Thursday, December 31, 2015

2015 Retrospective- Christian Paul Photography

Another year of adventure in the mountains of Utah comes to a close. I have had an amazing year out in our wilderness for 2015. The times I have spent with my good friends and my family will be memories that I shall never forget. I feel I challenged myself pretty hard this year out there. And every time I was able to get in the mountains it always felt like going home. From big climbs on the splitboard, to grueling hikes, to dangerous storms, I survived them all. I set a record, for me on trail of 221 miles hiking and backpacking this past summer. That is a lot of walking! I was fortunate to go on adventures with good friends, and to reconnect with those from the past, and to make new friends that make our mountain family complete. Final tally for the year- 37 days snowboarding and splitboarding, 70 days hiking and backpacking, 27 days backcountry camping, 221 miles on trail, memories that will last with me a lifetime! This video contains my entire year, January to December, of my adventures in the mountains here in Utah. Sit back, get a beverage and a snack, and enjoy this video I put together of all of my adventures from the last year. What will 2016 bring? Stay tuned..........

2015 Retrospective from Christian Paul on Vimeo.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Scotts Backdoor Tour- Big Cottonwood Canyon- 12.30.2015

Its been a couple of weeks since I have been out on the splitboard. I had some friends Jason and Jeremy get in touch about getting out on the skins. Since things finally stabilized, I figured why not check out one of my favorite safe zones. Temperatures were in the single digits when we started up. But we all quickly warmed up because that is what you do when you are climbing. We made a quick jaunt up to the elbow, and the jeep track that goes up to Scotts Pass. We were breaking trail most of the way because there has been very little traffic in this area since our last storm. We got to the pass and headed up the final section to the top. We all made the switch over and I was first on slope. This was better than last year when I was up here. It was a nice ride to the car and I got some really nice powder up there. A great day out with friends getting some classic five star powder in the backcountry which Utah is famous for. Enjoy the video! Pray 4 Snow!

Scotts Backdoor Tour- 12.30.2015 from CPPhoto on Vimeo.

Friday, December 25, 2015

Xmas Came Early In The Wasatch! Soiltude- 12.23.2015

Just when you think nothing could possibly top Tuesday up there. Tuesday night a storm rolled in and dropped another 21" of amazing powder up at Solitude. It filled everything back in and refreshed the mountain. The wind was in play and helped keep certain areas sooth and deep all day. It was so much fun! Here is an edit of my first turns of the day up there. Amazing storm cycle, sending this year out on a good note! Avalanche conditions in the backcountry are very dangerous right now. It needs time to settle out. I'll just play at the resort for now. Enjoy the video. I know I enjoyed the powder! Pray 4 Snow!

21" Refill 12.23.15 from Christian Paul on Vimeo.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

24" Of Bliss! Solitude- 12.22.2015

Thank Santa Claus, Ullr, or whoever for the wonderful gift that we received today. 24" was the overnight report. You really just could not pick a bad line anywhere. I put the base to slopes today that I have not ridden because of previous coverage issues. It was timeless, loose yourself to the powder today. Time just seemed to stand still and the riding was all time. This was by far the best powder storm we have received in the Wasatch in over two years! It was an amazing day, one that will go down in the history books for epic powder days! Enjoy the video of my first run today. Pray 4 Snow!

24" day at Solitude from Christian Paul on Vimeo.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Sleeper Pow Day- Solitude 12.17.2015

This week has been amazing! We have not had real winter like this in a couple of years. I am enjoying every minute of it! After the monster dump the Wasatch got in the first part of the week, we had a sneaky front swing in Wednesday Night late. It put down 7-10" wherever the wind blew, on top of 21" we have already gotten. Talk about refilling the cup! This time it was bluebird, but very cold. The temps helped the snow not build up the chop when is was tracked out. Here is a video of my first run of the day on Thursday, as the Sunshine Bowl was smooth and just the best ride all the way to Eagle of the year yet! Looks like more is on the way! Pray 4 snow!

Sleeper Pow Day 12.17.2015 from Christian Paul on Vimeo.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Solitude- 12.15.2015

I got a couple of days Monday and Tuesday to shred some powder from this incredible storm that was the biggest we have had in two years. Monday was the primer with very little traffic and 6" of fresh to carve it up in. Tuesday was the bottomless day as 11" fell overnight making for the best turns of the season so far. It seems our pattern has changed and things are looking to be ramping up with the storm cycle. Enjoy the video below. More adventures to come!

Solitude Pow Day 12.14.2015 from Christian Paul on Vimeo.

Millicent Tour- 12.13.15- Big Cottonwood Canyon

While we have been waiting for winter to show up we went up Millicent again since it is still not open. The skin track was a little greasy to start, but eventually we made it up to Twin Lakes. We pushed on up to the top of the Millicent Lift. The snow pack is layers upon layers of faceted snow to the ground with Fridays 6" of fresh on top of it. Still made for a nice ride to the bottom. Even got a few powder turns which was better than I expected. Looks like a huge pattern change on the way. More adventures to come.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Millicent Tour, Big Cottonwood Canyon- November 2015

I got the chance to get out on the skins and climb up to the top of the Millicent Lift at Brighton the last Sunday of November. It is not open yet, so we got to get after it before the resort does. The walk up was beautiful, a mix of sun and clouds. It was a bit chilly in the lot, but once you got up the hill, you were taking the beanie off in the sun. We had an awesome walk up there, and the views kept you climbing because they kept getting better and better. We did take a pit stop at the dam at Twin Lakes, and it was frozen over and just amazing to see smooth, unlike the rocky place that it is in the summer time. We then climbed the last stretch to the top. Literally our last steps to the lift and it started snowing.

