Trip #1 REPORT: The “ACID TEST” Success? Future?

Mt. Agassiz at sunset over Wilder Lake

A TEEZER:  On the photo/essay on Trip #1a “ACID TEST #2” to Scudder, Wilder, Wyman & Packard Lakes and the beautiful Canyon of the East Fork of the Duchesne River now on the Home Page  I  tell the story from a new “High Uinta Friend” of 

The “ACID TEST” Trip #1 to East Brown Duck Basin
Over 12 years I have backpacked over 1,600 miles exploring, photographing and reporting on the awesome High Uintas Wilderness.  It has never been easy with many “glitches” over these years (2003-2014, 67 years old to 78) perhaps chronicled best in my 2013 YouTube video:  
In 2011 it had become so difficult that I ended one video report with the Forest Gump conclusion who,  after running around the country for like 3 years, turned to his little group of followers, and said: 

Nevertheless I kept trying my best to follow Winston Churchill’s advice to:
I persisted in announcing plans of more backpacking really putting me on the spot asking the question whether I might be successful or rather was “JUST SO MUCH HOT AIR?”

By 2012  I tried back surgery and did my darndest in my 77th year to chronicle my efforts of working hard with a series of “COMEBACK” videos that evolved into a video entitled “FAKE NOT BEING A CRIPPLE!”   But, with no backpacking in 2012 I was maybe “JUST SO MUCH HOT AIR?”.…or really just an old guy!

 In 2013 a miracle was done with hip replacement surgery and I was without pain for the first time in 30 years….did 125 miles of exhilarating  backpacking, plus visiting many beautiful places in Utah and Wyoming meeting a whole host of wonderful people, and speaking about my beloved High Uintas in Evanston.  
I made exciting and enthusiastic plans for 2014 with my “DREAM LIST OF BACKPACKS”  that have been on my website for nearly 6 months, along with what I was doing to be strong and capable of doing them.  In April, in my speech at the Coalville, Summit County Courthouse, I admitted that to “dream” of doing such in my 79th and 80th years was perhaps just a little much, but that I had to try and see how it went. 

 But, then I made a horrible decision accepting a topical chemo treatment on my face, scalp and neck for cancer and went through more than a month of hell when I was unable to keep exercising and preparing.

With that backdrop of almost sure failure, I headed for Duchesne on June 13th, and did some research while waiting for the weather to clear and warm, and finally headed for the Lake Fork Trailhead at Moon Lake on June 18th.  By noon of June 19th I was on the trail and want to share with all of you all the magnificent beauty of the South Slope of the High Uintas as I cautiously went up the trail, knowing it would be a real test,“the Acid test,” to determine what my future might be.
I will take you on the trip with me showing the route and sharing with you the awakening of life in the Uintas as I “stalked” up the trail that makes possible me seeing many things….and zooming in on “visions of nature”  that many never see.  ENJOY, and stick with it to see in the end WHAT THE FUTURE HOLDS FOR THIS OLD GUY!
NOTE:  Usually I won’t comment, nor try and identify flowers, etc. but just show you what I saw which we will all contemplate in silent reverence & awe.

I checked in for accessibility conditions on the South Slope with Sheila, Lori, and Cindy seen below, who is new.  I also printed up for the Forest Service a set of photographs of the Crow Basin area that they could show to interested outdoors-men and women. 

I learned from Sheila that the Duchesne Ranger Station is responsible for maintaining the trails on the entire South Slope:  From the Grandview Trailhead & the Grandaddies, to Rock Creek, Lake Fork, Yellowstone/Swift Creek, Dry Gulch Drainage, Uinta River, and the West Fork of Whitrocks Trailhead–all with only 4 summer employed Wilderness Rangers, and 4 cutters and clearers (or whatever they are called), like the one you see below who I met years ago near Clements Lake. That had me forewarned that I would have to deal with a lot of downfall blocking the trails.

High Uinta Friend, Jori Thomas, had advised me of a weather watching website you see below on my cell phone showing that there had been new snow in the area of my backpack, just the day before. This is updated during each day with a video camera apparently on top of Lake Fork Mountain above Moon Lake. I’ll insert the link below the image.  Thanks JORI.

Below are shots of the Duchesne River from the bridge in Duchesne, showing the contrast from one year to another. 

About half way to Moon Lake you come to the nice Bed & Breakfast..Store at Mountain Home. 

 NOTE:  The way I’m headed in this photo is heading for Rock Creek and the Stillwater Reservoir and Trailhead.  For Moon Lake you keep heading north.

Here you can get whatever you might have forgotten…and come down out of the mountains to spend a luxurious night in a soft clean bed. 

 We are looking north towards Lake Fork Canyon, with the tip of 13,219 foot Mt. Lovenia seen on the right.

If you know me you’ve seen this shot before, but this time don’t turn right, but keep on the pavement heading north towards Moon Lake.

From the Trailhead  looking up Lake Fork Canyon once again seeing the tip of Mt. Lovenia–the first 13,000+ peak one sees as you come from the west on the Highline Trail.

 I was the only car at the Trailhead with most signed into the register just on hikes around the trailhead area.

 The Forest Service Hostess is Jan Spencer who mentioned it had been quite cold lately. I should have asked, but soon perhaps that could be a good summer job for me.

 Ready to go carrying food for 5 days, and actually too many supplements and extra stuff I never used.  I did leave my tripod….a “NO, NO”   for a real photographer, but I just set my camera on a rock or a log!  I still went up the trail with 45 lbs. on my back and around my waist, including 2 quarts of water as I recalled the first water from 2-3 miles up the trail.

 Lodge pole pine forest

 Gradually we climb and the forest changes

 A heart shaped leaf…..and soon the flash of Heartleaf Arnica is all around us.

At this junction the trail joins us from the Moon Lake Campground.  We’ve come a bit over 2 miles.

This beautifully delicate Quaking Aspen tree sprouting brings up the interesting subject of the 
UTAH STATE FLOWER which for many years was ironically the Colorado Blue Spruce.  But earlier this year children from the Monroe Elementary School made a push with the State Legislature to change it to the QUAKING ASPEN (Populus tremuloides), and achieved their goal.

 So, meet the UTAH STATE TREE: 

Remember the  Lodge pole Pine forest with a bare, nearly sterile forest floor?  With the Aspen everything changes providing a much more life creation environment, for plants, animals and birds.  In this photograph we see an area that previously was an evergreen forest but wiped out by an avalanche.  Look what’s sprouting up to fill the void…the ASPEN.  Reproduction is mostly through the roots that spread out all over and sprout new life as we saw in the first photograph.  After a fire, it’s usually still there and sprouts soon.  So we’ve got one great STATE TREE.

The beautiful  color is from the Quaking Aspen as well as some still green & others changing to golden yellow.

The Aspen helps many important animals like the elk….a hoofprint is seen below …many were seen on the entire trip.

 I saw more elk tracks than deer…..both are benefited by the Quaking Aspen.

In this photograph we see on the left deer tracks, in the dead center a deer fawn track, and to the lower right a young elk.  Deer pointed in the direction they are heading, the fawn track about 1″ long.   Elk are rounded, the young one we see here about 3″x3″.

 A mule deer female or doe, almost completely having changed from its grey winter coat to its summer one.

