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Titcomb Basin - 2 members in 3 triplogs have rated this an average 5 ( 1 to 5 best )
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Sep 03 2020
ShatteredArm
avatar

 Guides 4
 Routes 82
 Photos 440
 Triplogs 84

37 male
 Joined Nov 30 2015
 Phoenix, AZ
Titcomb BasinCentral, WY
Central, WY
Backpack avatar Sep 03 2020
ShatteredArm
Backpack30.00 Miles 5,000 AEG
Backpack30.00 Miles1 Day   4 Hrs      
5,000 ft AEG   15 Hrs    Break
 no routes
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
I've been wanting to check out the Winds for awhile, and decided to start with the most popular route. The plan was to hike to Titcomb Basin, camp there, and head back. I knew it was a popular route, but I didn't expect to see about 200 cars in the parking lot...

Headed out anyways, a little worried about campsite availability. It's just a walk through the woods until Photographer's Point, which is an amazing view. About a mile after that, the lakes start showing up...

Seneca Lake was much bigger than I expected; things just look so small on the map. Took my pack off for the first time here.

At the CDT/Indian Pass junction, someone headed the other way informed me that the camping situation was not great at Titcomb Lakes (there was an actual USFS ranger enforcing the 200 foot rule), so I decided to find a camp near Island Lake and day hike to the basin. On the south side of the lake, there's an unofficial trail heading steeply up into a basin between Mt Lester and Elephant Head, and here I found an outstanding campsite with trees, easy water access, and an excellent view.

After setting up my tent, I continued up the trail to Titcomb Lakes. There's actually very little elevation gain between Island Lake and Titcomb Lakes (my campsite was actually close to the same elevation as the lower lake). Titcomb Lakes was amazing, but I can see why the camping might be less than ideal.

Got back to camp, and decided to continue up the side trail a bit. After another 150 feet or so of steep climbing, it started to level out, and there I found one of the most amazing campsites I've seen in my life. Best view I found the whole trip, a line of trees for shelter, and there was room for a half dozen or so tents. Amazingly, I had the whole drainage to myself; I guess that steep entry is a deterrent.

Headed back down, and grabbed dinner stuff and my chair, and hiked down to the beach to eat there. While making dinner, the ranger from earlier walked by. She wanted to make sure I was aware of the 200 foot rule, in case I missed all 50 of the signs along the way. I don't blame her for asking, because I did see several hikers who apparently did miss them.

Now we're getting on towards sunset. I scrambled around the camp area a bit to find some sunset views, then just settled into a spot where I could see the lake. After probably too much whiskey, I decided it would be a good idea to watch the moon rise, and headed up the trail to the better campsite, and just chilled there until after 9:30 or so.

In the morning, I was on the trail by 9:15, and was still in awe at stuff I had already seen on the way in. I took a little break at Photographer's Point, and after that, I was ready to be done. A couple miles from the parking lot, I started seeing loads of hikers. Seemed like every 30 seconds I passed someone, and the parking lot was overflowing, national park style, with people parking all along the road outside the trailhead. Glad I didn't do this over the weekend...
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Jul 10 2020
friendofThundergod
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 Guides 24
 Routes 300
 Photos 8,487
 Triplogs 799

38 male
 Joined Jan 21 2013
 AZ
Island Lake, WY 
Island Lake, WY
 
Backpack avatar Jul 10 2020
friendofThundergod
Backpack26.22 Miles
Backpack26.22 Miles2 Days         
 no routes
1st trip
Linked linked
Partners none no partners
After our Haystack climb, Katie and I packed up camp and headed to the Pole Creek Trailhead for a backpack into Island Lake. I would have loved to get Katie into Titcomb, but we were a little beat and not feeling the extra miles.

We camped at Seneca Lake and then day hiked to Island Lake. Our campsite on Seneca was amazing, but the mosquitoes were relentless. We had to retreat to our tent for most of our stay there. In fact, we even ate dinner in the tent. Yes we chose dinner in the tent in bear country over sitting outside with the mosquitoes. The hike to Island Lake was as amazing as I had remembered. We stopped and took an extended break on some slab over looking Island Lake. The lake blew me away again and Katie was equally as impressed.

