Life is better above 10,000 feet - the air is cleaner, the views are breathtaking, and the hiking is harder.

This would be the second annual summer backpacking trip with my old college crew, and we chose the Wind River Range in Wyoming for its remoteness and spectacular scenery. While our adventure had to wait until early fall, we made the best of a perfect weather window as autumn colors were turning in the high alpine.

We left Boise on Wednesday evening, and after a dark, dull drive through southern Idaho and western Wyoming, we made it to the Elkhart Trailhead at 9,300 feet. We slept in Thursday morning, as a 6,000+ foot gain from the drive called for plenty of rest, especially as we would be hiking another 1,000’ feet up the following day.

Click images to view larger.

Passing Barbara Lake on the way to Seneca Lake.
Passing Barbara Lake on the way to Seneca Lake.
 
Overlooking a meadow we would hike through.
Overlooking a meadow we would hike through.
 
Navigating to Photographer's Point along the way to Seneca Lake.
Navigating to Photographer's Point along the way to Seneca Lake.
 
Fall backpacking in Wyoming's Wind River Range. (Robby Milo | http://rmilo.com)
Fall backpacking in Wyoming's Wind River Range. (Robby Milo | http://rmilo.com)
 
Evening light on the trail near Seneca Lake in the Wind River Range.
Evening light on the trail near Seneca Lake in the Wind River Range.
 

With beautiful evening light filtering through the small, high-elevation trees above 10,000,’ we made it to Seneca Lake just in time for the last rays of sunlight to illuminate Fremont Peak.

At 13,745’ Fremont Peak is the third highest peak in Wyoming after Gannet Peak and the Grand Teton.

In late September one can expect any range of weather at this elevation. We lucked out, and our third day afforded us stunning sunlight with beautiful clouds rolling across the sky.

Day Two’s itinerary included hiking to “The Most Beautiful Place in the Rocky Mountains,” otherwise known as the Titcomb Basin. This hike would encompass a total of 12.5 miles from Seneca Lake roundtrip and pass the many other lakes on the way, including the famous Island Lake.

After a large breakfast, we filled our hydration bladders, packed our lunch of summer sausage, cheese, and gouda, and were on our way.

A sunny morning over Seneca Lake.
A sunny morning over Seneca Lake.
 
We traversed a steep, rocky ledge to take on water.
We traversed a steep, rocky ledge to take on water.
 
Clouds over Fremont Peak in the Wind River Range.
Clouds over Fremont Peak in the Wind River Range.
 

On the Way to Titcomb

On our second day, we made a day hike to the Titcomb Basin while keeping our base camp at Seneca due to time constraints.

Climbing up one of the many ridges to Island Lake.
Climbing up one of the many ridges to Island Lake.
 
Alpine islands.
Alpine islands.
 
Jackson Peak (right) and Fremont Peak (middle) on a beautiful fall day.
Jackson Peak (right) and Fremont Peak (middle) on a beautiful fall day.
 
Island Lake.
Island Lake.
 

The Titcomb Basin - our main goal of the trip - was absolutely stunning and unlike anywhere I’ve ever hiked. Surrounded by incredible peaks, glaciers, and lakes, this was an explorer’s paradise that I could have spent an entire summer photographing. Alas, a day hike would have to suffice.

We finally made it to the Titcomb Basin, and it definitely lived up to the "most beautiful place in the Rockies."
We finally made it to the Titcomb Basin, and it definitely lived up to the "most beautiful place in the Rockies."
 
More of Titcomb.
More of Titcomb.
 
The Most Beautiful Place in the Rocky Mountains.
The Most Beautiful Place in the Rocky Mountains.
 
Hiking out of the Titcomb Basin.
Hiking out of the Titcomb Basin.
 
Island Lake on a beautiful fall afternoon.
Island Lake on a beautiful fall afternoon.
 
Fall colors were in full swing in Wyoming's Wind River Range.
Fall colors were in full swing in Wyoming's Wind River Range.
 
We passed several smaller lakes on the way back to Seneca.
We passed several smaller lakes on the way back to Seneca.
 
Seneca Lake on a beautiful fall afternoon.
Seneca Lake on a beautiful fall afternoon.
 

Our final night arrived quickly, and was spent listening to howling winds whip across Seneca Lake. Our luck on the weather window had run out, and we ended our trip hiking through a downpour which turned the trail into a creek of horse poop.

Alpenglow on Fremont Peak (13,745′) from Seneca Lake.
Alpenglow on Fremont Peak (13,745′) from Seneca Lake.
 
Group photo.
Group photo.
 

Submit a comment

Saturday, Oct 13, 2018 at 12:55
Janet

Absolutely Stunning and SO Beautiful — I’ve been wanting to hike the Wind River for a few years now, but I’ll need to go with people who knows what they’re doing (I never back-packed). How many nights did this hike take? Thank you.

Friday, Aug 12, 2016 at 18:37
G

Rob, really well done. Great pics and info. Thank you for taking the time to share your hike.

Your email will not be published.