Backpack #2–UINTA RIVER…ATWOOD TRAIL….NEAR CHAIN LAKES & TOUGH ROBERT’S PASS… High Altitude Sickness & HEART PROBLEMS… Almost another “Forest Gump moment”…. No “GIVING IN YET!”

Previous effort to get to Little Andy Lake
Posted August 2nd
Don’t give up on me….but make sure and go through this all the way to the SURPRISE ENDING!……UPDATED 08/03/15
This backpack (#2-2015) was considered “essential” to the High Uintas Wilderness Project.  At the same time it was to be up what some of us consider the “most difficult trail in the High Uintas,”   illogically left for the tail end of the project when I am in my 80th year!

In a sense the overall objective, and final destination of the backpack, was sort of self-centered as it was to get to, photograph and report on a tiny no-name, no-umber lake  I had given my nickname as a youth to. 
 Little Andy Lake is nestled  humbly in the shadow of Utah’s elite mountains–Kings and South Kings Peaks 
 In 2014 my friends on KSL Outdoor Radio  suggested a lake be given my name.  So, just as a humorous exercise I did so, but using my youthful nickname, and purposefully choosing a lake I figured no one would care about or object to.

  This tiny lake in the east shadow of South Kings Peak is unique as it was slightly above 12,000 ft. in elevation, and on Google earth actually looks  large enough and deep enough for the DWR to consider air-dropping a few Cutthroat or Golden trout into.

But, I had to get to it and give it a little publicity….thus…
 Backpack #2-2015: Uinta River to Little Andy Lake.

The backpack begins at the Uinta River Trailhead, 26 miles north of Roosevelt, Utah on the Uinta’s South Slope.

As at all Trailheads surrounding the High Uintas, we are constantly reminded of the FIRST LAW of our Wilderness Areas and I want to DO MY PART…so….
As you will notice in this photo/essay we will here and there reminisce about the past….as it was at this Trailhead where in 1954 me and buddies, Ted Packard and Charlie Petersen, returned to civilization after a 15 day crossing of the then Primitive Area, having backpacked from the Grandview Trailhead and the Grandaddy Basin far to the west.
Here I am again, 61 years later, this time ready to go up that very difficult trail, having worked hard to get my load weight down by leaving home my professional photographic equipment, Colt .45 Defender, and more.  It would be a long 8 day trip, coming to around 50 miles, including climbing two passes–TWICE, and involving thousands of feet of elevation gain.
I signed in the register indicating it would be a 6-7 day effort, but had actually planned for 8 days.
 Above you see my topographical map showing the first 2-3 days.  I knew it would be difficult, but hoped that by beginning with what was do-able–4 miles the 1st  day getting to the bridge that crosses the river and then stopping–no matter how good I felt, or how early it was.  Then counting on being able to increase the 2nd day a mile and doing 5 miles camping at the Krebbs Creek crossing…..actually 1/2 mile short of Chain Lakes.
The 3rd day would be 6 miles to hike by the Chain Lakes and do Roberts Pass, for me the most difficult pass in the Uintas, and be in the Atwood Basin. 

 The 4th day would have me continuing up the trail and climbing Trail Rider Pass, then down to camp on U-75 lake.  

The 5th day would be a day hike up to Little Andy Lake.

Day 6, would be packed up, back to Trail Rider Pass….fish in Beard Lake where in 2003 on my “Expedition” I had hooked what could have been easily the Utah State record Eastern brook trout. Then down to the George Beard Basin, testing the 3 remote lakes, possibly camping there, or down to the Atwood area.  Day 7 would be to test the waters of the two lakes where Golden trout have been planted–Atwood and Mt. Emmons Lakes, then climb up and check exotic Roberts Lake, and down testing others in the area.  Day 8 would be a tough one, going all the way to the Trailhead.

The hope was that each day I would get a little stronger….being able to…
……. “pick up the pace, lengthen my stride, and stretch out the distances.”

So, let’s do it!
The road from the Trailhead was closed to cars, but for a mile or so was actually our trail.

For many years the road was open to here, called SMOKEY SPRINGS, and the U-Bar Ranch.
Years ago it was the U-BAR DUDE RANCH, then it became the U-BAR WILDERNESS RANCH.

I believe it was in 2006 that what they call “a mud slide” came down from the east and cut through the U-Bar Ranch.
I don’t believe it ruined any buildings, but it did cut through the middle of the ranch, and the Forest Service closed the enterprise.  I understand that the owner wanted to continue but it wasn’t permitted and he eventually was paid for the property….and since it has turned into a sort of  depressing 
“ghost town!”
In 2003 I came down this same trail at the end of my 27 day “expedition” and found the incredible luxury and comfort of the Wilderness Ranch…actually staying for a night in the cabin the back of which we see above from the trail.
This was the Lodge in 2003….where I knocked on the door and met Jann and Ed Baltz, the owner

This is the lodge today, windows broken and everything boarded up–but plywood closing doors ripped open and everything in ruins!  
Here we meet Jann, who ran the lodge and kitchen,  and Ed Baltz, the owner.  They  treated me like a king!

Can you imagine how a tuna fish sandwich, green jello salad and ice cold soda pop tasted after being in the wilderness for weeks?

The incredible re-introduction to civilization continued with a toilet and a hot shower!
I was even able to wash my terribly dirty and stinky clothes and dry them while I was getting my shower.  Oooh…. how good it felt to 
get into clean clothes and then retreat to my 
When 67 years old I had started that “expedition” from the Highline Trailhead near Mirror Lake with 83 lbs. on my back and around my waist.  I had prepared for it over years  walking 3-4 miles 2-3 times a week on the hilly terrain of my farm in Guatemala carrying a 100 pound bag of fertilizer on my back… was able to do it, but it wasn’t easy….but  what a breeze coming down the Atwood/Uinta River Trail with 37 lbs. of food GONE….and the impact of getting to civilization was so wonderful!
I guess I don’t have to say anything astonishing or elocuent to describe how this felt….you can imagine!