We switched everything from tour mode to ride mode after some photos. Me and my friend Chris just sat there and watched it just start to stack up where we were. Eventually the snow started to fade and the sun started to peek out from behind the clouds, and we decided it was a great time to drop in. We found some good spots, and some really hard spots. But all in all we could ride all the way to the base, the last 500 ft to the lift were rock solid because they had been slowing snow, which is essentially frozen water out of a cannon. It was really fun to be up there and a better time than I expected. Touring is a bit tough in most places because there are not great exit options right now. For a lack of snow, the sticks and stones aka downed trees and big rocks are more dangerous than the avalanche hazard at the moment.

It was a great day and a good opportunity to get up and out for a day since the air quality in Salt Lake was unhealthy, and just awful to look at. Mountains are much better to look at no matter how cold it is. Sorry I am just getting this up. I have been very busy of late. I just have not had the time. The video for this day will come at the end of the month when I release my Retrospective for 2015. More adventures to come! Pray 4 Snow!

Friday, November 13, 2015

First Turns for 15/16- Albion Basin Tour- 11.13.2015

Who says you can't have fun with just a little? We finally got a bit of snow in the mountains. I decided to go for a walk on the skins in the Albion Basin to see what was out there. Things are thin and bony at best pretty much everywhere. I stayed on the road and in the meadow because off the main run in the meadow, it was shallow with rocks everywhere. They had gunned snow through the last storm and were out smashing it all down to get ready for opening day. I made my way up the meadow and past the bottom of the Cecret Lift and then decided going any further was not in my best interest because there was just not enough snow. I switched it into riding mode and dropped into a better than expected run. While I was making the switch out, the snow cats must have groomed the meadow because it was a really fun ride to the car! I was not out for anything more than just getting out on the skins for a walk, and this day proved to be better than I could have hoped for! Enjoy the pic and video and let this winter party get started!

Albion Basin Tour- First Turns for 15/16- 11.13.2015 from Christian Paul on Vimeo.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Teal Lake, Uinta Mountains- October 2015

Our weather held out for one more adventure in the Uintas this year. Me and my good friend Chris headed into the Uintas on Saturday morning. We arrived at the trail head a little after 8 AM and packed it up and headed in. The temps were crisp and the skies were clear. When we arrived at Ruth Lake, we set off for an off trail adventure to Teal Lake. I have a normal route in there, but this was going to be fun to see the parts of this basin I have not explored. We soon were at Naomi Lake and we pressed on after a couple of pictures. We saw Fir Lake, but did not go down to it as we wanted to get to camp at Teal Lake because daylight is short this time of the year. We passed Jewel Lake, and then moved through the woods route finding all the way to Teal Lake. We found a great camp spot and set up shop. We tried our hand at fishing but the wind was just too strong to cast, and both of us decided to get our fire wood and water situation sorted until the winds calmed down.
The winds subsided in the afternoon, so we moved out to the lake to fish. I got a nice Cutthroat to start things off with. Chris nailed a nice brookie and cutty as well. Chris got a huge hit and I wandered over to take a look. Wow! This was one of the largest fish I have seen on this side of the Uintas. It was a massive Tiger, and even the dogs were happy about this big guy Chris landed. I was not having any luck, so I tried a fly in my box that has never caught anything. First cast it got hit and what I landed was the biggest fish for me backpacking this season! It was a hog of a Tiger Trout and was a joy to get this guy on the line. After some mug shots with our fish and some more fun, dusk was setting in and we wanted to get camp situated before night fell. We had a nice fire and a fish dinner that would have cost nearly twenty dollars in a restaurant. I got one star trail in the meadow behind our camp and the Milky Way was pointing to the west as it has moved into its fall position. It was cool, but not unbearable cold like previous October trips at night. I soon was in my sleeping bag asleep resting up from an awesome day.

Morning came and I actually slept in. Coffee was made and breakfast had. We decided to loop out via Cutthroat Lake and Jewel Lake to try our hand at some more fishing. I did not have the same luck as the prior day, but Chris seemed to be getting them at Cutthroat Lake. We hiked out at a good pace, past Ruth Lake and on down to the car. This has been a great season out there! Full of adventures and new places and same old haunts. I am lucky to have been out there to experience this year and what the backpacking season had to offer in the Uintas. I will have a few more days hiking in the mountains before the winter party begins. Enjoy the slide show below. More adventures to come!

