Wednesday, September 09, 2015

Henry's Fork

Henry's Fork, on the Uinta's North Slope is the quickest way into King's Peak, Utah's tallest mountain.  I'm not much of a peak bagger.  I like to hike.  For some reason I wanted to hike up to this mountain.

Two weeks ago some work mates stopped me from taking Labor Day weekend early.  This weekend I got it right.  I packed my ruck a little lighter then three weeks ago.  Base weight close to 10 pounds, add 5 for food, and 2 1/2 for water.  Close to 20lbs without sacrificing safety.

I monitored the weather all week.  Wind warning through Saturday morning.  30% chance of rain on Saturday afternoon and evening.  Clear the rest of the weekend with lows near 30 and highs near 50.  Not bad for the region and definitely weather mosquitoes don't thrive in.

I got up early, headed out, missed my turn which cost me an extra hour driving.  I also learned, local gas station help no longer know their areas.

On the trail, miserable hikers came down cussing the weather of the week.  Many for went going over to the King's Peak summit trail.  I stopped just after 3pm beyond Dollar Lake.  Way early however the rain came through in waves of short passing clouds.  The temp also dropped.

I pitched my little shelter.  Wandering in between flurries.  No snow but, did have hail one time.  That evening I met some fellow campers just up the way.

The night dipped into the 20's, my 20 degree quilt did fantastic, I didn't, I had cold spots.  One item I left behind was my thermal bag liner.  It's re-earned its position in my pack.  Same with my 1/2 litter bottle, aka coffee mug.

In the morning, I made 20 minutes from letting out the air in the pad to being on the trail.  I wanted to make coffee at the top of Gun Sight Pass.  Below the pass I changed my mind and left the pack.  Taking only some lunch and water, I headed up.

The wind bit through my rain shell.  I dropped into Painter Basin and around to Anderson Pass.  At the top of Anderson, I caught up with the guys from the night before.  A cold wind tore through me.  They offered something to eat and since I don't turn down trail magic, I ate.  They headed up the summit trail.  The wind and I were on other terms.

I rounded back the way I came.  Sat at Gun Sight for a while, now about noon thirty.  My secondary plan was to complete the Henry Fork loop and camp near Bear Lake.

The loop, amazing, okay, this whole region has me asking myself why haven't I been here sooner.  The south end took a little trail finding as I crossed several wet meadows.  The rest well defined.  At Bear Lake I found a great camp site however, it's too close to the trail and near a large body of water.  The later being the deciding factor as water equals colder nights.

I moved on.  The North end had no campable terrain.  The next area had no water.  Finally at Elkhorn Crossing, tired of walking all day and the time near 5:30 I sought out a place out of sight of the trail and in between live trees.  The area has hundreds of dead standing firs.

I got water, made dinner, and went for a wander.  The side trail I used to find my spot in the woods is an animal trail.  Hum, what else besides moose use it?  On my wander I did see a moma moose and a calf.

I watched hikers make their way down the main trail while I ate.  All were focused on the trail not in looking around.  I'm also just a few meters in from a huge meadow that stretches near a mile up into the valley.

The next day, I had an easy out.  I thought about  making coffee if I'm not super cold.  I checked the weather frequency and 30's with partially clear sky, light wind if any.

On the drive home I decided to re trace the route Google offered.  I got Googled. I retraced my route deciding next time to look at the maps and not rely on Google's directions.

Monday, September 07, 2015

The Rest of the Over Nighter

After wandering down by the lake with my supper, I returned to set my bed for the evening.  The Gatewood Cape affords a tight 7x3 space.

I soon found out reading while sitting is highly inconvenient, so is laying down and reading.  Before I knew it, I dozed off with the book in hand.  I quickly put it away when I woke 20 odd minutes later. I reached around adjusting a few items and returned to sleep.

Waking up periodically while in the backcountry is no different than at home, except I got stars right above me through the trees.  One time, a flash of lighting woke me seconds before the rain came.  I undid the button holding back the door, zipped it, and waited to see how the cape would hold off the rain.  It did just fine, less two spots that I'll seem seal another day and the fact that SIL, silicon impregnated nylon, lets a little rain through in the form of mist.  I fell back asleep counting flashes and booms.  Only a few spooked me close but, no closer the other outings.

