Sunday, June 29, 2014

Red Pine Lake, Little Cottonwood Canyon- June 2014

The snow has finally melted, and things are ready to go! I made my way up Little Cottonwood Canyon to head up to one of my favorite places, Red Pine Lake. Things are so green this year. I made a swift jaunt up to the Red Pine/White Pine split, then headed up to Red Pine Lake. I actually was making really good time, a far faster pace than I usually make. I was to the Maybird split in just over an hour and some change. The flowers are out and the skies were crystal clear. I took a quick break at the bridge to Maybird, then I headed up to the lake. The last climb had a few piles of snow, but nothing you could not manage to walk around of walk through. After a short bit, I found myself standing lake side at Red Pine. I headed to the inlet, and saw no fish activity. I tried my best for a couple of hours of fly fishing to get any action out there, but only had one bite that was more of a bump than a bite. But no matter, the scenery was sweet and I set up shop for a bit on the north side of the lake and just took it all in. After a while, it was time to head down. I made a quick pace down, and before I knew it I was standing at my car. It was a great day up there, and the Wasatch is ready to go! Enjoy the pics, more walkabout adventures to come!

Friday, June 27, 2014

Amethyst Basin, High Uintas Wilderness- June 2014

I finally got up into the High Uintas for the first time this year. A bit later than last years season opener out there. I was still happy none the less to be back in one of my favorite wilderness areas to visit. I connected with my friend Michael Klippert, who came with me to Cutthroat Lake out here last year. I love traveling with another photographer. Makes for great conversation, and it is nice to see how another pair of eyes is taking it all in. Plus, Michael is an awesome person, and his dog Cruiser is one of my favorite to backpack with. We arrived at Stillwater Fork to a pretty empty trail head. A quick pack of some last minute items, and we headed down the trail. The route was mostly dry, but the stream crossings were running high. But no matter, I had on Goretex boots, so I just walked right through them.

After about an hour, we ended up at the junction to head up Ostler Fork. We took a quick break, re-fueled on some snacks, then headed up the steep climb. This part of the trail does some 1700 feet of gain in about 3 miles. That may not seem much, but with a 30+ lb backpack on, it is a workout for sure. Crossing many soggy sections of trail that seemed to be soaked or under an inch or so of water, we made our way up. After a huge climb, we finally made it to camp at Ostler Lake. We pitched shop, got things settled, and got working on a fire. Since the temps were going to drop a bit due to a cold front that was coming through, we got dry and warm as to stay comfortable. We had friends meeting us, so we waited, and only our friend Colin showed up. We were guessing Chris and Jason would not be in till morning. We were all beat, and made an early departure for sleep.

The morning awoke to the rest of our crew and dogs coming into camp. They had got to the meadow at about 11:30 PM, and just threw up the tents and got some sleep. Everyone got breakfast, then we all decided to go try to land a fish. The wind was pretty intense, and the casting areas for a fly rod were few because of back casting reasons. I gave it my best, but only got one bite that I missed. I walked around the lake shooting photo's, and just taking in the micro burst clouds coming over the ridge. I circled the whole lake, then walked back up to camp. We decided to hike up in the cirque below Ostler Peak, taking in the views. We then moved to an overlook overlooking BR-24, and looking into the head wall where Amethyst Lake is. Michael and Colin went up to Amethyst, and they said it was still partly frozen over. So our decision to just loop to the overlook was probably for the best. We made our way back to camp and settled in for the evening. This night was the Summer Solstice, and I wanted shots from the lake. I got some great images, and then moved in at dusk to camp. We had a great last night by the fire, and I turned in just after midnight.

I awoke to some clouds moving in over the ridge, so we decided to pack it up and head out. We made a swift pace to the junction, then the sun came out and it was beautiful walking all the way to the car. It was an epic trip to start out this summer in the Uintas. And I am excited to get back out there some more. Enjoy the pics, more to come!

