Monday, July 27, 2009

Backpacking the Uintas

On Saturday morning our alarm went off at 7:15. The night before E and I had been up late doing more fireworks and having another fun BBQ for Pioneer Day, Utah's state holiday, with E's family.

7:15 felt so early, the bedroom was already hot and flooded with light. I could tell it was overcast and would be an extremely hot day. For the next hour or so we packed up a few last things, watered the plants and I even had time to do a garden photo shot. With the warm overcast day, our Asian garden looked so Asian; the light reminded me a lot of the light in Japan.

At 8:30 David arrived and we moved his gear into E's car. We piled in, and after a stop to get bagels for lunch and egg McMuffins for breakfast we were off! Ninety minutes later we pulled into a very wet and very gray parking lot. The sky was dark and rain splashed on our faces as we got out of the car. With an extremely dry and hot month, why today is the only day we get rain?

However, the air temperature was fantastic for hiking. We put on our rain coats and our backpacks (don't worry, mine wasn't too heavy, or too tight across my tummy) and headed towards our destination: Ruth Lake.

The trail was easy and beautiful. Wildflowers of every color were in bloom and with the rain everything looked deep dark green. Little rivers and streams crisscrossed meadows full of moss and flowers. Tiny fairy sized waterfalls fell over rocks into perfect little pools below. Soon the rain slowed and finally stopped.

Here are E and David. Behind them you can see Hayden Peak. Notice at this point E is still in his rain gear.
Me, with Hayden Peak and Ruth Lake in the background.
Once at Ruth Lake (only one mile from the trail head) we stopped and had lunch. All three of us decided to continue on into the back country and explore the basin a little more. The official trail ended at Ruth Lake, but the basin was huge with many lakes and ponds, all connected by delicate little rivers.

The hike towards Jewel Lake was just as dazzling. Jewel Lake was tucked low and set beside sheer rock walls. We contemplated stopping there, but decided to keep going towards Cutthroat Lake. The bush waking between Jewel and Cutthroat was our hardest hiking. We knew the direction we needed to go in, and we knew how far away the lake was, but the route we took was tough. Over rock fields and through an old avalanche path we finally made our way to Cutthroat.

The lake was amazing, surrounded on all sides by huge peaks and spectacular views. We hiked to the far side of the lake, up a slope and found a perfect spot for camp. The view was unreal. Truly. We settled into a huge marshy meadow which meant the ground we set our tent on was dry, but soft. Rocks spilled down to the lake shore, and these make an ideal spot for cooking and chatting. Only steps away was another gorgeous stream where wildflowers grew thick and moss sheltered spots for magic.

That night we relaxed, made a fantastic dinner of pasta with garden veggies, salami, and fresh grated parmesan. After diner E and I hiked around the lake and then later David joined us to hike around the enormous marshy meadow where our camp was. Pikas scurried in and out of the rocks and the wildflowers were more vivid and in more verities than I ever remember. It got dark as we watched the sun change Hayden Peak from brown to pink to red to gray we even saw a family of deer not far from our camp.

This is our view from our dinner spot. Spectacular!
Again. The clouds and light changed so quickly, I got a lot of photos like this.
Dinner is served!

Here is our little tent and Hayden Peak beyond. Stunning.
Sunset in the mountains.

That night was quiet and peaceful. Sleeping in the back country was as good as it ever is, which is to say not that good at all. However, E and I woke up refreshed and excited to see a blue sky.We filtered water, enjoyed the view (you could never get sick of this view) and took a small hike up to a nearby saddle while David slept on. Once back we made a great breakfast of oatmeal, bagels and cream cheese and tea.

All too soon we packed up camp, filtered water one last time and hiked out. The hike back towards Jewel Lake was much more pleasing due to the fact that we didn't take the route of death, instead we stayed low in the meadows and enjoyed more of the delicate streams, fantastic wildflower shows and flat hiking. From Jewel it was a fairly easy two miles out. In the last quarter mile the skies opened up, and the rain started again. By the time E and I had put our rain coats on, however, the rain had stopped once again.

Back at the car we enjoyed what all backpackers enjoy most - taking off their pack. We then decided to head to Park City on the way home so we could stop at Squaters Brew Pub and fill up on beer and burgers (or in my case, a soda).

Fantastic weekend.

This is looking at our camp from the other direction. Blue skies! Our camp was well above 10,000 feet, so it was really up there.
This is the meadow we camped beside. Isn't it spectacular?
E and I hiked up to a saddle that morning without our packs. If you click on this photo to see it bigger, you can see my tummy!
Our campsite right before we left. We're all packed up here, as you can see.
On the way out the sky was so dramatic. Love it.
And the wildflowers were happy to show off.
E and David beside one of the dozens of small streams we crossed.

1 comment:

  1. Backpacking is the complete combination of hiking and camping.

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