 Spruce, firs, and pines  are each beautiful in their own way, but now have to bow to the  Queen of Utah trees…
The Quaking Aspen!

Out-of-staters have asked me what the trails are like?
One thing for sure is that they’re not well-groomed like some perhaps are elsewhere.  “Rocky” is what best describe them, so step carefully, and usually step over them.  This is one of the better “trails,” others of which I’ll show in a minute.Rocks, by the way are so important in the Uinta’s history that I have an entire Gallery just on Rocks & the Making of the Uintas.  They are not boring as we will see.

 We’re now getting up there with Moon Lake way below us.

Even one of the flowers is called a “rock,”   STONE CROP we see here sprouting.

 Even the “stones” turn into beautiful flowers….and they get even more impressive later on.

 We will now leave Moon Lake and the canyon behind us and get into the “high country.”
Just one more plant we see from this spot.

 It is the Mountain Mahogany blossoming.

This still isn’t too bad….but always be careful.

First water, Brown Duck Creek,  and just in time as apparently all my water leaked out of my water bladder. Actually I got water from a small stream coming into the creek.

The Platypus Gravity Works System.  Hanging high on the tree is the “Dirty Water,” that drains down flowing through the filter and in this case into the Platypus Clean water container.  

 One of the adapters screws into my water bladder, and as you’ll see adapters adjusts to other containers.  With the bladder, I had to seal the leak first, and here is another tiny item that always goes with me:
PLASTIC SURGERY.  It is in a tube, like Super Glue, but much better and the only cement that has kept my water bladder going now for 11 years.  You can buy it at 

 On this trip I have already used it several times:  For my glasses, and a latch on the back door of my camper.

We arrive at the Wilderness boundary….about 4 miles from the Trailhead.  Now the rules get stricter, even though most of them should be used everywhere in the outdoors.

 One sign was missing and I found it on the ground, the post having rotted.

 It is a very important sign….some aspects of which rub some the wrong way, but there are reasons why we should all respect these rules….and below I’ll give the details for those who might not know,  or who might need to remember what we have to do to maintain this amazing Wilderness.

  This is the exact same sign in 2006–8 years ago.
This instruction sheet can be acquired at all Forest Service Offices.  Below are the crucial items. 

 I insert this map in reference to the middle restriction above about no campfires closer than 1/4 mile from the restricted lakes.. the orange areas….which are almost all the ones you have ever seen or heard of. 
My first reaction was like the vow:  “I’ll give you my gun when you pry (or takeit from my cold, dead hands!”  which I used to think of concerning my “campfire”  that I wasn’t going to give it up!  But, then I saw some areas totally bare of a dead branches or sticks, as high as a man could reach.  it was like a sterile desert!

Without a campfire I can get as close as 200 feet from a lake or stream….which still isn’t close enough to make me happy, but if I love the Wilderness, I’ve got to be willing to make sacrifices to help preserve it.  Already two of my three daily meals are ones that don’t require any cooking.  I’m now looking into preparing some days three meals that don’t require a fire, just add water.
If you’re still resistant, notice the fine if you get caught violating the rules.

If you just have to have your campfire within 200 feet of a lake, you’ll have to get further from civilization, like Crater Lake, Ottoson Basin, the off-trail lakes up Little East Fork of Blacks Fork,Lambert, Porcupine and Oweep Lakes, extreme upper Garfield Basin, Bob’s Lake,  Kermsuh Lake, Priord, Allsop, Bald Lake, Red Castle, Upper & East Red Castle, Smith’s Fork Lake, and most in the Henry’s Fork Basin, etc.

 This is my new lightweight backpacking tent for one person:
BIG AGNES Fly Creek UL1, weight=1 lb. 12 oz. Cost:  $329.29.
You can get it at:

Here it is with the rain fly positioned. There is a vestibule for your pack.  It requires a little getting used to….for example you have to back in among other things.

It is billed as a free standing tent which is this portion you see hanging to drain out  and dry as  some water spilled.  To clean of  pine needles, leaves, scraps of whatever, etc. just hold it up and shake it out..  After 3 nights I got used to it and can now say I really like it.

 I went for increased comfort this year by purchasing an inflatable pillow on sale…and really thought it would be a pillow, but it ended up being only a 1″ thick pad…so INTO THE FIRE!  Somewhere around 1 lb. of weight off my back.  Not a lot, you’d say, but in a 5 mile day I take at least around 9,000 steps….adding up to me lifting 9,000 lbs. less weight during the day!

I can’t say enough about the Platypus Gravity Works System.  While the 2 liters drain in like 2 minutes I hustle around doing all sorts of things, or just REST…rather than pump or squeeze! 

 Here I’m using the adapter to a typical chocolate milk bottle…that costs nothing and weighs less! I take 3 or 4 of them with me.  Enough of that….ON THE TRAIL FOR THE 2ND DAY!

 Soon I see my first human beings…until then I could only see one horse track up the trail this year.

Meet Dallas Burton who says he gave up backpacking some years back and went for horses.

....and Dan Jenkins. They were heading for Tworoose Pass and lakes in that area.

 Dallas and Dan became another couple of High Uinta Friends and wished me luck.

I’ve always wondered at how the horses manage these rocky trails….especially the impossibly difficult ones like up Roberts Pass above the Chain Lakes.

 At about 5.5 miles I come to what I call the “shortcut to Atwine Lake,”  that requires fording Brown Duck Creek.  

I look for the spot where the stream widens out making shallower water.

  It shouldn’t be any kind of a big deal but 11 years ago early in the season I was returning from Reconnaisance Lake taking the straight route that led me to Rock Creek when the run-off had the stream running high.  It was late afternoon and the ford was in the shade making seeing well the footing a bit difficult. I didn’t have experience fording streams and just carefully went for it, but half way across I stepped on a large boulder slanting down into deep water that just sucked me in and there I was trying to swim with pack on  back, camera around waist.  I finally made it to the other bank soaking wet…worried for my survival. but also for my Nikon film camera and equipment.  I made it out, but lost the camera.

Since I have learned to ford streams and tackle them always with caution, but without fear.

When I’m going to have to ford a stream or two I bring along my wadding slippers, and very important, look for a sturdy pole to steady myself as I cross. 

 Socks stuffed into boots and the boots sent flying across the stream…....

 .….and they made it.  Do you see them?

There they are….but in making sure I threw them far enough …..I had made one hard discus like throw….and lost my balance, and got up with arm all banged up…I should have taken the photo with the blood all over the place!  With another such experience or two, I began recognizing that my balance was not like it used to be…..not good for boulder hopping!
I’d do the anti-biotic treatment in the evening once setting up camp.

 Once again “ye old red bandanna” came to the rescue to bandage my arm.  A bandanna is one of the essentials, used for many things on a backpack.

I crossed the stream and hooked up to my boots to get moving again up the Short cut.

While getting my socks back on, let’s mention other keys to me never getting blisters anymore.  You’ll notice I first put on each foot a blister preventing sock that you can get from REI or Amazon–they are called Cool Mesh Wright Socks,”  you can get them clicking on that. They are easily worth their weight in GOLD!   Next, notice that on my right foot I put on a running sock because that foot is just a tad smaller than the left. This is the equalizer that makes both boots, or shoes fit perfectly.  Last comes a fairly thick hiking sock on each foot. 