Willow Heights, Big Cottonwood Canyon- October 2015

I made a mid-week evening hike up to Willow Heights to catch the last of the fall colors. The aspens were still glowing with color as most of the range has moved past peak fall colors. The hike in was great, but warmer than I was expecting. At the lake, I enjoyed solitude and was able to just sit down for a bit and read a book while I was waiting for the light to be better in quality. Some very high and thin clouds came in making a wonderful time playing with the camera. Eventually I headed down in the evening and a nice hike out to the car it was. Enjoy the pics, more to come!

Friday, October 2, 2015

Bald Mountain Trail Lakes, Uinta Mountains- September 2015

Another nice weekend was on tap, and I was off once again for another solo adventure. I headed in from Bald Mountain Pass and made my way quickly down to Clegg Lake. After a few snaps, I moved on past Dean Lake, and tried my luck and finally finding Reid Lake. After traversing two meadows, I finally found it! What a beautiful place. But limited camping, and this late in the season there was no running water. So I decided on a spot between Dean and Notch that I had seen the last time I was out there. I got shop set up and gathered my fire wood and filled up my water, and then the sun started to set. I settled in for some dinner and a nice fire for the night. The weather was perfect, and the temps a lot warmer than the previous weekend. After shooting some shots and enjoying the evening, I turned in for some really nice sleep.

Morning came and with it some warmer temps than the day previous. I got up and made coffee, then ate breakfast. I decided to head over to Bench Lake as I had never been over there before. It was a nice walk in the woods and not long after I started I found myself standing at the lake. It is pretty back in there, and still very wild. This would be a great place to camp if you want solitude. I tried my hand at fishing, there were rises on the lake, but alas nothing even touched my flies. After climbing up to an overlook to shoot a shot of the lake, I decided to head up to Dean to try my hand at some Grayling action. I spent hours throwing everything at them, only to have one bite. I decided to try the hopper as a last resort, and first cast had a fat grayling on the line. Every time my hopper hit the surface, it got nailed to the point that after about 15 fish landed, my hopper looked like it went through the shredder. After some amazing fishing evening was setting in, and I went back to camp. I walked down to Notch Lake for some evening fishing, and landed several brookies which were feisty and fun to catch. The sun set and I made my way up to camp for another fantastic evening with tunes, some beverages, and a great fire. Midnight crept in and I turned in.

Dawn brought with it a slight breeze, but nothing out of control. I had a nice morning in camp with coffee and some breakfast. I broke camp and packed it up. I cleaned up this camp pretty good as there were wrappers everywhere and tinfoil and tin can lids left in the fire pit. I hauled it all out with me as to leave this area nice for the next folks who camp there. Afternoon was upon me and I decided to head for the car. The hike out was just beautiful, and with all the ground cover turning colors for fall, it got me thinking this might be my last time out in the Uintas this year. Arriving at the car, the trail head was pretty busy with all the peak baggers heading up Bald Mountain. It has been a great summer in the high terrain. This party is going to move to some fall colors then old man winter will hopefully show up to change this party from dirt dances to snow dances. Enjoy the pics and slideshow, more adventures to come!

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Cutthroat/Teal Lakes, Uinta Mountains- September 2015

It has been a couple of weeks since I have been out in the Uintas. Fall has arrived in the Uinta Mountains, and with it the seasonable cold temps have shown up too. It even lightly snowed out there midweek. I headed in to Cutthroat Lake on Friday afternoon. The only folks I saw on the way in were two Forest Service employees who were putting in a new stone bridge. After that is was solo all the way. The hike in was quiet. No breeze at all, just calm and quiet. After passing Hayden and Jewel Lakes on the way in, I pushed up the big meadow that takes you up to Cutthroat Lake. I arrived at my camp and did some quick clean up, which seems par for the course these days, then got my camp set. I did some evening fishing and landed a couple of nice Tiger Trout, then moved up to camp for dinner after one beautiful sunset. I eventually lit up the lanterns and got my fire going and settled in for some long exposures. You could not ask for a better night to shoot the stars. Eventually, it got cold enough that I retired to my tent for some much earned quiet time and sleep.

I awoke to the sun shining on my tent. I must have slept pretty well. The ground was crunchy stepping out of my tent so I could tell that the dew point on the ground was cold enough to freeze overnight. There was no frost on my tent or gear, but it was chilly getting up. I made coffee just to have a warm beverage as the sun climbed into camp and warmed things up. After breakfast I put it together and decided to head out to fish and hike over to Teal Lake. Cutthroat Lake was really active till around 1 PM when I wandered over to Teal Lake. The wind always seems to hit the south end of this lake. I hiked around and found calmer waters. The first hit I had I thought I was going to land, but it got off. I could see its mass as I got it close to shore, it was a nice one. The second hit was a nice one, but smaller than the first. It was on from there. They just kept nailing my dry fly. After some amazing fishing, I decided to walk around the lake some more. I found myself fishing again and landed the best fish of the day. After pausing for lunch and fishing some more, I decided to head back towards camp. I had seen a pond that previously me and my friends had visited before. It was holding fish, so gave it a shot. They were on fire in this pond! I spent probably an extra hour longer there because fishing was fast and fun, and the colors in the basin were just pretty to look at. I moved up to camp, and got my fire ready for the evening.