Ed and his wrangler, Bill, loading up the pack horses to take gear up into the high country for clients.

Of course this service now doesn’t exist here on the Uinta River.

Bill heading up the river trail.  
Ed, retreats to one of his cabins for a short snooze!

This is the “ghost” of my RAINBOW CABIN!
And, of others…..SAD!  Seems like it would have been best for this to continue…but what do I know?

Now up the trail……

…….hiking through lodgepole pines that…, on the North Slope, would be
NOTE:  If you don’t know what “tie hackers” are, go to the Tie Hacker page on my website and learn about these
“unsung heroes….without whom the West…might not have been won!”

Along the trail we find in abundance this plant which I saw for the first time up Main Fork that comes out of the Hell Hole Basin….on an exploration related to the tie hackers….Search for the Howe Feeder Flume.

Here we see it in further stages of development….with its flower. I’ll go to work identifying it soon, along with the next flower shown.  Total varieties now photographed–from foothills to Kings Peak  coming to 318 varieties.

We are hiking up the canyon along the UINTA RIVER….a hike for the 1st day that will be 4 miles.

Another of the literally thousands of varieties of mushrooms in  the Rocky Mountain area…..that eventually will be identified along with the flowers.
Above we see the first photo of this variety #317 found up the Brown Duck Basin Trail, with a shot showing a little more detail below, found along the Uinta River.

…..and always more mushrooms, some quite colorful and unique.

We have now come 4 miles from the trailhead and in just a moment will cross the river, and look for a camping spot.
We  will take the trail to the Atwood Basin.  
The trail to the Highline Trail will eventually fork one veering to the northeast to find the Highline Trail that will leave the Uinta River Drainage as it goes over Divide Pass to the North Slope, and others climbing Fox-Queant Pass, and another to North Pole Pass, both leading to the Whiterocks Drainage.

The other fork of the Uinta River Trail takes one to North Park and forks again, one going north to the Highline Trail, and another to the west and Painter Basin, forking again to Kings Peak, another to Gunsight Pass and the Henry’s Fork Drainage.  Another fork in Painter Basin takes one to where we are heading….Trail Rider Pass.
We will now cross the Uinta River on the bridge, and then…..the fun begins…15+ switchbacks up the mountain!

From the middle of the bridge we look downstream….miles and miles of a stream that sees few fishermen.

And, we turn around and look upstream where even fewer fishermen have ever cast a line…

Eventually the Uinta River, as well as most of the streams that come out of the mountains, are squeezed into narrow ravines that you would have to rope down into…..but a few years ago–in fact, more than 50 years ago, where the Atwood Creek joins the river,  you see above, I was able to get down to the river and caught the beautiful trout you see below…
Golden trout were planted in several lakes in the Atwood area clear back then, and the record Golden trout for Utah was taken from the upper Atwood Creek (14 oz.,  14-5″ long in 1977)… I have always imagined that this trout was a hybrid, with the slash under its jaw denoting it as a native cutthroat trout, but the coloration seems unique, as though crossed with a golden trout–at least it sure looks “golden” to me.

On this backpack I was hoping to test the waters of the two lakes recently planted with Golden trout (2012-2014).

Now, acrossed the bridge, I would look for a camping spot….noting below–happily… that a wise hiker  abandoned his trekking poles!  As I have explained several times in my writings, I have better things to do with my hands  than be encumbered by poles–but again, that’s just me.

1st camp.…Gravity Works Water purifying system doing the work of providing me with safe water while setting up the tent, and getting all my recovery supplements ready, along with dinner…and then be able to rest, write a little  and read a good book.
NOTE:  Notice that icky looking green liquid?  It’s my “double dose electrolyte replacer,”  the first thing I take to “recover.” 
Now, DAY TWO…..up the trail, and I really mean UP.  I started counting the switchbacks, got to 15 and then got a little confused and lost count!
The red dotted line is the trail going up, the black the trail going down.  But the important thng is that in the distance covered by the portion going 2/3rd of the way across the map only shows like 5 switchbacks, when the reality is that there were more than 15 major switchbacks.  The approximate 5 miles measured on the map for the 2nd day, most likely was from 7-8 miles when considering the switchbacks.  This will be important in just a moment.
In the movie JEREMIAH JOHNSON with Robert Redford,  as a mountain man, he  met another who had been there for years, and asked, “Do you ever get lonely?”  
He replied, “Lonely for what?”

Well, in my case I don’t get lonely for long as I meet wonderful people on the trail, like:
BRETT YOUNG, his family and crew
They were on their 5th day having come from the Henry’s Fork Trailhead on the North Slope.  They came over Gun Sight Pass, then Anderson Pass,  climbing Kings Peak, and then over Trail Rider Pass and were coming down from Lake Atwood, over tough Roberts Pass, and on their way down to the Uinta River Trailhead–50 miles in 5 days!  
WOW!  What a pleasure it was to meet them.
They started wondering what this old guy was doing on that trail heading into rough country, and asked how old I was.  I had them guess and they all agreed on 65!  What a bunch of great, smart people….but I had to tell the truth  that I was in my 80th year.  
Brett jotted down his email, and their names, and I didn’t notice until that night his note, that said:

“It was a pleasure meeting you! Have a great trip.  You inspire all of us!”  Brett Young

Hey, Brett, after reading this, you might want to reconsider, and void publicly your words.  So Let me know and I’ll faithfully post here  whatever you might say of how my trip worked out.

By the way….when meeting them, I was maybe halfway through my day and I was still feeling exceptionally strong and enthusiastic.