Each boot has one Dr. Scholls gel insert with a hole cut out for the ball of my foot, then the regular insert over that…where for years I suffered metatarsalitis that clear back in 1994 had a specialist recommend I not do half marathons or backpacking anymore.  I found a way to solve that problem on my own and it has worked another miracle….with 13 more consecutive International Half Marathons, and now over 1,600 miles of backpacking. 

 From the creek the trail went up and up, and up to skirt around the edge of Round Mountain.

 There we see the first mushrooms just beginning to grow.

Of course we see many lichens of the 8,000 varieties in the Rocky Mountains  seen on the rocks and  trees.  Remember lichens are a life form that develops out of a symbiotic or partnership relationship between an algae and a fungus, each contributing for the survival of each other.

 Along with so much of life that is sprouting, growing and blossoming, we find in many places WILD RASPBERRIES, that in late summer will be a good food for animals, including bears.

In one  photograph we see widely differing rocks that represent vastly different evolutions of time and earth forming conditions.  On the left widely spaced layers representing changing seasons.  On the right another sedimentary rock with much closer layers.  See them close below. 

 Sprouting everywhere is the ground cover that grows in many of the forested portions of the Uintas.

Then there’s the TRAIL!  

This trail I call a “short-cut to Atwine Lake” is on my old NGS High Uintas Wilderness Map, but it isn’t on the new one, and the forest service only maintains the trails on the new map….so there is no hope for this trail and it will disappear.  In fact in many places it is disappearing….here into a tangle of downed timber.  You have to go up to the right, or down to the left to get around it, and then hope to find the trail again….TIME, AFTER TIME, AFTER TIME, ETC.

 Literally hundreds of times the trail is blocked, then lost.  The couple of miles on the trail evolves into at least 5-6 miles that totally wore me out.  This was probably my fourth time using the trail….and will be my LAST!

A tree killed by lightening. 

 Here we see a strange kind of lichen.


Only abundant deer, and especially elk keep the trail open.  

Finally made it to Atwine Lake.  I was supposed to go on to Clements Lake,  but I was totally worn out, so set up camp.

Atwine Lake is at about 10,150 feet .  I was going to have a cold dinner that didn’t require cooking so set up my camp about 200 feet from the lake.

I was totally fatigued.  My experience in recent years has shown me that to have two consecutive hard days had the potential of hurting me–especially in the early season before I got in shape.  But, I set up my tent and prepared  everything  for the evening and night.  Then, all of a sudden I was overwhelmed with a deeply congestive cough!  My lungs were all of a sudden struggling.  This reminded me  of one of the other times when I began having High Altitude Sickness. 

I hung my food in a tree, just in case.

Then rested for half an hour while taking the supplements I have found help me recover from a difficult day, and prevent getting sick.

 I noticed nearby a tree that had been scraped, likely last year as it was too early for this season, most likely by a bull elk rubbing the velvet off his antlers.

After about half an hour I was feeling a bit better except for the deep cough, but I had to go for water, so took along my fishing gear to at least catch a fish or two.

Sure enough the lake seemed to only have brook trout,  several  caught and released. 

For dinner I had chocolate egg nog, and cold mashed potatoes with bacon bits, plus vanilla pudding.  I took the supplements necessary when one feels “imbalances in your well being.”  Then my last couple of Acetazolamid, for high altitude sickness, and the regular things I take every night.  I had slept pretty good my first night, and did my second, too.  I was very grateful that even though the day was hard with a complication or two, I had done it, recovered and slept well.

But with signs of High Altitude Sickness, the only effective cure is to “GO DOWN” to lower elevations.  So I decided it not wise to follow my schedule which had me going higher to Clements Lake higher at 10,444 ft. and from there go off-trail to explore higher lakes, but all below 11,000 ft. timberline, meaning the hikes would all be in coniferous forests like we see below.

 Much of the exploring planned would be winding my way through downed timber that had become very hard for me, and I just wasn’t willing to tackle that.  

I’m well known for constantly bringing up Winston Churchill’s call during World War II, but as explained in my Coalville Speech I’ve had to fudge just a bit and add a word as seen below.

It’s been a 1,625 mile effort to not “GIVE IN…..EASILY!”  but it seemed to me that the wisest route right now was to cut back a bit, dedicate more time to research, and get to writing….while daily exercising, and frequently doing short trips with my buddy Ted and family and friends. All of that was going through my mind as I got comfortably through the night at Atwine Lake.

Yes I would have to “eat crow”  some, and find a nice way to avoid everyone thinking that I was completely just “SO MUCH HOT AIR!”

Then it came to me:  HAPPINESS & SUCCESS as we grow older and unable to perform as before, requires us simply to LOWER OUR EXPECTATIONS!  So, no matter what happens from here on, I’m going to be a lot more realistic and  INCREDIBLY HAPPY & SUCCESSFUL!

 But, before any hard and fast conclusions, I still had to get down the 12-13 miles of trail to my car and comfortable little Cabin trailer.  So off I went headed for  Brown Duck Lake.

Another of the first mushrooms of the season….which I wasn’t about to eat! 

I passed by no-name X-45 lake which was too shallow for fish.

This is what I would have been fighting through to explore all the off-trail lakes I had wanted to visit.

You won’t recognize it, but this is my bridge across Brown Duck Creek just after it leaves the lake.

 Just up the trail from the crossing I hit the main trail with this sign, and had a rest before going over to Brown Duck Lake to test the fishing.

Brown Duck Lake is at 10,186 ft. so about the same as Atwine Lake.  From here on the trend will be down.

 A few casts quickly produced several regular sized Native Cutthroat trout which of course were released.

Lots of dandelions with which I could have enhanced my soup and Rice’A Roni….cooked in my campfire 1/4 of a mile from the lake.

In its shadow you see a plant with tiny little white flowers.



Oh, and Wild Strawberry blossoming all along the trail.

 I passed the “short-cut” and kept trudging along soon passing the Wilderness boundary and nearby set up my camp for the night.  The next morning I was on my way, seeing some “Visions of Nature” that had gone unnoticed on the way up.

Then all of a sudden more new High Uinta Friends out for a Sunday ride.

 First a friendly resident of Altonah, CINDY WARR who has already emailed me and received pictures of them, and said, I checked out your website last night. It’s cool, I would love to sit by the camp fire and hear some of your story’s, sometime.”

 And friend, PETER from Kamas.

Now in the lodge poles I’m getting close.

 “You’re getting close!”  
was the shout from Bryan and Marsha Broadhead from Roosevelt. I must have looked bushed and they thought I needed some encouragement.

……and their dog.  Sorry I forgot to get the name…as I was deliriously “bushed!” 


No campfire, but I did have propane and had a great early dinner after getting to Duchesne and cell phone and internet reception at the Public Library parking lot where I listened to ESPN radio and the USA vs PORTUGAL game that was ALMOST INCREDIBLE!  …..well, it was for Portugal, as in soccer even a 2-2 tie is wonderful!   

By then I learned that my wonderful daughter, Mahana, during my backpack had given birth a month early in Provo to handsome little Ryan Andersen Craig and I had to get home quick… be safe for an old guy, getting a good night’s sleep first.

I believe the count is now:  15 children, 38 grandchildren (with 2 more to go for this year), and 10 great-grandchildren.

