Dates of rides: September 10, 2009 and September 21, 2011
Level of Difficulty: Difficult, due to elevation gain and remoteness.
Mountain Range or Region: Wyoming Range
Riders: (1st ride – Cody Feuz, Phil Clemens, Mike Geslin), (2nd ride – Cody Feuz, Phil Clemens)
Total vertical gain: 3,566 ft.
Equipment Used: Jamis, Giant, and Specialized full suspension bikes.
Wyoming Peak is the highest peak in the Wyoming range. These rides were on the west aspect beginning and ending on the Grey’s River road. The first part of the ride is on an unnamed logging road that begins at the mouth of Kinney creek. This road is about 4miles to the trailhead and climbs about 900 vertical. The single-track is FT041 and is just under 4 miles to the summit. Elevation gain is 2600 feet of constant uphill grades, the last 350 feet of vertical are “push-a-bike”. If you like a real challenge with a great reward in the view from the top and an awesome downhill then this is a great ride. This route is rated Difficult because of the climb, and some rock slides to be negotiated.
As stated above, we believe this is the first ascent/descent of Wyoming Peak. This ride was a great time and a real success in terms of accomplishing our goal on the first attempt. However, it took much longer than we anticipated. The biggest snafus centered on bad topo map data. None of us had ever been on Wyoming Peak, and although I was very familiar with the peaks in the northern part of the Wyoming range, I had never actually even seen Wyoming Peak until we drove in that morning. Our day originated in Cokeville WY, at my parents place and we connected into the Grey’s River road via the Smith’s Fork Road and the Tri-Basin Divide. (The more common entry/exit to the ride would be Grey’s River Road from Alpine Wyoming). I had researched the peak via the various web sites, topo maps, and Google Earth. What I didn’t know was that the topo maps had placed the trailhead about 1 mile east of where the actual trailhead is. (I think the original trailhead was at the place in the topo maps).
I had transferred this information to my GPS unit, and thought we were all set. In order to maximize our vertical, we started the ride from the Grey’s river road at the base of the main canyon that comes west off of Wyoming Peak and Mount Coffin. The start/finish point is marked as waypoint, “WyoPeak Alt Strt/Fin” in the GPS file. As mentioned above, the first 4 miles of the climb are on an unmarked forest service road. Now, this is where the snafus were compounded. Between 2 ½ and 3 miles in, I thought we were close to the trailhead, and was sure we could take a “shortcut”. This was a bad mistake. We started climbing and pretty soon we had to get off the bikes. We had to avoid downed timber and other obstacles. We finally made it onto a trail, (sort of), that took us back to the forest service road. Now we made our next mistake. At this point, we were actually at the trailhead! But we didn’t believe it because my GPS unit said the trailhead was further east. We then decided to continue east, (and away from the actual trailhead) to the GPS waypoint marking the topo trailhead. When we arrived, there was a faint trail that went into the timber and literally disappeared within a few hundred yards. At this point we went back to the actual trailhead, which was marked with a sign, and headed up. By the way, we started the “shortcut” at 11:08 AM and we finally made back to the true trailhead at 12:45 PM. We would have been on the trail by 11:30 AM, if we had just kept on the road until we hit the sign for the trailhead. Not only did this waste over an hour of time, but it drained us of significant energy, due to all of the bushwhacking that we were doing. As a result, the ride up was slow going and required multiple rest stops along the way. The entire ride took 8 hours, and I am confident that it can/should be done in half that time.
The trail was well marked and in excellent condition. We road all the way to the 11,000 foot level and then had to push the bikes up the last steep climb. Once on top, we looked around the old lookout building, took some photos, checked out the views and then headed back down. Phil and I road our bikes the entire way down the mountain in order to have it qualify as a full descent.
- You can’t fully trust topo map data, or GPS data for that matter. Too many of these trails are simply transferred from one format to another and the content is not really checked for accuracy. (That is one of the principles of this site, which is to only use GPS data that was actually generated from the “track mode” on the unit).
- Don’t take shortcuts!!! We all have been taught this, and I knew better. I will not repeat that mistake.