Soon I passed the Wilderness boundary, with most of the switchbacks behind me, but a still very tough trail going up the mountain.
Once in a while the trail came together  and even coincides for short distances with an old bulldozer road….when bringing machinery somehow into this steep, rocky country to build up dams that would increase the capacity of the lakes…hopefully to give them more water down in the Uintah Basin later in the season.

Usually it was so extremely rocky that it was impossible to conceive how they did it….at  least it was an ever increasing challenge for me!

I met many on horseback, most with pack animals to stay several nights in the mountains.

I saw at least three horse-shoes on the trail–two recent, likely that same day.   Frequently I saw drops of blood on rocks from injured horses.  
More than once I saw these very temporary efforts to protect horses hooves with duct tape, and I caught up with the previous horses as he had to frequently stop  to re-do his job with tape, and then walk leading the horse.
As the afternoon drug on I began getting very tired and it seemed like the trail would never end!  Logic told me that I had easily hiked more than the 5 miles that should have got me to the crossing of Krebbs Creek and even 500 feet more in elevation gain up to the 1st Chain Lake. 

 I became convinced that taking into consideration all the switchbacks not on the map, I had likely done at least 7-8 miles–at least I had been hiking 8 hours and even at my “stalking pace”  with rest stops  have always averaged 1 mile an hour.   Besides it was getting late and I had to get into my evening recovery routine.  Luckily the weather was perfect.
Between the creek, the trail, and the steep mountain there was just no place I could find a good place to set up camp 200 feet from trail, and  stream.  I finally  came to the trail crossing Brett told me had given them some trouble.  I didn’t tackle it, as I had decided to not do the steep 1/2 mile up to the Chain Lakes.  I moved upstream  at least 300 feet from the trail crossing, but had no choice but to set up camp right along the creek.  By then fatigue very literally had me feeling sick–like the flu was coming on.  It was an emergency stop.

NOTE:  Some of you might recall that last week there was a helicopter rescue east of Salt Lake.  A young fellow overdid and couldn’t go on, saying he felt like he was getting “sick with the flu!”
That happens to many marathoner and triathalon competitors  (etc.) when they are fatigued weakening their immune system.  That is exactly what happens to me after a tough day.
5 gms. of Glutamine is one supplement that will help solve that problem as I have explained in other writings, along with 5 gms. of Calcium/Magnesium (Fizz) that studies have shown is what marathoners (and I believe, backpackers) lose most.
While my water was being purified (by gravity) I set up the tent, sorted through my stuff to get the emergency items I needed for recovery, 
1st, putting my dinner to soak so it wouldn’t require much cooking,  including an instant chocolate pudding+dydrated egg, 
2nd my ENDUROX recovery drink,  with 5 additional gms.of  Glutamine, 
3rd  my  Electrolyte drink, with 5 gms. of Calcium/Magnesium….. 
4th  another dose of Calcium/Magnesium for going to sleep
Last   Eggnog, when not feeling well is always welcome. 
NOTE:  For item 2, I didn’t have my ENDUROX, rather another product that just didn’t do the job.  I will go back to ENDUROX next time.  On my “expedition” I took 5 lbs. of ENDUROX.

With enough purified water for evening and the next morning I added the right amount to each container and drank the 2nd and 3rd, along with Wellness Formula capsules, and Defense Plus tablet–both taken when one feels “out of balance,” to be repeated the next morning.  Both of them have become part of my “recovery program.”  Those are links to acquire said products.

NOTE:  To understand all of this you should check out the “survival” portion  of my Backpack #1-2015 GRANDADDY LOOP photo/essay, as well as reading my paper on THE ANTI-AGING CHALLENGE, links on my Home Page.
I cooked my dinner, but wasn’t hungry enough to eat it yet.  I violated a rule by taking the dinner into my tent, along with those things I would take on trying to sleep.  I hung the rest of food items in a tree and got away from the mosquitoes by getting in my tent and did what I had wanted to do for quite a while–LAY DOWN TO REST.

I got my maps out and began analyzing my situation and coming to certain conclusions:
1.  My hope from the first day of being able to “Pick up my pace, lengthen my stride, and stretch out the distances,” wasn’t working and would get even more difficult on the 3rd and 4th days as I would be increasing altitude another 1,000 ft. on each of those days, plus tackling even harder climbs like Robert’s Pass, and then Trail Rider Pass.

2.  To be realistic at my age I had to be able to every other day have a rest/recovery day and acclimatizing to higher altitudes, adding on at least 3 days to my effort that would stretch it out to 10-11 days, rather than 8.  I didn’t have enough stuff to stretch it out that much.

3.  As I was contemplating how it could be done,  I had to consider that by stretching it out, and climbing several thousand more feet in altitude  to stubbornly persist,  I was  getting farther from civilization, and it could get much more dicey!  Especially considering that in recent years increased altitude has given me growing problems–and maybe was more responsible for much of what I was experiencing than imagined.   Even a couple of years ago the greatest backpacker I have ever known personally, Charlie Petersen, who had never had a hint of problem almost died of high altitude sickness in the Garfield Basin.

4.  While thinking about all these things I laid down on my hard pillow (quilt stuff sack filled with extra clothing), I began sensing through my ear how my heart was functioning.  It was fast, even though I had been resting for some time, but SHOCKINGLY,  for the FIRST TIME IN 5-6 YEARS,  IT’S BEAT WAS ERRATIC AND IRREGULAR!
In an effort to eliminate 1 more pound of weight, I hadn’t brought with this time my blood pressure cuff you see below, but insert the picture to represent what I could hear and sense laying on my ear.  
5.  With that potential problem, that could  become lethal, coupled with all the other negatives, I decided I couldn’t risk going deeper into the Wilderness and possibly creating huge problems for me and my loved ones.  

6.  I decided to rather focus on getting well applying my MARGO LAKE FORMULA  that night and the next morning and then be able to “PICK UP MY BED AND HIKE DOWN THE TRAIL!”

