On 25 Jul 12, Benjy flew out and we took a trip to the Winds up to Cirque of the Towers
(Google Map). Of course, for Benjy this was a climbing trip, but I convinced him to spend a
couple of days backpacking with me. I had never been to the Cirque because I thought it was
too crowded, so this was a good excuse to go see it. The trail to Big Sandy Lake was mostly
flat, so it was a pleasant hike. From Big Sandy Lake we hiked up to Clear Lake. Clear was
pretty, and there was only one other group camped at the lake, so that was really nice. We
planned to hike on to Temple Lake, but Benjy's pack was crazy heavy with all of his climbing
gear, so we called it a day at Clear Lake.
The next day, Friday, we dropped back down to Big Sandy, and then made the climb up to
Jackass Pass. I really didn't think the climb up to the Pass was that hard. It was kind of long,
but it wasn't terribly steep. A rain storm blew in as we neared the top of the pass, and the wind
was howling pretty good. We made our way around the back side of Arrowhead Lake, and
then dropped down into the Cirque of the Towers basin. We looked around for a campsite,
and found a pretty good campsite overlooking the cirque. We then started worrying about how
we would find Benjy's friend, Ryan, who was hiking in to meet us in the cirque. The cirque
wasn't as crowded as I was afraid it would be, but it was still pretty crowded, and it was bigger
than I expected. I hiked around the cirque making sure he wasn't already there, and then
went back to camp. Our camp was a few yards off the trail, so I tied a shirt to a tree on the
trail to try to signal to Ryan where we were, hoping he would come into the basin the same
way we did. Just 60 seconds after I tied the shirt up, Ryan came walking into camp carrying
the shirt...that was lucky! We set up camp, which would be their base camp for the next three
nights, and settled in for the night.
On Saturday I packed up and headed back to the trailhead by myself, and Ryan and Benjy
headed out to climb for the day. I hiked along the backside of Arrowhead Lake, which involved
a lot of large boulder hopping...not really a good idea when you're by yourself with a full pack.
Oh well, I lived. Then I just had a nice, pleasant hike down to Big Sandy Lake and then out to
This was a really nice hike, but I still think Titcomb Basin is nicer. The Cirque is definitely
better for rock climbers, though. It wasn't as crowded as I had expected, but like everywhere
I've been in the Winds, it was more crowded than I prefer. I was also amazed how much gear
Ryan and Benjy had to carry for alpine climbing...their packs weighed about 70 pounds each.
Ouch. I was impressed. But I'm also confident I will never be a rock climber!