Monday, July 28, 2014

Swift Creek Basin, High Uintas Wilderness, Utah- July 2014

This trip was originally planned as a meet up with our friends who were doing a loop hike through the heart of the Uintas. We made the long drive to the Swift Creek trail head, and finally arrived at the lot. This is a really remote area, and the road in was rough to say the least. We noticed one of Mikes tires was really low, so we decided to head in, and we would change out the spare when we returned. The hike begins as a walk through the woods, crossing a sheep bridge, then 1/4 mile in you reach a junction that you can either head up Yellowstone Creek, or turn right which takes you up Swift Creek. The switchbacks were relenting, and as you climb, you begin to seen that this ridge had been hit by lightning quite a bit. Almost every tree at the top was cooked black from being struck during a thunderstorm. We had partly cloudy skies, so we proceeded up the ridge and into the drainage.

AUTHORS NOTE: There is very little water available on this hike. The trail only crosses the stream twice, and it puts you quite a distance from the creek most of the time. So filter when you are at the crossings, after the second one, you are not going to have water until reaching Deer Lake. This hike is a brutal one, not much flat trail, and rocks sticking up in the trail pretty much all the way to Deer Lake. We made use of the water that was available, and continued on. The first stream crossing is marked by a bunch of beaver dams, and there is only one dry route across if you want to not have to wade the creek. Then it puts you on the east side of the canyon for quite a while, and you are very high in the drainage at some points. After walking for a long time, we reached the second creek crossing, which was more manageable. Then, after hiking almost five miles, the never ending switchbacks begin. These are long, and after such a huge hike, they really kick your butt. We reached the top at dusk, and made our way to Deer Lake, where we were going to put up for the night. We found only one spot to camp, and we set up shop. This whole basin is strewn with rocks and boulders everywhere, making finding a spot to pitch a tent complicated to say the least.

We made dinner, had a small fire, shot s few after dark photos, then it was off to bed. I was woken up about 2 AM to flashes of lighting and loud thunder as a cell lit up over us, and dumped rain almost all night. The next morning we made breakfast and assessed the situation. The weather continued to improve, so we decided to move up to Farmers Lake, and camp there and try to connect with our friends over at the Timothy Lakes. We made our way up to the junction, then we moved up to White Miller Lake, where we took a break, and took in the view of this pretty lake. Then we moved up to Farmers Lake. It was gorgeous up here, but extremely rocky, and very little in tent spots for us to set up shop in. We walked around the lake, and I shot a really nice pano, but we decided that it was really exposed, and if another thunderstorm came in, this would leave us vulnerable. I had seen a nice spot down at White Miller Lake, so we moved back down there to set up shop for the night. This spot was amazing! It had a great view of the lake and peaks above and flat tent spots! We made our camp and then filtered our water. The sunset began, and it was quite the show. Dinner, some night shots then it was off to bed. I slept so good, far better than the first night. We woke to bluebird skies, and nice temps. We made breakfast, and realized that we were not going to connect with our friends, so we decided to make the hike out, and get to the car for some cold ones. The hike out was long, hot, rocky, and a workout to say the least. We made it to the car in just under five hours, and those camping chairs and cold beers were a welcome treat.

After changing out the spare, with it being so late in the day, we decided to just disperse camp and do the drive home in the morning. This was an incredibly wild area in the Uintas, and a grueling hike to get up there. The camping selections were tough, and the lack of water until the upper cirque makes it quite challenging as well. It was an awesome adventure, and great to visit a new area. Enjoy the slideshow, more adventures to come.

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