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..........