Friday, December 30, 2016
Another year has come and gone. 2016 was full of adventure from touring the Wasatch on the splitboard, riding Solitude on the snowboard, to backpacking and hiking the Wasatch and the Uintas. There was plenty of fun to be had in the mountains here in Utah over the past 365 days. From long days on trail, camp fires, star trails, sunsets, fall colors, to deep powder runs in the backcountry, life had plenty to offer. Full tally for the year 2016: 40 days snowboarding and splitboarding, 50 days hiking and backpacking, 22 nights camping in the backcountry, and 160 miles of travel by foot both winter and summer. Memories that will last a lifetime! This video below encompasses my entire year for 2016 in the mountains of Utah. Grab a snack and your favorite beverage and enjoy this 15 minute video tribute to the passing year. What will 2017 bring? Stay tuned......
Monday, December 26, 2016
Another big storm brought a White Christmas to the Wasatch. We took advantage of bluebird skies and perfect temperatures to head up the Willows again to seek out some powder turns. The climb up was just beautiful as the rime crystals were falling like snow from the trees as we ascended the skin track. We peaked out on the Willow Knob and took in the view for a while. We dropped into some of the deepest turns of the season as we ran the glades getting some amazing snow. I was on my new Voile Speed Rail bindings and boy am I in love with them. The fit and precision is awesome and the change over from touring mode to ride mode is as easy as you can get. Say goodbye to the pin! Enjoy the video and landscape from our topping out point. 2016 is going out on a high note in the mountains. Its been a good one! More adventures to come!
Sunday, December 18, 2016
Another storm put down some incredible right side up classic Utah powder. We decided this Sunday's festivities would be had up Bear Trap Fork. We arrived to a -5 temperature at the trail head to get the day under way. "Human Popsicle" would be a good way to describe our cold ascent of this drainage. We were looking for every patch of sun you could put your body in. After taking a break in the upper meadow which was full of sun, we made the final climb to the ridge. It was a bluebird day so the views were amazing. We even had a bald eagle soar over us for a time while we were up top making the switch over. I dropped into some of the best snow we have had all year. The turns were yummy! The ride out was a mix of good snow and variable terrain. Keeps you on your toes for sure on the way out. Another great day touring the Wasatch on the splitboard! Enjoy the video, more adventures to come!
Sunday, December 11, 2016
The Wasatch received a rather wetter than normal storm this week, which culminated with the biggest part of this storm coming in on Saturday. We decided since the avalanche forecast was calling for considerable conditions that we would return to the Willows as this is a safe area with low angle terrain. We made our way up in the AM to just perfect conditions on the skin track. The stoke was high as we climbed the meadows. Once at the top we made the change over and strapped in. We dropped into some of the deepest powder of the season which was a creamy consistency. After making our way back to the start of the big up, we made the switch over and went back up for lap #2. The temperature climbed and the sun came out and it warmed up quite a bit. Eventually after a second time up the skin track, we sat below Willow Knob and made the change over again. After taking in the view, we dropped into a different line which was just as fun and had some really great snow. Our out to the car was so fun as the snow was in great condition. It was an amazing day in the Wasatch. The kind we look to get after. Enjoy the pic and video which has the full set of pics from the day. More adventures to come!
Friday, December 9, 2016
Got out for a quick tour up the Millicent side to Twin Lakes today. Snow was in great shape, and lots of powder to be had everywhere. I made a pretty quick climb up there, and got some very nice turns on the way down. This was a much heavier snow than the last storm. 7-8" everywhere to play in. It was really supportable, and no signs or red flags that I saw. This is the kind of base builder we needed. Enjoy the pic and video I made from today. More adventures to come!
Sunday, December 4, 2016
Sunday Funday strikes again! We took a very nice tour up the Willows today. The skin track was well set as we climbed from the road to the turnoff for climbing to our line. It was a long day out there climbing, and we eventually settled in to our spot for the switch over. After taking in the view, we dropped into a very nice line of powder turns making us all grin from ear to ear! The glades were fluffy days after the last storm. The out was for sure a bit scary as the tide is low at the lower elevations. We had a death luge down the logging road which shot us out onto the main road. A great day with coverage setting up nicely out there. More snow is on the way so I expect there is going to be more fun to be had! Enjoy the pic and video edit I put together. More adventures to come!
