Joseph Hallenbeck


March 23, 2015

Trails: Wolf Creek [Winter]

Filed under: Outdoors — Tags: , , , , — Joseph @ 10:00 am

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Details

  • Location: Alpine, WY
  • Length: 1 mi (Winter)
  • Water Access: Yes (Winter)
  • Usage: Light (Winter)
  • Highlights: Limestone escarpments, pine forest cover
  • Safety Concerns: Winter avalanches, embankments too steep for safe winter hiking. River crossings.

Trail Map for Wolf Creek

In February, we found much of the nearby trails around Jackson, WY either packed or simply closed off from excursions. This has become a recurring theme in Jackson and one that is getting rather tiresome. We turned to looking westward and in turn into the Snake River Range between Hoback and Alpine, WY.

The canyon is rather steep walled, but a number of drainages into the canyon have trailheads — Red Creek, Wolf Creek, and East Table Creek. The turn offs in the winter are plowed allowing for year-round access and most importantly they are outside of the winter range closures.

Directions

In our first venture we tried the Wolf Creek Trail which is located some 16 miles west of Hoback and before the Wolf Creek campground.

February Conditions

Steep embankments on Wolf Creek

We were unable to complete the trail in February. We got roughly one mile up the drainage with snow shoes before turning back. This was, in large part, due to the burn on the west side of the drainage. This leaves the landscape open for avalanches, of which there were many. A hiker with a more aggressive “mountaineering” shoe may make the trip, but our wide flat-lands snow shoes were insufficient.

The avalanches left large piles of breakdown crossing the trail. This required a great deal of scrambling over five-foot wide bricks of snow not unlike scrambling over cave breakdown. In other areas the snow bank was simply a steep, smooth layer of ice that slide down the hill into the river. In these instances it was difficult to get a sound perch as our snow shoes’s claws were not enough to keep us from sliding down hill.

The draw is rather pretty, featuring limestone escapements, pine forest, and a ready supply of water via Wolf Creek. The maps show that it is possible to ascend Wolf or Red mountain via this route. We shall try it again come spring or summer once the snow recedes enough to walk upon a flat trail.


March 16, 2015

Trails: Sweeney Ridge [Winter]

Filed under: Outdoors — Tags: , , , — Joseph @ 10:00 am

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Details

  • Location: Pinedale, WY
  • Length: 6 mi
  • Water Access: None
  • Usage: Moderate
  • Highlights: Spectacular view of the wind river range, Half Moon Lake and Pinedale
  • Safety Concerns: Steep embankments in areas

Sweeney Ridge Map

After venturing to Half Moon lake several times throughout February we decided to check out the cross country ski trails on top of the nearby ridge. We found these trails to be in much heavier use during the day time than aforementioned Half Moon, but for what they gave up in solitude we gained in views. Sweeney Road, an ungroomed cross country tail, is perhaps the most isolating and best for snow shoeing undisturbed with dogs.

Directions

View from Sweeney Ridge in February

Like Half Moon, Sweeney Road is accessed via the Fremont Lake road leaving Pinedale, WY. Proceed some ten miles up the road and passed the turn-off for Half Moon. The road is plowed up the resort and there are many pull offs for various groomed cross country skiing trails. The first pull off, however, is for Sweeney Road which is an ungroomed trail following a Forest Service road.

February Conditions

View from Sweeney Ridge in February

The groomed cross country ski trails appear to be under heavy use, however being ungroomed, Sweeney Road sees much more moderate usage. Furthermore, we found that many snow shoers appear to take the route for only some time before diverging upon their own paths. In our case we took a branch that looped out much closer to the ridge edge giving us a wonderful view of Half Moon lake, the wind river range, and the plains that spread out far below us to Pinedale.

If kept to the main trail the conditions are moderate and fairly easy going upon snow shoes. The diverging routes however can in places be rather steep and I imagine unsound if the snow top is icy and hardened. For ourselves the snow was ideal having a good layer of snow that we easily sunk into giving us a good grip upon the hillside.


March 9, 2015

Trails: Half Moon Lake [Winter]

Filed under: Outdoors — Tags: , , , — Joseph @ 10:00 am

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Details

  • Location: Pinedale, WY
  • Length: 3 mi (Winter)
  • Water Access: None (Winter)
  • Usage: Light (Winter)
  • Highlights: View of Half Moon Lake, Windriver Range
  • Safety Concerns: Care should be taken with ice depth. I have found no official ice-depth reports

Half Moon Trail Map

The Wind River Range in Pinedale, WY has a number of trails open for snow shoes or cross country skis year round. In our ventures south of Jackson, we have found the range rather open although range closures do exist in areas and many a Forest Service road turns into snowmobile track.

The paved road to Fremont lake, however, remains plowed and open year round giving easy access for a wintertime hiker.

Directions

Rowdy and Vicky are ready for the trail

Half Moon Lake lies south of Fremont Lake. Both can be accessed via Fremont Lake Road, paved route leaving Pinedale and heading north-east. This route is plowed year-round. Proceed some seven miles along the route until it diverges. A sign for the Half Moon resort is posted upon this fork. Turn right upon it and proceed down a gravel road. The fork is plowed, although poorly and I suspect only by chance of the private residences on the western lake shore. Signage indicts these private drives and are rather aggressive reading “Trespassers will be shot.”

Past the private drives is the campground, boat docks, and eventually parking for the resort. The latter being the furthest one can get in the winter to the trailhead itself.

February Conditions

Half Moon Lake from the shoreline

We returned to Half Moon lake several times in February. The lake is frozen, and although there are snowmobile tracks across it, the many weeks of above freezing weather gave us ill ease at walking out far from shore. Likewise, the warm weather left sections of the trail devoid of snow requiring us to remove snow shoes and embark upon foot only to find the snow returning in depths of four to five feet a hundred yards further.

The view is rather beautiful. The frozen lake a smooth expanse rising into a pine covered hill on the far side. The eastern shore and trail are devoid of trees giving it a highlands desert feel. The rocky soil covered in sage of
various types and much sign of elk and deer.




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