 I was using my SPOT Personal Satellite Tracker every day so my select group of 10, plus anybody else interested could could get the link from my website and see exactly where I was every day.
They were getting everyday my “OK” signal, message, and 
location on Google Earth,  and
I always had it handy in case of a dire emergency so I could  hit the “911”  button to trigger Search and Rescue to come after me.

NOTE:  Eric Robinson, the 65 year old Australian,  who alone was doing the Highline Trail a few years ago, disappeared and has still never been found.  He had a personal satellite tracker too, but NEVER USED IT!  
 I also had a SATELLITE PHONE to use reporting in to KSL Outdoors Radio every Saturday morning, and for use in case of an emergency….be it my emergency, or an emergency I have to be advised of by the family.


In my opinion:
 Both can be rented from Russ Smith at 
So, that is what I did–“Pack up my stuff and get ready to hike down the trail”…..but before finishing the story, let’s …….

I did the Chain lakes you see above the first time in September 1954 with Ted and Charlie–of course coming down.
Can’t remember which one, but walking a crossed what looked like a sandy beach on the inlet side it moved up and down like we were walking on a bowl of jello.  All of a sudden Ted started sinking in and we got pretty worried….until……
…….we noticed he had stopped sinking so we stopped our rescue effort….and rather started taking pictures, including Charlie’s movie in which you can see Ted upset and throwing mud at us.  He finally sort of crawled out…..and so is still with us and is….
“the 2nd gteatest backpacker I have ever known!”

Here we see the chain lakes as I was coming down the trail on my 2003 “expedition.”  
 I came down this trail again in 2005 when early that year I was the first one up the Uinta River Trail continuing north from the bridge and went through an area that had been hit by a micro-burst wind storm that mowed down the lodgepole pines about 6 feet off the ground and made that hike through downed timber to North Park one of the hardest of my life… fact so hard I didn’t want to go back the same way, rather circled around through the Painter Basin, caught a 21 inch long brookie out of U-75 lake, you’ll see in a moment, then up over Trail Rider Pass and down this trail to civilization.

From the Chain Lakes we climb into this map in the lower right corner by sweating our way up and over very tough Robert’s Pass.

Above we see Robert’s Pass on the Chain Lakes side.  It is made up of boulders that has always had me marvel at a horse or mule being able to navigate it.

The pass is only 11,120 ft. high, so it isn’t for me the toughest for it’s elevation, rather because of it’s steep roughness and unforgiving boulders–which, as all of creation,  has a beauty all of its own.
In fact this is one pass where on my four trips I have always seen blood spots on the rocks from horses and mules.
That leads us to the Atwood Basin and Lake Atwood we see below.  This was another of the High Uinta Lakes on the South Slope where a bulldozer was somehow moved into the area many years ago to increase its capacity by building a dam, with head-gate drainage system.  That is what is being rebuilt right now in 2015.

Lake Atwood, along with Mt. Emmons Lake (on some maps called Allen Lake) had Golden trout in the past and in 2012-2014 have had more Golden trout planted in each lake.  

As you can see below, Lake Atwood also has Arctic Grayling, and back in 1962 when Ted and me took a large group of Explorer Scouts  through the area, we lucked into a bunch of huge grayling that we began catching on spinning lures, as you can see in the following photograph of Ted with what would be a record grayling….if a qualified scale had been available.
The film, with which the above, and one below of me with a similar grayling was taken,  was ruined when the camera fell into one of the Chain Lakes.  What you see here is what we salvaged, with the one of Ted enhanced some by  SNELSON Photo Studio in Springville, Utah.
Including this trip with the Explorers, I have come down this trail now 4 times, but never came up until this attempt in 2015.

This was my camp on the 2003 “Expedition,”   near the western, or upper end of  Lake Atwood where I got the picture you see below of the “Moss Garden with Monkey Flowers,” which I have treasured as the most beautiful picture from that epic adventure.

We are now climbing up from Lake Atwood towards the George Beard Basin, and Trail Rider Pass.  You can see the shoreline that shows a fluctuation in the lake’s level as more water is taken from the lake in late summer.  As you see it is one of the larger High Uinta lakes found right at 11,000 feet with the timber soon disappearing as you climb up the mountain.
We are now seeing the Atwood Basin, way down on the left,  and the George Beard Basin stretching across the middle of the photograph, with some labels on the picture below.

The George Beard Lake, and Basin (I have named) honoring  the pioneer artist/photographer from Coalville, Utah who, along with his wife, Sarah Lovenia, I introduced to all in my documentaries on THE GRANDADDDIES, he having named the Uinta’s largest lake, Grandaddy Lake, as well as Mt. Lovenia after his beloved wife who accompanied him many times on horseback trips into the Uintas.  His collection can be seen at the Harold B. Lee Library at Brigham Young University.

Above you see me with a sassy wild eastern brook trout caught out of George Beard Lake.  It was at this lake I had the fastest fishing of my expedition, catching and releasing 15 brookies on 20 casts, in about 30 minutes or less. If I stayed for a while, it could have been hundreds caught and released, but on my trips I have to quickly test each lake and then move on.
We have now climbed 11,760 ft. high Trail Rider Pass.  Just a short distance down on the northwestern side of the pass, we find Beard Lake you see below.

