Monday, June 15, 2015

Duck Lake, Uinta Mountains- June 2015

The day finally came to get out for my first backpacking trip of the year. We made our way out on Hwy 150 to the Crystal Lake trail head and threw on the packs and headed in. The trail was wet to begin with, and there are a lot of downed trees that are log hurdles as you make your way to the switchbacks. Once on the switchbacks, there were some piles of snow, but nothing too difficult to manage. We took a short break on the pass and headed in. It got was a bit more wet and squishy as we made our way down to Long Lake. There was one big section of snow at Long Lake that was a bit more than a pile I would say, and it was punchy with the temps being this warm. But it soon turned to dry rock once again and we moved on from Long Lake after a few pictures. As we were descending the trail from Long Lake to Duck Lake, we had to navigate a big pile of trees that had fallen because the ground table is so saturated, we lost the trail.

We knew were we were, and we could see Weir Lake so we made an off trail excursion which ended with us walking right up to the outlet of Pot Lake. At this time our other two companions came walking down the trail and our party was complete for the weekend. We arrived to Duck Lake with no one else there. We had this place to ourselves. I have never been to Duck and have it be empty. We moved to our spot and set up shop. Evening set in and we gathered up our fire wood and settled in for an evening or relaxing and maxing. I shot some night photography, but only could be out there for an hour or so because the dew point was so high that it was putting condensation on my lens. We all turned in and got some sleep.

After a bit nippy night from the dew being so wet, the sun came up and the temps got warm fast. I think all of us were happy to just be outside, crystal clear blue skies, and good company. One of our party was only in for an over nighter, and he departed in the afternoon. We decided to try to find a way to go to Fire Lake by finding a route from Duck. We made a steep hike for nearly half a mile before we finally crested out on top of the dam at Fire Lake. When we arrived, it was pretty much iced over. We fished the edge that was melted off, and the ice seemed to be melting as we were making our way around the lake. When we arrived at the spot I usually camp at, the lake was almost ice free. I nabbed what I think was the shot of the trip, and then we moved on to go see the view from the cliffs above Duck Lake. Amazing view up there, but there is some serious exposure. We eventually found ourselves back at camp making dinner and settling in for another crystal clear night in the Uintas. I took some more pictures and turned in.

Moring greeted us with a tiny shower from a passing weather cell that came over us, then the sun came back out and it was party cloudy and just beautiful. I had to depart earlier than my two companions so I hiked out to the car solo. I took the route out via Weir Lake and there is one serious stream crossing, but I found a way that did not compromise my gaiters and boots. It was a wet one all the way up to the pass. I did not stop at the pass, I pushed right on through to the car. An amazing and relaxing first trip out to the Uintas this year. A much needed reconnect with the wilderness, and very grateful that I was able to return to one of my favorite places on earth. Enjoy the pics. More adventures to come.

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