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!

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