Not very attractive you could say, with it’s rocky shoreline totally devoid of plant life as we are way above timber line, but on my expedition the fishing proved to be epic when a huge brook trout grabbed my lure and the fight was on.  Eventually he (or she) tired and I snapped the photograph below to make sure I got something.  I didn’t want to injure him intending to turn him loose after a photo shoot.  
So I let him swim around while I was getting my tripod out to set up my camera for some shots of me quickly hoisting him out of the water……but then he was GONE!
I of course have speculated that he had to be easily more than 24 inches long…perhaps as long as 30″…so let’s say  28 inches long and easily a Utah State record and winner of the FIELD & STREAM fishing contest that year–beating out Ontario, Canada that usually wins for brook trout.  The Utah State record brook trout weighed 7 lbs. 8 oz. caught in 1971 in the Boulder Mts.
Now we are looking north from Trail Rider Pass.  My hike was to take me down to camp on U-75 lake where there a few stunted alpine firs, above which is “Little Andy Lake.”  We are also seeing here in  this windswept region a fairly rare flower, 
we’ll get a closer look at below as it is being punished by a strong wind.

At U-75 we have a fine view of Utah’s 5th highest peak, 13,387 ft.  It was a no-name mountain, so I have named it in honor of he who for me was the greatest of the explorers and mountain men of the West, Jedediah Smith.  He only lived until 28 when killed by Indians but he lived life to its fullest as one of the greatest for a lot of reasons I’ll write about in what I will soon begin putting together, but he was unique:  Always carrying the BIBLE and reading some each day, no swearing, no smoking or drinking, and no “consorting with loose women!”    
The Smith Fork (of the Green River) on the Unta’s North Slope is named after Jedediah, who along with his team trapped beaver in that area and was part of the first mountain man rendezvous held on the Uinta’s Henry’s Fork River in 1825.

From U-75 on my expedition I landed this very heavy bodied  17″ brookie after a furious fight as he rocketed up from his hiding place among big boulders just as I was about to lift my Thomas Cyclone out of the water, and hit it big mouthed black-bass style and about jerked my rod and me into the lake.
Two years later in 2005 after my micro-burst wind storm struggle, I camped here and fished again  catching  another brookie.  
This one 21″ long you see above, but old, masticated, worn out and ready for the grave, so a new cycle of great brook trout could begin in this tiny little lake.  

My plan was to camp on this lake, and the next day make a day hike up to “Little Andy Lake,” get some photos and then begin a little campaign to see if I could twist the DWR arm to air-drop a few Golden trout into the lake…….SOMEHOW IT STILL HAS TO BE DONE!

It looks about as big as U-75 with a most of it fairly deep… maybe there’s a chance!  
It is about 500 feet higher than U-75 and I don’t know of any lakes that high with fish in the Uintas….but we’ll see.

For a few parting grandiose views we’re now on the very top of Utah’s World–on 13,528 ft. high KINGS PEAK, with a great, but cloudy view to the southeast.  Little Andy Lake is not in sight, it being sort of over the edge to my right.

Now we are looking east across the Upper Uinta River Drainage  with a storm already swirling  around us!   I decided I’d better get out of there….QUICK!

So, back to the camp at Krebbs Creek, the tent having dried and is ready to be packed up along with my 
“bed that I have to pick up and throw on my back and with it hike out of there.”  

I’ve asked the Lord for help, and asked Him to help me remember the stuff that will help me overcome the “flu-like symptons,” and fuel me with the energy and strength to get down the trail….hopefully do the whole 10-12 miles to the Trailhead.

So down we go…..of course at a pace that beats easily my usual “stalking” speed, but still slow enough to notice and enjoy the VISIONS OF NATURE along the way.

We get a quick last glance down at Krebbs Creek as it takes off on its own course farther and farther  away from the trail and human eyes….where there is mile after mile of native and brook trout that have never seen a lure, or an artificial fly!

I was feeling great again….as happened at Margo Lake and Pass, and down to Pine Island Lake and well beyond what I had thought possible–then, and now…..but I did stop to rest a time or two as I couldn’t resist another couple of shots of the magnificent Monkey Flower.

Now on to the switchbacks…..

….meeting another grandpa leading a horse with his grandson….

..followed by his son giving his horse a breather.

By 3:00 I crossed the Uinta River and was into the final 4 miles.

And for the final mile or so I met Rodrigo coming down from his day hike up to the Wilderness boundary sign….and we hiked and talked about the mountains, about our families, and even got into me having lived in Guatemala for 35 years working among the Mayans….who we are still helping…..and…… 
……wouldn’t you know it….that conversation even revealed he has a son from Guatemala!  So I added to the HIGH UINTAS WILDERNESS PROJECT business card he already had, my GUATEMALAN FOUNDATION card…giving us plenty to talk about and making it painlessly to the trailhead!  

We’ll….after a warm shower in my tiny trailer, and relaxing….as usual  with “Wilson” ….in the luxury of my 7’x11′ mansion…….

“I’m tired….. I think I’ll go home now!”


So, on August 4th….with all my affairs in order…..I plan on leaving for Mt. View, Wyoming where I’ll swing south to the HENRYS FORK TRAILHEAD…and get ready to head to 
through the “backdoor” and maybe…just maybe…since,
….knock off a couple of three or four items from my “Bucket List!” 

Go back to the mountainscape of Utah’s elite mountains….you see there on the right Gunsight Pass...that’s what I’ll be coming over, after a gradual elevation gain hike up a nice trail…. to get into this area and realize the 
“impossible dream!” 
UPDATE August 3, 2015
I learned today that I won’t be able to have “all my affairs in order” to be able to leave for the Henry’s Fork Trailhead on August 4th…..also that by putting the “impossible dream” effort off until the last week in August I will be blessed by having with me my buddy Ted Packard and maybe his son, Mike. 

During this rest period I will do my darndest to NOT “rest” as that would have me losing all the conditioning I’ve achieved this summer, so if you see an old guy walking around American Fork…like what you see below….DON’T PANIC!