I half expected there to be other backpackers to have come in returning from my hike, but to my surprise, no one was there. It is rare to have this lake all to yourself. I got dinner ready and then settled in for some more fun with the stars. This night was cold, and I knew I was going to need a good fire to stay up to get the shot I wanted. I got the fire raging and played with the camera until about midnight, when I decided I wanted to crawl in my down bag and fall asleep. Morning came and it was a bit warmer than the day previous. Still cold on the toes, but it was not for long as the sun climbed and the temps rose.I decided to take some pictures and fish before breakfast. I ended up landing my first Brookie ever out of Cutthroat Lake. I knew they were in there, but it has been all Tigers for me. I shot a pano of the lake as the sun was lighting up the west ridge. After getting warm, I decided to pack it up so when I was ready to go I could get moving. The noon hour was approaching and I decided to head out. The hike out was the same as coming in. Silent, and quiet because there were no people. I finally saw a human being at Ruth Lake. It was a family and their dog. The temperatures were perfect and I was at my car before I knew it. The seasons have changed and fall is officially here. Not too much longer before we change this party from dirt dances to snow dances. Enjoy the slideshow below. More adventures to come.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Reynolds Peak, Big Water/Little Water Loop, Millcreek Canyon, Wasatch-Cache National Forest- September 2015

This is a peak I like to climb as it is a nice walk in the woods then you end up on a very nice peak. I had some friends in town from Oregon and they wanted to get out in the Wasatch for a hike. I decided that walking up to Reynolds Peak would give them a birds eye view of the Wasatch. We made really good time up on the Big Water Trail. The temps were perfect and not a cloud in the sky. The last 1/2 miles was steep and full of views. We all found ourselves on the peak standing at a central point in the Wasatch. We spent some time up there taking in the view. There is a geocache box that has a summit log in it that we all signed. I shot a nice pano up there to give the viewer a perspective of the view up there. The hike down the Little Water Trail was very nice and very quiet. Gone are the crowds of summer, and fall is creeping in. Below are a couple of photos from the day. The dirt path party has switched to fall, and the colors are gonna start changing. More adventures to come!

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Island Lake, Uinta Mountains- September 2015

I made a solo trip into Island Lake this past week for my holiday trip. I wanted to have no crowds, and my strategy seemed to pay off. I arrived at the trail head Wednesday just after noon, and got ready and headed in. There were five cars when I pulled in, and three of them left before I even got my boots on. I saw some day hikers on their way out, but no one but me packing it in. I ran into a dad and son on their way out from day hiking just before the pass, and chatted for a bit about who they saw while in there. They said no one was in there that they had seen. These were the last two people I saw until Friday. I was nervous that I may have some people in there, as I have never seen Island Lake empty. I was prepared to move up to Fire Lake if there were too many people at Island Lake. I continued over the pass, and was solo all the way in. The hike with the new UL bag was over before I knew it. I arrived to find Island Lake empty. I truly had it all to myself. I arrived at Island lake and it was so quiet and peaceful. I found my way to the camp I was going to stay at and set the pack down and just sat there for a few minutes taking it all in. Then in orderly fashion I got camp set for the next couple of days. I eventually just wandered out to the rock shelf that was a bit out of camp that sits and overlooks the lake. Sunset came to the lake, and I got out the camera and rattled out a few shots. The sun is setting earlier now, so I made my way back to camp for dinner and a beverage. I had a nice night by the fire, but was having trouble with my interval timer that I had just received. I am not sure if it was not communicating with my camera or what the problem was with that. I did manage to get an artsy looking single shot with my fire illuminating all the trees. After a long night with fussing with this timer, I decided to get some rest and turned in.

Thursday morning came with a bit more wind, and some passing clouds from the south. It actually looked threatening as there was no blue sky, but as the morning progressed from the coffee to breakfast, the skies cleared. I put it together and decided to walk up to Fire Lake. I had thought about Big Elk, but I really like Fire Lake, and I always make it a point to visit there. I gave it a whirl at trying to fish, but the wind was so strong, and the water was not good for running a dry fly. I found a meadow that was kind of wind sheltered and just layed there for a bit taking in the clouds moving fast to the north. Kind of daydreamed there for a while. Was really nice. I shot a nice pano of Fire Lake, and then moved on around the lake. Tried fishing some more, but there was just no activity at all. I am thinking full moon put them off. On my way around the lake, I was picking Raspberries to munch on because they are yummy! Eventually I finished my loop of the area and made my way back to camp. I decided on the way up to Fire Lake to go via the part of the lake that I did not go in on. And I made it a loop to get back to camp. I tried fishing again, had a pretty solid bite, but alas no luck once more. I meandered around the lake just taking it all in. I arrived back at camp and got things situated for the evening. The sunset this night was really fun to shoot. I set up my camera and this time my interval timer worked so I was able to get a star trail out of my camera before the clouds moved in. I had a nice night by the fire, just taking in the silence. Although I love to be out with my friends, there is something special about some alone time in your own head. I burned my fire down to ash, then proceeded to my sleeping bag for some much earned rest.

