Location: Snowy Range, southeast Wyoming
Maps: Medicine Bow and Sand Lake 1:24K USGS Quads
Access: From Laramie, take US 130 past Centennial to the Brooklyn Lake turnoff. Trailhead is on the north side of Brooklyn Lake.
Fees: None
Trailhead: NAD83 z13 395841e 4580859n  Elev: 10,560'
Trail: 5 miles to Deep Lake via North Twin Lakes - Sheep Lake route, almost entirely above treeline. Return by same route, or make a loop by heading south past Cutthroat Lake, North and South Gap Lakes, then east to Telephone Lake and the south side of Brooklyn Lake for an additional 6 miles.
Dog Regulations: Voice control
Webcam: Arlington Interchange, 30 miles north
Weather: Current & Recent Conditions 
               Snow conditions 
               NWS Forecast

July 6-7, 2004
My boots were barely dry from hiking through the wet slushy snow in the Mt Zirkel Wilderness on Monday when I pulled them on once again on Tuesday in preparation for a nice solo hike in the Snowy Range of Wyoming. I kept Frank in the backseat while I finished up the final packing, applied sunscreen, cinched the hip belt on my frame pack and slung my camera over my shoulder. Only when I was ready to step off did I release the hound from the back seat. With a burst of energy that was not to diminish for some miles down the trail, he immediately set to working the ground with his nose, searching for the animals that had left those apparently interesting scents. Only two other cars shared the lakeside trailhead, so I figured this would be a quiet hike. The day was surprisingly chilly, and I actually started off with a sweatshirt on, although that didnít last long. 

Within 100 yards I Frank and I were in the trees, slogging along a muddy trail. In the thick of the woods, without the wind, the air seemed warm so I shed my outer layers to cool off.  In very little time we arrived at the North Twin Lakes, both set right at tree line with a few scattered small stunted firs around them. Two men were fishing on the very southern tip of the south lake, so I passed them by with a wide berth to settle in on the NW side of the south lake. Here I stashed my pack in the low-growing fir trees and pulled out my fly rod. The wind was blowing strongly, so flycasting was difficult, and I couldnít get the line out very far. White caps were apparent on the lake surface. Nevertheless, the sun was out and I was warm from hiking, so I kept at it for some time. Frank scoured the lakeside searching for critters and nosing into little holes wherever he found them. The two men at the south end of the lake moved on, apparently not having much luck (but surely having a great time). My own patience paid off within an hour as I caught two trout, and decided to eat them for a late lunch (it being nearly 2 oíclock). I brought the trout over to where I had stashed my pack in the krumholtz and began to pull out my cook kit when a thousand mosquitoes descended upon my bare arms from the shrubs.  To remedy that annoyance, I moved the operation further out upon the  grassy tundra and then only had to contend wit the swarm of flies that had magically appeared. Frank had long since found himself a nice rock to nap behind, out of the wind, but well in the sun. I cleaned the fish and cooked them up, and remembered why I donít clean and cook fish in the wild very oftenÖwhat a mess. I discovered that my worn Teflon pan was not so non-stick anymore. Something to use that REI dividend on next year.  Between the water, the sun, the wind and the cooking, I found myself very dry at the end of this 2-hour episode, and feeling a headache coming on. I chugged some water and filtered more from South Twin Lake, then went on my way west across the open tundra and massive snowdrifts towards Sheep Lake. The wind was brutal and cold in the open meadows, and thick clouds raced over to frequently block the sun. I walked quickly. Though it was chilly, the mountains were gorgeous to look at, and so I had fun. Shortly after Sheep Lake I saw the advertised cutoff for Deep Lake, and welcomed the sight of heavy timber in which to hide from the wind. The trail became indistinct for a long spell, and I ended up losing it completely, but figuring the lake was downhill, I just kept going through the trees and got to the south shore of Deep Lake in no time. I puttered around for quite some time selecting a campsite. Upon finally finding one I admired, I hiked a circle around it to determine if there were any reasons not to make camp there, and I found one: the trail to Deep Lake only 20 feet away. Well, at least I learned the most direct route back. I kept searching for a campsite and found a nice flat area just west of the lake. The area was obviously well-used, but for good reason. I decided to settle down right there. I quickly became aware that millions upon millions of mosquitoes had already staked out the place, or had somehow been informed that I was coming this way. I set the tent up in record time so as to get inside and regroup at leisure. To give you an idea of how bad they were, before zipping up the tent I had just erected, I found it necessary to use my hat to fan swarms of the little black insects out the tent flap. Frank was being eaten on heavily. I put on long sleeves and slicked up with  DEET before venturing back out to have a walk around. 
Closer to the shore of the lake I came upon what appeared to be a very old outhouse, stuffed with trash. Lots of metal scraps and junk lay around and I suppose there must have been a jeep track to this lake at some point for there to have been so much refuse. I tried my hand at fishing here, but the fish were very finicky and just swam by my tempting fly. Perhaps with so many mosquitoes, they were all stuffed. 