Today, Tuesday, June 24, 2014 I finally got this report finished and will now post it on my website.  Tomorrow I go to Provo to do a bit of baby sitting, and climb up to the Y or something to not lose what conditioning I acquired on Trip #1, then a few other family chores, and hopefully a short trip into the Uintas for the weekend.  

 Keep an eye on my website and I will finally let all know WHAT NEXT?  

Will it be the Forest Gump move?  

Whatever, I still have a lot of living to do, with important initiatives in sharing with all my High Uinta Friends tiny gems that might just make your outdoor experience more exciting,  inspiring….and safe.

June 28-“ACID TEST #2” – Highline Trailhead to Packard Lake

NOTE:  If you went through my report on Trip #1 you will note that there were certain difficulties, in part due to having gone through a chemo treatment prior to that effort.  I returned also to find that I had new family responsibilities requiring me to be more than planned in the Provo area…..but to no “GIVE IN….EASILY”  I’m slipping in a quick trip to further get back in shape and acclimatized to higher elevations.

TRIP #1a HIGHLINE TRAILHEAD to Wilder, Wyman & Packard Lakes  from Saturday, June 28 – June 30 – about 10 miles at moderate elevations from 10,380 ft to 10,000. Top map below.


Click here for:


Feeling  better

Friday, June 13, preparations completed I left American Fork and drove to the Forest Service Ranger Station in Duchesne to get…. 
Accessibility info for the South Slope of the High Uintas, as follows: (for June 13th)

1.  GRANDVIEW TRAILHEAD (to the Grandaddies)……open
                             2.  ROCK CREEK (Upper Stillwater) TRAILHEAD….closed until further notice due to rock slides.
                           5.  *SWIFT/YELLOWSTONE CREEKS TRAILHEAD….open
*NOTE:  These drainage’s suffered micro-burst windstorms that knocked down many trees.  Crews have cleared the lower portions of these trails, and continue to work to clear the trails.

.  By Tuesday or Wednesday I will leave for Trip #1 from the Lake Fork Trailhead, and will post here the link so you can follow my trail on the SPOT Tracker website.
UPDATE Monday, June 16th:  The Duchesne area is experiencing a cold wave with high winds and nasty looking clouds, and it will get worse by Wednesday when a low of 37 degrees and high of only 60 degrees is predicted….with high country conditions much worse, but by Thursday conditions improve….when I will most likely leave the Trailhead for Backpack #1


We will now go directly to the Backpack Schedule for the 15 trips .

TO SEE THE COALVILLE SPEECH YouTube Videos, and all the Introductory information that has been posted here for several months, click on the following link:

For a good review of my efforts in the High Uintas, including some controversy and comments, plus links to Survival guidelines you must follow or never go alone…….and things a group should do too….go to: 

Salt Lake Tribune article


Here is my  “DREAM LIST” of remaining backpack trips I want to make before hanging up my backpack and saying the HIGH UINTAS WILDERNESS PROJECT “is finished.”  The list has now grown to 14, and will probably be added to.  I’ll start pecking away at them during the 2014 season, and hope to continue in my 80th year in 2015…and we’ll just see how long I can go to “NOT GIVE IN EASILY!”  and finally get the job done.  Due to sort of being an old guy I might have to contact Lance, or Alex Rodriquez and get some “performance enhancing” medications!!!
 We  will focus on the HIGH UINTAS WILDERNESS–we see below  with 14 scheduled trips pinpointed:  Green Trailhead area, and Yellow the backpack area.

The 14 trips listed below add up to at least 21 of the greatest lakes re-visited, and 117 new lakes  tested for fishing,  photographed, and reported on with YouTube videos, photo/essays and on KSL Outdoor Radio.  I will have logged another 430  miles that will bring my total to a bit over 2,000 miles of backpacking in the High Uinta Mountains since 2003. These backpacks will also have me completing my goal of scaling all the 22 passes in the High Uintas Wilderness (actually 24 if we include what I call “East Fork Pass” at 12,165 ft. and Hades Pass, at 10,700 ft.)  plus getting to  peripheral areas that have escaped me. Depending on how it’s going I might just scale another couple of the highest peaks–like 13,219 ft. Mt.Lovenia, seen above in the 2nd photo on East Fork Pass.  Of great importance I will make it one more time to a couple of three or four of the truly beloved exotic wilderness areas in our incredible High Uintas Wilderness–UTAH’S GREATEST WILDERNESS!.
Soon I’ll start warming up for the backpack season with an occasional call to KSL OUTDOORS RADIO on Saturday morning.  Click on that link to listen online to Tim Hughes and Russ Smith and to access pod-casts of all programs.   During the backpack season I’ll be reporting from all the areas below with a sat phone provided by Russ Smith and Skycall Satellite.  

Trip #1 – LAKE FORK TRAILHEAD – to Upper Brown Duck Basin – Short-cut to Atwine, Clements,   Stewart, X-78,   Twin, Mud, Aspen, Island and Brown Duck Lakes – back to Trailhead.  10 lakes including some no-name lakes, 25 miles, 3-4 days 
            I’m picking up in this backpack  at least 7 off-trail lakes that most never see.
Duchesne County, Ashley National Forest 
From Clements Lake we see here you leave the trail to seek more than half a dozen remote off-trail lakes.

Topo maps and elevation profiles For Trip #1-2024-15 UPPER BROWN DUCK BASIN

Trip #2 – LAKE FORK TRAILHEAD – to East Basin Pass/Basin, Horshoe, Picture, X-83, Three Lakes, Cleveland Pass-Lake, Squaw Basin-Squaw, Shamrock, Diamond, Mid, Rudolph, Tworoose Pass andLake, Lily, Kidney, Little Dog, Big Dog Lakes, and back to Trailhead.  16 lakes, 43 miles, 5-7 days.  
Duchesne County, Ashley National Forest
          This loop takes me through the area where I have seen and heard the most elk, as well as making possible exploring one of the areas known for possible old Spanish mines, and the Lost Rhodes mine.  Also Tworoose Pass, 10,600 ft., one of the 3 scaled in this backpack, and  among the 4 in the Wilderness I have not yet conquered.
From East Basin Pass we head deep into the Wilderness through East Basin and on to Cleveland Pass where one night I was surrounded by elk and their musical sounds.

Trip #3  ROCK CREEK TRAILHEAD – Rock Lakes, Young, Anderson, Phinney, Ledge, Continent Lakes, Dead Horse Pass, Doug, Boot  and Reconnaissance Lakes, Allsop saddle, back to Trailhead. 10 lakes, 50 miles, 6-8 days  
Duchesne County, Ashley National Forest
         This backpack takes me one more time to off-trail, above timberline,   mythical Continent Lake for a worthy photograph, then climb once more  Dead Horse Pass  (11,700 ft.) for yet another photograph of the magnificent scene.  I will  then backtrack and on to the spectacular, off-trail Reconnaissance Lake-Triangle Mt. area, that for for me rivals Red Castle as one of the most beautiful mountain scenes in Utah.  From there I will scale the 11,800 ft. Allsop Saddle to photograph this wonderful alpine scene where is born the East Fork of the Bear River.  The hike will take me up and down two  Rock Creek routes that I have never hiked  in the area, once again making possible exploring more of the  this drainage important  concerning the earliest white people in the Uintas–Spaniards as early as 1540, and the Lost Rhodes mine. I’m not a treasure seeker but have interest as an explorer and historian. 
The day dawns on this exotic scene.
Remote Reconnaissance Lake and Triangle Mt. one of the most beautiful scenes in Utah.