Friday morning arrived and with it came blue skies and slightly cooler temps. Coffee was perfect as I went and sat on the rocks overhanging the lake. The sun came up and warmed me up as I enjoyed my cup of joe. I eventually wandered back to camp and packed it up for the hike out. I left that camp clean! I hope the weekend crowd does the same. I got everything situated and then decided to go chill by the lake one more time before heading out. I made good time on the way out, seeing the first human beings I had seen in nearly three days when I got up to Long Lake. The trail out was a ghost town and I only saw a few hikers after I got over the pass. Arriving at the lot it was about half full, and I had to wonder where everyone was because the trail was empty for the most part on the way out. It was nice to be out in the mountains again, and this solo trip was so fun and very relaxing. Enjoy the slideshow below. More adventures to come.......

Friday, August 28, 2015

Cuberant Basin, Uinta Mountains- August 2015

This is one of my usual trips in the Uintas every year. After the monster weekend on the north slope, I was really just looking for a nice walk in the woods. I arrived at the parking lot to a total of four cars. I was pretty happy to have so few people when I showed up. I got it together and headed on in. The temps were perfect, and I made a quick pace up to the junction. I ran into a couple of people who were completing the Lofty Lake Loop, and chatted for a few minutes before moving on. I pushed for the pass as I wanted to get in and get things set since I was solo for the night. I ran into a couple on horseback, and they said the basin was pretty empty. I was happy as this side of the Uintas can be crazy busy at times. I climbed the pass, and took a short break at the top for a few photos and a snack. I then made a quick pace to move on down to my camp for the evening. I was rather impressed with myself, 1 hr and 20 min with stops from the car to camp. The new pack really is helping me make distance really fast. I set up shop for the weekend and gathered all the down fall I could for my fire that evening. I will also mention, there was a lot of garbage that was left in camp from the last group there, and it was hauled out and the paper was burned to clean the place up. I tossed out a line and caught a couple of nice brookies before sunset. I settled in with a nice fire for the evening as the stars were out and it was beautiful. I unfortunately was not able to get star trails this trip. My interval timer broke last weekend, so I could only do single shots. Still got some nice moonlight on the rocks and the lake. A few hours of the fire and a beverage, and it was time to turn in.

I awoke after a very quiet and good nights sleep to the sound of solitude. Being solo in the wilderness is a unique experience I have learned to love. My first day out here was a solo adventure, and a good one at that. I was from talks had back in Salt Lake, that my good friend Chris was going to come in on Saturday. He had stuff to do on Friday so could not leave then. I made coffee and breakfast and was just changing things over from the night gear to day gear when I heard the bells on the dog and knew he was coming in. It was great to see him and his two wonder dogs Martini and Bear. He got settled in then we both decided to just do some fishing, and some clean up of surrounding camps from people who were not very respectful during their stay out there. We did a nice job getting the basin back to how it is supposed to look. We then moved on to trying to catch some fish. I had a few bites, but nothing landed. Eventually, I decided to move up to the next lake, and I was going to give it a shot. I fished for a bit, then started landing some small ones. I got a large hit and set the hook and landed a nice Cutthroat. I knew it was getting late and I started my way back down to camp with my dinner caught. I got things ready for the evening including our fire as Chris was burning the daylight to dusk fishing at our lake. Evening set in and we had a feast to say the least. I don't remember the last time I was that full from a meal backpacking. Eventually the cooler air on this night put us in to slumber for I think both of us wanted our tents and sleeping bags.

We awoke to a really quiet and peaceful morning with blue skies and warmer temps. We made breakfast again and then packed it up slowly. I do not think either of us were in a hurry, and we spent some time just lounging around our area taking in the nice weather. We eventually had it all packed up and made our way out. The hike up to the pass was really nice, taking in a view of Mt Marsell and its massive chute we could only imagine must be a great line on the splitboard. Reaching the pass, we had a view of the monsoon that was building from the south and how beautiful all the clouds were. We made our way off the pass and down into the meadow. A roll of thunder passed over us about less than a mile from the car. Nothing alarming, but you could tell the air mass was changing. What seemed like in no time we were at the car with a weekend ending beverage to celebrate being out in the wilderness once more. This was a great weekend and very relaxing. I am a bit disappointed at the behavior of other campers that we cleaned up out there. If you pack it in, pack it out. Please take all of your garbage and human stuff out with you. And learn to properly do your human business while you are out there. No one wants to see your toilet paper tulips. The good, bad, and the ugly, as Chris mentioned, we saw all three. Respect the wilderness, and leave it better than you found it. I know we did. Enjoy the pics and slide show. More adventures to come.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

West Fork Beaver Trail, High Uintas Wilderness- August 2015

This is an area in the High Uintas that I have wanted to visit for a very long time. After a long drive we arrived at the trail head and headed on in. The hike is not too hard, as the terrain is very gradual and never is really steep. It is a great nature walk which seems to go on forever. Eventually you come to a river crossing and you head south into the drainage. Passing some meadows you find yourself with a view of Gilbert Peak and you get a sense for how massive this place is. We continued on pushing to our destination for the weekend. It was a great hike, very long, and we soon found ourselves after a long walk at our home for the weekend. Night came in and we had a fire and some beverages after dinner. I got a very nice shot of the Milky Way out there. After some photo fun we were all ready for bed after the long day we had on the trail.

