Tuesday, October 11, 2016
Marjorie Lake, Uinta Mountains- October 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!