GET OUT: Fisherman Creek Lake
JACKSON HOLE, WYO – So I go a lot of places, driven mostly by a need to know what’s around the next bend and over the next rise. I chronicle the places I go in a journal I keep on my computer. It’s just a few observations about the trip – notable discoveries or run-ins with wildlife, etc. I will usually remark on the weather, which is always interesting to go back and compare.
The journal has been running since 2002. It contains 346 entries. They are almost all distinct trips. A few are repeats and that’s where I’m going with this. As meticulous as I keep my records – and it’s not anal or anything but I usually remember to chronicle every trek – you think I would at least remember having been somewhere before. Maybe not.
I don’t know how or why I pick certain places to go. I just study a quad (a computer software version) and look for interesting terrain or features. Having an end goal in mind is always a plus. In the case of Fisherman Creek Lake, it might have been the name that caught my eye, or the perfectly achievable half-day hike at the northwest edge of the Wind River Range.
These hikes south of Bondurant in the Hoback Basin are always fairly flat to start. As you push toward the Winds, the going gets nastier. In this case, you can quit the hike at the lake for an easy 4.7-mile hike with a very gradual 1,100 feet of elevation gain. You won’t even notice it.
In Bondurant, zero out the odometer and clock 7 miles exactly. You are looking for Fisherman Creek Road on the left with Rim Road on the right. There is a huge parking area where you’ve probably seen a bunch of snowmobile trailers parked in the winter. Turn left and follow FR #30650 (North Fork Fisherman Ck. for about 3.8 miles where it will turn into a hiking trail at Slide Creek. That’s Raspberry Ridge on your left the whole way in.
Jump out and start hiking. You will immediately come to a marshy area. Keep an eye out for moose here. I saw one with a calf in September 2006 and another in November 2009. Deer will be plentiful in here as well.
If you want to get into some elk, here’s a secret: Break off the aforementioned drive after about 2.3 miles. You will see an abandoned cabin on your right. Walk to it and beyond, headed east. You will pick up a pretty good trail that will drop you into Sandrock Creek, which is rather uneventful, but further on you will come upon Sour Moose Creek. Look left to the north. You will see a herd of elk. You can access Sour Moose via four-wheel drive from the highway, too.
Somewhere along the way on this four-mile side trip I once came upon a bunch of critters hanging from a tree. It was in an area no one would have thought to go or stumble upon. Weird.
To the lake/pond
Back to the hike to the lake. At the start, it is possible to hike up Slide Creek to a dead-ending mini-bowl at the base of Pass Peak. It looks like it would be cool to snowmachine up in here. I’ll bet they do. You will see plenty of cows up here as well, if they aren’t all gathered by now. They will be soon.
About 1.8 miles in you will come across an old jeep trail on your left. This comes from Jack Creek Basin and many of your lazy anglers will ATV from here all the way to Fisherman Creek Lake. Much of the way up to the lake you will see glimpses of a snow-covered Tosi Peak (11,380’) where The Elbow meets The Sawtooth. It’s very impressive.
The lake ain’t much. More like a pond. I’ve seen trout in it. Small ones. When I arrived here in July 2010, I had an eerie feeling of déjà vu. Sure enough, I looked at my trusty journal and found I had been here in 2006, but completely forgot about it. One thing my photos showed me in comparing the two trips, with four years between them, was how many trees had succumbed to the pine beetle.