyed visiting Lander, it was a great, beautiful and calm experience.

I hiked with the dogs up the Popo Agie Falls Trail and also visited the pools of the Popo Agie River. We explored the highway 131 corridor and stopped at a gazillion lakes, creeks and trailheads. Last but not least, we hiked the Lake Louise Trail. The trail is rated “hard” by Alltrails.com even though the elevation gain is only about 1000ft/330m. The trail is very rocky and roller-coast’s its way to the lake. While one gains only 1000ft/330m, one probably climbs 2000ft/660m on this trail.

We are all in a state of disbelieve. We all miss Gosia in our own ways and we all are reacting differently. Stay tuned.

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