Sunday, September 17, 2017

Cutthroat Lake, Uinta Mountains- 9.16/17.2017

The high terrain received its first snow of the season this past week. After months of unbearable heat in the valleys, we finally got a cold front, some moisture, and some mountain snow. I had plans to get out backpacking in the Uintas. From the forecast, it seemed that it would be cool going into the weekend but warm up to end the weekend. I was able to get out with my friend Clay and his awesome dog Sekoia. We decided to hit Cutthroat Lake since Clay had never been there before. We packed it up and headed into the range. Things were pretty warm until we hit Bald Mountain Pass. This showed you the extent of the snow fall on the range, most of the high peaks had snow on them. We stopped at the pass to take a picture of the snow capped peaks. Getting out to shoot really gave you a taste of how cold things had gotten since the storm. It was 32 degrees on the pass will cold winds blowing. When we arrived at the trail head it was 42 degrees. With a biting breeze to chill you all the way on trail, we made the hike in. It was very quiet, and only a couple of cars at the trail head. We made a good pace while passing all the lakes in the area and enjoying the sights and silence. This was some cold air for September. I bet if it had been storming it would have been snowing.

We made our way to camp and got things set up. Then we decided to get a fire going and collect what we needed to stay warm. I think both of us were kind of shocked at how cold it was, not expecting the bite to the air. We sat around drinking tea and warming up for most of the day. It was way too cold to do anything but either move or sit by the fire. Evening came in and it seemed to actually warm up a bit. We made dinner, then I set my camera out for the title image in this post. We had a very nice and warm fire as the stars were out and the temps were cold. Eventually the sleeping bag called my name. I bundled up in it like a mummy and dozed off for some much needed sleep. Morning came and both myself and Clay slept in and got up later than usual. I personally can attest that my planning for the cold paid off, and I was just too comfy in my sleeping bag to want to get out of it. When the sun hit camp I made my way for coffee and breakfast. The sun was warming it up quite a bit as it was at least 10 degrees warmer than the previous day. We packed it up and made the hike out. With the forecasted temps and snow this coming week in the Uintas, this might have been my last trip out there for the year. I have seen stranger things happen, so maybe I'll get lucky one more time to get out before winter reclaims the high terrain. If not its been a short but good year out there. Enjoy the pics! More adventures to come!

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Labor Day weekend in the Uintas- 9.2/3/4.2017

My original plan for the holiday weekend was to backpack to Hell Hole Lake in the Uintas. I did everything right, packed the night before, uploaded a .gpx file of the route to the GPS on my phone, packed a map, and I also had a plan for hiking times and when I would reach camp. I made it to the trail head, put the pack on and headed on in. I crossed the river without getting my feet wet, so I was feeling good about things. When I got across, there was a horse tied to a tree and what looked like a single track heading into the woods. I followed it for about a mile or so until it dead ended in chest high dead fall. To top it off, my GPS app was not loading the map, it kept crashing every time I would try to use it. Kind of feeling lost and finding no visible route, I had to make a decision at that moment. I was kind of unsure if I could even find my way back out to the trail head. Do I continue on and hope I run into the road in the fork, or do I try to retrace my steps to the Jeep and live to try again another day? I chose the later and made my way back out to the river. I crossed it again with no problem and got back to the Jeep. Frustrated, feeling like a failure, I just about packed it up and headed home. I then decided, since it was now much later in the day, to head in and see if I could snag Shadow Lake for a night and figure it out on Sunday.

I arrived to what I expected, a packed trail head. Holiday Weekend, go figure. But amazingly, someone was just pulling out as I was pulling in. I snagged the spot, threw on the pack and made my way in. I was moving at a quick pace, passing Washington Lake, and Tail Lakes like I was in a race. I arrived at Shadow Lake. To my surprise it was empty! Not a soul was there. I got my spot and set up shop. Once I settled in, a couple of day hikers came in, but they were on the other side of the lake. I did not even notice them minus when they arrived. I think they just had a quick snack and moved on. I put the fly rig together and took a crack at fishing. After catching some pan fryer brookies, I hooked into a very large Tiger Trout! Seriously some very fast fishing at this lake. Much faster than on previous visits here. Sunset came and it was beautiful, as you can see in the title photo. Darkness arrived and I put out my camera for a star trail and settled in for a nice night by the fire. This was one of the best nights all season! Vibe was good, and the fire was warm! After finishing my beverages, and gathering up the camera from its long exposure duties, I hit the sleeping bag for some much needed sleep.

