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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