- Bad decisions have a way of compounding themselves in life, especially in nature! In our case, we only had to pay with a lot of wasted time, and extra sore muscles. That was pretty lucky, and I recommitted to being more careful in the future.
- When it comes to the back country, there is nothing that beats experience. Either consult with someone who has been there, or at least go physically scout things out before you attempt them.
We were riding Jamis, Giant, and Specialized full suspension bikes. In order to save weight, a hardtail would have been perfect for this trip. The downhill was not too technical, except for the steep upper part.
Plenty of fluid and nutrition are critical. Also, you should pack emergency gear/clothing. This peak is very remote, and due to its elevation, the weather can always be a factor. It is highly likely that you will not see another person on this ride.
Second Time is the Charm:
Wow, what a difference a couple of years can make! We, (Phil and Cody) decided to do the Wyoming Peak ride again in September of 2011. As stated in the “Lessons Learned” from the first trip, experience is huge. We knew right where to go, we knew where the difficult sections were and we were better prepared. The only thing that I messed up this time was the helmet cam video, (details to follow).
We made the drive from Boise to Alpine, Wyoming on September 20th and stayed in the 3 Rivers Motel. The next morning, after a nice hearty breakfast at Yankee Doodles Café, we hit the road for the trailhead at Kinney Creek. It was a beautiful sunny day, and we hit the trail at 11:20 AM. This time, we only needed a couple of breaks for hydration and energy. As we were getting ready for the last push, (literally), to the top we looked up and saw another guy walking his bike down from the top. We waited for him to get down to us and then had a short conversation with him. He was an interesting character and was local from the Big Piney area. (He introduced himself, but I don’t remember his name). Anyway, he had not only made it to the top with his bike, but years earlier he had made it to the summit with a motorcycle! He ascended and descended on the east side of the peak, which required a lot more “push-a-bike”.
Once we got to the top, I was quite “stoked” because I had my brand-new Go Pro helmet cam on its maiden voyage. I got it out and turned it on, AND nothing happened! I knew I had charged the battery, and I messed around with it for a few minutes before I figured out the problem. I had LEFT the SD card at the Pickup. I had been messing around with it earlier and forgot to put it back in the Go Pro. Man, was I pissed, but there was only one guy to blame. And we all know who that was.
The ride down was rewarding as always. The trail pitch isn’t real steep, once you get past that first 300+ vertical. In that section, I just lower my seat all the way and sit my butt right on the back tire. After that, the only technical sections are a couple of rock slides to negotiate on the upper mountain, and a couple of tight switchback turns. I don’t want to understate the difficulty of this ride though. The trail is very narrow in many places, and although there are no cliffs, there is very steep terrain that falls away from the trail. If you get out of control and go off the trail you could be in for a long roll/slide before you would recover. Injury would be likely. The actual descent took just about exactly one hour. We took a quick dip in the river to wash off the sweat, hit the road and made it back to Boise that night.
- Experience is huge – as noted from the first trip, once you’ve been there it is just so much easier and the chances for mistakes drop off significantly.
- Fitness – This doesn’t apply to Phil as much, because he was in top shape for both trips, but in 2009 I was easily 30 lbs. heavier than I was for this trip. I had made up my mind in early 2011 to get fit and lose weight. I have successfully accomplished this goal and it has really opened up my opportunities in the backcountry. Those of you who ride bikes know how much weight matters on rides, especially extended high altitude climbs. By not having that 30 extra lbs. on I was able to climb far more efficiently, with far fewer rest stops.
- Check and recheck ALL equipment that you will have with you. Had I simply checked the Go Pro at the trailhead, I would have discovered the SD card was missing. (Although this isn’t all bad – I now have an excuse to go back in 2012).
Equipment: Jamis & Giant full suspension bikes.
The pros are; true back country experience, chance to see wildlife/scenery, views of the Tetons and Wind Rivers, few humans. The cons are; High elevation at 11,000+, remote location, difficult/constant uphill climb for approx 8 miles. We would definitely recommend this route to experienced, fit mountain bikers who are looking for a challenge off from the beaten path.
[…] The first year we got lost, trying to find the trailhead. That adventure is documented here, First two Wyoming Peak Rides. Last year was much better, but I had intended to shoot GoPro video of the ride and left my […]