Friday, September 30, 2016

Big Water/Little Water Loop, Millcreek Canyon- September 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

Dean Lake, Uinta Mountains- September 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

Cutthroat Lake, Uinta Mountains- September 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.

Cutthroat Lake Time Lapse #1 from Christian Paul on Vimeo.

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.

Cutthroat Lake Time Lapse #2 from Christian Paul on Vimeo.

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

Blind Lake Trail, Boulder Mountain, Dixie National Forest- September 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!

Blind Lake Time Lapse Boulder Mountain 2016 from Christian Paul on Vimeo.