Sunday, June 24, 2012

Lofty Lake Loop, Uintas- June 2012

I had originally planned a weekend long trip with a friend of mine, but he got food poisoning, so he backed out last minute. I was thinking maybe my weekend was a wash? Not to be, I decided to get back to basics, going solo like I used to years ago. I got up Saturday morning and headed out to the Uintas to do a solo trek on the Lofty Lake Loop. I had heard that this trail was pretty busy, so I has some plans to beat the crowds. I started in and there was no one around. As I kept climbing, there was still no one out here. Had the reputation of this trail been false all along? I had read on several sites and books saying this was a particularly heavily used trail, but not on this day. I was solo all the way up to Picturesque Lake, Scout Lake, and to the pass to Lofty Lake. The hike in was so much fun, and very beautiful. As I climbed to the pass, the view just kept getting better.

I got to the top, and shot a pretty nice pano. I walked the shot distance over the pass, and there was Lofty Lake in my view. What an awesome lake tucked back in this high elevation basin. I took some shots and walked around the lake, but decided to push on as the wind was pretty strong up here. As I started to descend the switchbacks, I had a familiar site in my view, Cutthroat Lake down in the basin to the north. I did not know how the campsites were at Kamas Lake, being that I had never been there, but I had hiked to Cutthroat last August while camped at Jewel Lake, so I figured this was tucked back in, and better for photos. I climbed down to the lake, and found a nice camp spot with a lake view and was tucked into the trees. I set up shop, and then started fishing.

Had one on in about 10 minutes of tossing a fly out there. They were attacking everything that was on the surface. I fished until dusk, then got out the camera, took some shots and made dinner. Since there is a state wide fire restriction in place, alas no fish for dinner on this trip. Dehydrated backpacker meals to the rescue! As night settled in, the stars and some fire smoke crept into the sky, and I settled in with my frosty beverage I packed in as I took tonz of pics as the night sky shown bright with the stars. Finally, I was tired and ready to crash out. Some great sleep for sure. I woke as the sun was up over the ridge and shinning down on the lake. Made coffee, and enjoyed the view. Breakfast and a quick pack, and I was off to complete the loop past Kamas Lake and out through Reids Meadow. It was perfect temps for this hike. A few log jams to get to the meadow, but nothing too difficult. I actually made super good time and was standing back at my car before I knew it. I am gonna do some more solo adventures in the future.

I was on my own time, and only had to worry about myself while out there. It was quiet, peaceful, and I really felt relaxed. Good times, enjoy the pics- more adventures soon!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Lake Blanch- Big Cottonwood Canyon- June 2012

Backpacking is something I usually do outside of the Wasatch. But I have taken some over night trips in the past in the Wasatch. The geology is steep, rocky, and challenging for a backpacking trip. Mill B South Fork to Lake Blanch is no exception. I usually do this as a day hike, as it is one of my all time favorite day hikes to do. I wanted to backpack somewhere and only had two days free to go, so I decided since I had never done this as an over nighter, that I might as well knock that off my list. I started the hike out a bit after noon, and from the trail head it was hot. The shade the trail provides in the beginning is a blessing at that time of day. As you climb, you start getting more exposed to the sun, and it was hot! With a day pack I cruise pretty fast up this, and it was no different with my over nighter bag. I climbed for a long time, passing groups of hikers which were feeling the length and uphill climb this hike offers up. I just know this trail so well, I was able to surpass the mind tricks and focus on making the distance. I took one small break at the mine dump just below the last switch backs, then pushed on to the lake. It became partly cloudy when I first arrived, so the shade the clouds were giving was very nice to cool down with. I found a very nice camp spot just between Blanch and Lillian which was down off the ridges and virtually wind free. It also had a very nice shelf, we called it the "Porch."

The view was dramatic with a full view of Mill B South Fork, the North Ridge, and the Great Salt Lake in the distance. After about an hour of scouring around, my friend Jeremy who was scheduled to do a climbing route up Sundial peak showed up, and he joined camp. It was great to be up there with Jeremy, he is one hardcore climber and canyoneer. He got his digs set up, we DEET'ed up as the skeeters were out, and then filtered our water. We sat up as the stars appeared. Having an early start, Jeremy went off to bed, and I stayed up shooting the stars. The light here is very different in the day as it is at night. I got some unique images which were fun to play around with. After a few shots, I decided to retire. I slept so good, it was like a very nice present. I awoke to Jeremy and one of the climbers he was meeting up there getting ready to head to the Sundial, and I got up and made coffee and watched the sun rise.

