Monday, September 29, 2014

Cuberant Basin Part II, Uinta Mountains- September 2014

We had a late season heat wave which was to warm things up, so I decided I wanted to get back out in the mountains. Time is numbered as winter will be knocking on the door soon. I got in touch with my friend Mike, and we set out for Cuberant Basin, as Mike had never been back in there. We made an afternoon hike in, and got to camp in the early evening. We got everything situated, and then we settled in for the evening. It was chilly, but not too cold, and the fire kept things warm enough to rattle off a very nice star trail. Eventually, both of us were tired and we hit the tents for some shut eye. Morning was cool, but not too bad. Coffee was extra tasty when the temps are a bit cool. We eventually were warmed by the sun, and we decided to hike up to #1 and #4 lakes in the basin. We stopped at #2, and I landed a nice Cutthroat to start the day off. We ate lunch at #1, then moved up to #4.

I had a nice one hit my fly at #4, only to loose it on the way in on the retrieval. The weather was perfect, with a bit of a breeze as was forecasted. We spent quite a bit of time up at #4, then we decided to hike back to camp for some evening fishing at #3, and to get dinner ready. Evening set in with a repeat performance from the previous night, stars bright with temperatures a few degrees warmer. We had a great night hanging out in the symphony of silence. I turned in for one great nights sleep. Dawn brought a few more clouds which were the lead to the soaking storm we have had here over the weekend. The hike out was beautiful, and hits of fall color were everywhere. This may be one of the last backpacking trips of the season as the winter weather is supposed to return to the area over the weekend. I may get one more, we shall see. Regardless, it has been a great summer. Some fall hiking, and then we will be sliding on the snow once again. Enjoy the pics below. More adventures to come!

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Island Lake, Uinta Mountains- September 2014

Fall is really here. The leaves are beginning to change, the days are getting shorter, and the temps are getting cooler. I had a weekend free, so I decided to head out backpacking. We were in the line of fire for the Aurora Borealis, but it was a small chance because we still has a half moon rising. I hit the road early Friday morning with my friend Jason, and we made our way up to the Mirror Lake Highway. After lots of fall colors visible from the drive in, we arrived at the trail head. We got everything locked and loaded, and we made our way in. The temps were perfect, and it was so quiet out there. We wandered the meadow, then up the switchbacks to the pass. Then a quick decent into the basin down past Long Lake. We then headed west, passing some ponds, then to the junction to go to Island Lake or Duck Lake. We made our way up the switchbacks to the outlet of Island Lake. We decided to camp on the north west side.

We found a nice spot and got shop set up quickly. We then decided to give fishing a turn, and after a bit and fighting with the wind, I landed a decent Cutthroat. I put him back and proceeded to camp for the sunset and to get a fire going. It was going to get cold that night, but I wanted to stay up and see if the northern lights were going to make an appearance. Jason turned in and I stayed up shooting a star trail image. I think for about 5 minutes I could see them in the sky, but then the moon started to rise, and that put an end to that quickly. I finally decided to turn in. Morning brought some much needed coffee and breakfast. After a nice meal, we decided to head up to Fire Lake. It was a great hike, and Fire Lake was showing off its fall look. I fished for a while, and finally hooked into a big one, only to loose it, as it thrashed back and forth while I was retrieving it until my fly was off the line. Bummer! That would have been the fish of the summer, he was so huge! At least I know he is still out there. I'll get my fly back! After a while, and getting a panoramic view of the basin, we decided to head back to camp at Island Lake.

Dusk came quick, and we got our fire stoked and made dinner. As it got dark, I think both of us were pretty tired, so I only stayed up for a bit to have an adult beverage, then I made my way to the tent. A much warmer night than our first night out there. Morning came with an even warmer sun, and we made coffee, then decided to break camp and make the hike out. It was perfect weather, and a great hike out. Enjoy the slide show below. I may get one more trip in for the year then it will be hiking for fall colors and getting ready for winter. More adventures to come!

