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.

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