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Repeating myself: Section-hike (don’t thru-hike) the Wind River High Route

From Sentry Peak Pass, looking across the upper Middle Fork valley towards the next pass on the Wind River High Route, Photo Pass.

From Sentry Peak Pass, looking across the upper Middle Fork valley towards the next pass on the Wind River High Route, Photo Pass.

The Wind River High Route is world-class and represents a “best of” backcountry experience in one of the wildest mountain ranges in the country. A similar statement could be made about the Sierra High Route, Kings Canyon High Basin Route, and Glacier Divide Route.

A thru-hike of any one of these routes is likely to be a lifetime memory.

But for nearly everyone, I strongly advise against an end-to-end itinerary. Instead, I recommend section-hiking it. A shorter segment will be no less meaningful an experience, and in many respects it is the superior strategy:

  • Requires less fitness and less time (and thus less food weight), and
  • Offers more flexibility in case of inclement weather, injury, or a slower-than-expected pace.

I made this argument earlier this year, but was reminded of it today by a Wind River High Route trip report by Trent S. on Reddit. It was gratifying to read that my advice was on-point. Two excerpts:

  • If you have a scheduled shuttle pickup at your end point and/or a plane to catch back in Jackson, [the inability to pound out big mileage days and limited on-trail bailout options] becomes problematic very quickly. You can’t plan on good fortune, so one must build in an extra day or two. That makes it much tougher to fit this hike into a single week and plan trailhead drop-off/pick-up.
  • If you have the time, will, food, transportation flexibility, and physical ability to build in a few extra buffer days, perhaps a WRHR through-hike makes sense. But for those trying to fit a Wind River Range trip into a single week or so, the Skurka suggestion to pick a section of the route is a more logistically practicable and reliable plan.

Read Trent’s full assessment.

 

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