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Grand Daddy Basin, High Uintas Wilderness- Aug/Sept 2014

This is a place that I have visited a few times, and it has always been an adventure. With the long holiday weekend, me and my friend Chris decided to head in on Saturday. We arrived at the trail head to some brisk air, and wind that was blowing hard in intervals. We got locked and loaded and headed in. It was a nice walk, temps very cool, so you were not overheating doing the two miles and 800 ft of elevation gain to Hades Pass. Right before the pass, we had a light sprinkle, but it seemed to end as fast as it began. We spent a couple of minutes on the pass, then made our way into the basin. We ran into a few parties heading out, so this bode well for us, as we were looking to have some solitude. We wound our way past Grand Daddy Lake, then we moved past Betsy, then past the junction to Mohawk Lake. At this point you start to descend a bit as you head for Fish Hatchery Lake. It was a soggy mess in here because of the storms we have had over the last month. Just as we were about to arrive at Fish Hatchery, it started to rain a bit more, so we threw on the rain gear and decided to hunker down at Fish Hatchery to get our bearings as there is no trail to Farney Lake which was our destination. Just as we got settled in, the clouds broke and we had bluebird skies. We looked at the map and determined that a meadow above us would get us to Farney, so we packed it up, and moved up to Farney.

Arriving at Farney, this lake site higher in the basin, and is strewn with rocks and boulders everywhere. We hiked around to see what camp spots there were, and we found one on the southwest side of the lake. We pitched shop and got to fishing right away. I had a few bites, but nothing landed, as they were either missing it, or I was not setting it on the strike. I fished until dusk, then we headed back to camp for dinner and to settle in for the evening. Just after dinner, it started to rain really hard, so we retired to the tents to stay dry and to get some much needed rest after nearly seven miles of hiking that day. It rained all night, but did not get too terribly cold. Morning came with crystal clear skies, with just some cotton ball clouds hanging out over our camp. We got up, had breakfast, and decided to try fishing again at Farney. I had one on in a couple of casts, a small Grayling, and that is what I continued to catch for the next hour I was fishing. We decided we wanted to fish some trout, so we headed over to Marsell and Sonny, which were just over 1.5 miles away. It was cross country bushwhacking and route finding, but we ended up standing at the shore of Sonny. The wind this day was really howling, so you had to pick your spot at Sonny.

After a bit, we moved up to Marsell, and the wind continued to pound us. It was a cool breeze too, as this was the backside of a cold front that brought us the rain overnight. We fished for quite a while at Marsell, then we decided to head back to Farney. We found a sweet route which spawned the later part of this trip. We finally had clear skies for the evening, and the stars and moon were out, but the wind was bitter cold. We had a nice fire, but eventually, both of us decided to retire to the tents to get warm and be out of that wind. I awoke to clear skies and the sound of wood peckers tapping away at the trees around us. We decided to loop out through Mohawk Lake, basically bushwhacking our way out to the main trail. This was an awesome adventure, no trail, and using a GPS app on the phone, we wound our way up and out of Farney Lake. We passed Sonny and Marsell on the ridge above, and ended up in a meadow that had one of the sweetest camp spots I have ever seen. We then climbed a small ridge, we were meadow hopping and found a secret spot which I am not going to divulge. The fishing was hot, and Chris landed an arm length Cutthroat which was the winner of the trip! We finally after fishing for a while, decided it was time to head out. The hike out was nice, and we saw no other people on the trail.

Completing the big climb, we were once again on Hades Pass. Then it was the final jaunt to the car, which was a forever downhill hike, which just seems to go on and on. We finally arrived at the trail head and we were all alone in the lot. No one there, we must have been the last people out of that basin for the holiday weekend. 17 miles in 3 days, pretty awesome adventure. Ended August and welcomed September in the Uintas! Fall is here, all the leaves are changing, and our time in the high terrain is short. A few more adventures before I am done backpacking for the season. Enjoy the pics below, more to come!