Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Elizabeth Mountain, Uinta Mountains- July 2018

I had the great honor of taking my family into the Uintas over the holiday weekend. It was my son's first time to the Uintas so we were all excited! We packed up the Jeep and headed into Kamas. A quick stop at the corner Cheveron in Kamas for the best homemade doughnuts you've ever had. Once we were doughnut ready we made our way up the Mirror Lake Highway. Its beautiful this year. We made our way up over the pass and to our road for the Elizabeth Mountain area. I am not going to divulge road numbers, I want to keep my spots off the radar. But from all of my expolring out there, you really can't go wrong from taking a side road here or there. We made the rough ride out on the main road, then we arrived to the area I had been looking at on Google Earth. It was a rough start in there, but short lived as this road mellows out after you do the first climb. We drove all the roads in the area, took some pictures and then looked around for our camp site.

Down a few spur roads, then we ended up in one of the most beautiful camp sites for car camping that I have ever seen. We settled on our site and proceeded to set up camp. A thunder rumbler with a pretty decent down pour started up right as we got our new 6 Man Long Lake Tent by Mountain Smith sold at Scheels. This tent is well designed and easy to set up. Lay it flat on the footprint, slide the poles in, connect the corners, stake it, and throw and clip the fly over the body, sake out the fly and you are done! It literally takes the same amount of time with two people to set up as my backpacking tent. I am 5' 8" and I can stand up in both the tent and vestibule. The interior is roomy, spacious, and has all the storage you could need. Bonus features is a closable screen window on the door, and zip open windows on the rain fly for ventilating the tent. It proved its waterproofing on our first day. As soon as we had it set up a big thunderstorm came in with wind, heavy rain, and thunder. I stood in the vestibule during the rain storm and I was totally dry. You'll need a large area to set this up, but you'll never want to camp in another tent after you spend a night in this one. Great design, easy set up and break down, has its own stuff sac with handle, and packs down smaller than some other tents this size. If you are looking for a 4-6 man tent, you are for sure going to want to consider this one for the price, functionallity, and waterproofing.

We did not want to sit around camp so while it rained, we did some more exploring of the area. I found the route to a lake I want to backpack, and we tested out the Jeep on some really rough and rugged terrain. Did not even seem to affect the Jeep. A couple of slow and go places, but over all my Jeep Renegade really showed how awesome it really is! Once the storm passed we headed back to camp to finish setting up our home for the weekend and to get dinner going. We made camp pizza and boy was that delicious. S'mores were up for dessert and my daugher was excited for that! Evening set in and my son had an early bed time. I stayed up and took some shots of the Milky Way and a star trail shot that is the title photo in this report. We awoke the next day to clear skies and we made pancakes and then took it easy in camp for a while. The ladies played Sushi Go while I watched my son as he slept in the shade in his pack and play. Once he woke up, we headed out on an adventure expolring the area. I found a few connections to trailheads I want to hit in the future and it was just beautiful out there.

Eventually we came back to camp. At this point the mosquitoes were unbearable and my wife was having a hard time with our son. So I think everyone was tired and as soon as dusk set in everyone went to be. I stayed up for a bit to have a fire, but there was cloud cover in all night so no photography. I tunred in to what was a very light drizzle on the rain fly. I was awakened at 5 AM by my son so I popped out of the tent and saw an amazing sunrise popping through the trees. Red sky in the morning, campers warning! We all went back to sleep for a couple of hours then got up, hung out for a bit then packed it up. We drove out to Kamas and ate at Taco's De Somrero, an new place next to the Cheveron. It was so delicious! Its on my to eat list everytime I go there now. And they are open on Sundays! A great time with my family and I hope to get out with them more often. Enjoy the pics, More adventures to come!

