HIGH UINTA PASSES?
WOLF CREEK PASS OPEN for several weeks… with NO snow 5/20.
BALD MOUNTAIN PASS–Mirror Lake Byway..CLOSED-21″ of snow 5/20
But first, my persistent efforts to NOT GIVE IN….EASILY, but rather make some good strides away from not being able to walk anymore….like 18 months ago, and importantly, NOT “Faking I’m not a cripple,” that I once had to do, but actually making some progress in hiking again.
Now I have graduated from the several sets of stairs that helped me begin building back muscles, and NOW go every other day to the foothills and the Grove Canyon Trailhead, TODAY with the intention of not following the trail up the canyon, and switch backing up to the “valley view” spot, but rather go straight up the mountain.
Yes, I had to give in and begin using TREKKING POLES, that I used to say were for “WIMPS!” But now on smooth, secure trails, even where the slope up, or down is not extreme, and where losing my balance won’t kill me–like falling into a ravine to never be found, I’m weaning myself off of them, swinging them up behind me and hiking normally. This is actually also helping to straightening out my spine and reducing the normal pain I feel all the time when walking or hiking.
A LITTLE HILL FOR ALL OF YOU, was for ME, considering a while back I couldn’t walk, WAS FOR ME A GIANT MOUNTAIN I HAD TO CLIMB!
So here we are the arrows indicating my starting point near the trailhead and going up a trail you can see winding its way up to the ridge. The upper arrow is a bit deceiving, as it doesn’t make it look very far, which my aching muscles today–the day after–tell me it was a pretty stiff hike for this old guy in his 87th year. For this challenge I WOULD HAVE TO USE MY TREKKING POLES!
Along the way I noticed one of the real pretty bush type plants of the foothills is beginning to sprout. You’ll see later why I used it 63 years ago to actually be a major part of the landscaping of an apartment where we lived when first married.
LATER YOU’LL SEE WHY IT IMPRESSED ME.
Soon I found this tiny cluster of yellow flowers on a long stalk and stopped for a needed rest and a photo shoot. To use my close-up lens and do it right would have required having a tripod to steady the camera, but I didn’t want to take the extra weight–already with 8 lbs.–with my Nikon camera and 14mm. x 400mm. lens, survival equipment, and a picnic lunch. So just took a bunch of shots hoping one would be sharp, and one was, even though I goofed on the background with photoshop. This flower measures about 1/8th of an inch.
I soon learned that the pathway worn smooth by hikers sliding down a quite steep section, was too steep and dangerous for me, so I had to detour off to the left following deer trails and zigged and zagged up until getting above the dangerous portion, then sort of on top of the ridge followed it up the mountain, and….yes I had to rest here and there, and so actually took longer to get to the view area, than it would have taken me to follow the trail up the canyon.
Here’s another quite tiny flower about a quarter of an inch wide, which I got with my zoom lens.
There were times during the climb, especially in the beginning, when I decided it was too dangerous for me and my condition, but rather than giving up, just took an easier and safer pathway, taking longer, but finally made it to the viewing area and photographed this plant I hadn’t seen at lower elevations.
With my fish-eye lens I got yet another panorama of beautiful Utah Valley, from on the very right the tip of the Point of the Mountain, all the way across Utah Lake with Mt. Nebo in the distance on the left. When all is in bloom, and the sky is clear with beautiful clouds, I’ll insert the actual quote from Escalante & Dominguez in their letter to the King of Spain describing this valley as the BEST THEY HAD SEEN IN THEIR EXTENSIVE TRAVELS IN THE NEW WORLD.
Another Lichen garden impressed me. If you missed the discussion about Lichens, go back a bit and learn about this unique life-form, and even better get my HIGH UINTA MOUNTAINS BOOK, with more complete descriptions of this incredible life form, 3,000+ varieties of which are found in the Rocky Mountain area.
The American vetch has been in bloom at lower elevations for some time. The Utah MilkVetch was first seen up here at the View area, but now is sprouting all over.
This is the flower of the Milk Vetch, or Ladyfinger. An extremely tiny yellow flower has sneaked into the picture at the bottom.
I had my picnic lunch and feeling much better than I thought I would, proceeded up the canyon some, but decided I would wait for another day to make it all the way to the water falls and bridge.
In this photo you can see the trail cutting across the hillside from the left.
Up high I also found another flower similar to the one first seen several weeks ago much lower, and got pictures of it and the whole plant, showing it is much different than the one on top, and smaller too.
Then headed down getting a picture here and there, many more than I’m including here, and saving them for my own enjoyment once I start getting OLD!
The variations in coloration of the Oregon grape plant always fascinate me.
And, I’ll be anxious to see how this one develops with it’s thorny stalk.
Once down in the bottom of the canyon on the trail I was impressed with vegetation coming into bloom. This one is seen in the following montage, on the bottom portion.