On our hike out we made the worthy detour to the Sweeny Lakes and Miller Lake. We then opted for a longer return via the Sweeny Lakes Trail and finished at the Elkpark Information center.

A visually stunning backpack as was expected, but the bugs were bad. If I could quantify it, I would say twice as bad if not more than last year. The trailhead was not as packed as I thought it would be, but its still a little early in the year for some of the backcountry destinations in this area. This area simply has some of the most stunning views I have ever seen. The beauty and settings of some of these lakes can elicit emotional responses when you view them. I have tremendous feelings of calmness and contentedness out here. I have no problem admitting it almost feels spiritual to me. No range in the contiguous U.S. compares to this place.
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Jul 07 2019
friendofThundergod
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 Guides 24
 Routes 300
 Photos 8,487
 Triplogs 799

38 male
 Joined Jan 21 2013
 AZ
Titcomb BasinCentral, WY
Central, WY
Backpack avatar Jul 07 2019
friendofThundergod
Backpack31.99 Miles 4,925 AEG
Backpack31.99 Miles2 Days         
4,925 ft AEG
 
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
The first week of July is generally a little early in the season to backpack into Titcomb Basin, but Blanco and I gave it a go anyways. I had a little beta on the snow levels in the area and after backpacking to the Cirque of Towers a few days early, I figured we should still be able to reach the fabled basin. We did reach the basin, but the going was a little slow at times. The upside of the early season visit was no crowds and a lot of solitude. The downside was frozen lakes, little green and almost no flowers. I planned for a three day backpack, bu we were able to get into the basin and back to the trailhead with an ambitious overnight trip.

Day One:

We backpacked into Island Lake on the first day. The hike in was only average until we reached Seneca Lake. After that, the trail offered some of the finest alpine scenery I have hiked through. Seneca and Upper Seneca Lake are both spectacular backcountry lakes and the hike down to Island Lake offered perhaps one of the most scenic descents to a lake I have ever hiked. Somehow we got Island Lake entirely to ourselves and I had one of my best backcountry dinners to date perched on the slabs high above the lakes southeast shoreline. It got a little windy at times, but the weather and conditions were otherwise perfect throughout the evening and into the morning.

Day Two:

On day Blanco and I day hiked up to Titcomb Basin and Indian Basin. The Titcomb Basin Trail was covered in deep snow pretty much the entire way just past Island Lake. Where it was not snow it was running water, slush or mud. We generally cruised along a hard crusted still frozen snow in the morning, but had to be more creative heading back to avoid post holing and getting overly bogged down. Realizing you were on top of a tarn or hearing running water underneath the snow was a little unnerving at times and I feared us breaking through a few of the snow bridges that were required to pass over in order to reach the basin and Titcomb Lakes area. The lakes were still mostly frozen over and I am sure the scenic quality of the area was tapered by the snow, but I still found the area very scenic. We made a detour to Indian Basin on the way back, however, heavy snow turned us back before reaching the actual basin. The original plan was to break camp at Island Lake and relocate to Seneca for a short hike out the next day. However, upon arriving at Seneca the skies opened up. I was not looking forward to setting up a tent in the rain and then putting a wet dog in there next to me, so I decided I would just push on to Hobbs Lake and hope for a little break in the weather to get dry and set up camp. The break never came and the weather got much worse at times. After passing on setting up camp in a steady drizzle at Hobbs Lake and feeling unmotivated to spend a night riding out a storm and being wet, I decided we would just hike out to the trailhead from there and call it a backpack. It ended up being a 20 mile day to get out, but we both managed fine. I was grateful for our choice to hike out after a pretty nasty system pounded the higher elevations for most of the night, culminating with a nice dusting of snow by the next morning.

Final Notes

Even with the early season conditions, this was hands down some of the finest alpine scenery that I have hiked through. Island Lake may be the most scenic lake that I have seen. I am eager to get back to this area for some more ambitious backpacks next year and hopefully some climbing.
wildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observation
Wildflowers Observation Isolated
A little early in season
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WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.

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