In the morning, the rain leaving satter about, my gear nice and dry inside less two drip spots, I gave a good shake to the door and buttoned it back.  I looked out a while admiring the small meadow a few yards out.

I stuffed most the gear while inside the little shelter before making coffee and oatmeal.  My older canister stove never lets me down. This time I chose it over the alcohol stoves just for hot coffee.

As with the night before, I headed to the lake.  The stillness and the reflection of the mountain I will not share.  The camera stayed in camp.

A quick tidy up and I hit the return trail.  At Island Lake I stopped to dry out the cape.  It took only a few minutes.

On my way down I picked up trail trash which included a nice Gerber knife, not trash but lost.  I am amazed at how many little wrappers get out of hand.

By noon I hit the parking lot for an uneventful drive back home.  A few minor adjustments I may make next time out may include substituting base layers for the sleeping bag liner, a small alcohol stove for the canister, and taking a smaller camera.

This was a quick get me out for the night.  I'm glad I went.

This is now three weeks ago.  How time flies when one forgets to post.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Kidney Lake, High Uinta's

The yearly metor showers gave me the perfect excuse to get away for the night.  Quite honestly, in content with sleeping right through the night. 

With the itch to get out, I needed a place to go.  Some how I got thinking about one of the hikes I took several years back out of Moon Lake, Duchesne UT.  Kidney Lake is about 9 miles in with around two thousand elevation gain.  Not bad for the Uinta's, actually very gentle.  This would be great.  If I did wake up in the night the lake is huge for the area and I'd have a big sky to look up at.

I picked through my gear.  I chose the Gatewood Cape by Six Moon Designs for the shelter/rain gear.  A new rain jacket to cover my light puffy of AT fame.  I chose an older canister stove and a titanium tea pot.  The crown 60 by Granite Gear came off the wall.  Loaded with my basics, 10 lbs.  My AT family's probably shaking their heads.  Wait theres more,  my toys include a decent camera, a book, and my 2 meter ham radio.  Now add 5lbs.  My food is 2 1/2 lbs and water brings my total to 20 lbs.  20 lbs is half the weight of my AT average.

I did get up early Saturday morning fpr the 3 hour drive to the trailhead.  On the trail by 9:30 I did a quick radio check.  No luck on the repeaters.  I did get the weather, 30% chance of rain this afternoon & night.

I made good time to the lake, arriving about 1:30.  Maybe I could'be slept in.  I've been reading and doing a little writing.  The afternoon showers dis not come and the sky is clearing.

I am pitched on the southern edge of a small clearing 50 yards from the northeastern beach.  Cattle will keep me company.  I haven't seen or heard anyone else.  3 or 4 groups passed by me headed back to civilization.

I'm grateful for the opportunity to hike in this day with a light load.  Dinner time...  Oh, this is instant spuds with tuna and some tea.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Lake Blanche on Pi Day

An early morning wake up call, the setting still reads 'hike time.'  6:40 am was the time I set to wake up each morning on the AT if I wasn't already up.  Seldom did I have to use it.  This morning I set my site to get up to a favorite place, Lake Blanche.   I wanted to be one of the first there so I could enjoy the solitude, also to hike down on firm snow/ice packed trail.

About a year ago I turned in my two week notice at work.  It was the first time in decades leaving a job was my choice.  It's a decision I've not regretted.

The AT instilled in me and brought many other things to light about my dreams, desires, and personality.  The same people who expressed much concern and doubt are the same people who are amazed now that I kinda brush off the challenge as if it were nothing.  It was nothing but, a life time of weekend trips strung together in one continuous adventure.  Yet at the same time I'll admit there's a lot more behind it then that.  I like stringing the tale to others I meet on the local trails.   I find those who hike are more appreciative of the effort it took then those who don't.

As I sit here this morning, about 11:30, enjoying my hot tea.  I kook across the lake and see one of my campsites I've used for local overnighters.  I see the the Sundial foretelling the time of day.  Dreams of new adventures dance in my head.  Which long trail next?  Which trail will push me beyond where the AT took me?  How will I relate to the next doubters or employer who asks why?

I can't answer those questions today.  I just sit here enjoying the moment for this is the moment that makes the effort to get from there to here worth while.