Saturday, July 30, 2011

Lake Blanch- Mill B South Fork- Big Cottonwood Canyon- July 29th, 2011

Sometimes you just have it so good, that when you travel to other areas, you realize that what you are looking for is right in your backyard. I decided that I wanted to get up to Lake Blanch this day, as the weather for the weekend was forecasting severe thunderstorms all weekend. This was going to be the one day that was good to go, so I hit it. The hike up was spectacular, and for how popular this trail is, it was a ghost town on this day. The views just kept getting better, and as I was traveling alone, as I do quite a bit here in the Wasatch, the photography that I was getting was unreal, and I was able to really play with my camera, being alone brings that kind of focus. After a little under 2 hours I ended up standing on the shore of Lake Blanch. If you have never been here, you really need to make it a destination on your list. I have been here so many times, and every time I go there, it still blows my mind.

I decided after some pics and drying out from the hot hike up, that fishing was in order. Second cast and I had one on. It was like shooting fish in a crap barrel. They were so active is was crazy. I spent like 2 1/2 hours fishing and they were still hitting my fly like they could not get enough of it. I caught a total of 10 fish on the same fly. The biggest I got a photo of, and I have to say, this was the best day of fishing this season by far. About 2:30 I noticed some towering clouds start to build over the ridge tops and decided that it was time to head down. the hike out was amazing. The light filtering from the clouds was awesome. Made it down in about an hour and change. This day totally reminds me that I love exploring new areas, but that sometimes I forget that some of the most beautiful wilderness, and great fishing is right here in my backyard. I love the Wasatch, got some more places to visit here before the snow flies again!

Big Water/Dog Lake/Little Water Loop- Millcreek Canyon- July 10th, 2011

This started out to be a very nice hike. Much cooler than the valley. And not too crowded with all the traffic in the canyon. We started on the Big Water Trail, and headed up under sunny skies and perfect temps. The snow is pretty much gone, minus some stubborn patches holding on in the trees below the trail. Muskies dogs were loving it, and It was sure nice to be in the upper part of the range hiking again with no snow. We pushed a sweet pace up to the lake. The dogs were loving the tennis ball we were throwing all the way out there. After about an hour, the clouds started towering and we heard distant thunder and decided it was time to head down. As soon as we hit the Little Water Junction, it just started dumping hail, and we had a few lightning strikes very close. We basically trail ran the whole way to the car, dogging into the trees when the strikes were close and the thunder was loud! Got to the car, soaked, muddy, and pumped from the adrenaline of the storm. Crazy how much moisture is in these monsoon flows we are getting. Good times, because it is always an adventure.

4th of July @ Snowbird - 7.4.2011

Day 95 for the season. 783 inches of the Utah pow. This has been the best season ever. Only went up a few times in June and rode July 1st and 4th. This is a season for the history books. Amazing! Sad to have to wait until next season to slash it up at the Bird.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Duck Lake- Uintas- July 22nd-24th, 2011

Finally got out to the Uintas this year. As we all know that the snow has lingered far to long, so you had to know I was excited when I got the call from Chris and Collin to get ready we were heading out. We had a large crew, I traveled with my friends Robbie, Ryan and Alex, and Muskie and Mike came in on Sat. Collin had 3 friends with him, so we had a rather large party. But not on the trail at the same time. We got to the trail head Friday evening and made a 20 min push to the pass. Took a small break and then full speed charged our way down to Duck Lake. We had pretty good light all the way to Pot Lake, then it started to get pitch. We made it right at pitch to camp to find Chris and Collin and their friends enjoying some cold ones. We pitched camp and joined everyone and had a great night by the fire. Morning brought clear skies and the sun peaking up over the ridge tops. I got up right away and threw a line in and on my third cast, landed a nice cutty. It was on from there. everyone was fishing, and catching. They were even boiling on Duck Lake till about noon. This is when the rest of the crew decided to just hang at Duck, so me and Chris rolled up to Beaver Lake.

You can really tell how much snow we got, the meadow up was a running torrent and really squishy in places. As we got to the meadow, I had a slight accident with my camera bag, and it broke my UV filter on my lens. I hate broken glass! But to my surprise that is all the damage that happened from the drop. After cleaning up the mess, I put on my polarized filter to protect the lens. To my relief, everything was working like a charm. We got up to Beaver Lake and there was no one there. We had the place to ourselves, but the fishing was very slow. No matter, Chris got a new wrist rocket for his birthday, and we shot it a bunch while having some beers in the back basin above Beaver Lake. On the way out of Beaver, we fished the tributary and both caught dinner. We headed back to camp for a fish cookout. Our friends Mike and Muskie had shown up while we were gone, so the whole crew was there. After a great meal, everyone got out the beverages and the fire going. Midnight drew and I did not want to turn into a pumpkin, so I headed for my tent for some shut eye. Sunday morning came far too early for me. I was sleeping so soundly when the sun finally hit my tent.

