Thursday, July 28, 2016

Gardner Fork, Rhoads Lake, Adax Lake, Anchor Lake, Uinta Mountains- July 2016

Day 1: This is an area that has eluded me for some time. I have seen these lakes on the map, but I have never visited them. So when the crew said they were heading out for a five day trip to this area, I was on board for sure. We made our way up Weber Canyon on Friday and got to the road. WARNING: This road requires a 4x4 with high clearance, and at that you are still taking a chance driving to the start of the trail. This photographer suggests you park at the bottom and hike the road to the trail head. This is by far the gnarliest road with big drop offs I have ever been on in Utah. After bouncing our internal organs up this treacherous road, we finally arrived at the end of the road with rail ties blocking the rest of the route. Kudos to Collin who drove, he owned that road in his Ram truck. This is the official trail head. We got out the packs, and headed on in. The hike in was not bad at all, especially with how heavy my pack was with 5 days worth of food. The trail winds its way through some beautiful forest. You end up heading east at the top of the basin, past Fran Lake, then on to our destination for the first night, Rhodes Lake. This lake is named after a poet Ollie Rhodes. This is a beautiful alpine lake. The camp site was even better. We all settled in and took in the sunset. After a nice fire and some star shots it was time to get some sleep.

Day 2: We awoke at Rhodes to coffee and ate some breakfast. We all decided to go fishing before packing it up and moving on. After a lot of fun with the fly rod, we packed it up and headed up to Olsen Lake. We fished here for a minute, and only Chris seemed to have the magic touch here. I ate some lunch to fuel up for the hardest part of this trip- over the pass and into W-59 and Adax Lakes. The climb to the pass was pretty easy, and there is a pond with beautiful flowers right on the ridge. The guys has cached some beers in there the weekend before, so while they were adding to their loads, I headed in to meet Collin who already had made his way down to W-59. After a steep descent and no trail anywhere with some meadow crossings, I made it to W-59. It was pretty windy, so me and Collin decided to head for Adax Lake. We were trying to stay east in the drainage, but somehow found ourselves standing on the cliffs above Adax Lake with no visible way down. Collin found us a route with some class two scrambling on ledges where a fall was gonna require medical attention. After a scary descent I found myself, hands shaking, standing on the shore of Adax Lake. We found the one and only decent camp spot and waited for the other half of our crew. They made the same mistake and had to back track to find a way to get down to us. Eventually they made it and we all settled in. Evening came and we had a very nice fire and took in the beauty that Adax has to offer. I only shot one night shot because I was a little rattled by the down climbing to get into the lake. I went to bed to recoup as we had another long day ahead.

Day 3: We awoke to sunny skies once again and all made breakfast. We then packed it up and decided to take a different route out the back of the meadow which has these stone ramps you can walk up. This was a long hike with no trail and route finding all the way. We picked our way up these ramps, even almost walking right up on a mountain goat and a wild turkey. After a grueling climb, we found ourselves on the top of the peak that overlooks Anchor Lake. We sat up top and had lunch and took in the view of our home for the next two days. We made our way down to the lake and found a spot which is one of the best camp spots on this side of the Uintas that I have ever stayed at. We all set up shop and got settled in. Fishing was in order and we all got after it for hours. Dusk set in and dinner was in order. I stayed up for some time lapse fun and some Milky Way shots. After some dirt bag after dark action, it was time for bed.

Day 4: I awoke with a somewhat sore knee, and decided not to join the crew on a summit bid of the peak above the lake. I wanted to go swimming in the lake to at least try to feel somewhat human after all the sweating and hiking we had done over the last three days. So while they went for a view I went for a dip. It was nice to rinse out the clothes and socks and freshen up. I took a short nap and then the crew returned. I got up and started fishing in the evening. This lake was so relaxing, it almost seemed timeless. Evening came in and I had some time during the day to spot up some shots for the night ahead. Everyone had dinner, and I finished the last of my adult beverage and played with my camera till the witching hour.

Day 5: This was our exit day. I got up around sunrise, made coffee and breakfast, then packed it up. The crew got up much later than me, so I was sitting around with nothing to do. I decided since I did not get to summit the previous day, I was at least going to climb the pass that takes you to the peak and take a picture of the thunderstorms that were building into the area. I made it to the pass and back to the top of the trail before the crew made it up to make our way back out to the car. We all made a break neck pace across the meadows and up the small pass and down to Olsen Lake. We took a short break there, then made our way out to the car. We all had celebratory beers at the car before the long and bouncy journey down the road. Tally on the trip, four nights, five days, 15+ miles hiking, and memories to last a life time! We saw no other humans besides our crew the whole time we were out there. Which is rare in the Uintas these days. Enjoy the pics, and time lapse below. More adventures to come!

Camp @ Anchor Lake Time Lapse #2 from Christian Paul on Vimeo.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Catherine Pass, Little Cottonwood Canyon- 7.14.2016

I had the evening free on Thursday and decided to hike up to Catherine Pass to see how the wildflowers are doing. I made my way up the trail from the car, and made a quick pace up the steep but short trail to the meadow. Once in the meadow, I saw a huge bull moose just laying out there. I did not want to disturb him, so I moved up the trail above him

I made the last four switchbacks and the pass very quickly. I sat on the pass for a while and took in the view. I shot some photo's then it was time to head down. The light was still pretty intense, but still managed to get a few shots on the way out. Great day hiking up there! Enjoy the pics, more adventures to come!

