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Wind River Llama Trek and Photography Tour

 

Alpenglow on the Cirque of the Towers, 200 feet from one of our campsites of 3 nights: Lizard Head Meadows

 

Join me on a once in a lifetime adventure in the beautiful and remote Wind River Range. This 7 day tour will be a fully guided tour that enlists Llamas to help pack all our gear up to these magical locations. This allows you to only carry a small day-pack the entire time. We will be camping at pristine high alpine locations every night which will afford countless photographic opportunities.

This trek is an experience, one that I’m sure you will remember for the rest of your life. I’m offering you some concentrated time to explore nature, yourself, and have a camera in hand while doing it. Breathtaking moments help to generate extraordinary photographs, and on this trek, there will no shortage of these.

 

Wind River Llama Trek & Photography Workshop

 

Group Size: This Photo Tour will have a minimum of 6 (maximum of 8) participants

Guides: There will be 2 professional and knowledgeable guides from the outfitter, myself, and my assistant…total of 4 guides

Tour Dates: August 31st to the 7th of September 2016

Cost: $3,800 per person ($1,000 deposit)

Gateway City: Lander, Wyoming

Buy Now

 

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Llama Train

Description

Next year, from August 31st to September 7th 2017 I would like to invite you on a once in a lifetime experience. I’m running another trip into this incredible wilderness. Like this last tour, I have hired an outfitter with over 30 years of experience guiding in this area.

This trek traverses through one of the most stunning parts of the Wind River Range…The Cirque of the Towers. The regions we hike through are characterized by one fantastically picturesque valley after another. Since the last ice age, the glacial activity left these cirques ringed by massive granite walls and towers.

We approach the Continental Divide from the East, passing serene mountain lakes and rivers, and many towering peaks, en-route

This trip is about making new friends, photographing pristine alpine environments, exploring amazing wilderness areas, and reconnecting with nature.

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Campfire at Lizard Head Meadows (Photo By: Geoffrey Van Beylen)

Overview:

The wilderness areas of the Wind River Range are vast and wild. They’re not easily accessed and take days of hiking to get deep into the the wilderness. That is one of the many reasons the “Winds” are legendary. It is important to know that you will be miles from civilization.

On this trip it is important that you expect the following:

  • This Photo tour will be physically, mentally, and emotionally challenging.
  • Long days of hiking on rocky, uneven trails with river crossings.
  • We average between 5 and 7 miles of hiking when we move camps. The last day is 11 miles, 80% of which is downhill…it is still a very challenging day.
  • Days where we hike down steep rocky trails and lose over 2,000 feet of elevation
  • Days where we will gain up to 1,500 feet of elevation while hiking
  • It is likely that you will get cold, wet and hot during this trip
  • It is possible you will have some nights where you don’t get much sleep. We have a total of 3 days off from our hiking (where we do not move campsites) so you have plenty of time to nap and rest if that is the case.
  • I can guarantee you, this trek will be one of the most memorable and rewarding trips you will ever go on.

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View of the Cirque of the Towers from Pinto Park. Lizard Head is the large peak just off center to the right. Our camp of 3 nights is at the base of that beautiful monolith.

Highlights

  • Enjoy a 7-day, adventure in one of America’s most impressive mountain ranges
  • Receive one-on-one photographic instruction in some incredibly breathtaking locations.
  • Photograph alpenglow on towering granite peaks, alpine meadows, mirror lakes, pristine creeks, the star filled night sky, and wild untouched natural beauty.
  • Do you enjoy Flyfishing? The excellent stream and lake fishing, combined with exotic golden trout in the high lakes, makes the Wind River Range a sought-after destination for adventurous anglers.
  • Gaze from the Continental Divide into magnificent Cirque of the Towers
  • Explore remote mountain cirques
  • Soak up rejuvenating solitude and scenery
  • Have potential to see bears, moose, bison, bighorn sheep, elk and more
  • Camp on the shores of pristine mountain lakes and streams
  • Sleep under one of the most vivid night skies you’ve ever seen
  • Enjoy our exceptional backcountry cuisine and expert guides

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Sunrise Photo Session (Photo By: Geoffrey Van Beylen)

Downlaod: Liability Waiver and Cancellation Policy

DetailsIMPORTANT!Daily ItineraryLogisticsRequired Photo GearPack ListWhy A Llama Trek?