Wednesday, November 30, 2016
The day finally has arrived! After what looked like never ending fall here in the Wasatch, winter decided to show up in an old school Wasatch way! Some places got over 40" out of this one storm! After waiting for the avalanche danger to settle out, I decided that a walk up Millicent was in order to work out the cob webs and start building up the endurance for the season. The temps were mild to say the least and I made a pretty quick ascent up to Twin Lakes Dam. I made the switch over and dropped in. The ride was nice on some tracked snow and some untracked I sampled on the way down. The coverage is amazing! It was nice to be out on the skin track again. It was also nice to be making some turns in powder again. Enjoy the video I made from today. More adventures to come!
Thursday, November 10, 2016
I had thought that we were going to be heading into winter. But fall has been holding on much longer, and warmer than I could have imagined. Since we are getting no snow and things are still nice out there, I have taken a few days to get out on the trail and keep the legs fresh. I did a jaunt up Bells canyon the first weekend of the month. It was a nice day up there with unseasonably warm temperatures. I took some nice pano shots up there and made it a great day. Evening hiking out and watching the sunset was pretty amazing, despite the inversion that was clearly visible.
Monday I had the day free so me and my wife decided to get out since the warm weather continues. We both wanted to go up to the Living Room, so we headed into the foothills of the Wasatch. It was unseasonably warm this day as well, warm enough I could have worn shorts. The hike was great and the views got better and better as you climbed. Arriving at the Living Room, we had a full view of the valley. The Living Room sits on a saddle and is called by its name for the stone furniture made out of the slate rock that is at the site. We settled in for a bit to have a snack and enjoy the views. The hike out was pretty quick and we made it out to the car in a jiffy. I'll take these bonus days to get out hiking because I know they will be coming to an end sooner than later. When winter is gonna show up is anyone's guess. Enjoy the pics! More adventures to come!
Sunday, October 16, 2016
I have not spent as much time as I normally do in the Wasatch this summer. I have been out in the Uintas most of the season. I have been missing going on a walk up the Cottonwoods. I decided I would get out before this storm on the way settled in. I arrived to a blustery Albion Basin, clouds and really strong wind gusts. I put on my pack and headed on in. All the flora has died off for the season. The ground is a yellow and red mix. A small bit of snow remains on most of the peaks. The hike in was pretty quick, though noticeably cold. Eventually I was standing at Cecret Lake, and the wind was really pulsing up here. The light was pretty cool and the clouds were fun to see. I took some shots and hung out at the lake for a bit. Eventually it was time to head down. The walk out was quick and the light was playing with the main canyon. I even stopped to shoot Superior and Greely on the way out. Not too many more like this before we will be playing in the snow. Great day in the mountains! More adventures to come.
Tuesday, October 11, 2016
Marjorie Lake is a destination that I have wanted to visit for a long time. For the life of me, I cannot think of an excuse as to why I have never been there. I have hiked this area so many times, and I have seen all the other lakes. But this one I guess had just plain slipped my radar. It is now October, so the days are much shorter, and the nights much colder. The Uintas have had some snow recently, so anything north facing, or in the shadow is probably holding a few inches of snow. I arrived to a very empty Crystal Lake trail head. I got out the pack, put the boots on, and headed on in. The trail was pretty muddy in spots with a few downed trees. In the shadow there was snow, but not enough to the pass to even be an issue. At the pass, the air was cool, but the trail pretty much snow free. I made my way down to the Long Lake Junction. From there it is just a few minutes and you are at the junction to Marjorie Lake. Right as I entered this section there was snow. Especially on the first boardwalk they put in to protect the meadow. Add a downed tree across it to up the difficulty. A short walk down the trail and the snow was gone. Seems anywhere the sun hit the trail, it was squishy but snow free, in the shade soft snow to walk in.