The time of day, different light,  elevation of view and angle  have the beauty evolve continually–from beautiful to breath-taking! 
Feasting on the scene’s magnificence at twilight!

I can’t hang-up my backpack until I experience this magnificent spot one more time!

Trip #4 – WEST FORK WHITEROCKS TRAILHEAD – Queant, Cleveland Lakes, Fox/Queant Pass, Crescent, Fox, Brook Lakes, North Pole Pass, Taylor Lakes.  7 lakes, 21 miles, 4 days,              This backpack will  take me over two of the last 4 passes I haven’t conquered yet:  Fox-Queant at 11,200 ft.,  and North Pole at 12,226 ft. (which actually is just slightly out of the Wilderness area, but close enough).  
Duchesne County Ashley National Forest
In the middle background is seen Fox-Queant Pass over which I will go to swing through the upper eastern Uinta River Drainage and then come back over North Pole Pass which is out of the picture to the right.


Trip #5 – UINTA RIVER TRAILHEAD – Pippen, Krebs, Chain and Oke Doke Lakes, Roberts Pass, B-29, Carrot, Allen, Allred, Roberts, Atwood, U-19, U-22, George Beard Lakes, Trail Rider Pass, Beard, U-75, U-76, Milk, Gilbert, U-79, Verlie, Rainbow, 4 no-name, Davis 1,2 Lakes, North Park, 4 Painter Lakes, to trailhead.  31 lakes, 78 miles, 8-10 days.  
Duchesne County, Ashley National Forest
          I have been through this magnificent drainage 4 or 5 times but there are peripheral lakes in side canyons and basins that have escaped me.  Also I can’t rest until going back one more time to Trail Rider Pass, and 13,387 ft. Mt. Jedediah  (my name for this no-name mountain) that guards two alpine lakes where I have caught the largest Eastern brook trout  that easily would have been the Utah State record, and that year would have won the FIELD and STREAM Fishing Contest beating out areas, such as Canada, that have always been dominant for  brook trout.

From Trail Rider Pass looking back to the southeast, where we came from, we see on the far left Lake Atwood, then at our feet below the pass  on the left we see George Beard Lake where on my 27 day expedition I had the fastest fishing of the trip.  On 20 casts I caught and released 15 sassy wild brook trout.  I call this the George Beard Basin where two other above timberline lakes seen to the right have  escaped me on 3 hikes through the area, and they will be tested and reported on, along with a whole bunch of others on this long backpack.
Below, from Trail Rider Pass, we turn around and look north seeing this view of the very uppermost region of the Uinta River drainage with Kings Peak (Utah’s highest at 13,528 ft.)   dead center, Gunsight Pass on the right, and remote un-named lakes that sometimes produce huge brook trout.  A wonderful wildflower is seen below, “Old Man of the Mountains.”   
Here’s one of the huge brook trout….still alive in crystal clear water 36″ deep……..its length estimated at 28″……..

……. that would have quite easily been the Utah State record and winner of the Field and Stream fishing contest that year.


Trip #6 – EAST FORK BEAR RIVER TRAILHEAD – Lake Lorena. 1 lake, 9 miles, 3 days
Summit County, Wasatch National Forest 
               This remote, off-trail alpine lake is just outside the Wilderness Area but is enchanting to me for it’s beauty, isolation, and as the lake where the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources (the Fish and Game for us old guys) netted the oldest brook trout recorded in the Uintas, it being 13.5 years old which is very rare for alpine lakes.  It was only 3.5 lbs, but nonetheless fascinates me and I hope I can make it up that mountain after fording the East Fork of Bear River. By the way, in its hay day, that brookie would have also likely  been a Utah State record.  Something in this mysterious 10,562 ft. high alpine jewel could again have a record Eastern brook trout.
This trip takes us up the East Fork of Bear River, the longest river in the hemisphere that doesn’t empty into an ocean–500 miles long flowing from here into Wyoming, then swinging through Idaho and back to empty into the Great Salt Lake.


Trip #7 – MIDDLE FK BLACKS FORK TRAILHEAD – G-72, G-74 lakes.  2 lakes, 20 miles, 4  days.  
Summit County, Wasatch National Forest
         Those who know me will recall this being where I discovered, mapped, measured and photographed 14 tie hacker sites never reported on before, concluding it was a community of Swedish tie hackers.  But I’m going up there one more time to explore, photograph and test the fishing in  the two no-name, off-trail lakes that have escaped me in the upper reaches of the drainage. If you don’t know what a “tie hacker” is, go to my special page where you can access 14 YouTube videos and photo/essays on the subject. They will take you on a fascinating journey of these tough guys “without whom the West might not have been won!”
In the upper reaches of Middle Fork of Blacks Fork, we take the left hand fork up into a drainage and  a small glacial cirque at the foot of Tokewanna  Peak (13, 165 ft. high)  where there are two no-name lakes I will photograph and test for fishing.


Trip #8 – EAST FK BLACKS FK TRAILHEAD – Little East Fork alpine lakes.  5 lakes,  20 miles, 4-5 days.  
Summit County, Wasatch National Forest
           This will be my 3rd trip up the “Big Foot Trail,” where last year I had a couple of Sasquatch related experiences  (if you’re curious see my  YouTube Video #2-2013) .  I’m not going up there for that this time, even though if he wants to find me and give me a chance to take his family portrait, I’d love it,  but this time I will focus on the off-trail alpine lakes up high on the west side of the drainage.
The remote no-name lakes I’m after are up there above the pines and below those peaks.  I call this “The Big Foot Trail” as he (it?) has reportedly been seen a number of times in the area, and I mentioned several Sasquatch experiences on my summer trip in the area.   See below…do you see HIM?  

You’ll notice it was a bit dark…like as though I was having a dream?  See the YouTube video to get the “rest of the story.”


Trip #9 – HENRY’S FORK TRAILHEAD – Alligator, SawMill, Bear, G-10, G-39, Grass, Island, Henry’s, G-4, Blanchard, Castle, Cliff, G-98 lakes.  13 lakes, 28 miles, 4-5 days.  
Summit County, Wasatch National Forest
            Once again I have been up this drainage going to Kings Peak several times, and even getting to the two most remote and mysterious lakes–Castle and Cliff, but there are a whole bunch of lakes that have escaped me I want to explore.  I do need to get a better picture of Castle Lake and Castle Mountain that guards it, and I have to get back to Cliff Lake as it was there that I had one of the two most exciting fish strikes of my freshwater experience.  It was early in the season with murky water due to the thaw.  While reeling in my Thomas Cyclone lure I was distracted looking at the scenery when all of a sudden an “alligator like” rush at my lure almost stopped my heart and splashed drops of water on me from 20 feet away!  I missed him (or her) but would like to cast into this most remote lake in the drainage just one more time.

This is remote Cliff Lake where I had the “alligator-like”  strike and have to try it once more!

Click for TOPO MAP and ELEVATIONS:  Trip #9-2014 HENRYS FORK. 