Trip Details:

What’s Included

  • Hotel night stay in Lander, Wyoming. Night of August 31st
  • All meals: August 31st: Lunch & Dinner in Lander. September 1st through 7th: all meals during trek. September 7th: Celebratory Dinner in Lander (alcoholic drinks not included)
  • Tribal Permit for Passage through the Popo Agie Wilderness (Pronounced “Puh Poe – Sha”). You will have to be present when I purchase your Wilderness permit. We will do this on August 31st in the afternoon at Wild Iris Mountain Sports in Lander, Wyoming.
  • Pack llamas to transport the majority of gear and food
  • Top-of-the-line tent, sleeping pad, sleeping bag, and pillow
  • A professional, knowledgeable, certified Wind River hiking guide
  • Round trip transportation from your hotel in Lander, Wyoming to the trail-head and back

 

What’s Not Included

  • Clothes, rain gear, and footwear
  • Daypack
  • Fishing License
  • Sunscreen, toiletries and personal items
  • Water bottles and a headlamp or flashlight
  • Hotel night stay on the 7th of September. It is not required you stay an extra night when we return, but it is recommended. We will be getting back to the trail head around 4:00pm and Lander around 5:30pm. A celebratory dinner at a local restaurant will be at 7:00pm in Lander.
  • Trip Insurance (REQUIRED) I recommend using World Nomads
  • Guide gratuity
  • Personal First Aid Kit
  • Bear Spray (optional) & must be purchased in Lander.
  • Photography equipment

 

See the Packing List tab for more information.

 

Meals: What To Expect

All of our hiking and backpacking tours include a diversity of tasty meals packed full of critical carbohydrates, proteins and fats. We carry foods that travel well in the backcountry – rice, pastas, lentils, beans, couscous, packaged meats, nuts, breads, oatmeal, granola, and more.

For optimal taste and energy, we supplement all our meals with spices, herbs, oils, cheeses, butter, sugar, and fruits and vegetables (fresh and dried). In addition, we provide you with with an assortment of trail mix, snacks, and dried fruits to eat at your own discretion.

We regularly accommodate vegan, vegetarian, kosher and non-gluten diets and will make adjustments for food allergies. These and other special dietary requests may require an additional fee.

 

Provided Gear

We provide all group gear which includes the following:

  • Sierra Designs or Mountain Hardware tents
  • Sierra Designs sleeping bags
  • Pillow
  • Thermarest or Big Agnes sleeping pads
  • Mountain Safety Research cooking stoves
  • Mountain Safety Research cookware
  • Satellite phone (for emergencies only)
  • Chairs

 

What Gear To Bring

(Please refer to the pack list) We ask that you supply a couple of gear items on your hiking tour. These items are two 1-liter water bottles per person, or a water bottle and 2 liter camel back bladder. Either a headlamp or flashlight per person,  a lightweight waterproof stuff sac will be provided for your clothes and belongings to be packed on the Llamas. Basic items like sunscreen, bug repellent (where and when applicable), lip balm, and toiletries you need to bring.

 

What Clothes to Bring

(Please refer to the pack list) All trips require a sturdy pair of hiking shoes or hiking boots (reliable brands include Montrail, Lowa, Merrell, Vasque, and Salomon), rain gear, and non-cotton clothing layers. A minimum of 4 pairs of wool or synthetic hiking socks are also required.

 

Training tips:

 

Training Tips:

You’ll get the maximum amount of enjoyment out of your hiking trip if you are physically well-prepared for it. We recommend hiking, swimming, running or other aerobic activity combined with strength exercises and stretching for optimum preparation.

This is a very physically demanding trip. It is paramount that you train for this trip and are in good hiking shape

We will be hiking 5 to 7 miles a day on rocky and uneven trails.

The last day is an 11 mile day (although we will be hiking down hill for 80% of the time, it is still a big day) it is important you are prepared for this and are in good shape!

We will also have about 5 river crossings during the trek. Personally, I find the river crossings to be very refreshing on my feet 🙂

We offer the exercise regimen below as a guide to help you prepare.

