Trip Report: Kyle on the Wind River High Route
Where did you go?
I just got back from thru hiking the Wind River High Route! This particular high route through the Winds was outlined by Andrew Skurka, and involved 10 days and 100 miles navigating off trail along the Continental Divide through the high country of Wyoming.
I’ve done a fair bit of thru hiking on established trails like the PCT (Pacific Crest Trail) and PNT (Pacific Northwest Trail), and I was looking to take the next step, to get off the trail entirely in fact, and have the freedom to choose my own line through the wilderness. The Winds in particular have captured my attention for the past few years due to their towering granite walls and active glacial ecosystem. It seemed the perfect combination of factors to make the (long, long) drive out to Wyoming from Portland.
Miles Traveled: 100ish
Length of trip: 10 days
Weather: Mostly pleasant, with a few scattered electrical storms and some ill-timed hail
This was my most extensive off-trail adventure, and it was incredibly empowering and grand. Navigating, reading lines, and guiding ourselves through some sketchy scrambles and passes was an absolute blast. Clearing the final crux at Douglas Peak Pass was a beautiful moment, simply because it was the moment I realized we could actually complete this route–that the worst was behind us.
My body still hurts typing this. This route will push you physically, mentally, and emotionally. Usually I can pump out 25 mile days on a thru hike, but on the high route, a 10 mile day was truly a push. I would stagger into camp each night completely ruined. The final 25 miles or so of the route were all atop the Divide, exposed, and a complete talus garbage heap. By the end, we were ready to leave the high country behind to the Bighorn Sheep.
My Cnoc carbon fiber trekking poles saved my butt more than once. Skiing down scree slopes and crossing glaciers put them to the test, and they held their own.
Who would you recommend this trip to?
The Wind River High Route is truly magnificent. But don’t let the pretty Youtube videos and Instagram posts fool you. It’s brutal. It’s intense. And it gets very, very real. I’d recommend this route highly, but genuinely only for experienced thru hikers with the basics of rock climbing and ample experience with backcountry orienteering under their belt. If that sounds like you, this adventure is one hell of a trip. Send it!
You can check out a full report of my trip on Youtube here.
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