Rest assured that he’s  not a terrorist with an explosive vest on with an orange wire to a detonator,
 rather an old crazy DON QUIJOTE
trying to keep in shape with a 40 lb. weighted vest on, who in between his workouts will be doing  research and writing, as well as being in person on KSL OUTDOORS RADIO….with an invitation to do so in a week or two….I’ll advise all  details on this and when the Backpack to Little Andy Lake will be accomplished…

Survival Issues related to the Salt Lake Tribune article and SPOT Demo


Going alone seems to be an issue with some–and it should be.  I don’t advise it with anyone, unless they can meet my criteria which I explain in the next few paragraphs.  Links to get more detail are highlighted.
In the ARTICLES section of my website I have a category called  Survival articles,  in which I explain the important precautions I take  every time I go on a trip.  Check out the 7 experiences and be prepared to LIVE. 

 Even if you understand all those experiences and the principles involved, I’ll have to admit that it still isn’t a good idea to go alone–but, if you must because of being stubborn, or sort of dense–I guess like me, be aware of the precautions I take, and do the same or better.

First, I let family and friends know exactly where I’m going and leave with them copies of the topographical route maps and my daily schedule (click on that link and check out 3 photo views  to see what I mean).  In recent years this is outlined on my website on the Schedule page, with links for each trip to the topographical route maps.  Click on those links to see what I’m talking about.

Second, I was a Medical Corpsman in the Army and then upgraded to Medical Specialist.  I then lived for 37 years in the backcountry of Guatemala where I performed thousands of emergency treatments each year, even minor surgery,  so with that training, background and experience, plus knowledge of my body, I go prepared for nearly any possible emergency.  Once again my survival and Lightweight Backpacking articles mention the essentials, including the right kind of clothes, rain gear, and attitude, including faith.

Third, as mentioned I always have a satellite phone which I encourage every group to have, and anyone who goes alone.  Until the emergency mentioned in the Tribune article it had only been used twice for emergencies in nearly 5 years.  Those were when I loaned it to Scout groups with  serious problems.  

Any time I make an important deviation from my schedule I call and advise.  On my 27 day expedition I called the family every night at a designated time.  At that time in 2003 there didn’t exist yet the SPOT Tracker, mentioned next.  Remember you can rent a sat phone and SPOT Tracker from Russ Smith at Skycall Satillite.

Fourth, I always have with me my SPOT Personal Satellite Tracker.  Before leaving I program it on my computer for the  trip I’m taking, including an OK message to email daily to 10 on my list.  With that email they can click on the link and go to Google Earth and see exactly where I started and where I’m camped each evening.  I also leave what they call a “bread crumb trail” that can be accessed from the SPOT website using the link I put on my website, available to all  for each trip and emailed also to all my High Uinta Friends. 

  NOTE:  So you can see what I mean I’ll program the SPOT Tracker now that you can access by clicking on this LINK   Note:  The link was only good as I describe next for 7 days. For this demonstration it took you to my home in Springville and area with a breadcrumb trail. That is what you saw if you clicked during the first week. What shows now is when  I went on the deer hunt and  used the SPOT where I camped that night. So you can see what I mean  I’ll insert below a photo of my SPOT tracks from my last trip to Jackson Park and Crow Basin.   NOTE:  In doing this demonstration I found that the SPOT Tracker will work through the glass of your windshield .  

The SPOT is also programmed with a Help message to be sent to 4 special friends with  special info like health issues, etc. With that message the 4 friends would have to take action, and they would know exactly where I was.  Then of course there is the 911 button that triggers Search and Rescue showing them exactly where to go.  

Get a SPOT Tracker cheaper than anywhere,  and earn a commission for the High Uintas Project.

Last of all, as shown in my last YouTube Video (#7), and in the photo above,  if I leave my pack I always clip the SPOT Tracker to my belt so it can be easily accessed in case of emergency. That survival story is told in more detail in  the photo/essay of that name. 

The pessimist, or fearful, might say that even having all the emergency gadgets you might be in trouble having a heart attack, slipping and hitting your head on a rock, falling into a ravine or whatever, and not be able to use your SPOT Tracker.  Of course all those things, or equivalents, could happen to you every time you leave your home, or even in your home.  Having and using a SPOT Tracker every day in the wilderness will at least show where you were yesterday, if not heard from today, and that combined with a trip plan of where you were to head next will make the search relatively easy.

 From this season I also had another survival YouTube video that is Video #4: Survival at Swasey Hole that one viewer called “genius.”   I’m not sure why……. guess I’ll have to look at it again.

This discussion isn’t over without mentioning Eric Robinson, the 64 year old Australian lost in the Uintas and never found this past season (2011).  He had a Personal Locator Beacon but never used it.   It obviously worked out being a mistake for him to go alone ( in my opinion, UNPREPARED), so of great importance it’s worth repeating  that he apparently didn’t take any of the precautions I take.   I use my SPOT tracker several times each day–at least assuring those interested where I was yesterday giving them a good starting point and hopefully avoiding waiting 7 years to get the insurance money!

 Just follow the simple rules and have a wonderful time in the great outdoors–and make the wait for those at home relaxing, worry free  and fun knowing each day you’re still in the game and you’ll be home soon.

 COMMENTS including a bit of CONTROVERSY
From the Salt Lake Tribune article

1,000 MILE BACKPACK IN THE UINTAS, then Trip #7-2011 Jackson Park/Crow Basin: SAW IT! SURVIVED IT! WHAT NEXT?

Note: For the present view in VIMEO.   I will soon attempt to convert this into a YouTube video

This show represents a bit over 1,000 miles of backpacking in 4 summers–from 2003 to 2006. Some of those miles entail trips to certain areas several times in the constant quest of that “perfect photograph,” or catching the “record breaking fish.” The Highline Trail was actually hiked twice in the 1,000 miles, the second time to have the experience of doing it with pack goats on invitation from Clay Zimmerman ( On that trip, my adopted daughter from Guatemala, Mahana, became the first Guatemalan we know of to traverse the Wilderness.

