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.