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Mill B South Fork, Big Cottonwood Canyon- June 2014

This is on my top three hikes of all time here in the Wasatch. It is a gut buster on the way up, and the pay off is worth every step you take to get there. As is usual on this hike, I had a delayed start on this trail due to parking at the trail head. Once I was on my way up, I made a quick pace. Passing meadows and climbing up this drainage, you get a sense of how dramatic it was here when the glaciers were here in full force. I made good time up to the last switchbacks, which I then took a quick water break before finishing it off to the lake. It was bluebird skies and the waterfalls cascading off Sundial Peak were amazing! I made a quick jaunt over to my spot, and put the fly rod together. I had a slow start, but once I dialed in the pattern, it was on from there. Even pulled a 13" brookie out of Lake Blanch. That is the biggest I have ever landed there. I continued my assault on the inlet, and then decided I wanted to walk over to Lillian and Florence, the other two adjacent lakes in this drainage. Lillian had all the action, Florence was just too windy to cast in. After a long stay up in this beautiful place, it was time to head on down. The hike down was awesome as the trees dropped into the shadow of the west ridge. I made a great pace to the bottom, drinking the last of my water right as I walked up to the car. What a way to get things going by getting Lake Blanch bluebird and great temps! Enjoy the slideshow, more to come!

Willow Heights, Big Cottonwood Canyon, Utah- June 2014

I had plans for a dad/daughter day, so we decided to go for a hike. I wanted to see if the upper Wasatch was ready, so we gave Willow Heights a shot. The trail is dry, and quite a few flowers were in bloom. Everything is green, so you get some nice shade on the way up. Once we got to the lake, we decided because of the temperatures to head above the lake and in the trees. After some exploring, we found a downed aspen that was the perfect size to sit on. After enjoying some snacks and wandering off trail for a bit, we decided to hike down. The hike out was breezy and was a great time. It is nice now that most of the upper Wasatch is ready. I will be hitting some much bigger and more beautiful hikes in the coming weeks. This one was the recon on the area, and we are ready to go! Get out there and enjoy these beautiful mountains!

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Great Western Trail- Deer Creek Section, Dixie National Forest, Utah

Finally, after months of dreaming about getting out in the wilderness again, the day had come. We made an early departure from Salt Lake City, heading south for Boulder Mountain. It was a nice drive, very light traffic, and scenic all the way there. After more than three hours driving, we arrived at the trail head. We enjoyed the view as we packed it up and got the boots on. The hike in was awesome, but a bit windy as micro burst clouds were moving very fast over us. We made a quick pace to the Great Western Trail junction. We took in the view, then moved on. The hike in was snow free, and was in full greenery as all the trees and meadows were just about to pop with color. After a bit of walking in the woods, and hearing the frogs singing, we arrived at the Deer Creek Lake junction. A short hike up the meadow and we were at our spot. We got shop built and then headed up to Green Lake to try our luck with the fishing.

On my fifth cast I had one on. A pretty fat Cutthroat as well. The fishing was hot, and all of us were getting hit. We fished until it started getting dark, then we made our way back to camp. I shot some photos as we made dinner. Then it was off to sleep. The next morning was crystal clear, and the temps were mild. After coffee and breakfast, we packed it up to hunt out Moosman Reservoir. We did some bush whacking from camp, and after moving through some meadows and following some faint animal tracks, we arrived at the lake. It was a very exposed lake, and was in full sun. I shot some photos, then threw a line in. After about five minutes, I got a nice little brookie on. It was like this for all of us. After a while up at Moosman, we moved down to Chriss Lake. The Cutthroats here were about the same size as Moosman, but a lot more aggressive. As the day wore on, we hiked back up to our camp, then headed up for some more sunset fishing at Green Lake. We saw huge ones in there, but 13-15" was the call for what we were landing. We once again closed out the lake and headed back to camp at dusk. I got a longer exposure this night, and we had a nice fire and dinner.

I slept for so long into Sunday, then got up. We decided after breakfast to go after Green Lake one more time, but alas, I think I used up all my fishing luck. We packed it up and headed out. The hike out was much hotter than on the way in. But beautiful to say the least. It was so nice to be back out there. We were in an area that there was no one else in for three days! It has been a long time since I have been in a wilderness area and have no one but myself there. Those are rare gifts that you have to enjoy to the fullest, and we did not waste a minute of it. Enjoy the slide show, more adventures to come!