Morning came and I was playing with the light on the peaks surrounding us. We decided breakfast and coffee were in order. We then packed up the day hiking gear and made our way out to explore the basin. After fishing the first lake we ran into, a quick thunderstorm came in and we took shelter in a stand of trees and ate lunch as it rumbled on by. Eventually, the storm moved on and the sun came out and fishing and exploring were on again. I am not going to tell you where we landed some really great fish. I am only going to tell you that this was some of the best fishing I have had in the Uintas. We kept on pushing up to the very base of one of the peaks. There we sat back and took in the view of the rain columns coming down out of the sky as the clouds moving north were fun to watch. After what seemed to be hours of fishing and hanging out, we descended to camp and got ready for the evening. It was a great night of good friends, Perseid's meteors, and shooting the Milky Way. We all eventually turned in to a good nights sleep and the silence was so still.

I awoke to the sound of rain on the fly of my tent. The thunder was rolling across the basin and one strike was within a mile of our camp. But as fast as it came, it was gone. The sun came up and everyone woke to a beautiful day. After breakfast and some coffee we packed it up for the 9.3 mile hoof to the car. We made our way down to the river crossing, and were greeted in the meadow by a cow moose and her calf. We crept by them quickly and then stopped at the river crossing to have lunch. The walk to the car was as long as I can remember any hike I have done in the Uintas. I think only Red Castle seemed longer than this one. We did find Strawberries on the way out and had to stop for 45 min picking a huge patch we found. We then moved on to the final push to the car which seemed to never end. The last 1/4 mile my feet hurt so bad it was pure will that I kept my pace up and made it out. We had cheeseburgers with fresh tomato and avocado when we reached the car. That was worth every step. This was an amazing place, pristine, and no one else but our group in there for three days. I never get that in the Uintas. If you get lucky enough to visit this area, keep it pure and leave no trace. Enjoy the pics and slideshow. More adventures to come!

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Toomset Lake, High Uintas Wilderness- August 2015

This is a place that I loved when I first visited it, and was really looking forward to returning there when our destination was finally decided upon. This was my maiden voyage with the Granite Gear Crown VC 60, and I was in the low 20's in weight, and was really excited to see how this pack performed. We left Friday evening and arrived at the trail head. We departed about 7 pm and made it to the Amethyst junction in about 50 minutes. We then headed up the steep climb that puts you in Amethyst Basin. We made it to the top as the alpenglow covered everything and the clouds turned pink. We continued on through the woods as twilight was fading fast. Once we hit the big meadow it was time to put on the headlamps and hike from there in the dark. After a long walk we finally made it to our crossing and made our way over the river on a downed log. Another 20 minutes or so of climbing and we found ourselves at Toomset Lake. We made our way to camp and set up shop. After getting settled we made a fire and enjoyed the clear weather and bright stars. Soon after the moon came up and I used this time to get a time lapse and star trail shot as I was not sure if this was my only window to shoot this weekend. After a late night and long day on the trail, I wrapped up my photography and we turned in.

Morning came to me opening my tent and seeing the sun rays through the trees and huge wildflower meadow that we posted up next to. I got up and made my way down to the lake to see the fish jumping and being quite active. I grabbed my fly rod and made it back down to the shore and cast on in. Third cast and I had a Cutthroat on. A few more fish and then I landed a very nice Tiger to get the day going. Eventually Chris rose from a long sleep, and breakfast and coffee were in order. We decided to just stay at Toomset because of the amount of people who had signed in at the trail head for Amethyst Lake and Ostler Lake. We fished the whole lake, and the fishing was good. After hours in the sun fishing, we made our way back up to camp until the evening and just took it easy and relaxed and just took it all in. The dogs took a nap, and I almost joined them. You could not have asked for better weather, and things just felt good. Evening came, and we went down for the best fishing of the day! We had two brookies on right away, then I got a fat Tiger Trout which was catch of the trip for me. twilight wet in and it was time for dinner and to get a fire going. We had a great evening and I managed to get another star trail off which was great to get out with the camera and shoot in the night once more. Bedtime was at hand so both of us turned in.

Morning came with blue skies and nice temperatures. After crawling out of the bag I made breakfast and coffee and then packed it up. Having a UL backpack means you don't have much, so I was packed and just relaxing in minutes. Chris eventually got it put together and we began the hike out to the car. This was a great weekend, capped off by a great hike out talking to the many people on their way in as we were exiting. I love my new pack, and I highly recommend that if you are looking to lighten the load and move to the ultralight category, this pack linked above is the one I suggest. We had lunch and a beer when we reached the car and we sat in the meadow and watched the thunderstorm clouds build. It is awesome to watch the weather out there. Enjoy the slide show, pics and time lapse video below. More adventures to come!

