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!

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