You Canadians should immediately recognize the leaf seen below.
Soon the various varieties of THISTLES will begin blossoming with a beauty that has us forgetting the thorny side of the plants.
Dandelions have of course been out for a long time. In fact down in the valley in our lawns they are usually the first to bloom, and the last green plants before the onset of winter. I will soon do a report on this plant, but let me say it is the first plant or flower of any kind that I remember in my life as a child 6 years old. It was in Cincinnati in 1942 when I vividly recall noticing black people, who were properly called “negros” back then (the other “n” word always sparked a fight….sometimes to the death, except among them–I know what I’m talking about as I went to high school where 30% were African Americans), but we would see them in the parks wandering around the grassy areas picking dandelion leaves and going home with bags of them to take the place of expensive green vegetables.
I have since learned they are more nutritious than most of the vegetables, and so a portion of my garden is planted intentionally with DANDELIONS.
While resting and thinking about them, all of a sudden one of the Lord’s beautiful creatures decided I was right and dropped in for some nutrition. Do you notice how its long, elephant like snout dips down into the flower?
This morning my private Sunday DEVOTIONAL had me hearing the celestial words “ALL THINGS BRIGHT & BEAUTIFUL,” preparing me for sharing with you this INCREDIBLE CREATION OF THE LORD…..or if you prefer of MOTHER NATURE!
WOW! says it all.
Yellow and white seem to be quite dominant among the VISIONS OF NATURE, so a splash of ORANGE always attracts attention.
This is a plant shown in a post weeks ago, me saying it will be interesting to see its flower blossom. We’ll, I can now show you below.
So, down the canyon I went with my trekking poles up behind me and concentrating on walking a straight line, and doing so normally….as normal as an old RODEO CLOWN in his 87th year can do!
I think I mentioned that was one of my labels in Guatemala by a BYU Agronomy professor and friend, Keith Hoops, because we bypassed the use of alfalfa hay and silage, and rather had our cows on high protein pasture grass 24/7×365 days a year, LAUGHING ALL THE WAY TO THE BANK!
I still love my nickname, RODEO CLOWN, as well as some calling me a MODERN DON QUIJOTE DE LA MANCHA!
I LOVE IT, especially my friend and LDS LEADER, Harold Brown, seriously gave me a nickname calling me a “MODERN AMMON!” That was due to my life-long love affair with the Native Americans–Mayans, Navahos, etc–See: https://www.guatemalanfoundation.org/
NOW INTO THE HIGH UINTA WILDERNESS, still on the NORTH SLOPE.
After the Middle Fork of Blacks Fork, for last week–we come to the next–the EAST FORK OF THE BLACKS FORK which is also FONDLY REMEMBERED. We are here leaving the Mirror Lake Scenic Byway to follow east the North Slope Road.
Following the signs, after about 25 miles you come to the TRAILHEAD. From the Trailhead, you can head in one of three directions. By the way, IF YOU DON’T WANT TO GET LOST…..GET MY BOOK with maps and all the info.
Nearby we see a lively VISION OF NATURE, a Red Squirrel that is lactating
My daughter, Mahana, is heading across the bridge and then will turn left to take the trail that after some steep climbing eventually comes into wide green meadow areas where it is a pleasure to hike….on the way to Bald Lake, or on and on to the Red Castle area.
I must add...IT IS A WONDERFULLY BEAUTIFUL WAY TO GET TO RED CASTLE, as you will see in the next picture or two.
See what I mean? Wonderful hiking as you climb up above timberline.
A COLORFUL HIGH UINTA LICHEN GARDEN!
Here, along the edge of the Uinta’s 2nd BALD MOUNTAIN, Mahana is looking down on Bald Lake full of feisty brook trout.
We will now backtrack to the trailhead and head up the East Fork of the Blacks Fork Trail.
NOW TO THE OTHER HIKE FROM THE TRAILHEAD…..it was to be for me my 2nd backpack to Crater Lake, and was done late in the season so hopefully the snow drift that prevented me from climbing up a chute to get on a saddle for the “PERFECT PICTURE!” It was about September 9th. It would be ONE OF MY MOST REMEMBERED BACKPACKS!
In the first couple of miles you see remnants of the Tie Hackers. About 1.5 miles from the Trailhead the trail divides, the left hand trail going up Little East Fork of Blacks Fork. We will cover that area next….and it will be exciting as it is an area where BIG FOOT has been spotted more than other areas.
Soon you cross the river. What you will find, who knows, so be prepared to wade the stream.
NOW A PROBLEM: Towards the afternoon of my first day a light rain began. I set up my tent to pass the night, and realized I had a problem. I had already had a cancer surgery, and radiation treatment, as well as two Mohs cancer surgeries for skin cancer. Plus in the middle of 2004, my 2nd season of the Project, my right “motorcycle knee” had collapsed and there was an emergency temporary surgery, and I had pain pills prescribed by the doctor for that knee and also my “football ankle” that was beginning to cause a lot of pain. But, I had forgot my pain medications.