Toomset Timelapse from Christian Paul on Vimeo.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Lake Lackawaxen- Wasatch-Cache National Forest- July 2015

There are not too many first time hikes left for me to do in the Wasatch. Lake Lackawaxen is one of them that was left on the to do list. I drove up to Guardsman Pass, and headed in via Bloods Lake which I visited earlier this summer. Just a bit over 1/2 mile and I was at Bloods Lake. It was kind of busy, and lots of people swimming and hanging around. On the SW side of the lake, the trail continues over the ridge. This is one of the steep sections, but is really short. You make your way across a minor ridge, then you descend into a very nice meadow. Keep heading towards Clayton Peak on the trail. Eventually after some more climbing, you will find yourself at a junction. take the left fork to go to the lake, right fork takes you to the summit of Clayton Peak. I chose the lake this day, as I was just looking for some quiet time to relax and enjoy.

After meandering up a meadow with a very mellow grade, and crossing a very small boulder section, I arrived at Lake Lackawaxen. It really is back in there and was very scenic. I explored around the lake to see what your options were. There were a couple of nice spots if you were to do an over nighter up there. I took a nice break on the granite slab that is at the other end of the lake. What a nice place. My question that was burning me up was "Are there fish in there?" I had my answer shortly as I saw a very large salamander swim by me. So this will be on the list of photography destinations, but not a fishing spot. After taking a few pictures and walking around the lake, I decided to head out. The hike is a great workout for anyone who likes up and down terrain features. Get that full leg workout. It was not long before I was standing at my car on Guardsman Pass. Great day up to a new location! I will for sure come back. Enjoy the pics, more adventures on walkabout to come!

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Backpacking White Pine Lake- Little Cottonwood Canyon- Wasatch-Cache National Forest- July 2015

I usually hike the Wasatch as my training ground for my backpacking adventures. But there are a few spots here in the Wasatch that are great over nighters. White Pine is one of the best. It is a very long hike, 5 miles from car to lake, and about 2500 ft of elevation gain. But the trail all the way to the lake is an old service road from the 1960's reclamation project. So the going is pretty nice with a few steeps along the way. I started in at 1 PM and made my way up. I pushed pretty fast of to the Red Pine/White Pine Junction. Then begins the climb which gains you some elevation very fast. Once you finish the first switchbacks the terrain and grade mellows quite a bit which you can make some distance on if you are willing to push it a bit. Eventually you start climbing again, and then comes the steepest section of this trail. Just take it easy and save your energy on this section. Once you reach the large moraine you are above treeline with an incredible view of the North Headwall of Little Cottonwood Canyon. The geology is apparent with the blend of rock types. After four more switchbacks you are standing at the top of the trail looking down at White Pine Lake.

I made camp at the same site I stayed at in 2012. Some hikers on their way out said there were people up there camped, but when I arrived there was no one there. I had the lake all to myself on a holiday weekend! A couple of day hikers came in in the evening, but they left before dusk. I had White Pine Lake all to myself solo backpacking! This will for sure go down in history as a once in a lifetime event. I pitched camp and then put the fly rod together and tossed out a line. I has some small ones on, one that I hooked into that was rather large but I did not land. It was not fast fishing as it was the last time I was up there. But still fun and nice to be fishing in solitude. Evening set in and I got dinner ready and settled in for the night. I set the camera out to grab a star trail and I put on some tunes on the goal zero speakers. It was an amazing evening up there, with a half moon light painting the granite all around camp. I have to say I picked a great night to be up there. I had a blast just relaxing and taking that deep breath we all need. I eventually turned in to some of the quietest sleep I have had in months.

I awoke just a little after 8:30 to clear skies and a light breeze. The temps were mild overnight, and never really cold. I got up, ate breakfast, made some coffee, and then packed it up. I am amazed at how minimal I go these days, and I was sitting lakeside just enjoying the view one more time before heading out. It is a peaceful place, and one that is special on my list. After taking it all in once more, I threw on the pack and headed out. I had the trail to myself until I came out of the moraine. Then I ran into hiker after hiker on the way up the trail. It was Saturday, so I expected this. I am probably one of the few this weekend who had that place to myself. I was grateful to say the least. I had a pretty quick hike down, and the weather was perfect. Enjoy the pictures from the trip. More adventures to come!

Friday, July 24, 2015

Meadow Lake via the Holiday Park Trail, Uinta Mountains- July 2015

I have been to Meadow Lake previously on a day hike from Ibanitk, but none of our group had ever hiked the Holiday Park Trail to reach it. From Pass Lake we geared up and headed in. This is the same start as the Cuberant Basin trail, but splits after about a quarter of a mile. There is a good sign posted. We moved on from the junction and into some soggy ground. There was a lot of rock hopping and jumping gaps that would have been quick sand with how wet they were. This trail must be under used because although noticeable, the over growth is creeping on the trail. As we continued it was more soggy trail, then a few water crossing, nothing a problem with some Goretex boots on. Eventually after descending gradually for what seemed forever, we came upon a stack of rocks and a sign on a tree that pointed the way to Meadow Lake. We took a short break at that junction, then we moved on.

