New Fork Lake / Palmer Lake Loop, Wyoming 1982


This trip was planned for four nights to explore the Wind River Range crest around Vista Pass and Green River Pass. I was accompanied by Dana Hanson and my sister Sandy. The backpack started on July 3rd at the New Fork Lakes Trailhead. The weather forecast, while not encouraging, called for only a moderate chance of precipitation.

Starting out under sunny a sky.

We followed the New Fork Trail up the impressive North Fork Canyon northeast to the Palmer Lake Trail junction in eight miles. The weather was warm. We set up camp.

Looking back to New Forks Lakes.

New Fork Canyon is Wyoming’s Yosemite.

New Fork Canyon.

The second day we planned to moved camp to Summit Lake which was eight miles distant. When we reached Palmer Lake the weather was deteriorating quickly. We decided to make camp. It rained the rest of the day.

It snowed lightly overnight. In the morning we decided to stay in camp hoping the weather would improve. By mid afternoon the temperature was dropping and the rain was mixed with snow. It was an easy decision to abandon the trip. We decided to return via the Double Top Mountain Trail, packed up and left.

Sandy and Dana at our Palmer Lake camp. Are we having fun yet?

We hiked past Rainbow Lake and reached upper portion of Martin Park. We came to a crossing of Willow Creek. The water was swollen by snow melt and the rain. It was running deep and swiftly. I had anticipated tricky stream crossings when planning the trip and brought a 6mm cord along for added safety. We all tied into the cord with Sandy in the middle. I waded into the steam using a branch for balance. Dana belayed me. In mid stream the water reached my crotch. I could hear the distinctive sound of boulders moving along the bottom. I made it to the other side without incident. Now it was Sandy’s turn.

There were no bridges along our planned route. We were prepared for high water crossings. Dana tying Samantha into our 6mm cord for one crossing.

Sandy crossing a stream on our first day.

Sandy, hesitantly started across. We belayed her from both sides. As she reached mid stream she lost her footing and instantly was submerged. The cord pulled Dana off balance but she managed to jam her legs against a log and held her position while I pulled Sandy out of the creek. Although a bit stunned she managed a laugh once she caught her breath.

Dana crossed without incident but since she was shorter than me, the water came up well over her waist. All three of us were wet and Sandy was soaked. It was snowing again. We had no choice. After hiking down stream a bit we found a suitable spot and set up camp. We changed into dry clothes, boiled water and warmed up in our sleeping bags with hot drinks and soup.

The next day we hiked out to the trailhead. While this hike crossed through beautiful country we saw little of it because the clouds obscured the peaks.

Our route.

Next: Completing the Wyoming Trifecta, 1982