The High Uintas Wilderness Project

Exploring the High Uintas Wilderness

The 456,705 acre High Uintas Wilderness is the heart of the Uinta Mt. range, well known as the most prominent range in the lower 48 states that goes from east to west. It is an alpine wonderland with over 1,000 lakes that is next to the San Juan Mountains of Colorado with the most contiguous above timberline area in the Continental U.S. Its area of  “alpine flora surpasses all of the alpine areas in the Intermountain West combined.”  (INTERMOUNTAIN FLORA magazine ) We could add that in biodiversity it surpasses all of Utah’s National Parks in addition to providing 90% of Utah’s water. It gives me great pleasure to share all of this with you and provide a few tips to help all enjoy it safely.

In the summer of 2003 I launched myself into exploring and photographing this incredible  Wilderness.  After a couple of short warm-up backpacks, I  began a 27 day  no re-supply backpack I call an “expedition,” and logged 236 miles.  In the first hour along the famous Highline Trail, I met Pulitzer Prize winning author, Philip Freadkin, who a year later in the second edition of his book, SAGEBRUSH COUNTRY, wrote:
“A mile or two down the trail I met Cordell Anderson.  He was about my age and, although smaller, was carrying eighty pounds of food, clothing and equipment….The distinctive border of the most recent issue of NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC stuck out of his red backpack.  He planned to write articles for that publication and others like it, and hopefully a book about the Uintas.  Knowing something about the writing game and what he faced alone on the trail, I wished him luck on his planned 27 day sojourn.”

In November of that year (2003) Fradkin, in an email to me said:
“Congratulations on a remarkable achievement.  To tell you the truth, I didn’t think you would make it when I encountered you on the trail the first day, but you must have remarkable stamina and will power.  The difficult part will be putting words to your adventure, but I am sure that you will also master that.”

By the end of  2009 season I had 1,327 miles under my belt, and would have done more and  finished the project, but there have been glitches along the way–2 cancer surgeries, several radiation treatments, operations to cope with my “football ankle,”  and  “motorcycle knee,”  several tough survival experiences, and a heart attack.  My reconstructed ankle is held together with 3 screws, and a transplanted tendon.  My knee is now titanium.   A fantastic off-season job at Reams Supermarket in Springville has had my 18 year old irregular heart beat, and high blood pressure ALL GONE, and I’m preparing for a 200-250 mile summer in my 75th year to get to the last remote and exotic areas to complete my photographic collection of all aspects of the Wilderness, plus images of  all the adventure loving “Uinta friends” I meet on the trail.

I will be posting many updates on this website as I continue to share with all interested the majestic beauty of Utah’s greatest wilderness.  As I persist towards my goal I will also continue to be a correspondent for KSL Radio’s Outdoor Program each Saturday morning from 6:00 to 8:00, calling in during my backpack explorations to the program via satellite phone provided by my good friend, Russ Smith at Skycall Communications.