I got up, brewed some coffee, sat lakeside with my brew while Chris, Mike and Muskie were getting the glass before the winds picked up. I broke camp, and had a bite. I was packed and ready to go by 11 am, so I decided to wander ahead of everyone to shoot pictures and just enjoy the great weather we have had all weekend. After about an hour I found myself standing on the pass, and took a long sun break because the temps were perfect, slight breeze and no skeeters, which were pretty gnarly morning and dusk at Duck Lake. After a nice time kicking it on the pass, I made the final push to the car. Waited about a 1/2 an hour and the crew showed up. We all had a beer to celebrate a great weekend in the mountians. Duck Lake is not the most picturesque place in the Uintas, not the farthest jaunt out there you can do, and there are people in that basin a lot. We and one other couple that was camped up by the inlet were the only overnight residents all weekend. But it is a fun place to get away, and just unwind. I had a great weekend, as did the crew. Clear skies, very little wind, and very warm temps. And we all had fish for dinner. Good times all around!

Deer Creek Lake- Great Western Trail- Chriss Lake Loop- Boulder Mountain- June 2nd-5th, 2011

I was so excited for this trip I had trouble sleeping the night before we left. I did a small section of this loop last year, and have wanted to return to do the full loop, and this time we did. I have not been alpine above 8,000 ft, minus snowboarding since last October. So needless to say, I was amped all the way to Hwy 12. We left about 6 pm on Thurs the 2nd of June to head south for our first alpine backpacking trip of the season. On this trip we had Chris, Collin, Mike, David, Muskie, Robbie, Laura Hadar (Pro Snowboarder for Capita) and 5 dogs. We arrived about 11 pm to Deer Creek Trail Head to set up a base camp for the night so we could get up Friday and pack it in. This was an amazing spot to camp, a few adult beverages, a fire, and then we all crashed out. Woke up to sunny skies and warm but mild temps. We woke up and had breakfast, then broke camp. After setting our return shuttle at the Chriss Lake Trail Head, we headed in the Deer Creek Lake Trail. It is a series of climbs, which just seem to go up and up. There was a lot of snow this year up there, so the trail in sections was muddy and running with water. After a nice walk in the cool breeze, we eventually ended up at the junction with the Great Western Trail. This is a lovely area, which I made a pit stop just to soak it all in. After some pics we moved on.

We climbed into a thick pine forest, with some drifts of snow to cross. The whole trail was pretty much melted off, but you did have to climb the occasional pile of snow. On our way to the Deer Creek Lake junction, we ran into a pond with a whole chorus of frogs just singing away. We arrive at the Deer Creek Lake junction, and we see this huge ice fall that was getting uplift winds which were coating the trees at the top of the plateau with a nice frosting. A nice walk in a pretty sweet mountain meadow and we arrive at Deer Creek Lake. This lake is huge, and seems like it just released its winter hold here. I got to pitch for the first time my new solo tent. I got the Big Agnes Seedhouse SL1, and let me tell you it is super light, but so roomy. 2.6 lbs with the footprint, and it is freestanding. How do they do that? There were still some pretty large drifts in the trees, but for the most part it was melted off. We set up shop and made a impromptu kitchen to cook on one of the drifts in camp, then proceeded to go fishing. Unfortunately, we found after walking around the lake, that there was a lot of winter kill, you could see fish on the bottom belly up. After a long hike all the way around the lake, we decided it was time for those beers we packed in and to get a fire going, because the temps were dropping fast.

It was a cold night, with all the snow in camp, we for sure were bundled up and had a very nice fire. I awoke to the place just above frost temps, and we fired up some coffee and the sun came out and within an hour you needed short sleeves. I decided that we should head for Chriss Lake, it was a bit lower in elevation, meaning that there was less chance of winter kill, and the overnight temps were sure to be a bit milder. Everyone was moving a bit slow, so I headed out to hike the Great Western Trail to Chriss Lake by myself, as I would meet up with everyone later when they made the trek over. It was awesome to be out there without a sound minus the breeze through the trees. It was much warmer this day, and I was just exploring the whole area to much delight. This was a treat for sure to just be on walkabout, and seeing some amazing things. I hit the Great Western Trail, then headed to Gresham Spring, took some photos and continued on. Then pushed through to West Deer Creek, which is the point at which you descend into Chriss Lake. This was a lovely section, and we were well below the snow line at this point, and the whole forest seemed to be just waking up from winter. I saw a huge Marmot run right across the trail in front of me, and a pretty decent size snake. Not a Rattler, just a Coach-whip or something similar. I finally, after a nice walk in the woods arrived at Chriss Lake. I decided to take a stroll around the lake. After a nice walk the crew eventually showed up and we all got shop pitched again and went fishing. Mike nailed a fish on his first cast, which was a good omen for our crew. They were for sure biting, and Chris got 3 nice ones for dinner. Evening set in and we had a fire and watched the Milky Way pop into view. A long night out, and we all went to bed.

I woke up to the sun just blazing over the ridge. I brewed my coffee and decided I wanted to hit it early, since the light was so good, and shoot photos on the way down to the car. It was an amazing hike out. Trees were just getting their leaves and it was the largest gathering of Daisy's I have ever seen. I just wandered for who knows how long, I was just so stoked to be in shorts, in my new Vasque Wasatch boots with a pack on not tied to anywhere. Eventually my blissful stroll came to an end when I got to the Chriss Lake Trail Head. The crew made it out about an hour after I did and we had celebratory Cutthroats for having such a kick ass weekend. I tell you I have missed the alpine so much, this was a great trip, for sure stoked and cannot wait to get out again. Enjoy the pics!