The next day I awoke to clear skies and mild temps. I got some coffee going and watched the mist drift cross the lake. I made breakfast and went fishing again. It was fast action again, just pan fryers this time. I was just lounging around wondering if I was going to stay a second night, when a group of fifteen backpackers came rolling in. That made up my mind for me. I was gonna move on. I was packed in 45 minutes and hit the trail to head to the Jeep. I arrived to a mad house at the trail head, and I threw the pack in the car, shooting to see if I could just walk into Bourbon Lake and set up for the night. I made the drive over there only to find no where to park. I waited about an hour for someone to come out and leave, but alas it was not to be. I decided I would head out. I drove back up to go over the pass when I saw an open parking spot at the Fehr Lake lot. I figured it would be better than just dispersing it out on the road. So I took the spot, threw on the pack after reloading it, and made the short walk in. I found a spot on the east side over a ridge and away from the lake as to avoid the day hikers. There were a few, but not as many as I saw at the Crystal Lake lot. I got things settled for the night and decided to give fishing a shot. Alas, some hits, but nothing landed. Dusk started to settle in and the clouds were building from the south. I was kind of thinking I might get a thunderstorm as the sound of distant thunder was rumbling on the east side of the range.

This fortunately did not come to pass, but the clouds made one hell of a sunset to witness. I returned to camp and got on the evening gear and lit my fire. As darkness set in, I put my camera out on the south side of the lake, and let it do its thing. I returned to camp and had another great night by the fire. It was quiet and no one was there. I had the place all to myself once again! What are the odds of that on Hwy 150 on a holiday weekend? The moon broke through the clouds and the stars were amazing! I just relaxed and took it all in as the moon sailed west through the sky and the flames flicked in the fire. Eventually I reached my limit, and turned. I awoke to seeing my breath, and it was chilly for the first hour in camp. I did coffee and breakfast and then gave fishing another shot. Nothing once again, but still fun to be out there tossing a line. I packed it up and made the short hop out to the car. Not exactly what I set out to do this past weekend. Its been a long time since an area had me turn around. But all things considered, I think I made the best of it. Enjoy the pics, more adventures to come!

Monday, August 28, 2017

Marjorie Lake, Uinta Mountains- 8.26/27.2017

With August going out sizzling in the valley, I found myself with another shot to get out of the heat and into the Uintas. I was fortunate that my friend Clay and his dog Sekoia were able to join me. We made the drive into the range, and got a parking spot at the Crystal Lake trail head. Dark clouds were looming over the ridge as we put on the packs and made our way in. It sprinkled on us as we climbed the pass. Then it seemed to let up as we made our way down into the basin. Turning at the junction, the drizzle started again and finished almost as fast as it started. After a pleasant walk in the woods we found ourselves at Marjorie Lake. We made our way over to our desired spot and got shop built for the evening. I put the fly rod together as Clay went for a dip in the lake. From the noise he made it must have been pretty cold water. I fished for the better part of the day, missing a ton of fish but landing a few pan fry sized Brookies.

Dusk set in and the sunset was pretty sweet! As the sun got lower in the sky, it cast shadows of the peaks to the west across Haystack Mountain. We settled in with a fire for some dinner and some good conversation. Clay and Sekoia are just plain fun to go backpacking with. Darkness fell and I put my camera out for a star trail and settled in for a few beverages and a warm fire. After a couple of hours I decided to head to the north side of the lake to try to capture the Milky Way. There were so many stars I sat out there for quite a while just taking it all in. Eventually I headed back to camp and decided to turn in. I awoke to clear skies and mild temps. I got some coffee and breakfast going and sat out on the shore for a while. It was just so beautiful up here and the weather could not have been better. Time came to head out so I put on the pack and made my way to the car. This was a great trip with a good friend. It was awesome to be out in the mountains once more! Enjoy the pics! More adventures to come!

Monday, August 21, 2017

Cuberant Basin, Uinta Mountains- 8.18/19.2017

A fine batch of weather was on tap for the northern part of Utah. I took it upon myself to take advantage of getting out on trail. I decided since I was going solo I would head into Cuberant Basin for the evening. What kind of trouble could I get into? I set out from Pass Lake trail head and moved rather quickly into Reids Meadow. A solid push from there, and I was standing at the junction to Cuberant Basin. I was going to stop and take a break but I was feeling good and decided to push all the way into my spot for the evening. It was a wonderful walk in there, partly cloudy with some nice temps, and shade most of the way hiking in. Doing the last section to the pass is when the sun came out in force. I sat up there and took a standing break just soaking in the view and nice breeze. On I went into the basin, past #2 and down to #3 for my final stop for the night.

