Chickens to Jackass Pass - Day 2

Troop 24 Kickass Trekkers
2001 Bridger Wilderness - Wyoming Hike

by Cascade Bill Mooseker

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Day 2: Vee Lake to Lonesome Lake

Meadow East of Diamond Lake



The next morning was bright and sunny. After breakfast, we redistributed the gear and headed out. The trail winds around the north side of Vee Lake and alternates between sun dappled forests and wide meadows. It wasn’t long before we passed Diamond Lake (9500’- 1.3 mi.).

After crossing a huge meadow, the trail joins the main Big Sandy trail (9520’ – 1.7mi.). This is a very heavily traveled route and we met many hikers going out. Big Sandy Lake (El. 9690’-3.3mi.) unexpectedly comes into view after climbing to a grassy saddle.

We took a long break at the near end of the lake, letting the chickens roam about on their own. We get a few strange looks from passing hikers after they sight the chickens.






Big Sandy Lake
Lawn Chairs in Full Chicken Mode




The trail winds around the northern shore of the lake. The rest of the guys were waiting for me as I arrived at the trail junction (9700’ – 4mi.) at the end of the lake. We took the left fork for "Jackass Pass". The trail climbs quickly after the junction and the blue waters of Big Sandy Lake are soon hidden from view.

After climbing about 300 feet the trail levels off with views to the south of Temple Peak. Soon a high point (10150’) is reached and a short descent leads to the crossing of North Creek (10080’-4.0mi.). We pass a pair of hikers taking a break at the creek. Climbing again, the trail winds in and around boulders.






Jason Hones His Climbing Skills






We take a break (10250’-4.9mil) across the valley from an impressive monolith named "the Tooth". During the break Shelby and Jason practice their rock climbing skills on a large boulder at the side of the trail.

A short ways from our break, we see North Lake below us through the trees. A little ways further, the trail becomes more of a scramble than a trail, and one sees why the trail is not recommended for stock.

Across the way we see a family with a couple of llamas scouting a way through. As we pass them I ask one of their young girls how long they had been out. She said 21 days! I guess llamas are the way to go, although I didn’t see that there was a shower and hot water tank strapped to their backs.

We dropped down to North Lake and circled around its upper end (10120’-5.2mi.). It was nice to go through a short stretch of grass and dirt rather than the rocks. On the far side of the lake the trail again climbs again and after a few switchbacks it crosses a ridge and opens out again in the North Creek drainage. After a fairly level stretch of trail (less steep), we take another break(10320’-5.4mi.) just before the trail begins to climb again.





Peter & "The Tooth"




We have a very good view of "The Tooth" from our vantage point. We ponder taking the climber’s route up past Arrowhead Lake, but the roughness of the terrain leads to a decision to climb the couple of hundred extra feet by sticking to the trail.

The trail climbs steeply and breaks out into tundra giving good views down the valley and across the way to the Temple and Schiestler Peaks. As we reach the high point (10790’-5.8mi.)

we can see the peaks of the Cirque of the Towers behind a low ridge before the pass. We can also see the trail dropping down and the steep final climb to the pass. Dropping down we pass a lone hiker resting at the low point (10640’), Danny and I talk with him a while and then it’s huff and puff up to the top.








Kickass Trekkers at Jackass Pass




Jackass Pass is on the Continental Divide, and for the next few days we will be on the eastern side. It takes a leap of the imagination to realize that the water below will end up in the Gulf of Mexico. It’s a marvelous view from the pass (10790’-6.2mi.), and the peaks of the Cirque of the Towers seem almost close enough to touch.

Below us, Lonesome Lake is a jewel set in a ring of granite spires. We take a long lunch break at the pass, letting the chickens have free rein. A few passing hikers and climbers give startled looks at the sight. One couple with a dog will play leapfrog with us for the remainder of the trip. Austin, Roger, Danny, and Peter get out the cards. Jason, as usual, heads for the top of the nearest high point. Fred and I rest our weary legs. Across the valley we can see the route up to Texas Pass, our proposed route for the following day. It looks pretty steep.




Fred Heads Down to Lonesome Lake


On the climb down to Lonesome Lake it is hard to take in all the scenery around us, and one realizes that this is what makes life worth living. Down at the lake (10166’-6.9mi.), we see several parties sunbathing and swimming. I talk to one guy who said that a horse packer had brought his party up the Popo Aige. Camping is not allowed within ¼ mile of Lonesome Lake, so I told the guys that I would scout out a campsite down the valley while they took a break at the lake. I talked a little while with a guy whose party had had their gear horsepacked in before setting out down the canyon in search of a camping spot.

When I was gone, Fred told the guys that the chickens had to go. It would be just too hard to carry them up over the pass. Austin, Roger, and Danny were tired of carrying the chickens and said "O.K., Fred, you can do it."

Shelby had gotten attached to his bird and he didn’t want to do it. Fred said that he hadn’t brought the chickens, so it wasn’t his problem. Austin and Roger volunteered to do the job. Wringing the neck of a pet is not pleasant, even if it is only a chicken. Austin and Roger put the first two down. After a few seconds, Roger’s bird jumped up and careened over a cliff. Austin had to finish the job, but in the process the bird’s head popped off with blood spurting everywhere.



Cirque of the Towers From our Camp Site





Roger unvolunteered and Austin was left with the final two. I guess Roger just wasn’t cut out to be a geek. I had told the guys that there was no way I was going to allow them to pluck one chicken let alone four. I’ve plucked chickens before and I know how messy a job it is. So Fred had the guys dig a hole and bury them and cover them with rocks

I found a camp (10150’-7.2mi) in a grove of evergreens just off the trail down the valley. We had a good view of the Cirque of the Towers and the canyon walls of the Popo Aige. It would have been nice to camp at Lonesome Lake, but overuse had led to the ¼ no camping zone. However, our camp was only second rate in comparison to those at the lake, but first rate when compared to anything else.

Looking at the map, I looked at the contours on the other side of Texas Pass and decided that we would abandon those plans and go over the Lizard Head trail instead. It would make a long hike for the next day but one always has to be ready to change plans according to circumstances.









Chickens to Jackass Pass: Photo Album


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Chickens to Jackass Pass: Day 1
Chickens to Jackass Pass: Day 3
Chickens to Jackass Pass - All Days