I felt like I had to go back and get them and then return to do the backpack. Since it had been raining there were a few drips inside the tent, but midway through the night they stopped. When I felt thirsty and tried to drink some water I found my water bladder was frozen. The drips had stopped because my tent with it’s coating of water was frozen over me like it was an igloo! In the morning I headed for home, got what I needed and returned, but had decided that I didn’t really need a tent–for sure no mosquitos anymore– and could save the weight and use my poncho, and bivouac bag as seen in the next picture.
I made about 10-11 miles that first day of the 2nd attempt and set up my camp protected by some alpine firs as seen above, with 13,219 FT/ Mount Lovenia in the background.
Ahead was my pathway to 12,150 ft. pass I labeled EAST FORK PASS.
Here I was on the Pass, with Mt. Lovenia in the background. The weather again was closing in on me. Those of you who are sharp will notice the vegetation was green, so this picture was taken early in the season on a previous exploration. In September all would be golden-tan with winter coming on as you’ll see in the following pictures.
Do you remember from my posts who named this mountain and why? Yes, it was famous pioneer artist, photographer, naturalist and explorer, GEORGE BEARD, who named it after his beloved wife.
It was from up here where I got this photograph of THE SPINE OF THE UINTAS seen from here like no where else.
Below I’ll insert a set of three photos of this magnificent scene at different seasons of the Uinta’s short season.
From East Fork Pass you actually go down towards Red Knob Pass, about 11,700 ft. in elevation. We see here the very most upper reaches of the Lake Fork Drainage on the South Slope.
This is the view from Red Knob Pass looking towards the Deadhorse Lake area.
And here we are looking towards my destination, Explorer Peak, with a sliver of Crater Lake seen in the glacial cirque at its foot. At the pass I put on my rain pants, parka, and poncho, and from here to the foot of Explorer Peak, I was constantly rained, and snowed on.
I set up my camp in the protection of some trees, as by then I was feeling sick….like the flu. I had a slight fever, and had the additional complication of a molar that was aching on my only good side, as the other side also had a dental problem. I couldn’t chew anything. My jerky was cut up in small pieces and put to soak as was everything I had to eat and swallow whole. I of course was prepared with pain medications, and with a complete emergency anti-biotic treatment that I immediately started taking–doubling the first dose to give it a good start.
The thought of getting up to Crater Lake had disappeared from my mind. I had to focus on getting well enough to get out of there and survive. As I rested for two days to give the antibiotic time to begin taking effect, I listened to the news on my small radio, and was hearing that snow was on it’s way. For sure I had to get out of there in two days.
I had a satellite phone, with an extra battery, but as I tried to use it, I couldn’t get a signal as I was right up against the mountain. I used up an entire battery trying, and then stopped trying to have enough battery left to get a call out once I was on my way away from the mountain. In my weakened state my big challenge was to climb Red Knob Pass, then keep going up to East Fork Pass, before dropping down.
Interestingly I had with me a READERS DIGEST with Reese Witherspoon’s beautiful smile along with a title: LAUGH MORE, LIVE LONGER! So I decided to record on my little recorder all the jokes and funny stories, and as I tackled the challenge of climbing over that big mountain, I would listen to all the jokes and funny stories and LAUGH MY WAY OVER THAT COTTONPICKING MOUNTAIN!
After two complete days of rest I began feeling somewhat better, packed up and was on my way. I knew I had to be careful, hike slowly, carefully and not give the sickness a chance to know it had a GREAT CHANCE OF KNOCKING ME DOWN FOR THE COUNT!
I got about halfway to the mountain and at the last large pines stopped to try the phone. I immediately got my buddy Ted Packard on. He said he would call the Forest Service and get the weather report for my area, and get back to me. A little while later he called and told me the Forest Service reported it was going to snow that night and to “STAY PUT AND DON’T MOVE OR YOU’LL DIE!” But, that by morning it would clear some when I could move.
I set up my camp and waited.
There was some sun showing through in the morning, so I moved towards Red Knob Pass, and got out my tiny recorder….
I literally laughed my way to Red Knob pass, but as I approached it, I began feeling sick, weak, a headache, but I had too keep moving up towards East Fork Pass, so I CONTINUED TO TRY MY BEST TO LAUGH MY WAY TO THE PASS...until the weather made my situation a bit desperate!
As moved I took all but my last medications for pain and high blood pressure, and as I approached the pass, a blizzard hit me with winds like I had never experienced in the Uintas.
NOTE: You don’t see any blizzard in the photo…..I couldn’t take a photo in that deathly survival situation–so the photo was photoshopped inserting me, but I couldn’t figure how to photoshop SNOW & THE RAGING WIND!