In the spontaneous narration there are a couple of mistakes, like once saying “crossroad,” rather than “crosstrail;” saying “Amethyst Creek,” rather than “Ostler Creek,” “Lost Lake,” rather than “Shadow Lake,” and the big one, stating King’s Peak in one place as being 15,528 ft. high rather than 13,528 ft. There might be a few more, but also the coordination between narration, and photographs is sometimes off a second or two. Soon I will redo the program and hope for better luck. In the meantime, enjoy the beautiful High Uintas Wilderness like maybe you’ve never seen before.

then Trip #7-2011 Jackson Park/Crow Basin: SAW IT! SURVIVED IT! WHAT …

Url preview: › trip-7-2011-jackson-parkcrow-basin-saw-it-survived-it-what-next


 Also included down towards the end is the “Forest Gump moment.” 

NOTE:  A portion of the following eventually seems to become a clown act which I share knowing that there are elements of it that will save someone’s life.

Wednesday, August 17th, I headed for the Uintah Basin and the jeep road/trail leading to Jackson Park from where I would attempt to get to the off-trail and remote Crow Basin in the Dry Gulch Drainage.  A YouTube video of the trip is available at:   YouTube video   

This post will be a slide show with a more complete photographic record and links to all related equipment and other important items.  I promise you that from these links you will be able to get the best equipment at great savings–while earning for the Project a small commission.  
 For more details on the best equipment and supplements to to my other sections.
NOTE:  Remember to see full screen/high resolution any image, just click on it.
From Springville, or Wasatch front, go to Heber and on to the Uintah Basin
This was a pretty intriguing area that I had to try and get to.
The Duchesne Ranger Station is a worthwhile stop to get up-to-date info, topographical maps, and more. It is 100 miles from Springville, and similar from SLC.
Shiella, seen here, or Lori will give you the kind of friendly service that will get your trip off to a good start.
A block down from the Ranger Station you turn left (north), cross the river and you’re on your way.
The High Uintas have been called an “alpine island” in  “Sagebrush Country.”   Here we see sagebrush in the background and golden yellow Gray Rabbit Brush in the foreground.
At Mt. Home the Rock Creek Store–Bed and Breakfast is worth a stop to get what you forgot.
Stacie will be happy to help you with what you might need.
By the way, the place is FOR SALE, so here’s your chance to live at a choice Gateway to the High Uintas.
From there you continue up the paved road until you come to this sign, and turn right, or east. 24 miles from Duchesne.
In a couple of hundred yards you cross the Lake Fork River that comes through Moon Lake.
In about 8 miles you cross Yellowstone Creek–seen below  on August 17th.
Below is Yellowstone Creek in early July taken from exactly the same spot as above.
A bit past the Yellowstone Creek bridge you come to the Dry Gulch sign and turn east.  This is 8 miles from the pavement.
We are heading for the Dry Gulch Drainage, the smallest in the High Uintas.  Continue east 5 miles to Jeep Road 120.
Here turn north and drive carefully riding the high center.
With my small SUV I continued about 2.2 lmiles

keep your eyes open and enjoy our beautiful outdoors.


Then it got a bit too tough for my Olds Bravada.   With a big pickup you can carefully get through this bad section and continue another 3 miles.

As I parked to prepare to hoof it, a 4×4 pickup came down.  I approached the two fellows to say hello. They spoke with a heavy accent and were not backpackers, hunters, fishermen, nor ranchers checking on their cattle.   In recent years many marijuana farms have been found in remote areas of Utah, and I suspect that these guys were scouting the area looking for some good locations for such activity like you see below.

So, Forest Service, be alert, and if any of us see something suspicious we should report it to authorities.  

I was to go “lightweight” like never before.


My 13 lbs. of photographic equipment, and 2 lbs. of Colt Defender remained at home.

My tiny waterproof Pentax Optio W-1 would do the photographic chores.

All the photographs in this slide show were taken with this camera.

My “basic pack,”  pack, sleeping quilt, pad, tent and poncho came to 7 lbs.

For rain-gear I used this inexpensive and lightweight set–about half the weight of my usual rain parka and waterproof pants.

Many of you know of the incredible problems I have had with my feet and ankles (“football ankle”), and also what for years was my “motorcycle knee.”   In 1994 I was advised by a specialist to “forget backpacking and running in half-marathons,”  but I was stubborn and found a way to even do more–much more!   To see a summary of this history and the solutions I found go to:  WHERE DO I GET MY ENERGY?

Eventually I was able to reduce the inserts and go to a very lightweight boot that gave me the ankle support I still needed for a couple of years.  Then it got much better.

For the last two years I was able to go to a waterproof  Salomon low cut lightweight boot you see here on the left.  For this trip I went with my waterproof  Salomon Mountain Running Shoes.   This saved me 5 oz. per foot of weight which you might say is not much, but in a half marathon you would be lifting 812 lbs. less weight!

So I was ready to go with my Salomon Trail Running shoes that worked wonderfully on this trip.

Of course I use the best quality socks, always with CoolMesh WrightSocks, that prevent blisters, next to my skin.  Since I have used these for hiking and running I have never got a blister which previously was a frequent problem.  

For me these essentials are as important as my pack or shoes.  First, the SPOT Personal Satellite Tracker

The 64 year old Australian lost in the Uintas had a Personal Locator Beacon, but he never used it.  If he had of had a SPOT Tracker using it daily as I do, the outcome of his story would have been very different. 

Then you see above the satellite phone provided by Russ Smith from Skycall Satellite, which I use to call my report in to KSL OUTDOORS Radio each Saturday morning, and of course for any emergency.  You can rent phones and SPOT trackers from him.  They are worth their weight in gold!  Every group should have these crucial life saving items–THE BARE MINIMUM BEING THE SPOT TRACKER.

