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!

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