After a mile or so of walking through a nice forest, the trail descended to Marjorie Lake. I had to post hole six inches of snow about 20 yrds to the meadow from the trail. From there it was just fall colored grasses with ground cover and dry shoreline trail. I decided to camp on the west side so I would get that morning sun to warm up with. This is a beautiful alpine lake tucked against a mountain with beautiful views. I found a spot that was snow free and had been recently used. It was a clean camp, which made me happy to see. Not the usual Uinta trash you see at a lot of spots from irresponsible campers. I set up shop and got busy on getting fire wood together as it was expected with the wind chill to go below freezing. Once I had my home for the night set, the sunset took my attention. I shot a really nice panorama of Haystack Mountain reflecting in the lake. I made my dinner and then got settled in as the light faded to black, and the stars made their first appearance for the evening. There was a half moon to the south. Just bright enough to set the mood, but dark enough to see the stars. I got my fire going so I was nice and warm, then hiked across the dam to set up my camera for a time lapse/star trail. After a nice night by the fire, I packed up my camera and crawled into my bag for some much needed sleep.
I awoke to the coldest morning I have had all year backpacking in the mountains. There was frost on my rain fly and tent poles. The ground was glittering from the frost Sunday morning. Even the edges of Marjorie had iced up. I came prepared, so I slept very warm, and was warm when I crawled out of my sleeping bag. The sun came up and warmed things up quickly. I made breakfast, and some coffee, then packed things up. I put together the rod and gave fishing a try. I had a few hits, but alas I landed nothing on this trip. It is late in the year, and the action was really slow. I eventually put on the pack and headed on out to the trail. It was a crunchy snowy hike to the junction. Then out of the shadow at that point, it was really warm all the way to the car. It is not often I get to send off the year with a trip to a new area. Backpacking solo has become something I love. Don't get me wrong, having friends along is great! Always first on the list. But I am happy that I am confident with my skills now that I can go alone and still have a great time. This was my last backpacking trip for the year in the Uintas. Eleven trips out there this year. Twenty two nights in my tent. All of my time out there is good for the soul! A few more days hiking the Wasatch, and this party changes from dirt dances to snow dances! Enjoy the pics and time lapse, more adventures to come!
Friday, September 30, 2016
I have been so busy out in the Uintas this year that I sometimes forget the best fall hikes are right in my back yard here in the Wasatch. I had the fortunate pleasure of having a day free with my wife and we decided to go for a walk. We arrived at the Big Water Lot and got out the packs and headed in. It was a photography free for all in there today! The colors are at peak and we could not have timed our visit any better. The hike into Big Water was the perfect temperature. We made a pretty quick pace minus the stopping in awe and shooting tons of photos. We eventually made it to Dog Lake and it was well worth the visit. So colorful and peaceful. I took some time setting up some shots I had come there for. After looping the lake we headed down the Little Water trail. It was a quick descent with the peaks glowing gold on our way out. What a perfect day out in nature, enjoying the colors! Enjoy the pics, more adventures to come!
Tuesday, September 20, 2016
I was fortunate to get out for another trip into the Uintas over the weekend. I decided to head into Dean Lake with a couple of friends for an over nighter. Arriving at the trail head, cool temps greeted us with a cold breeze, and you could feel fall was in full effect here now. We put on our packs and headed on in. The trail was mostly free of downed trees, and was a very nice walk in the woods. After just a little bit of walking, we found ourselves at Clegg Lake. It was really quiet in there. I took a couple of pictures while we were there. We moved on down the trail, and made our way down the big meadow to Dean Lake. We arrived to once again having the place to ourselves. Gotta love the Uintas after Labor Day!
Arriving at Dean Lake was as beautiful as I remembered it. The temps at this point started to really warm up. We decided on a camp site, and got things set up. I put together the fly rod, and went fishing. It has been a full moon, so I was not really expecting anything. But I was able to hook into a pretty large Arctic Grayling which was a fighter all the way in. After a while of not getting much action, we moved down to Notch Lake. Fishing was pretty hot here and Chris ended up with a nice haul for dinner. His wonder dog bear was not upset either.