Monday, July 2, 2018

Ryder Lake, High Uintas Wilderness- 6.29-7.1.2018

I have wanted to visit Ryder Lake for years. It seemes something always got in the way, or something came up that would not make this a viable plan to do this big of a hike. Well that day to go there finally came as things rapidly came together this last week to do what would be for me the biggest solo backpacking trip I will have ever done to date. I made my way up to the Uintas early Friday morning because I was looking at what all the info I researched suggested was a 8.5 mile hike into Ryder Lake. So getting an early start was crucial as it is a long walk. I arrived at the Christmas Meadows trailhead and put on the boots and pack and started in. The temps were perfect and I made the 2.7 miles to the Amethyst junction in 59 minutes. Moving to a UL set up really lets you put in the miles in rapid fashion. I stopped for about five mintues at the junction for Amethyst, then I moved on. This is where the water/mud rocks in the trail crossings begin. You would have stretches of trail you could really make some nice time on, then you would either have to cross water, or a big mud bog that the horses on this trail have made precarious for backpackers. I just would swing around them to avoid them. But a few you had to walk across logs or squish your way through.

I arrived 5.2 miles later at the Kermsuh junction, but kept going because the mosquitoes in this area were thick. I moved up the trail about another mile and found a spot to stop for lunch about 6.3 miles in. This is where I tried out my LifeStraw as Stillwater Creek was flowing right next to where I stopped for lunch. Ten seconds in the water and five quick sips and boom fresh clean water! It was so good and ice cold and I drank quite a bit of water while I was there. It really does help cut down on having to carry a lot of water with you and having a back up means of obtaining water is invaluable! Highly recommend this if you are a backpacker. I eventually moved on and made my way to the steepest part of the hike. It was a mix of boggy areas and really rocky terrain. At 8.5 miles I came to a big river crossing in a meadow which was at least waist deep. I did not want to get wet this late in the day so I looked around for a better place to cross. There were some stacked logs about fifty feet from the main trail and some boulders they were resting on. I made my way across those and was thinking 8.5 miles, lake has to be close right? The lake should be right here right? Wrong! More steep was in store including one final ascent that after 9 miles was a butt kicker to say the least. After topping out and walking which what seemed the biggest meadow with ponds I have ever seen, I arrived at Ryder Lake.

I arrived to a very moody Ryder Lake with clouds billowing over the peaks and the wind was howling and was chilly to say the least. I made my way around the lake till I found a spot that looked comfortable that would be my home for the weekend. I found it atfer a short walk. I then got camp built and then got a fire going as evening was setting in. I sat down for some dinner, then the alpenglow started setting in so out came the camera for some really fun shots. Clouds would stay with me all night so I did not stay up late to shoot a star trail. I had a nice fire and enjoyed the night then turned in. There is a certain type of light a photograher is always looking for, and moring brought that right out the door to my tent. I spent probably a good 1 1/2 hours just shooting and playing with the light that was painting the peaks with light and shadow. I was having a bit of an apetite issue on this trip, and I did my best to eat some breakfast as I knew I had burned a lot of calories. I did not have an upset stomach, just was not hungry for some reason. I heated up some tea with honey and enjoyed the moring as best as one could. There was a cold wind blowing and it was chilly start to the day. I worked on camp for the evening, rounding up fire wood, and refilling my gravity filter.

Afternoon warmed up a bit, so I put together my fly rod and camera and went for a walk. I ended up at BR-17 and took some pictures and fished a bit. The wind was just a bit too cold for my liking so I moved into the sun and fished Ryder for a bit. Walking back to camp my lower back was not feeling well so I made my way up to camp. I was honestly kind of anxious about my back being in pain and having to walk 9.6 miles back to the car. I took some cold water in one of my roll up water bottles and used it as a cold press and took some Aleve. It seemed to calm down and I walked down to the lake to kind of stretch it out. I met my neighbors Robert and Mike. Nice guys, and I let them use my fly rod for the evening as I did not want to agravate my back by casting. Once the Aleve kicked in I was feeling much better and got things going for the evening. I got a good fire going and made dinner. I was still struggling feeling hungry, but forced myself to eat all my dinner as I knew I was going to need the calories to get out on Sunday. Mike brought my fly rod back up after he was done and we chatted by the fire for a bit before he headed back to his camp.