Please note: it’s very important to adapt this plan to fit your specific circumstances and goals, as well as the specific demands of the trip you’re joining. We also recommend checking with your doctor before beginning a new workout routine.

Engage in a routine of three to five 45-90 minute workouts per week. Workouts can mix cardio (running, climbing stairs, swimming, cycling..etc.) with strength exercises. The Stairmaster machine, with revolving stairs like an escalator, is excellent for preparing for a hiking trip.

We recommend putting 15-25 pounds of weight into a backpack and hiking with it during your hiking workouts. The hillier the terrain, the better.

One day per week do an extended cardiovascular workout. Long hikes on hilly or mountainous terrain are best as they well-replicate what you’re preparing for. Cycling, swimming, playing sports, or combinations of these activities, also work well. Four to six hour workouts are best.

I you live in a city, I would recommend climbing stairs in an office building with your pack.

Stretch before and after workouts for 5-10 minutes. Be sure and stretch all of your major leg muscles, your shoulders, and your back muscles.

Drink plenty of fluids, 3-5 liters of water and juice per day depending on your body weight.

Eat a well-balanced diet with lots of fruits and vegetables. Avoid highly processed or sugary foods and drinks.

 

Daily Itinerary

 

Day 1 (August 31st)

-Arrive in Lander, Wyoming.

-Gear check at the hotel

-Purchase your Wilderness Permit at Wild Iris Mountain Sports in Lander

-Dinner at a fantastic restaurant in Lander “Cowfish”

 

Day 2 (September 1st)

-Pickup from hotel at 7:00am

-Orientation at the outfitters ranch, load up the llamas and gear

-Drive to Dickinson Park Trail head, about 1.25 hours

-Hike to Sanford park and camp for the night (about 6.5 miles and 1,000 feet of elevation loss, 500 feet of elevation gain)

-Sunset Photography session

 

Day 3 (September 2nd)

-Break camp and hike to Lizard Head Meadows. This will be our camp for 3 nights

-about 6 miles and 600 feet of elevation gain

-Sunset Photography session

 

Day 3, 4 &  5  (September 2nd, 3rd 4th)

-Camp at Lizard head meadows for 3 nights

-Countless photographic opportunities within a few feet of our camp

-A total of 3 Sunset and 3 Sunrise photographic sessions while we are in Lizard Head Meadows

-Fishing, day hikes, resting, star gazing…this is an incredible place to spend some concentrated time in.

 

Day 6 (September 5th)

-Sunrise Photography session

-Break camp at Lizard Head Meadows

-Hike to our camp of 2 nights “Pinto Park”

-Hike 7 miles, about 400 feet of elevation loss and 1,500 feet of elevation gain

-Sunset Photography session

 

Day 7 (September 6th)

-Sunrise Photographic session

-Day off at Pinto Park camp

-Great day hike opportunities, or just hang around the camp and enjoy the views

-Sunset photography session

 

Day 8 (September 7th)

-Sunrise Photography session

-Break camp and hike to Worthen Meadow Reservoir (trail head)

-Hike 11 miles, and roughly 2,000 feet of elevation loss, 800 feet of elevation gain.

-Pickup and drive back to the outfitters ranch about 1 hour drive

-Gather gear and head to hotel in Lander

-7:00pm celebration dinner in Lander Wyoming

 

 

Trip Logistics

 

When should I arrive?

At the latest, you should arrive by noon on August 31st in Lander Wyoming. If you are coming from sea level or a low elevation, I would recommend arriving a few days before the 31st. It will help you immensely to spend a few days at higher elevations (Lander is at 5,300 feet) before we start our trek. Our first day of hiking starts at 9,300 feet, then drops down to about 8,400 feet for instance.

I will be arriving in Lander on the 30th of August

 

Where Do We Meet?

We will meet at the Holiday Inn Express & Suites in Lander, Wyoming the evening before the trek begins. The next morning we will be picked up at 7:00am for transport to the ranch, then the trail head.

 

What altitudes will we be at?

