Monday, September 23, 2013

Duck Lake, Uinta Mountains, Utah- September 2013

The seasons are changing! It was only a few weeks ago that we set the record for hottest summer ever in Salt Lake City. So the cold fronts that we have gotten have gone a long way in making things very nice these days here. I had one last weekend to get out in the Uintas this year, and I was joined by my friend Chris Fryer. We decided to hit Duck Lake, because the forecast was calling for the possibility of snow on Sunday, so we wanted to be set if we had to make a quick exit. We arrived at the Crystal Lake trail head, and could feel the mild fall temps in the air. Gone was the hustle and bustle of this place in summer, replaced with the quite that this mountain range can offer. We got the packs and dogs situated, and we headed in. The hike was nice, very pleasant and lots of beautiful views. We make a quick push for the pass, then headed into the basin. All the ground cover is changing, and there are a few Aspens that have turned red and yellow. We kept the pace moving past Weir Lake, then Pot Lake, and then finally down to Duck Lake. There was no one here- amazing! It is a rarity to get a lake out in this basin all to yourself, let alone Duck Lake.

We got camp pitched, had a snack to refuel, gathered some firewood, then hit the lake for some fishing. Some cotton ball clouds started drifting in from the south, and made it quite a site with the colors and changing light. I nailed a nice Cutthroat not to long after casting my line. Chris is a great fly fisherman, and I took a seat and studied some of his skills. Not long after traversing the south side, we set up on some rocks, and Chris lands a fat brookie! This was a very nice fish! We made our way around the west side of the lake, and in the scree field, we found a bunch of raspberry plants. I ate at least 20, and not sure how many Chris had. They were yummy! We continued on hiking around the lake, checking out the scenery, and enjoying the silence. We eventually made our way back to camp, and got changed up for the colder temps expected. We got a fire going, and then started to work on dinner. As the evening progressed, some thunder bumpers from the south were flashing lightning in the clouds, and some distant thunder that would rumble. We did have one bump that was pretty close, and a brief drizzle, but nothing other than a pretty cool light show while we watched the fire. We eventually finished our beverages, and headed for sleep. I can't remember when the last time I slept that deeply. I think I got over eight hours of sleep, and comfortable quiet sleep too.

I awoke, and got some breakfast going. I noticed the clouds on the horizon were building, and getting darker by the minute. Chris got up, and we assessed the situation. The temps were dropping, and the wind was from the north. We waited out these cells, then it lightened, and the thunder stopped in the distance, so we were wise that we packed it up right then. We said our goodbyes to Duck Lake and hit the trail. We had a pretty dry hike out, until we got above Weir Lake and hit the meadow, then it started to rain, then it turned to wet sleet/snow. I am glad I was in full rain gear, and had the pack cover on. It was coming down, and my rain gear was soaked. We made the pass in just under an hour, and the storm broke for a bit, peeping the light dusting of white on the ground, and the misty looking winter clouds hanging on the peaks. We sat on the pass taking it in for a moment, then I realized I was cold. My base layers under my rain gear were wet from sweating, and my core temp was dropping. I knew I had to get moving. The last bit to the car was just a very nice hike in the woods. Everything was fresh, the air smelled so good. Arriving at the car, the trail head was virtually empty, minus a few other backpackers who came walking out shortly after us. What a great way to end the season in the Uintas! A full on adventure, had a little bit of everything out there. I'll be hunting out some fall colors hiking over the next few weeks, with one more Southern Utah trip planned in October. We are expecting our first measurable snowfall this week in the Wasatch, so it is getting down to it. A few more weeks in the fall colors before this party changes up to snow dances. Enjoy the photos, more to come!
djnebula's Duck Lake Uintas 2013 album on Photobucket

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