Dawn - Sometimes An Ultrarunner

Dawn - Sometimes An Ultrarunner

June 1, 2013

Sinks Canyon and Popo Agie Falls, Wyoming

Well, we are staying pretty busy at the NOLS Wilderness EMT course.   Studying, practicals, rotations in the local emergency rooms, and lots of tests.  It's enough to make me want to study all weekend!  Or not....  Exercise keeps the brain functioning well.  Or at least that was enough of an excuse to get me outside on a beautiful spring weekend for a hike up into the Wind River range.  Just west of Lander, WY is a State Park called Sinks Canyon.   It's a great place for rock climbing, hiking, and road biking.

The canyon is so named because the river actually sinks into a cave for a short distance, leaving a dry wash and a big gurgling sound.  The water then flows underground for about 2 hours, through some really small cracks, and emerges again at a trout pond a short ways down the canyon.  Pretty cool.  I've driven up into the park a couple of times now, it's a good place to sit by the rushing river (except for the missing bit) and watch for wildlife.  So far in my few weeks here in Wyoming, I've seen a rattlesnake, a scorpion, a moose, a family of owls, and a couple of deer.

Lauren enjoys the falls and the sunshine!

At the upper end of the park, the road diverts from the canyon bottom and a hiking trail starts.    From the parking lot, it's only about a 30 minute hike up the beautiful canyon to a series of waterfalls on the Popo Agie river.  (By the way, Popo Agie is pronounced "poh-POH-zsha").   My classmate Lauren joined me for the hike up to the waterfall this time, which was stunning with all the spring runoff.

From the falls, Lauren retraced her path back down to do some rock climbing, while I continued further up the trail.  Now known as the Middle Fork trail (for the middle fork of the Popo Agie river) it meanders up the valley in a gradual but uphill climb into the proper wilderness.   The trail meets the river again in several spots, with some nice rushing falls and several sections of flat water, too.  It passes through some really cool rocky sections, but it mostly easy walking.   With all the recent rains, some sections of the trail were rather muddy, but I got the impression that usually it's dry as a bone.  I was wearing my chaco sandals in an attempt to get used to them, so I could splash through the mud and not care much.   At least until my feet started getting a few friction spots, so I had to stop and use some first aid kit materials to prevent the chafing.

After seeing a rattlesnake the day before, I saw a couple more snakes on the trail during the day.  Although these snakes were much smaller and harmless, altogether it was enough to give me the willies.  Yeah.  After that, every stick on the trail had me leaping like a scared hare.

Actually, what I saw most on the trail were piles of things that looked rather like big dark acorns.  I learned later it was moose droppings.  Not a lot of moose anywhere I've ever lived before!   The only moose I actually saw was a yearling on the side of the road further down the canyon...oh, and a dead one on the side of the trail.    But from the copious amounts of droppings I assume there was one looking at me from behind every big rock along the trail.

I had it in my mind to continue up the trail until I could see the snowy mountains.  It seemed like a valid goal.   Unfortunately I had no idea how long that would take.  I figured since the highest peaks in the range were in the 13,000 foot range, they would pop up rather spectacularly.   Luckily, my willingness to keep hiking coincided nicely with a nice view of the Wind River Peak from a small pass on the trail.  I used that view to stop for a snack, fix my feet, and then head back down to the trailhead.  After all, I still had homework to do....

Popo Agie falls

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