About 9 AM, it got hot quick and I made breakfast, zipped off the legs to shorts, put on the boots, and headed over to Lillian and Florence to take some photos and do some fishing. Third cast I had a bite but I missed it. I walked over to the dam, and presto, fish on. As I was getting the fly out of its lip, it went flopping all over the place, snagging the line and burying the hook deep into my finger. OUCH! I had to pull it out as that was the only option. I quickly used hand sanitizer and iodine to clean it, gave it some neosporin and bandaged it up. Seemed to be ok after that. I continued on over to Florence and took some shots. I started fishing and it seemed every cast I had a fish on. The prettiest one I landed I put in the slideshow. After what seemed a while, I headed back to camp and packed it all up. Hung out for a bit watching Jeremy's progress up the Sundial. I decided to head out. The hike down was hot, and pretty busy on the trail as it was Saturday. I did not stop, hiked the full 3 miles and change all the way to the car in just over an hour and 20 minutes. It was a really great trip, weather was perfect, fishing was awesome, and it was for sure an adventure, the kind that makes you feel alive! Enjoy the pics, more Wasatch adventures soon!

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Twin Lakes Trail- Big Cottonwood Canyon- June 2012

It was a sunny day. Crystal clear skies, and very warm temperatures. So why not do an exploratory hike to see what the upper Wasatch is looking like north facing? It is so green, so early in Big Cottonwood Canyon this year. I started in from Silver Lake, and was quickly moving into the aspens. Mother Nature is for sure putting on a show this year. The wildflowers are already beginning show up, as there was a sea of yellow with white starting to peek out in the meadows. I only saw the faintest piles of snow in the shady areas, and their days are numbered with how warm it has been. As I made the climb, things just never stopped being beautiful. I reached the dam, and was shocked at how low the water level was. It was at least 10 ft lower than last year, with only the snow hanging out in the Wolverine Cirque to put back what our valley has used. I have been to several other reservoirs this season, both backcountry and accessible.

All of them seemed to be holding their water, but this one only had a very small gap between sides. It probably looks more like the original Twin Lakes that were there before the dam was built. I made my way from the damn to the pass, but did not stay long because the winds were unbearable as a front is approaching the area. I made my way down to the inlet to do a little fishing and just enjoy the beauty up there. I got a couple of very small Lake Trout up there, maybe 7-9", I know there are bigger ones in there, need to find out what they go for. My dry flies seemed to be uninteresting to them. The sun started to head for the west, and that means It was time for me to head out. Took some fun shots on the way out. It was a great day up there, and from my view, the Wasatch is in full summer swing this year! Enjoy the pics!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Duck Lake, Uintas- June 2012

It was really nice to make it out to the Uintas this early in the season. Our winter was the fourth driest on record. And this has been the hottest spring I can ever remember. In contrast, our first trip to the Uintas last season was the last week of July. We made for the trail head Friday evening, and headed in, shortly followed by the rest of our group. We made a swift jaunt to the pass, climbing over and post holing through piles of snow still clinging to the east facing sloped in the shade. Gaiters are a bonus, you can walk through anything wet, and keep your feet dry. The trail was soggy and muddy in sections, and you had to navigate snow piles along the way. From the pass we made a quick decent passing Weir, and Pot lakes and arriving to a very soggy and wet Duck Lake.

We found the one campsite that was dry enough for us to pitch in, and made camp. Evening set in pretty quick after that, and we got a fire going and had a few beverages. I took a star trail shot, then decided it was time for my sleeping bag. It was so quite that night, and the breeze was nice in the trees. Morning came and coffee was on tap and I sat in the sun in the meadow for quite a bit. Then the fishing was on. I did not start out hot that day, but my luck picked up as the day moved on. After some great fishing, I caught mine for dinner, then the thunderstorm rolled in. Packed quite a punch in the rain department, giving everything a soaking. I just fired up the shuffle, layed down for a nap listening to Zeppelin and Floyd. After the storm passed, it was time to get things ready for dinner. What a meal, fresh fish, a sweet potato I packed in, and a Backpackers Pantry Beef Stroganoff meal too boot. The night set in, and also a much fuller moon that night, made for a very nice star trail shot as the moon was lighting up the landscape.

The next day was a early coffee and break camp start to the day, as everyone wanted to fish the upper lakes on the way out. I made a straight push to the pass, then took a nice break in the sun up there before returning to the car. It was a great trip out there, and nice to be back in the Uintas, especially this early. Enjoy the pics, more adventures to come this summer!