After getting shop set up I decided to do a little fishing as I had a couple of hours before sunset. It was red hot for pan fry brookies which were striking at anything you could throw at them. Eventually dusk set in and I got my fire going and had some dinner. Had a spooky moment right at dark, when my headlamp lit up two eyes low to the ground right outside my camp. Turned out to be a deer which was grazing on the abundance of greenery that has grown this year. Not gonna lie, the adrenaline was coursing through my veins! Was really glad to see that deer go bounding shoreline in front of me. Once I had my camera out for a long exposure, I made my way back to camp and settled in with my fire and some beverages. Eventually, it was time to turn in. I slept pretty soundly only stirring once in the night to adjust my sleeping bag. I awoke to clear skies and cold temps. There was frost on the meadow behind camp. A sure bet that summer is wrapping up in the high terrain. I kind of took my time in camp having some coffee and breakfast. After packing it up I made the hike out. You could not have asked for better weather. The view from Marsell Pass on the way out was spectacular! Cuberant Basin is a place that I have visited every year since 2009. it never disappoints. It was a great trip! Enjoy the pics! More adventures to come!

Monday, August 7, 2017

Dean Lake, Uinta Mountains- 8.5/6.2017

I was fortunate enough to get out backpacking for a very short trip into Dean Lake in the Uintas. I got a very late start so I did not get to the trail head till about 4 PM. I was trying out my new UL backpacking boots sent to me from Keen. The APhlex boot is only 17.6 OZ per boot, and they are waterproof. These boots are made to fit like a running shoe, but give the full support of a hiking boot. They are amazing! I'll give a full report on them later. I made a quick hike in passing Clegg Lake and enjoying the variety of wildflowers which were in full bloom. After a bit of meadow walking from the main trail, I was standing lake side. Not a bad place to be on your birthday. I found my way into the camp I like and got things settled in for the evening. The moon came up over the lake and I had to get a shot of that because the lake was glass. This was going to be a completely clear night and I was excited about the photography opportunities!

I retreated to camp and got my camera ready for a star trail and got my fire going. I put out the camera for a time lapse and made some dinner. It got a bit chilly at 10,360 ft. I was glad to have my insulated jacket. The moon stayed in the southern sky making reflection shots a lot of fun to play with. After some camera fun it was time to turn in for some quiet sleep. I was awoken about 4 AM to the sound of a very large rockfall over by Notch Lake. It echoed through the whole basin. I imagine it must have been pretty large due to the sheer volume of the collapse. I rolled back over and slept in. I awoke to sunny skies with whispy clouds rolling in from the south and west. I took my time getting breakfast and some coffee. I then packed it up because I had birthday dinner plans with my family. The hike out was nice and a unusually empty trail for this area. I got to the lot in an hour and some change and posted up for a bit watching all the people there to climb Mt Baldy. It was a great way to spend a birthday with weather that you just cannot appreciate enough. Enjoy the pics! More adventures to come!

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Teal Lake, Uinta Mountains- 7.29/30.2017

I had the chance to break away from the busy week in Salt Lake with Outdoor Retailer in town, to squeeze in an over night trip to the Uintas. I woke early on Saturday and departed for the trail head. The walk in was pretty quick, passing the many lakes in this area. The wildflowers are at peak right now so the color was amazing to see. After some brisk paced hiking I found myself descending to Teal Lake. I found my friends fishing as I arrived and I set up shop for the evening to come. We then just got into full fly fishing mode landing multiple Cutthroat and Tiger Trout. I happened to get a very nice sized Tiger on a Caddis Fly that has never landed anything previously. We fished most of the day, hanging out, and just enjoying where we were. The weather could not have been better. Evening came in with about 10 rain drops. We got a fire going and settled in.

Darkness fell and I decided since all the clouds had cleared out that I would put the camera out for a star trail. We sat around the fire eating delicious fish and having some well earned beverages. After my time lapse finished, I walked out to the lake and set up for a Milky Way shot. It is heading west now, so I got it as good as you can see it this time of year. After a nice fire, fun with the camera, and catching up with my good friends, it was time to turn in.

Morning came with clear skies and no winds. I made coffee and ate breakfast and went and sat by the lake. The sun on the peaks was just amazing. After a great start to the day I did a quick pack and decided to head out. The hike out was just amazing with the light and the wildflowers did not disappoint! I even ran into a Marmot climbing my way out to the trail head. It was so much fun to be out in the mountains once more. Enjoy the pics, more adventures to come!