Trip #10 – MIDDLE BEAVER CK TRAILHEAD – Hidden, Beaver, Coffin, GR-143 and GR-177 lakes and Thompson Pass.  5 lakes, 26 miles, 4-5 days.  
Summit County, Wasatch National Forest
             A couple of years ago I had a wonderful backpack up West Beaver Creek to Gilbert Lake,and  others up higher on the slopes of Gilbert Peak (Utah’s 3rd highest), but the even more exciting Middle  Beaver Creek drainage has escaped me, as well as Thompson Pass which will complete my scaling of all the passes in the Wilderness.
Here we are looking at the Northeastern slope of the High Uintas with the Beaver Creek Drainage in full view between the foot of the mountains and the dark line of pines, with Gilbert Peak, 3rd highest in Utah at 13,342 ft., on the right, and Thompson Pass and Peak on the left.

Trip #11 – MIDDLE BEAVER CK TRAILHEAD – no name lakes west of trailhead.  5 lakes,  7 miles, 2 days. 
Summit County, Wasatch National Forest
          To the west of the Trailhead are a bunch of off-trail lakes that I just have to explore and photograph.


Trip #12 – East Fk Blacks Fk TRAILHEAD – East Fk Pass, Red Knob Pass, Crater, Lambert, Oweep, Porcupine Lakes, Porcupine Pass, 3 no-name lakes in upper Garfield Basin, back to Porcupine and Squaw Pases and down Little East Fk to Trailhead.  7 lakes, 48 miles, 7-9 days. 
Summit County, Wasatch National Forest
           Once again we are talking about an area I have been through a number of times, but have neglected peripheral lakes.  I did pick up Porcupine Lake last year, as well as Squaw Pass, but this time I will doggedly take the extra long route to  carefully accomplish for me some critical goals:  First, another time photographing the magnificent view of the “spine of the High Uintas” best seen from what I call East Fork Pass you see below, maybe even spending a night up there to get some unique shots, and then climbing 13,219 ft. Mt. Lovenia on the right. 
This is what I call East Fork Pass, 12,165 ft., the trail on the left coming up from the East Fork of Blacks Fork, with 13,219 ft. Mt. Lovenia in the right background and an un-named 13,000+ ft. peak in the middle background.  The trail then goes DOWN to Red Knob Pass.  This photograph was taken in mid-September 2006 on a trip to Crater Lake when I was rained on, then snow hit me and I became very sick….lying there for 3 days below Crater Lake while the antibiotic took affect, and then had to get out of there, but up here on this pass a blizzard hit me and due to my weakened condition things got complicated and I used my sat phone to call Russ Smith for help that developed into a conference call with Russ, the Sheriff of Summit County, and the Medic-Evac unit at the University of Utah Hospital.  To reproduce the scene I photo shopped myself into the scene, but couldn’t re-create the blizzard!  A sat phone is a must for me, as well as a SPOT Personal Satellite Tracker,  along with anything an old guy might need for emergencies–including stuff for minor surgery!  You must go prepared!  If you don’t do everything I do for emergencies,  including  consistent and effective physical preparation and conditioning, DON’T EVER GO ALONE, and these things should always be done for a group, like  Scouts.
Click for more SURVIVAL info.
 On another trip we see Ted Packard awe struck by the rugged beauty of the spine of the High Uintas from 12,165 ft. East Fork Pass looking west. Depending on the weather I might attempt to bivouac up here for some special photographs, early and late.

 Then on to the Uinta’s deepest, Crater Lake. 

A primary objective of Trip #12 is to get that “perfect shot” of the lake at the foot of Explorer Peak by bivouacking  up high on the ridge to the right.

Below is seen two other views of this exotic lake–The Uinta’s deepest at 147 ft.
I hope to bivoauck up on the high ridge to the right for the “perfect photo”

Here I am a few years ago attempting to climb up a chute to get to the ridge, but stopped by a huge snow drift.  I will make it from the other side this  time.

 Then on to Lambert Lake, and the Oweep drainage, doing my best to get to off-trail and very remote Oweep Lake.  From there I will proceed to Porcupine Pass, the Uinta’s 2nd highest at 12,236 feet, and over to the upper Garfield Basin and the 3 no-name lakes you see  below, located above North Star Lake you see to the right.

This  is the view to the east of 12,236 ft. high Porcupine Pass seeing to the far right North Star and Tungsten Lakes.  In the middle and left are the 3 no-name lakes that have escaped me but they will be photographed and tested for fishing this time if it’s the last thing I do, then back over the pass and down, then up and over Squaw Pass (11,742 ft.) and down “The Big Foot Trail”  to the trailhead.

Trip #13 – HIGHLINE TRAILHEAD – to Pinto, Margo, Governor-Dern, Rainbow, Range, and Jeff Lakes,   and back to Trailhead.   6 lakes,   24  miles, 4 days.
Duchesne County, Ashley National Forest
             Hopefully, even a bit late in the 2015 season I will go into the Grandaddies one more time taking the Highline Trail entrance and pick up the last un-explored (by me) lakes in the area, several off-trail.
  Here we see the Grandaddy Basin from the south.  Trip #13 will be from the north, using the Highline Trailhead way up by Hayden Peak that is to the left of Mt. Agazzi seen in the middle of the  background.


Trip #14 – 2014 CHINA MEADOWS TRAILHEAD – RED CASTLE AREA -East Red Castle, Smiths Fork, Lower Red Castle, Red Castle and Upper Red Castle Lakes, then back to the trailhead – 5 lakes  32 miles, 6 days.
Summit County, Wasatch National Forest

            If I can survive all of the above 13 backpacks  I will want to do this one  (if need be in my 81st year!)  up from the China Meadows Trailhead on the North Slope,  following Smiths Fork,  named after my greatest hero among the mountain men, Jedediah Smith, and to the Red Castle area where I would like to fish one more time in the two lakes that have produced for me my record native cutthroat trout–East Red Castle, and Upper Red Castle Lakes.  It was in  the upper where in 1962, with my buddy Ted Packard, I caught an 8+ lb. cut, maybe with the one from East Red Castle even larger.  I’ll insert below  shots of the  area and then the two photos of the beautiful native cutthroat trout.  I will also photograph and report on Smiths Fork Pass Lake, above timberline near East Red Castle Lake, and on the trail south towards the pass that leads to the Yellowstone Creek Drainage.
From a good  off-trail vantage point this is the scene that takes your breath away once you get into the high country seeing Lower Red Castle Lake and Peak. 

The next photo below is taken from way up high to the right. 

 I’ll get to the fish pictures,  but first look at this incredible scene of Red Castle Peak, and slightly above timberline Red Castle Lake–the Uintas 2nd largest.  Below is the night view by the light of the moon.

Behind me, up at 11,700 ft., seen below,  is Upper Red Castle Lake on July 4th of that year–still frozen over and not fishable yet….so I’ve got to go back one more time.
But it was here in Upper Red Castle Lake in 1962 where I caught the very thick, heavy bodied native cutthroat trout seen  below–21 inches long.

  We wanted to take it out uncleaned to get an accurate weighing.  We buried it in a snow bank, but when we returned the next day only the tale half was left  which I hauled home. It weighed 3.5 lbs on a very accurate scale, and being the lighter half, without innards, we conservatively calculated its live, whole weight at over 8 lbs.

Next below, we go around to the east side of Red Castle Peak where we find this jewel of an above timberline alpine lake, East Red Castle Lake, where just after a snow storm one August I caught several huge natives, the beautiful cutthroat seen last was the largest.

