A New Location on the Map
Let me introduce Alice Lindy Lake
We finally found all of our gear on a rock beside Alice Lindy Lake. It had been a tiring, eleven-mile day with a net elevation gain of about eleven hundred feet. Not bad, but remember that was net. Another factor: the trailhead was at 9,500 feet.
Alice Lindy Lake is a pure little tarn above the tree line in the Wind River Range of Wyoming. She lies in a basin to the west/southwest of Mount Lester and just south of a long ridge strewn with granite fragments broken from its sheer sides. The Highline trail passes her shore to the north, just before starting up Lester Pass, a thousand foot climb.
Coming to the lake basin from the northwest, the trail scrambles up a steep and rocky slope over a lip into a small hanging valley. Views out of the valley are stunning. Henderson Peak, a sharp saw tooth, rises to over 13,500 feet and is only about five and a half miles away. The pinnacle and the glacially marred crest to its south create a horizon to the northwest rivaling any wilderness setting I have ever experienced.
You may wonder why you have never heard of such a wonderful spot. Isolation is not the only reason; the name is not on any maps. I must assume that is simply a gross oversight on the part of all cartographers everywhere.
I’ll share a little history. Alice Lindy is my two-year-old granddaughter. She has never been in the Wind River Range but was in the same state for a few hours a year ago.
As we prepared for a hike into the Winds we noticed there were several small lakes that had no names. As I studied the area on Google Earth I saw the same phenomena. So when we needed to tell the outfitter where to leave our stuff, all we could do was point to one of those nameless lochs on the map and say ‘here,’ hoping he found the one we intended.
Without geographic names, locating is very difficult. There is the system of longitude and latitude but who can remember all those degrees and minutes and seconds, sometimes even tens and hundreds of seconds?
So I decided to do the world of geography a favor and name this one, beautiful little spot after Alice Lindy. After all she is one beautiful little girl, so it seemed to fit.
Alice Lindy Lake is a 5- or 6-acre mere filled with clear pristine water fed from a couple of bubbling mountain streams. Mount Lester, a rubble-sided, ridge-like peak, dominates views to the east. Its vertical sides rise directly from the basin three thousand feet to its summit. Like all of the range where this pure water lies, the shore is mostly grayish-brown stones varying in size from baseballs to large trucks; however the bottom is mostly mud. When we filtered our water we had to be careful not to stir up the dirt and clog the system. Sitting on one of the large boulders just below the water line was the only way to bathe. The water is cold in early September, when we were there. However, it’s quite refreshing after a day of hiking or for a morning face wash.
I am not sure what the official system is for naming locations, however, I do know that when a place gets called something long enough by enough people the name sticks, even when it isn’t official.
So here is what I did. I took some photos of Alice Lindy Lake and posted them on Google Earth with that name. If this works I’ll be looking for a place to name Ernie.
My plan now is to hike back in with Alice someday and show it to her.
One of the guys I was with has a newborn granddaughter. He also found a lake to name. When I told him of my plans to come back with Alice he said, “I don’t know, I’ll be over 80 by then.”
I said, “We hear of folks over 80 hiking like this all the time.”
“Yeah, but I’m not sure I’ll want to.”
“If your pretty little girl, (and she will always be your pretty little girl) wants you to, you will want to.” I said.
He laughed and nodded.
We day hiked for the next four days, once into Titcomb Basin, a glorious granite cirque gouged out by glaciers. A few remnants still hang on the jagged peaks.
There was a day when we followed Fremont Creek. That day we took a dip in the pool below The Big Waterslide, a natural spillway draining one of those many unnamed lakes. The water pours down a stone face about 40 feet high. Never quite free falling but cascading over polished stone, like a slide – thus the name.
It is close to The Jane Lakes, a designation that encouraged me to name Alice Lindy Lake.
On each trek back to our base we had to make that steep climb up tht very rocky trail into the basin below Lester Peak. Since it always came at the end of the day I started calling it Humor Hill, because I seemed to leave my sense of humor on it each time. I think, considering my attitude, it was a very benevolent name. Others, far less kind, had crossed my mind.
We spent several days exploring the hills and ridges surrounding Alice Lindy. It allowed vistas into many of the valleys and gorges, through passes and gaps of the Winds. Alice is not the only reason I want to go back, the scenery is extraordinary.
After using the wonderful spot I had named as our base for five nights, it was time to start the two-day hike out. We had not arranged for the outfitter so, for the first time on the trip, we carried full packs. The eleven miles was broken up this time by a night on Barbara Lake. I don’t have any idea who Barbara is but I bet it was named the same way as Alice Lindy Lake.
The next day we hiked back to the car. By mid afternoon we were sitting in a hot springs and that night rented a cabin where we slept in beds for the first time in two weeks.
In a dream I was hiking with a pretty little girl up the hill to Alice Lindy Lake. She named it Ernie Hill.