Saturday, June 16, 2012

80 Days of Summer - Days 13-16

Wind River Mountains - Green River Lakes, Wyoming - Backpacking Trip
Took the 4 kiddos up to my favorite place in the world, Wyoming, for a backpacking trip with Brandi's brother Boone and his 4 kids. Our families love getting together since our interests are the same and our kids all match up almost exactly in age. For six years, Boone has been taking his and Laura's kids up to the headwaters of the Green River where two natural lakes hang suspended in the Wind River Range of the western Wyoming mountains. From time to time, other cousins join, but we have not been able to go up over the years. This was our first, although, I have been up several times with Brandi's dad canoeing, hiking, fishing, and camping on the lower lake. Above is a pic of the mountains we are heading for southeast of Jackson Hole Wyoming.
Don't eat the jerky you didn't make yourself, or you might have to have an impromptu roadside stop for relief.
The crew at the trail head all loaded up. The kids were all great hikers. James and Matthew did some complaining on the way in, but I kept their packs light enough that they weren't overwhelmed. It was a 6 mile hike in over rolling lake shore trails and a 6 mile backtrack hike out again. We hiked in Thursday afternoon, and hiked out Saturday afternoon, carrying all of our gear and food for 2 nights.
Boone and I carried the bulk of the heavy items to keep the kids' loads manageable. My pack was probably about 50 lbs. Annie, Emmy, and James all carried their sleeping bags, clothes, personal items, and either a piece of cookgear (James had mugs) or an item of food (Emmy had the mallows). Matthew carried a small pack with his sleeping bag, water shoes, and camera in it. I bought disposable cameras for Matt, James, and Emmy. It will be interesting to see what their photos turn out to be.
James chilling on the trail. He has done a 35 miler in the Grand Canyon as a 5 year old, but never had to carry a larger pack before. He did well with his only real complaining the last 2 miles of the hike in.
The crew strung out on the trail. Annie, Bailey, Tyler, and Emmy always zoomed ahead. On the way out they really zoomed ahead and hiked out in 90 minutes.
We caught a garter snake on the way in. We dared Annie to put its head in her mouth for $5. She grossed us out by immediately earning the five bucks. She even closed her mouth over its neck. Nasty.
Just reached the second lake below Flat Top mountain. We camped on the edge of the spit of land with pine trees on it sticking out into the lake from the left of the photo just to the left of my pack.
The campsite. The big boulder served as a nice fireplace. The kids were constantly foraging for firewood. On Friday, they kept the fire going almost all day long. We're about 20 feet from the lake shore at this site. We passed a moose in the marshes between the lakes, and there was a moose and baby at the north end of the upper lake when we arrived. We didn't see any elk this trip, but elk sign was all through our camp and all along the hike in.
We used spinners, spoons, and weighted sucker meat set-ups to fish. Every kid caught a fish (except Annie who didn't want to fish). Matthew caught the first fish, I think. Jacob caught the biggest fish. We were killing them Thursday night - I think we hauled in 8 fish that first evening.
 James fishing. He fished off and on a bit, but Matthew was the most patient. He sat for hours fishing.
 My first catch on a Kamlooper mid-size silver spoon with a yellow and red pattern.
 James with his catch. James always asked to fish, but he wouldn't sit for very long. This one hit within about 15 minutes. He'd sit about 30 minutes and then move on.
Sunset on the first day. There isn't a more beautiful place in all the world with striking views and the pristine nature of the natural lakes.
The upper end of the second lake is just a spectacular high mountain panorama with granite rock sliced with snow and pine trees.
The kids were dirty animals. James' face was smeared with soot by the second day. He's waiting here for his oatmeal and hot chocolate to cool.
 Beautiful views at the end of the upper lake. We had fair weather except for some rain on Friday afternoon.
 Emmy's second fish. Other than Matthew's undying patience, Emmy loves fishing the most out of our kids.
 Boone strung up his hammock and took a morning nap. Jacob snuggled in with him.
After a restless sleep Thursday night, I laid out my sleeping pad on shore and took a nap while reading my book on Mesa Verde.
Annie and cousin Bailey sharing the hammock. They were in there for a couple of hours chatting and sleeping.
Some of our haul from the two days. The mountain lake water is so cold, we could string the fish up and use it as a fridge. Boone cooked his in tin foil, butter, and spices right on the coals. I had mine roasted on sticks over the fire with some spice added later. Nothing better than a fresh caught mountain lake trout roasted over a pine wood fire.
Matthew begged to roast his fish that he caught all afternoon. We finally sharpened a pine limb and skewered it in a U. It was delicious!
 The cavemen hanging out on the deadfall pines along the shore.
Jacob hauled in the biggest fish of the day. 7 lbs and 27 inches long. Monster fish. Several others were pretty close in size, but this one was just huge.
Friday afternoon, the rain came, and while everyone went into the tents, Matthew and I sat under a pine tree  near the shore and fished for hours in the rain at his insistence. He caught one fish, and we just sat and talked. He's a really funny kid with deep questions and observations. I hiked out with him the entire way, just the two of us because everyone zoomed ahead, and he talked the entire 2.5 hours and 6 miles just saying really interesting things and asking questions about nature. He's a smart little 5 year old. During one 30 minute stretch of the hike out, he summarized all of the major holidays from the past year in pre-school, what they did to celebrate, and what he thought of the day's events. He even included Dr. Seuss's birthday celebration. I just listened quietly to the entire dialogue. After the summary, he said, "But all of that is junk. My favorite thing in the world is my family. I love my family." Driving out of the mountains after the hike, Matthew was looking through the DVDs for a movie. I hear from the back seat, "Oh man, I hate that girl. I saw her on a commercial on TV for a movie. I want to punch her in the face." I said, "What girl?" and he handed me a DVD from the case with Shirley Temple on the disc and said, "This girl." I was cracking up.
 Matthew sat here for hours just out of the heavy rain under a pine tree. This is my favorite picture of the trip.
Heywood camp chef. Cooking quesadillas for the kiddos. My kids are such picky eaters, they mostly ate hot dogs, hot chocolate, and fruit snacks and left the all the food to me. I'm taking a heavy iron fire skillet next year and living off of pancakes and fish.
Looking out our "kitchen window." Without kids, I could camp up here for weeks with good books and a fishing pole and Brandi to keep me company. So peaceful. The kids are fun, but they can be a handful.
The four amigos chillin' by their fire - Matt, Nathan, James, and Jacob. They played in the woods, fished, tended the fire, and had a blast.
 This is Jacob's big fish and some of our earlier catch on the stringer under water.
Emmy fishing. She's always fishing or moving. She'd get up with Tyler every morning at like 5:00 am and start a fire. The rest of us would come out at about 7:00 to enjoy the warmth. Days were in the 60s, and nights were in the low 40s or upper 30s.
 Matthew and Jacob used this log as a slide one afternoon. Weirdos having fun.
Group photo of the kids just before departure. Can't believe I've missed this trip over the years - won't miss it again!
Joe and Boone getting one last look. Yes, we're holding hands.

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