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.

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