Not a cloud in the sky and the stars were out in force. I put my camera out for a star trail and pulled up next to my fire and enjoyed the night. My back was feeling much better and I was in a very happy place. As the moon rose into the sky, it lit up all the peaks and the lake making for a wondeful view from camp. After my shots were fininshed I took a few at camp then decided to turn in as I was going to have a long walk out the next day. I set my alarm for 6 AM and got up, made breakfast and some more tea, watched the sunrise, then packed it up. I was ready to go at 8:59 AM. It was cool but pleasant this morning on the trail. Not a cloud in the sky. Not too many bugs either which made the walk out very nice. I must have been making a break neck pace, I walked right past the Kermsuh Junction and before I knew it I was crossing Ostler Creek. At the Amethyst Junction I checked my tracker and it said I had done 6.2 miles in 2 hours and 48 minutes. That UL set up is really paying off. Once at my Jeep I celebrated finishing the biggest solo backpacking trip I have ever done. I have done longer walkabouts than this with company, but never this far all by myself. I was proud of myself for pushing through everything all weekend and still having an amazing time! Ryder Lake is an awesome destination and I am glad I was able to visit! Enjoy the pics! More adventures to come!

Monday, June 25, 2018

Cuberant Basin, Uinta Mountains- 6.23-24.2018

Another great weekend was on tap and I was not about to miss out on it no matter who did or did not want to go. I packed it up and headed to Pass Lake Trailhead to head into Cuberant Basin. The hike in was nice, a few skeeters here and there, but not bad. I made a quick pace up to the Kamas/Cuberant cutoff then proceeded up the short climb. The meadows are full on like they would be mid to late July and its not even the end of June yet. Once on the pass, the view was grand and I took in the breeze and the beauty of this place. Over the pass I went into the basin. Then I dropped down to Cuberant 2 and it was very full for how dry our winter was. I then moved the final stretch down to camp. The best part about this hike was the lack of people. It was even better when I went into the basin and no one was camped in there as well. I don't remember ever having the first three trips in the Uintas as people free as these have been.

My arrival at camp was greeted with winds and mosquitoes. I had packed in some Nag Champa incense so I lit a few sticks and got camp set up. I then harvested some wood, all dead fall, not a single piece taken from any tree that was still standing. I then got my water and settled in for a very quiet afternoon. Evening came and the wind shifted from the south to the north as an expected cold front arrived. It quickly got me into the evening layers and as soon as dusk set in I lit my fire. Once the cold arrived the mosquitoes vanished as if blown out of there by the cold front. I made dinner then waited for the longest cloud in Uintas history to move out of the shot I wanted. I swear that could was all the way back into the Wasatch. Long like a cigar, and it just crept from 8:30 till nearly 10 PM when it finally was out of view. I had a wonderful evening by a great fire and a couple of beverages I hauled in. After my camera finished, I coaled out the fire and hit the sleeping bag. It was quiet and the wind had almost completely gone overnight. No frogs to fall asleep to like the last camp. But still a great nights sleep none the less.

The next morning was crystal clear and full of singing birds. I made coffee and sat out on the shore in the sun as it was a chilly start to the day. Once the sun was up I had breakfast and packed it up as I wanted to enjoy my hike out and not be in a rush. The hike out was perfect and I saw my first two folks just as I got over the pass and was on my way down. Talk about timing. As I hiked out the people were mobbing the Lofty Lake Loop so plenty of humans after the junction to the car. No matter, they were no where near me. Best part about the hike out was no mosquitoes. Did not even see one. With how cold the end of my nose got overnight, I think that cold front beat a lot of them down. I did not even DEET up on the way out as I had planned because it just was not needed. A great solo backpacking trip and another wonderful weekend in the Uintas. Enjoy the pics! More adventures to come!

Friday, June 15, 2018

Mill D North Fork To Dog Lake, Big Cottonwood Canyon- June 2018

Wonderful evening hike into Dog Lake via Mill D North Fork Thursday evening. The temps were warm on the way in, and down right pleasant on the way out. It was a smorgasbord of wild flowers for the eyes to feast on, especially on the way out with the evening light making the colors pop. I did the trail into the lake in just over an hour and some change. I was at the Dog/Deso junction in 42 minutes from the car. That has to be a personal best. I took my time on the way out. Even saw the tent worm caterpillars getting ready for the big change! As you can see there was a lot to enjoy on the way out! The Wasatch is beautiful! 5.2 miles round trip! Good for the mind, body, and soul. Enjoy the pics! More adventures to come!