Lander, Wyoming is at about 5,400 feet of elevation. Our first day on the trek begins at 9,300 feet and drops to about 8,400. We will not drop below 8,000 feet during this trek. Our camp of 3 nights at Lizard head Meadows is at about 9,400 feet. And our camp of two nights at Pinto Park is about 10,400 feet of elevation.

 

How do I get to Lander Wyoming?

Flying:

There are daily flights to Riverton, Wyoming (30 miles away from Lander). There is a flight out of Denver, daily at 10:30 am, arriving in Riverton at 11:52am (direct). Great Lakes Airways is the carrier of choice. Please make sure and book your flights early as they fill up quickly, and book with Great Lakes Air directly…no 3rd party booking services please.

There are also daily flights to Jackson Hole, Wyoming on multiple carriers. We can arrange a shuttle from Jackson Hole to Lander if you plan on flying into there. (about 2.5 hour shuttle and $200…not included)

 

Driving: 

-From Jackson Hole, Wyoming to Lander (about 2.5 hours)

-From Denver to Lander (about 6 hours)

-From Salt Lake City to Lander (about 4.5 hours)

 

Is there an outdoor shop in Lander?

Yes there is, Wild Iris Mountain Sports. They have a great selection of high quality outdoor gear in case you need to purchase something for the trek.

 

Safety Considerations

Your safety is our top priority. Our hiking tours are led by professional Wyoming hiking guides, all of whom are wilderness-certified first responders or EMT’s, each with years of guiding and wilderness experience. We’ve developed comprehensive risk management protocols that our guides adhere to in case of an emergency, and most tours carry a satellite phone.

 

Guides

Your tour will be led by a trained, experienced professional with a solid guiding background, years of personal wilderness and hiking experience, training in llama-handling, medical certifications, and a passion for leading people into breathtaking landscapes. I will have an assistant to help with photographic questions, and I will also be available for photographic instruction.

 

Group Size

The standard ratio on llama trips is 4 guests for every guide, with a maximum of 8 guests and 2 guides. If you have more questions about group size, please give us a call Raynor Czerwinski at (970)270-5753 and we’ll answer all your questions.

 

Weather in the Wind River Range

Being a Northern mountain environment, the Wind River Range is prone to sudden temperature and weather shifts. This is an exciting aspect of being in Wyoming’s mountains. On trips in early September, We can encounter warm and sunny weather, snow, rain, sleet, wind, and calm days as well. To be fully prepared, please follow the recommended clothing list closely (this list comes as part of your trip packet when you register). See below for average summer temperatures around Yellowstone:

Average Temperatures (Fahrenheit)
Month
High
Low
June
70°
42°
July
80°
47°
August
76°
43°
September
61°
35°

Required Photography Gear:

  • SLR, or mirror-less camera system. A camera that you are most comfortable with is key here. It would be ideal to have a main camera body and a backup.
  • If you are interested in using a great Photography Backpack System, Look no further than Fstop Gear. These backpacks are the best I have ever used. The Anja would be a great pack for this trip. (make sure to buy an ICU “Internal Camera Unit” for packaging your camera safely, multiple sizes available on the F-stop gear website)
  • Wide angle lens. I’m a big fan of prime lenses, but a good wide angle zoom will work great as well. Something in the 18-24mm range will be great. If you have an APS-C camera (crop sensor), remember that you will need a 12mm lens to have the equivalent of an 18mm lens on a full frame camera.
  • Telephoto lens. An 80-200 will be a good lens to have access to on this trip. We will have the potential to see bears, moose, bison, bighorn sheep, elk and more.
  • Good sturdy tripod, carbon fiber preferred. I would recommend tripods from: Gitzo, Really Right Stuff, and Manfrotto.
  • Good Ball head
  • L-Bracket * (I find these to be such an important piece of gear, especially for shooting landscape)
  • Cable Release (Not only do these cable releases help to ensure a sharp photo by reducing camera vibrations, they also allow longer exposures which will be needed to photograph the night sky)
  • Graduated Neutral Density Filters (ND Grads). I also find these essential. A lot of my teachings revolve around these wonderful filters. I recommend the Lee filter system. A 2 stop hard and a 3 stop medium is a great start. If you want to experiment with longer exposures, I would recommend getting a couple of their full ND’s as well. You will need the Lee Holder, a wide angle adapter ring for your lens, and the filters.
  • Polarizer
  • Extra Batteries. We will be in the backcountry for a week, and the last thing you want to have happen is you run out of power. I would recommend 5 fully charged batteries per camera body.
  • 3-5 Good lens cloths (I find “The Spanky” to be one of the best on the market )
  • If you are a film shooter, bring plenty of film at least 50 rolls. I recommend Velvia 50 or Kodak Ektar 100.
  • Again, for the film shooters, a good handheld spot meter from Sekonic is a great way to go.