I felt pain coming up my left arm, and pains and pressure on my chest like it would burst, plus nausea and worsening of the headache, and I got out my satellite phone…..luckily I getting Russ Smith from Skycall Communications on the line. He was about to leave for a commitment somewhere, but afterwards told me he recognized I was in a desperate situation, so not only kept me on the line, but also formed a conference call with the Sherriff from Summit County.
As I was talking I was moving down as I had to get out of that blizzard. The sheriff said something about trailering some horses to the trailhead and coming for me, but I somehow got across that something quicker was needed.
So they got on the line the University of Utah emergency helicopter service, and it was agreed they’d come after me, but I had to get down off of that mountain where they could land, or where I could survive on my own if it came to that. I had to get back to that little clump of alpine firs where I had camped coming in.
But they needed my coordinates, so Russ went to work to help me figure out how to do that with the sat phone, which I finally accomplished, and then the call was cut….
…… As I came down quickly in elevation I began feeling markedly better, and finally I got to my spot. I tried to call, but nothing, but set my phone on a rock turned on ready for a call. In about 30 minutes it rang, and it was the helicopter pilot telling me they were 4 minutes out and to put something bright on the ground so they could locate me. I put my bivouac bag out held down with rocks, and all of a sudden here the helicopter came.
I was waving my hands, but smart enough to not yell as you see people do in the movies. He flew right over me and disappeared. But I was in radio contact, and got them turned around and coming in lower, and they spotted me and landed.
By then I was feeling great, thanked them for coming and just said, “Just take me down to the Trailhead and I’ll drive home!” They didn’t pay any attention, and hooked me up to their machine.
As they were doing so, I said, “Well, at least take me to the LaVell Edwards Stadium in Provo as BYU’s game is about to begin!”
Don’t know what was wrong with them, but they didn’t laugh, shut me up with an oxygen mask, saying the oxygen in my blood was half of what it should have been, my blood pressure was sky high, and my pulse at around 135 even though I’d been resting for half an hour.
They loaded me and my pack in and we were on our way!
Flying over my beautiful High Uintas!
At the University of Utah Hospital they wheeled me in and were all over me, my mirror image seen, if you look carefully in the ceiling thing.
By the next morning all my vitals were fine, and Jesse came to pick me up, then we headed for the Trailhead and I drove my car home.
For sure I had multiple problems, but the one that overall seems to be now glaring, was that my weakness caused by several things had triggered THE SILENT KILLER–HIGH ALTITUDE SICKNESS. When I got higher and higher climbing that mountain, it got worse and worse, and when I came down 1,300 ft. in elevation I felt pretty good, even though my vitals still needed some attention.
If I had to do it all over again, I would have said, “To heck with climbing that cotton picking mountain, I’m hiking down the canyon to Moon Lake and from there have Jesse come and get me, then go for the car.” I could have likely made it fine, and saved the $1,000 the helicopter ride cost me (without my insurance it would have cost $10,000)!
SO GET MY BOOK AND LEARN ABOUT THE SILENT KILLER. I tell in the book the most prominent survival stories of this century, including 8 of my own, and I have been told by several that LIVES HAVE BEEN SAVED BY THE BOOK!
FOR FULL INFORMATION ON THIS & OTHER AREAS, AS WELL AS TOPOGRAPHICAL MAPS WITH ROUTES, DISTANCES & LABELS — get an online copy of this book, some have called THE ENCYCLOPEDIA OF THE UINTA MOUNTAINS, send me $20 (don’t be afraid of sending a $20 bill as we aren’t south of the border) along with your email address, and I will immediately email you the link to download the book with my permission to share once with a friend. Or, send $25 for a thumb drive that will have the book, plus The History of it’s creation as detailed in a speech I gave at the Utah Valley Historical Society; plus my CHECKERED HISTORY & VISION QUEST–0-22 years. Send to:
Cordell Andersen, 444 Elm St., American Fork, Utah 84003
On that 2006 survival backpack, my “FOOTBALL ANKLE “ from a football injury in 1953 started giving me trouble–and actually finally wore out requiring surgery in early 2007 shown on the page I put together.
After returning from the hospital, my kids came in the house finding THIS! They were beginning to panic, but Jesse noticed I was softly snoring and ALIVE. So, they quickly got a camera and shot this WONDERFUL PHOTO!
After months of recovery I all of a sudden was IN DEEP TROUBLE!
This was my first and last ordeal learning about the acute dangers of taking PERCOCET + AMBIEN and feeling WONDERFUL sort of for a time until realizing I had become addicted!
I went COLD TURKEY, suffered the pains of HELL for a week, I don’t think sleeping at all, but finally SURVIVED….AGAIN! — learning my lesson to never let that happen again.