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Ibantik Lake, Uinta Mountains- 7.8/9/10.2016

The last time I backpacked into Ibantik Lake, it was a solo trip for my birthday back in 2012. I decided it was time to return to this lake and get the photography I wanted the last time I was up there. I made my way in on Friday afternoon to a really busy trail head. I got the last place to park when I arrived. I put on the boots and pack, then made my way up to Wall Lake. I pushed on through up to Hope Lake, then made my way up to the pass. I took a quick break to shoot some photos, then descended the north side of the Notch. A considerable amount of trail work has been completed in this section compared to the last time I visited this area. All the big boulders you had to step over are gone, and the switchbacks are well graded. As I made my way towards my destination, the winds were howling. I did not mind, keeps the skeeters at bay. After dropping the last set of switchbacks, I found myself standing at Ibanitk Lake.

I was surprised at how many campers were up here. Almost all the spots were taken, but as luck would have it, the spot I was looking to get had no campers in it. I made my way around the lake and claimed my spot. I got camp set and proceeded to settle in for evening, waiting for my two friends who were coming in late via head lamps. Dinner and a fire were in order and I made myself comfortable as it had already been a long day. Dusk set in, then night was upon us, and my friends arrived at camp. They got set up for the weekend and we relaxed under the stars with a nice fire. We eventually turned in, but not before I got a nice shot of camp with a meteor caught in the last seconds of the frame with the Milly Way gleaming overhead.

Dawn came and we got up to more howling winds. This put a damper on fly fishing as it was just impossible to try to cast with 4o+ mph winds. We sat in the meadow below camp, which had some wind shelter, and took it all in. I think everyone was in lounging mode in the AM because of the long day all of us had. After quite a bit of R&R at camp, we decided to hike up to the cirque below Notch Peak. It was an awesome adventure up there. The wildflowers in this little basin were exploding. We climbed the moraine below the peak, with boulders the size of cars up in there. After a while, I made my way back down to camp and took a cat nap in my tent. Evening set in and the wind was still pounding us, so we decided to get dinner going in hopes of some evening fishing. But alas, the wind never let up until dark. I was having some issues on the first night shoots a star trail, but figured out the problem on my new timer and set one up and sat out at the lake under the big dipper as it rattled off the shots. I got a wild hair and hiked almost a mile out and back to the dam to get some full shots of the Milky Way. On the way back in the dark via my headlamp, I almost stepped on a porcupine! Yikes!

Sunday morning arrived as windy as the last. We awoke to clear skies, but very windy conditions. We made breakfast, then broke it down as the wind the last three days had taken its toll. The hike out was great and I did the pass in about 45 minutes which is really fast thanks to my ultralight set up I am packing in these days. On the pass, we all had celebratory beers as we took in 50+ MPH gusts which were intense to say the least. We took in the view, then decided to knock out the rest of the trail. We passed the lakes on the way out and eventually found ourselves at the car sitting in our camp chairs. It was a great trip out with good friends. Enjoy the pics and time lapse! More adventures to come!

Ibanitk Lake Time Lapse from Christian Paul on Vimeo.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Teal Lake, Uinta Mountains- 7.2/3/4.2016

Holiday weekends are tough because of the crowds. I usually do not get out on holidays because you just do not get the solitude you are seeking on a backpacking trip. We have a few spots that are great and relatively less crowded than other areas we go to. Teal Lake is one of them. I had a few things to wrap up on Friday before making my way out to the Uintas. One half of our group went in early Friday morning, and I was expecting to meet them at camp. It was sunny and warm at the trail head, with a few clouds billowing up over the range. I made a very fast pace up to Ruth Lake, then up over the ridge to Hayden Lake. Then it started to rain, and I ended up at a very soggy Jewel Lake before pushing up to Cutthroat Lake. I was going to stop here to put on my rain jacket, but I decided I was so close to Teal Lake, I pushed on down to camp. I was a bit wet when I dropped my pack and put on my rain jacket. After about an hour, the clouds moved out and made for a great afternoon at camp. Night came and I had dinner and shot some Milky Way shots.

Morning arrived with warm temperatures and sunny skies. I got up and made breakfast, then put it together to try to get a fish and do some hiking around the area. I was expecting another friends to show up, and I ran into him as I was hiking around the lake. We moved him into our camp, and then everyone decided to go up to the ledges above Teal Lake. The view was amazing up there. But again, afternoon brought more showers and we huddled under some trees till the storm passed. It let up a bit and we headed back to camp to shelter down because there were more storm clouds coming in. A bit of thunder and some hail, then it was over. We then got a fire going and settled in for the evening. As darkness fell in, I made my way out to shoot the night sky again. Unfortunately, my interval timer was on the fritz, and I was not able to get the shot I wanted. Still a beautiful clear night, and awesome to see the Milky Way once more.

Monday was the holiday, and I got up and started putting it together to go home. The skies were clear and the temps really warm. The hike out was a straight line past all the lakes. I did not stop for one break on the way to the car. There were no crowds till I got down to Ruth Lake, then you could see all the holiday traffic which was out in the Uintas. Another great trip with good friends out in the Uintas. Enjoy the pics, more adventures to come!