 

 

Clothing

  • Sturdy Hiking boots, mid weight, lug-soled, above the ankle, waterproof and ideally well broken in. Important note: Buy your boots 1/2 size to 1 size larger than your street shoes to allow for feet swelling and thicker socks
  • Lightweight sandals like Chacos or Tevas  for camp and river crossings
  • Hiking socks, one pair for every two days of your trip, plus an extra pair to sleep in. Recommended brands include Bridgedale®, Smartwool®, or similar padded socks (wearing thin liner socks under your hiking socks is highly recommended). No cotton socks!! And please break in new boots with the socks you plan on bringing on the trek!
  • Gaiters
  • Sunhat or baseball cap and bandana
  • Warm hat and gloves, and light-to-mid weight fleece or wool gloves
  • Long underwear, two pairs of wicking tops and bottoms that are light-to midweight, example materials include capilene, merino wool, polypropylene, etc.
  • 2 T-shirts or nylon travel shirts
  • Warm top, mid-weight shirt, sweater or pullover, also wicking material such as merino wool, fleece or polypropylene
  • Fleece jacket or insulated coat, warm, lightweight and packable down jacket or coat insulated with a synthetic material
  • Nylon pants and shorts, or zip-offs
  • Bathing suit
  • Fleece pants
  • Rainproof jacket and pants – Waterproof/breathable jacket and pants such as Gore-Tex® or coated nylon – with the pants look for side leg zippers or a style that will allow you to remove them without removing your boots

 

Gear

  • Water bottles or bladder, 2 liters total capacity (large mouth only please)
  • A lightweight, high quality stuff sac for your clothes and belongings to fit in while in the llama panniers will be provided
  • Contact lenses and glasses if you wear contact lenses please also bring a pair of glasses – your contacts are likely to become dirty and may be difficult to clean
  • Sunglasses, sunscreen, lip balm
  • Earplugs
  • Bug repellent, preferably a product containing at least 25% “DEET” (some people are sensitive to this product)
  • Toiletries, and a small washcloth (bandana can serve as a washcloth)
  • Headlamp, spare batteries (preferably an L.E.D. type that works with AA or AAA batteries)
  • Notebook or paperback book, (optional)
  • Knee braces, if needed
  • Prescription medicine, please inform your trip leader of any medications you are taking
  • Vitamins, (optional)
  • Fly fishing gear, if you want to fish
  • Money, for tipping the Llama guides

 

Great Trail Companions

The fact that lllamas allow you to hike with a light day pack is just the beginning. Llamas make great hiking companions, and in fact the relationship goes far beyond them being simply “beasts of burden” transporting your supplies. Llamas are naturally curious and very aware of their surroundings, often the first to spot wildlife along the trail. It’s almost impossible to approach camp without the llamas watching you. They enjoy new sights, love sampling the cuisine du jour and become very much a partner in your adventure.

Very Low Impact

Llamas leave no more impact than a deer. Mules and horses, because of the metal horseshoes they require, are notorious for tearing up trails which leads to erosion. One of the great benefits of hiking with llamas is you get the same benefit as a pack horse or mule, but without causing damage to our remaining wild and majestic places.

What’s Required of You

Honestly, not much other than a desire to hike, a passion for photography, love for stunning mountain scenery, and a willingness to bond with a very unique and cool animal. You’ll have the option to lead a llama or hike on your own, but we recommend leading one to enhance your experience by forming a relationship with “your” llama. It’s not uncommon for some guests to be in tears at the end of their trip when they must say goodbye to their furry friend. We love them, and we think you will too!