Monday, August 20, 2012

White Pine, Little Cottonwood Canyon- August 2012

White Pine Lake is a place I have visited for a day hike many times, but never have I backpacked it. I originally planned to head out to the Uintas with some friends on Friday, but my knee was not feeling so well, so I was going to stay home this past weekend. Friday evening arrived to me getting some really bad news that a really close friend of mine had been hit by a drunk driver on his bike Thursday night and was in critical condition in the ICU. It tore me up pretty good, for sure shed some tears, and I was pretty upset. I could not just sit around stewing about what had happened. So I pack the bag, and headed off solo to clear my head and to submerse my self in nature. I decided I would backpack White Pine Saturday and Sunday. My knee was feeling much better Saturday morning after the TLC I gave it over the last couple of days, and I headed in. This trail starts at the same place Red Pine does, and meets up at the same junction. But the trail to White Pine is more of an old mining road, with well defined switchbacks and some really wonderful forest and meadows to walk through.

As you climb, White Baldy starts to peek into view and you get a feel for how big this drainage really is. As you continue to climb, and the views keep getting better after every switchback. As the hike continues, you start to get above the tree line, and then you come to a huge boulder field which has what looks like an old service road that brings you up over a ridge to the lake. This is an unforgiving part of the hike as there is no cover, and the heat just roasts you all the way to the top. Arriving at the top, you are 200 ft above White Pine lake with White Baldy towering over you. I took some shots from here, and then pulled out my iPhone to check the stats from my trip up. Most beta out there says White Pine Lake is 4-4.5 miles. But my app from Trimble Outdoors calculated 5.39 miles one way, and 3,513 ft of elevation gain. As I was shooting some shots, Pikas were barking at me left and right. I could not believe how many were up here! Made me very happy as these little guys have been hardest hit from climate change in the North American forests.

I took some photos, and I have to admit, I felt like they were posing for the camera. I love those little guys! After my impromptu photo shot with the Pikas, I descended to the lake and found a great camp spot. Unfortunately, the previous visitors had left orange peels and trash all in the camp. So after pitching shop, I did some housekeeping and got my home for the night in tip top shape. After filtering some water I wanted to get some fishing in before dark. I moved to the lake, which is lower in water than I have ever seen it, and cast one out. After about a half an hour of bites, hits, and nothing landed, I hooked into what felt like a lead weight on my line. What a huge surprise- these Cutthroats are hogs! I fished till I just could not see anymore, landing one right after another. This was by far some of the best fishing I have had in the Wasatch. Night crept in, and I got a small stick fire going and set up the camera for some night shots. Tragedy fell as my interval timer lost its metal housing and would not initiate cable release functions, so I was stuck with operating in bulb to get my shots. Got some good ones, but not was I was hoping for. After doing the best I could without the timer, I crawled into my sleeping bag and crashed hard. I really don't know how long I slept, but I know it was good sleep. I awoke, broke camp, did a little more fishing, made some coffee and packed it out. I ran into quite a few day hikers on the way out that seemed amazed that I would camp up there all by myself, let alone backpack that length of a trail. It was a good trip, meaningful, and I returned to get news of some improvement from my friend who was in the hospital. Enjoy the slide show, more adventures to come soon!

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