I journeyed back to our backpacking trip in Banff the year prior, where the trail was most decisive in its choice to start with some solid elevation gain. No meandering casualness about it. A precursor to the trail and days to come.
Regardless of the start, Banff was epic and I had no doubt our adventure Titcomb Basin in the Wind River Range would be as well.
Each of the 8 sites housed a fire ring, picnic table, and bear locker. The pits toilets were well-maintained, and there was a water spigot at the Elkhart Park - Pole Creek Trailhead (right next to the campground). Unfortunately for us, the spigot was not working at the time of our adventure, but in theory, it would be a convenient feature.
Throughout the evening and into the night, more adventure seekers wandered in. I was glad we’d nabbed a spot early; the campground was full when we rose Monday morning.
On the way up it seemed as though we saw just as many horse prints (and poo!) as we saw human tracks. From the trailhead to Hobbs it seemed like we saw more people than we did during our entire trip in Banff. A fair bit of that traffic included day hikers heading to Photographers Point, 4.5 miles up the Pole Creek Trail. We stopped here for lunch because, as the name implies, it is a great spot to take in the view.
While the foot traffic died down after that point, we did stop to chat with one pair trekking homeward who recommended we stop at Eklund Lake for our final night. This would put us just 5 miles from the car, which would make for an easy final day. We tucked that tidbit away for later in the week.
Upon reaching Hobbs around 3 pm and found a grand set of campsites, four of them clustered together—perfect for our crew. The made for an easy decision to stay the night here versus continuing to Seneca Lake or Little Seneca Lake. We were halfway to Titcomb Basin. Shortly after we set up camp, the clouds started sputtering raindrops, a perfectly timed cue to enjoy a nap before dinner. Everyone dispersed and zipped into their tents just as the clouds really let loose.
One should generally assume there will be an afternoon storm every day around 3 pm, give or take a bit, depending on the mood of the skies. We survived with just minor leakage in one tent and a renewed respect for the epic power this landscape held.
Dinner was devoured under blue skies.
Trekking up to Seneca Lake and then on to Island Lake brought more elevation than the prior day. This is what we’d been expecting; I was happy to labor up. The views were outstanding, especially following the trail along a granite cliff overlooking Seneca Lake.
However, my favorite portion of the trail was between Little Seneca Lake and Island Lake. It was nice to head out of the woods and see more of the wide-open views. Plus: Wildflowers!
And then we crested our final ridge until our hike into Titcomb Basin and caught our first glimpse of Island Lake—what a stunner!
We set up just in time for the afternoon rain (much less tumultuous than the prior day) then spend the rest of the day exploring the valley and Island Lake.
Day three held our only day hike. The actual hike into Titcomb Basin. It felt luxurious to be able to have a base camp and leave the tents in the same spot for more than one night. We enjoyed a lazy morning and set out for Titcomb Basin around 10 am, packing lunch and rain jackets, just in case. The morning had been chilly, but as the sun came out and the hike warmed us up, soon it was t-shirts and tank tops.
That was until we ran into several gentlemen at the base of the last lake. They were coming down from the peaks and had all sorts of crazy stories about the weather and conditions. Unfortunately, the start of the afternoon rains cut our socializing short. So, we pulled out the rain gear and hiked our way back.
The rains cleared by the time we returned to Island Lake so we spent the remainder of the day exploring the waterfall that emptied into the lake. This is what made the trip to Titcomb Basin 100% worth everything for me. Even considering the thunder, lightning, sleet, and snow that filled our evening later.
In the morning we shook off the snow, packed up with frozen fingers and feet, and hustled up out of the valley. As we stopped for lunch, tired and damp, we decided to power through the remainder of the miles (12.1 total) to Elkhart Park Trailhead so we could get hotels and hot showers that evening. We also stopped at Wind River Brewing in Pinedale WY for a celebratory burger and beer, which I’d highly recommend.