Dinner time was nice as the wind died down and the sun gleamed intensely across the bright green meadow near camp. I selected a rock out in the grass to cook on and began to heat up freeze-dried refried beans and boil some rice for a burrito. I found that the wind kept the mosquitoes off my windward side, but oh boy how they did congregate on my leeward side. Every 5 minutes I would jump up and run in a 50 yard circle to scatter the billions that were soon swarming around me. Annoying they were, but I didnít get bitten much since I was wearing a fluffy fleece and gloves. Dinner was superb, and cleanup was a snap. In the waning light of day I walked slowly around the west side of the lake snapping photos and enjoying the wonderful outdoors, thinking of how glad I was that I didnít have to go to work the next day.  As darkness fell, I lay in the tent with Frank reading a book. I set my camera up outside my tent flap for a night-long exposure of the stars. I didnít want to trigger it until it was well dark, but I was tired well before dark, so I actually set my alarm for 10 and went to sleep. At 10 I woke up and triggered the camera, set my alarm for 4 and went back to sleep. All went well that night and I slept very soundly. The wind died down and it grew very cold, but I was quite snug in my new sleeping bag, and Frank slept under his fleece blanket all night. In the darkness of the pre-dawn air, I fumbled slowly to find the cable release on the camera and release it. It was an awful lot of work for a photo that failed to amount to anything approaching interesting. I slept past dawn in the shade of the giant spruce trees surrounding camp, and emerged from the tent to face the buzzing hoards of insects waiting at my doorstep. Frank and I wasted no time on breakfast but instead I grabbed a granola bar from the nearby hanging food cache and we took a walk around the lake. On the shores of the lake I came across numerous camp fire rings, and I get the impression this lake sees heavy use at certain times of the year. I would guess hunters enjoy staying here in September. As it was, in July, there were no humans about at all. Frank and I walked a circuit around the lake back to camp. I grabbed my book and sat against a log in the wind to keep the mosquitoes off. Frank lay down nearby in the sun. I heard him growl softly and followed his gaze to two cow elk walking within feet of my tent. I donít think they every noticed Frank or me, or if they did they sure werenít worried about us. 

After whiling away several hours, I determined I couldnít possibly keep myself entertained at this lake any longer, especially with all the mosquitoes. I packed up camp hurriedly once this was decided and we were off up the trail in minutes.  I hiked south from Deep Lake to Cutthroat Lake and considered fishing there, but the wind was even stronger than at Deep Lake, since we were now back up on the tundra and out of the sheltering trees. I continued on south to Gap Lakes, beautiful ice-covered bowls with snow all around. I marveled at the rugged look of these two lakes. The constant fierce wind lent an air of utter barreness to the rock and ice surrounding the dark water. Not a sprig of green could be seen while walking along the shore of the north lake. While walking along the shore of the south lake I came upon a large trout splashing in a few inches of water of a trickling snow-melt stream. I assume he was attempting to go upstream but since in this case upstream would only mean going to the top of Mt Baker, I picked him up and deposited him back in the deep water of the lake. I passed a man and a boy hiking the opposite direction, and they were the only hikers I saw all day. I stopped for a long break on the south side of South Gap Lake to drink lots of water and eat beef jerky. I think I even dozed off for a few minutes in the warm sun on the leeward side of a cliff. 

My plan when leaving Deep Lake had been to find some place to camp near Telephone Lake, but as I approached. Telephone Lake from the west, rain began to fall from dark clouds approaching on high winds form the west. I stopped for awhile by the shore of the lake, but if I remained in the open, I worried about lightening, and if I took shelter in the trees, I became live bait for billions of mosquitoes. I decided to move on and see what happened. What happened was that I arrived back at Brooklyn Lake and the car in no time, and decided to just go home before the real rains came. The sky had grown fiercely dark by then, and I saw no reason to spend a nervous night in the tent with potential lightening storms when my own bed was only 2 hours away. Iím sure Frank would have agreed if he could. So, we hopped in the car and went home.
 

southern lake of North Twin Lakes

Lunch

Alpine hiking, Snowy Range

Meadow west of Deep Lake

Frank at Deep Lake

Camp in the morning

Cutthroat Lake with Medicine Bow Peak far behind

North Gap Lake still frozen over in July

Snowy Range

High winds and brooding clouds at Telephone Lake




Page created January 27, 2005
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