11,135 ft. high East Red Castle Lake that produced this nice 20 inch long  cutthroat seen below.

To get a couple of good photographs I wasn’t able to release him, so cooked him in aluminum foil  then filled zip-lock bags to feed me for rest of the trip.

Click for TOPO MAP and ELEVATIONS: Trip #14-2014-16 RED CASTLE AREA


              NOW TO GET US READY FOR THE 2014 BACKPACKING SEASON check out the YouTube video below, and get your order in for the “performance enhancing” supplements that have kept me going for 1,600 miles and hopefully will keep working for me in my 79th and 80th years…..and maybe on into the future?

Now that your’re  excited with this old geezer’s “Dream Backpacks,”  which you could do too,  begin getting ready right to love the 2014 backpack season with the PREPARE videos from 2012, ignoring the schedule aspects and focusing on PREPARATION.  When these videos were made I hadn’t had my hip replacement yet and was still struggling with pain which is now gone…so I don’t have any more excuses!

#9-2012 Part 1:  PREPARE or HAVE A MISERABLE BACKPACK….working out

and below
2012 PREPARE YouTube video  #9-Part 2:   PREPARE with PERFORMANCE ENHANCEMENTS…that have worked miraculously for this old guy!

NOTE:  If you got this far you are possibly thinking I’m out of my mind to consider  doing all of this…maybe because of my age, maybe because I’m just a little guy whose nickname in my youth was “Little Andy.” 
 There were 5 “Andy’s” on the football team so I was designated as  
“Little Andy,”  who welcomed the challenge head on and laughed at the scoffers. 
 Let me  add that I have dreamed my end would come –tongue in cheek–in one of the following ways…anyone of which will be just fine with me–and a lot better than going out as a “couch potato!”  

1.  Backpacking in the High Uintas, 

2.  Running one more time in the International Half Marathon 
in Coban, Guatemala, or 

3.  After taking out a few of the Mexican Zetas Drug Cartel thugs in Alta Verapaz, 
Guatemala, I’m  finally  sent to my rest with a smile on my face!  

“DEATH BE NOT BORING…….I’ve lived well.  I’ve adventured 

widely.  I will not die poorly.”   by Jonathan Dorn



LAST NOTE:  Once all of the above is achieved–and I’m still alive & kicking,  I will likely tackle  last the most remote and hard-to-get-to lake in the High Uintas.   Jeffrey Probst, author of the best guide books on the Uintas describes “Thompson Lake”  as “the hardest”  to get to.  But, in my “1,000 Mile Whirlwind Backpack” slide show you can see that I made it to Thompson Lake, so for me there’s one more  difficult which is East Slide Lake, located on the east side of Oweep Creek up high in a side canyon.  It will take going up Lake Fork to Lambert Meadows, then proceed up Oweep Creek and off-trail  to Oweep Lake, and from there bushwhack down the side of the canyon to East Slide Lake.  From there, bushwhack down to Moon Lake and the Trailhead. 
From East Basin Pass we look across Lake Fork  & Oweep Canyons towards the side canyon where is found East Slide Lake.  The direct route would be from the Lake Fork Trail crossing Lake Fork, then Oweep Creek to bushwack up to East Slide Lake, but the problem is the cliffs of the gorge we see below.
If you want to be on my list of HIGH UINTA FRIENDS and receive notices of posts, speeches, SPOT Tracker links, etc. send me an email at:  cordellandersen@hotmail listing subject as:  “High Uinta Friend”


HUGE GLITCH!!!...June 3, 2014
The MIRROR LAKE SCENIC BYWAY has been open for more than a week and the Uintas are thawing out…..moving closer launch of my backpacking schedule…. but……….I made a huge miscalculation accepting a chemotherapy treatment for skin cancer from neck and shoulders up….& .am suffering the burning pains of “hell”  for it and working on recovery just as quick as possible……all will be informed when that is behind me and High Uintas Wilderness Project begins for this summer….hopefully as soon as the thaw opens up the high country trails!

PROMISED YouTube Videos on:  
 SURVIVAL & Preparation 3: GEAR/FOOD
Because of the chemo therapy I have been suffering through…I’ve been set back a couple of weeks.  For my advice on Survival and what I do and recommend everyone  do for your safety & also my changes in gear and suggestions on food…please go through the 4 parts of my speech at Coalville.  Check out the summary that heads each part for the items that interest you most.  You’ll notice that Parts 3 & 4 have specific mentions of these items. 
For those YouTube videos & the Introduction to my Dream List that was on this Home page, click on:  COALVILLE SPEECH & INTRODUCTION 

Also for info on SURVIVAL & precautions you should take to backpack…especially ALONE, go to:  SURVIVAL


YouTube videos below….
SPEECH ON APRIL 22nd, 6:30 PM Coalville, Utah – Summit County Courthouse

“My love affair with the High Uintas–Its Mysterious Past  & Present”  

YouTube Coalville Speech:
PART 1: 
Love of outdoors…Checkered history….Introduction to Uintas…40 year detour among Mayans…2003 High Uintas Project born…27 day expedition…Beautiful Summit County…..Uinta’s Tie Hacker culture discovered….Ghost towns

  PART 2: 
Exploring the “liveliest if not the most wicked town in America”  ghost town….Gold Hill, flumes, artefacts….Mysterious Middle Fk. of Blacks Fk…..Suicide Park….“Most beautiful mountain scene in Utah!”….Glitches along the trail & repairs….“NEVER GIVE IN…..!”.…Faking it! … New life….NO PAIN!….Making a comeback…amazing statements about the incredible High Uintas!

 Part 3….
Survival “musts:” Sat phone, SPOT Tracker, maps —  Carter Road, Butch Cassidy —  a “mountain of gold” found!  — First white men to see Uintas —  Jed Smith —  Tie Hackers — Lost Rhoades Mine — Big Foot…SEEN!  & 
All of this & more…….

 PART 4…..
Backpacking alone?  Stalking pace…Flume…Maps…Lightweight backpacking….Just eat fish? … Water purification…
…..BEAR protection…Make warning shots count!

 KSL Outdoors Radio –-Click on  PODCAST of the interview, Saturday, April 12th
 Forgive me for having the link to the wrong podcast for a few days.  GOT IT NOW!  At about  6:10 AM…..Note:  Excuse me for the poor quality of sound from my cell phone, and hoarse, raspy voice–likely because I spoke too loud–sorry!  But I think it is understandable.

click here to see  PHOTO/ESSAY:

Part I: 64 pages (eventually a book)
 My  22 year “VISION QUEST”
Inserted below is the title on it to enlarge.
 If the above link doesn’t work for you, click below to go to the Page:
Autobiography: 0-22-yrs.

Scroll down to see highlighted in light yellow:  



 Each of the 14 plus the “LAST GASP TRIP”  with

NOTICE:  After my annual visit with my Cardiologist (3/18/14) I got his thumbs up  for my 79th year–
All systems are GO!

NOTE:  Check this post often until backpacking season as I will continually update and enhance, and,  as the backpack season approaches, dates will be inserted making possible you throwing together a quick trip to meet me on the trail as  happened at Crow Basin last year pictured below.  I’d love to have a bunch of these kinds of chance meetings. 