Night came in and back at camp we settled in for some dinner and some beverages by the fire. It was a nice night, but unfortunately not a astrophotography wonder as the full moon was too bright to try to get anything I wanted. I did shoot the moon, but alas did not want to put my battery through the cold temps that had rolled in at dark. My friends turned in and I sat up by the fire enjoying the last of my beverages and just being happy to be in the mountains once more. Eventually I coaled out the fire and turned in.
I awoke to warm temps and clear skies. I got up and went and sat in the meadow for a bit in the sun until it was too hot to be out there anymore. I had slept in, which is 9 AM, far later than I usually sleep out there. The guys got up and everyone was in for some coffee. After breakfast the guys were talking about going fishing, but I really was just interested in getting things going. I packed it up and decided to go. I made a quick hike out, about an hour from camp to car. This may have been my last trip for the season. We are on borrowed time now. Winter will be here soon to reclaim the mountains. A winter storm approaches this week and may put down our first significant snowfall of the season in our mountains. So the dirt dance may be coming to a close. Anythings possible and I would not be upset if I get one more before it is all said and done. Enjoy the pics, more adventures to come!
Monday, September 12, 2016
Fall is here! The nights are now longer, and the crowds of summer have gone. The bugs are also gone, and the animals are busy getting ready for winter. This was my first trip out post Labor Day, and as usual I was not disappointed. I decided since I needed an early out on Sunday, and I had no one to go with, that I would head into Cutthroat Lake. I expected the place to be packed with the great weather on tap for the weekend. I arrived at the trail head to find only two other cars parked there. Both vehicles left in the time that I got the boots on and put on the pack to walk in. At the register, no one had signed in past Ruth Lake since 9/3/16. I was in shock, and really stoked that I was going to have the place all to myself! I made my way up to Ruth Lake, then pushed for the ridge. Then I dropped down to Hayden Lake I then moved towards the pond just below Hayden. The meadows are now alive with color and the walk in was pretty spectacular. I then moved down to Jewel Lake, and then over the hill and through the meadow and up to the spot I was shooting for at Cutthroat Lake.
I found it stocked with a fire wood stack and really a lot cleaner than last year when I stayed here. I set up shop and then got things ready to go for the evening. After getting water, my tent set up, and fire going, I settled in for some dinner when dusk arrived. The skies were crystal clear and the stars were out in force. Darkness crept in and the temps got a bit colder than I expected from the forecast I had looked up before leaving town. I packed in some thermals and layers and bundled up for a chilly night by the fire. I put out my camera for some astrophotography, and I sat by the fire as it ran its shots. It was so quiet, I knocked a piece of fire wood against a tree and it seemed to echo in the basin forever. I had a great fire and was really warm from its wonderful heat. Eventually I moved down to the shore to get my camera and I moved to the north end of the lake for a shot at the Milky Way since the moon had set. I went back to camp, coaled out my fire, and crawled into my bag for some much needed sleep.
I awoke to a chilly morning in camp. I made some coffee and sat in the sun till things warmed up a bit. I expect it was in the upper 30's when I got out of my tent. The sun moved higher in the sky and things warmed up pretty fast. I had breakfast and then changed into my day clothes and decided to give fly fishing a shot. It was not too long before I had a nice brookie on the line! Funny how this is called Cutthroat Lake but all I ever catch here are brookies and tigers. I fished for a while, then decided to head back to camp to shed some more layers. I went back out and circled the lake trying my hand at some more fishing. My luck was not bad at all. Not fast action, but just enough action to keep you out there tossing a line. It was timeless for sure and before I knew it I was in need of some lunch. I then gathered up my wood for the evening and got things set as I knew I has an early exit on Sunday. I returned to the lake and fished for a bit more before moving back to camp for dinner and to get my fire going.
