By Michael Lanza

In late afternoon, near the end of a day of backpacking some 14 miles—mostly above 10,000 feet—two friends and I walked into Titcomb Basin, deep in Wyoming’s Wind River Range, mouths gaping open. Forming a horseshoe embracing this alpine valley at over 10,500 feet, mountains soared more than 3,000 feet above the windblown Titcomb Lakes, including the second-highest in the Winds, 13,745-foot Fremont Peak, on the Continental Divide.

But by that point on the first day of our 39-mile backpacking trip, my companions were fully smitten by the Winds—as I have been since my first trip there almost 30 years ago.

Our three-day, mid-September hike from Elkhart Park, on the west side of the Winds, took us on an up-and-down tour past several dozen lakes (we were tempted to camp at most of them) and over three 12,000-foot passes, one of which, Knapsack Col, we reached via an off-trail route that added a spicy flavor to our trip.

Hi, I’m Michael Lanza, creator of The Big Outside. Click here to sign up for my FREE email newsletter. Join The Big Outside to get full access to all of my blog’s stories. Click here for my e-guides to classic backpacking trips. Click here to learn how I can help you plan your next trip.

A backpacker overlooking the Cirque of the Towers in the Wind River Range.
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