Darren & Ryan McMichael, and Tyler & Tom  Summerhays…and the old guy…easy to see why in my football pursuits as a youth I was called “Little Andy”

INTRODUCTION:  Those who know me will recall that in 2012 my career as a backpacker had seemingly come to a screeching halt at the end of 1,500 backpacking miles of struggle to “NEVER GIVE IN…EASILY!”  
In preparation for that “failed season” I did do 3 PREPARATION YouTube videos that in principle are valid…seen so far by 1,613 people….and are being re-issued as noted below.

Back surgery that Spring  (2012)  helped a little, but not enough, resulting in no backpacking in 2012.  I didn’t quit,  but did many painful miles trying to figure how to continue and tried to share what I was learning by producing  a  whole series of “COMEBACK”  and  “FAKING NOT BEING A CRIPPLE”  YouTube videos-seen by 1,467  people, which are all worth watching–especially if you’re struggling. If interested click on the YouTube Videos page and check them out. 

      By the early Spring of 2013 I was depressingly almost resigned to being a cripple, but gave the physicians one more shot. Hip replacement surgery at that time did the trick and 6 weeks later I was backpacking without pain for the first time in 30 years! I was blessed miraculously–literally with a NEW LIFE that led to an an incredible 2013 season documented through 8  YouTube videos.  

     Now,  with no excuses anymore, as hopefully everything has been replaced by titanium, transplants, held together with screws, reconstructed, or removed–except my brain,  I have come up with an incredible list of 14 backpacks I still want to do. They follow below inserted by trip numbers into a  Google Earth view of the Uintas,  followed by the numbered trips with important details, photographs, topo maps and elevation profiles, along with a re-issuing of my 2012 PREPARE YouTube videos, with links to two of them at the end of this post. The 3rd one: Gear & Backpacking Food will be re-done with important changes in key backpacking equipment for 2014.

      I’m doing my best to  lead the way with CRUCIAL PREPARATION by my example.   I have hiked every day this year, during Jan. with a 45 lb. pack on my back, Feb. with a 50 lbs.,  March with  56 lbs. and now in April with 60 lbs… least around a big block or more daily, regardless of the weather!  I’ll admit it’s not very much every day, but because of my age if I miss a day I immediately start feeling my body stiffening up and I get real cranky–so seems like there’s no rest for me……. ever!  

That has the good folks of American Fork, Utah stopping and offering me handouts assuming I’m  homeless with everything I own on my back, or they say “Are you alright?  (I’ll admit I must look pretty bad!)  Could we give you a ride?”  

I finally got a shot of this happening (04/07/14).  A white van slowed and almost stopped as it passed me.  Then from down the street it came backing up and stopped opening the door, with these good kids offering me a ride.  

  I tell them, exaggerating and fibbing  a lot, saying,  “I’m an eccentric millionaire….not a weird old guy!”     I then give them a business card and mention my HIGH UINTAS WILDERNESS PROJECT  explaining,   “I’m doing my darnedest to make good on my dreams in my 79th, & 80th year,  to get it all done–and if I’m still alive by then I’ll come up with a NEW  DREAM LIST,”…..…a prime one already added at the very end of this post entitled “The Last Gasp Backpack!” 

 Now I’ve added some jogging to my training regimen and  also  taken a page out of my autobiography that describes  me walking the rails between 8-14 years old.   I eventually could walk the entire mile to our home, and could jump from side to side,  all without falling.  That honed  my balance skills and prepared me as a successful football running back and for mountain climbing.  I need that desperately now as something has changed a tad in recent years!

So, along with my urban backpacking, jogging, and in May, as explain below,  mountain climbing,  I go to the railroad two blocks from where my Cabin trailer is  parked in American Fork,  and work on getting my balance on track (pun intended).  As an old guy the first few times I could only take a step or two before falling, but by the end of the 50 yards I could do up to 15 steps, and the next time 20 without losing my balance, now up to 40, etc.  I’ll do this every other day and hope to get my balance back so I won’t fall  into a ravine and have happen to me  what probably was the end of  Australian  backpacker, Eric Robinson,  in 2011 who has never been found in his backpack across the High Uintas Wilderness.  I’ll keep working on KEEPING ALIVE and take all the precautions Eric ignored!

Sounds like a lot?  …..Yes, it  takes a lot for an old guy to keep alive and moving,  
but I’m just not ready yet to accept the other option.

Frankly, I’m now just doing the minimum for maintenance, but do add 5 lbs. every month to my load, and in my training don’t normally use the hip belt to force my shoulders and back to get stronger. Then when the season is upon us, usually with lighter loads,  I’ll quickly be able to build on the foundation of strength & balance, and develop endurance and stamina.  I’ll be able to love being on the trail and focus on the beauty that surrounds me.

SPRING:  Phase 2 of Preparation
I will persist in hiking a around town, now in April with 60 lbs. on my back. By May, when the mountains begin turning green, I will add to my workout regimen one two day backpack each week climbing a mountain in the Utah Valley area.  I will focus first on climbing those I haven’t climbed, first up:  SQUAW PEAK
Cascade Mt. in the left background, Squaw Peak is seen dead center, with Rock Canyon to the right and then almost visible Provo Peak covered with snow, then Y Mountain, all to the east of Provo. 

 I have already climbed Cascade Mt., Provo Peak, Y-Mountain, and, above Maple Flats, what I call Maple Mt. Remaining in this area to be climbed is Squaw Peak, and the two Buckley Mountains. between Provo and Springville.  These comprise the Seven Peaks that years ago was to be a recreational area , but now reduced to a water park by that name in Provo.  

 I will make each an overnight backpack to break-in new equipment, and to test my physical abilities, and get stronger. Those two will be followed by an overnight backpack to Maple Flats exploring the pathway of the pioneer timber-slide down to Provo’s foothills, as mentioned in one of my Comeback YouTube videos.  I will report on these efforts that will start  as Spring begins to turn the Wasatch Mountains green  For these overnight hikes I will begin using my SPOT Personal Tracker and post links here. 
Note:  Actually I’ve already started once a week doing  a fairly long hike up canyons near American Fork, that lead towards Mt. Timpaganogos, recording with camera the birth of spring in the Wasatch.
 Then on June 1st,  when Skycall Satellite and Russ Smith will deliver to me the satellite phone for the backpacking season, I will move to the fringes of the High Uintas to do research and exploration, especially in the far eastern end of the Uinta Mountains at Dinosaur National Monument, and the famous Butch Cassidy outlaw hideout at Browns Park,  until the thaw permits beginning my schedule as outlined below.
      My first High Uintas backpack (date depending on the thaw) will  undoubtedly be carefykkt slow, the next following with only one or two days of rest in my little Cabin trailer  preparing, including driving down where I can get an internet connection to program my SPOT tracker for the next trip, and once a month make it back to American Fork to do  what’s necessary to keep the Guatemalan Foundation going.  With only one or two days between backpacks I’ll  avoid losing my physical conditioning and acclimatization to high altitudes and save a lot of travel expense. 
 I will persist as best I can and hopefully  continue  getting  stronger  

Here you see me on East Fork Pass with 13,219 Mt. Lovenia in the background, which I will likely climb during my Trip #12  through this magnificent area that shows the spine of the High Uintas like nowhere else.

At the end of this post see  possible reactions to these  quixotic  plans.