Evening returned and with it much warmer temps. I put together some dinner, and then got my fire going. I had been seeing what I thought were clouds, but the smell of fire was too strong, and I knew I was seeing fire smoke. Not sure where the fire was located, but it filled the basin with a haze that I was worried would not be so great for photography. But the winds kicked up at dusk, and seemed to clean out all the smoke. The darkness returned, and I got camp situated for the night. I put out my camera once more, doing a little experiment in settings and noise reduction, that is time lapse #2 below. I had a really nice night by the fire and the temps were much warmer, even having to loose the beanie a few times while stoking the fire. The moon stayed high to the south of camp, so I was not going to be up late enough to see the Milky Way. One out of two nights is not bad this late in the season. I rounded up my camera and decided it was time for bed.
I slept pretty soundly for going to bed earlier than normal. With the moon there was no reason to stay up for a shot I did not know if I would get. I had my alarm set for 6 AM and was up with the stars still out and then the dawn started to fill the basin. I got up and decided to get an early start on heading to the trail head and I would have breakfast at the car. The hike out was cool, but beautiful with all the red in the meadows and you could really tell that fall was here! I saw my first humans since Friday at Ruth Lake on the way out. I made it from camp to car in an hour and some change. A very nice weekend and a great spot for a fall solo trip. Enjoy the pics and times lapses. More adventures to come!
Wednesday, September 7, 2016
With the forecast looking like winter in the Uintas, we decided to head south for the weekend. I have always wanted to check out the North Slope area of Boulder Mountain, and this was my chance to do so. We did the long drive from Salt Lake to Hwy 12 on Friday night, arriving at camp close to midnight. A couple of beverages and a nice fire and little did we know it was the really late and we needed to get some sleep. We awoke to howling winds and partly cloudy skies. We did our best to get ready to head in, but mother nature was not having it. A really violent thunderstorm rolled in and dumped hail, rain, with thunder and lightning to boot. This put a damper on our plans, as we were going to pack in on Saturday. We decided to just relax and just do an over nighter since the weather was not cooperating. We had another nice night at our dispersed spot with the stars out and the winds which kept raging the aspens in our camp. I turned in early as I wanted a jump start on getting up the trail in the AM.
We awoke to the same wind, but much better weather and a bit warmer temps. We broke our car camp and ate breakfast, then decided to head in. The trail starts to gain elevation before leveling off after about a mile. Then you pass a series of small meadows, then you climb up into the pines. After a while we ended up standing on the shore of Blind Lake. This is a huge lake, much larger than I imagined it would be. With the wind still getting after us, we thought it would be better if we tried to head for Cutler Lake to avoid crowds and traffic if there were to be any. The hike to Cutler Lake was really nice. We arrived at Cutler and walked around the whole lake looking for a good spot. We had seen one just before Cutler on the way in, and after circumnavigating the lake, we decided to head back to the spot we saw which put us directly between Blind Lake and Cutler Lake. This would prove awesome for some night photography.
We set up shop and got things ready for the evening. Dinner time came and we got our fire going. Night settled in and we decided to take a walk over to Cutler Lake via the headlamps. I wanted to shoot the Milky Way over there and did not regret the nice walk by headlamp. I returned to Blind Lake and set out my camera for a star trail hoping the wind would not knock over my camera. I settled in by the fire back at camp with my friends, and they eventually turned in. I went to retrieve my camera and to my surprise it had not moved one bit despite the winds. I sat out there as it finished the last half an hour of shots before heading back to camp. It was so beautiful and even saw a meteor while I was waiting for the shots to finish. I returned to camp and sat by the fire for one more beverage then I decided to turn in.
Morning came and I got up to try to do some fishing. I had a couple of solid hits, but the wind was crazy still and they got off trying to haul them in. It was still nice to be out casting the line, and I got a very nice pano of Blind Lake. Eventually it was time for coffee and breakfast, then we packed it up. The hike out was as wind free as it has been all weekend and we made a fast pace for the car because of the three hour drive in holiday traffic back to Salt Lake. This was a great exploratory trip to see an area on Boulder Mountain that I had yet to visit. I had a great time with good friends and could not have asked for a better weekend. No people, and just beautiful forest. I will return to this area for more backpacking as there was a lot more to see. Enjoy the pics and time lapse. Fall is here! Not too much longer before this party changes to snow dances. More adventures to come!