The Perfect Plan B: My Trip into the Winds
Leading up to the Summer 2016 climbing season, fellow photographer Stephen Matera invited me to join his team, including Doug Hagen and Sandy Weil, to tackle the Ptarmigan Traverse, the famous week-long alpine traverse along the Cascade crest. Thorough planning and research was done in the weeks leading up to the trip. But when the trip was just days away, the mountain weather forecast predicted very likely storms and severe weather for the Cascades and the Pacific Northwest as a whole. Our hopes of tackling the famous traverse dwindled, and we started to brainstorm a Plan B.
After considering nearly every mountain range in the West as an alternative trip, we decided on Wyoming's remote Wind River mountain range. It would be my first trip into the Winds, as they're colloquially known.
Day 1 arrived, and we loaded up and hit the road, driving 15 straight hours eastward from Seattle to Pinedale, Wyoming. Finally reating the trailhead, we started the long 14-mile hike to Titcomb Basin, which would serve as our home base for the next several days.
After about 10 miles of hiking across rugged terrain, the landscape opened up to the beautiful and aptly-named Island Lake, behind which rest the heart of Titcomb Basin. We all agreed that Island Lake would be our home for the first night.
After the first night near Island Lake's shore, we packed up camp and continued our hike northbound to Titcomb Basin. After several more miles, we finally reached our destination -- Titcomb Basin, with its pristine lakes, streams, rock, and greenery, was more beautiful than I could imagine. We set up camp and explored the surrounding area.
On our second full day in the basin, the weather turned. It appeared that our attempt to evade the sour weather in the Pacific Northwest was not a complete success, as the same massive weather system had made its way further east to Wyoming's ranges. Despite the brooding skies and strong winds, the basin's beauty remained.
Many tent-bound hours later, the severe weather did eventually lift, and our patience was rewarded with an unbelievable sunset over the basin.
Overall, I don't believe we could have picked a better "Plan B" than the Winds, after the weather made us forego the Ptarmigan Traverse and pushed us out of the Northwest. Although this was my first trip into this rugged mountain range, it most certainly won't be my last.