Monday, August 18, 2014

Reconnaissance Loop - Uintas

   The Uintas are right out my front door and have provided us with years of easy access to mountainous adventures of all kinds. But I hadn't been up there all summer, and a quick retreat to Utah's largest wilderness seemed long overdue. Four days should do it. You could traverse the entire range from west to east in 4 days if you wanted, but that doesn't leave a whole lot of time for fishing. My summer itineraries are usually based around fishing, so I thought about a loop out of the Highline trailhead that would take us through some new terrain, over a few mountain passes, down and up a river valley, with plenty of scheduled stops to wet a line.

 Kalen and I took the highline trail about 17 miles east on the first day before we setup camp. We wanted to make it to a secluded basin on the far side of upper Rock Creek drainage where a fantastic scene awaited us. Halfway there, the weather changed and set the tone for the rest of the trip.
We came across these goats on Rocky Sea pass and I thought, "I should have a goat".

The hike went by quickly, and before I knew it we were in the basin, in the alpine. The joy of reaching such a spectacular place after a long day of hiking was short lived. Before we had a chance to set up camp, thunder claps and cloud to ground lightning strikes had us running for lower ground. A few hours later the storm pushed on, as they usually do, we built camp, and I raced with my fly rod to the upper lakes to get a few casts in before dark. 

Reconnaissance Lake is an alpine jewell that I was very happy to finally see for myself. 

The second day we came over dead horse pass which is where our hike officially turned into a loop. Crossing from the upper rock creek drainage to the headwaters of the west fork Blacks fork river, and then over another un-named pass into the Bear river was our plan for the day.

We decided to camp at dead horse lake. Getting caught in the lightning storm the day before scared us enough that we didn't want to cross another high mountain pass in the afternoon when the storms roll in

There are many things that make the Uinta mountains unique. All of the headwater systems provide refuge for two of Utah's native trout, the Colorado river cutthroat and the Bonneville cutthroat. You can fish for them both in a single day, separated only by a few mountain passes and a mile or so as the raven flies. This fish above lives at the source of the Colorado in a small lake at 11,000', feeding on anything thats been blown in by the wind.

Continuing our loop, we made our 3rd camp along the banks of the east fork of the Bear river. This drainage is home to the Bonneville cutthroat and the headwaters of the largest terminal river in the western hemisphere.  Our last day of hiking would have been a big one. My feet were cursed with blisters from not wearing shoes for a month, and the weather kept us from our intended pace. After a little debate, we hiked to the Christmas meadows road and down to the mirror lake highway where we hitched a ride from a friendly old couple back to the truck. We didn't make the full loop and the weather was kind of shitty, but it was still one of my favorite treks through the Uintas to date.

1 comment:

  1. Great photos and blog post! It's on my list! - Alicia @