The climb up this drainage to Meadow Lake is steep and can be confusing at times. Watch for the yellow and orange tape hangs from the trees, and all the Cairns that are always visible when you think you have lost the path. Eventually after a harsh brutal climb, you junction with the Notch Mountain Trail which comes around from Bench Lake. The terrain continues uphill, but at a much nicer grade. After just a few minutes it seemed we were at the turnoff for Meadow Lake. We did the very short climb in and just before the lake, our other two companions came in behind us. We looked around for a camp site, and chose one where the remnants of an old cabin were, and there was a huge metal plate from the mining era that we used as a tabletop. Plus, our view out of camp was amazing. Dusk crept in and everyone put up shop in quick order and we got a fire going. We had weather moving on and off over the area, and it let a few drops out before quitting so we could all get dinner. After dinner all of us relaxed after that big climb, and decided to turn in. It rained on us after we were all in our tents, but seemed to let up in the middle of the night.

The next day I awoke to some really clear skies, and was surprised based on the forecast I was seeing before leaving town. We all woke and got moving for the day. Everyone geared up and decided that we were going to fish all the way around the lake. Colin and Gabe were the first to strike it on the fly rod, shortly followed by Chris, then I hit pay dirt on the north west side of the lake. The fishing was medium action. Not a fish on every cast, but you did not have to wait long for one to grad your dry fly. After while we settled into south end for some lunch. The clouds were amazing and it just never, more than some strong winds, ever became stormy. Evening set in, and things began to clear out. We all fished till we were tired, and I settled in for a meal, then some photography. We had this front porch view of Trial and Notch peaks, and just watched lake go to glass as the alpen glow set in on the range. Night came and you could tell the heart of the range were getting thunderstorms, the flashes on the horizon were quite the light show display to watch. I managed before the clouds came back in to get a nice shot of the Milky Way over the Notch.

Sunday came, and we all slept in. Which required us to get up, eat, then pack it up. We knew we had a long descent followed by a long ascent back to the car. We said our goodbyes to Chris and Colin and headed on out. We made a fast decent of the steep section that returns you to the Holiday Park trail. Then the never ending climb began. Some of the section I climbed back up seemed foreign like I had never been there, because I do not remember descending that much. A couple of hours and some change from Meadow Lake and we were standing back at the car. This was a great trip, some of the best fishing of the year, and some surprising weather as well. It was nice to be back in the wilderness. Enjoy the full set of photos in the slideshow below. More adventures to come.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Red Pine Lake, Little Cottonwood Canyon- July 2015

Wasatch Wednesday was back last week as I decided to visit one of my favorite places- Red Pine Lake. This is a pretty steep hike which has several gut busting sections. It was perfect weather, and a bit cooler than average to start this hike out. I left the White Pine trail head and started up the main trail that junctions with both White Pine and Red Pine trails. As I hiked, I saw an amazing amount of Monks Hood, which is beautiful but deadly. Look, but don't touch. As I moved on, the trail was in the shade behind the growth of the trees which this year is just spectacular. I pushed a steady pace all the way up to the lake, just taking in the garden which was in full bloom. Eventually, after sweating it out and not stopping for a break from trail head, I arrived at Red Pine Lake. I cannot believe I had the place to myself! I made my way to the inlet, and then posted up and drank some water which was like paradise after being so hot pushing the pace that I did to the lake. The sun would play hide and seek behind the clouds, and that made things a bit chilly at times since I had been sweating, so I pulled out my jacket or a bit to warm up. I decided to head to the southwest corner of the lake and try my hand at some fly fishing. I had a few bites, got one on the line, but unfortunately did not land anything. They were being a bit tricky, as well the wind was howling making casting like throwing water at the wind. Eventually, it was time to head down, and to say this was one of the best evening hikes of the season. Sorry for the late entry, things got busy this past week. Uintas trip over the weekend post coming up soon! More adventures to come.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Catherine Pass to Sunset Peak, Wasatch-Cache National Forest- 7.1.2015

The first day of the month happens to be Wasatch Wednesday! I decided to hike Catherine Pass just to get out of the heat in the valley. June officially went down as the hottest June on record, and July was not gonna start off any different. The Albion Basin road opened July 1st, so I figured seeing this side of the Wasatch would be a nice change. It was warm from the trail head on the way in. The flowers were out everywhere, so I had to make a couple of pit stops to snap some photos of my friends the wildflowers because it has been since last year since I have seen them. Moved up each steep section pretty quick, and talked to a couple of hikers on the way up. Without much time, I was soon standing on Catherine Pass.

The forecast called for 30% chance of showers, but the closest I could see were way out over the Uintas. I was looking up at Sunset Peak and decided I wanted to head up there. The hike up to Sunset Pass was hot, and sandy as usual. It is strange to be hiking on dry sand in this section, but soft on the feet. After getting to the pass, I moved on to finish my hike up to the peak. This whole diet and yoga routine really has given me so much more endurance and I was standing at 10,680 ft USGS before I knew it. There were a couple of people that made the summit shortly after I did. It was nice to chat with them as we took in the panorama of the Wasatch.

Eventually it was time to head down and return to the oven we call the valley. The hike out was very nice and even had cooled just a bit heading back to the car. I saw a Marmot and a Buck on the way out. It is always great to see the wildlife doing so well. The flowers seemed even more colorful in the evening light. I had the trail all to myself on the way out, which is a rarity indeed. A wonderful day hiking the Wasatch, and Wednesday has seemed to be money for getting out in the Tri-Canyons. Enjoy the photos. More adventures to come..........