Ready to go with  around 30 lbs. of equipment, food and water.  What a snap this was going to be compared to my trip to Swasey Hole when I had 54 lbs. (of course for 9 days), and my 83 lbs. when I left on my 27 day expedition in 2003–which 8 years ago I was able to handle (see the 1,000 MILE WHIRLWIND BACKPACK slide show if interested) .  For the 9 day trip I had 24 more pounds of weight.  In a half marathon if you are lifting 24 more lbs. with each step that adds up to a whopping 624,000 pounds!!!!
If you are only 10 lbs. overweight you would be lifting 260,000 extra pounds during the race.  Maybe we should focus a bit on having the right weight unless we are content with being couch potatoes, and not living a long, active life.

Above is the Google Earth view from my Spot Tracker website showing what I was to do in the next few days.

With a good 4×4 pickup you wouldn’t have to hike up the steep lower reaches of the route.

Looking back at the Uintah Basin.

False dandelion along the way.  There are also true dandelions along the trail which you can eat as they are the “spinach of the weed world” and even more nutritious.

If it’s rainy there are spots that would be messy.

We are not in the Wilderness Area and so there are ATV trails in the area.

Then you come to the barriers where you have to park if you are lucky enough to have got here in your 4×4.  To this point I have hiked about 3 miles with no water available anywhere.

My friend Ted apparently came up here 35 years ago when you could drive all the way to Jackson Park.  This old jeep road even went all the way up to the Timothy Lakes years ago when dikes were built on some of the lakes to increase their storage capacity, and with head-gates release the water when needed down in the basin.

To create my “bread crumb” trail and pinpoint coordinates, I hit the button at the barriers becoming Track #3 on the Google  Map.  From here I had about 3 miles to go to Jackson Park.

“GLORY BE TO THE LORD!”  ATV’s are prohibited!   I hate those suckers–sorry about that.

I was on an elk hunt in the Blind Stream area of the Uintas a few years back.  I struggled up the mountain with backpack, and camped.  The next day I persisted up the mountain into incredibly remote elk country and as I topped a ridge noticed a wiff of scent that was like….GASOLINE!  Three ATV’s were parked in the shade of some pines.  I drew down on them and almost squeezed the trigger I was so MAD!

Up the trail gradually leaving behind the aspens, and seeing more deep forest varieties of flowers, like the heart leafed arnica.


This lodgepole forest would have been tie hacker country on the north slope.

Most of the way the trail followed the ridge with Yellowstone Canyon down to the left.  There was no water, and I was out by that time.  But, my map showed the trail would soon cross a stream…..

….and here it was, but….it was bone dry.

If the stream bed coming out of Jackson Park was dry I figured that Jackson Park wouldn’t have any water….and I was OUT!  What the heck would I do?  I thought, maybe I won’t find any water until I drop down into Crow Canyon–assuming that to get down there was just a hop, skip and a small jump!

Finally made it to Jackson Park which was pretty green with lush flowers.

I was hopeful there would be some water.

I was fascinated as usual with the flowers, this one being HOODED LADIES TRESSES.

Thankfully there was a small, clear flowing, cold stream.  It apparently  just disappears into the dry stream bed a bit downstream.

With one of my little bottles–the cheap, light ones you get with chocolate milk, I filled my Platypus bucket (“water tank”), and headed for my pack and shade to do the pumping/purifying.

I got my MSR water purifying system going, while also hitting the SPOT tracker button to pinpoint my location as Track #6.

During the off season I had installed a new micropore filter , and in a flash I filled my bladder.

I started moving up through Jackson Park with the objective of eventually getting over to the edge and being able to look down into Crow Canyon and hopefully  find a way to get down and then be able to move up into the upper basin.

As perhaps mentioned there are no trails in the Crow Basin.
Moving up Jackson Park.  It is a beautiful meadow that stretches on what seemed like miles of grass and wildflowers.  Way in the distance round boulder field mountains began appearing.  I knew that further up this same ridge was Mt. Emmons, 13,440 ft., 4th highest in Utah..

Behind me was the hot, smoggy Uintah Basin.

Among so many flowers was  the Mountain  Bog Gentian, very small up here, but always beautiful .

The track continued north, the mountains looming larger.  Mt. Emmons perhaps is the dark shadowy one just barely visible on the left.  

Way up this spur or ridge, that comes from the spine of the High Uintas, is 13,528 ft. high Kings Peak, Utah’s tallest mountain.  But, between Kings Peak and Mt. Emmons is a no-name 13,387 ft.  mountain  I have named Mt. Jedediah, in honor of my greatest hero among the mountain men/fur trappers and explorers who opened up the West–Jedediah Smith.  In fact I’d better insert a shot of this mighty mountain–seen below.

 Mt, Jedediah guards no-name lake U-75 in the upper Painter Basin of the Uinta River Drainage.  This lake produced this beautiful brook  trout for me on my 27 day expedition in 2003.

Smiths Fork, born in the Red Castle area on the North Slope, is also named in honor of Jedediah Smith, who along with his men first trapped the North Slope in the 1820’s.  “Diah” as he was sometimes affectionately called was a giant among those early explorers different in that he carried (and read) his Bible, did not swear, nor drink and refused to have to do with  women of ill repute. 
Now back to Jackson Park and Crow Canyon.

As I proceeded up the Park I could see across Yellowstone Canyon to the West viewing Swasey Hole and the Garfield Basin.

At a certain point I decided to move over to the edge of the Park and look down into Crow Canyon.

There was a lot of downed timber, but  through it to the edge I could see a lake to the south.

It was no-name DG-1 which seemed to be of good size and depth, but the DWR pamphlet says that it “does not sustain fish life.”

I was viewing it from SPOT track #13.

I then looked to the northeast and could see another lake.

I zoomed in and looking on my Google Earth print-out could see that it was Crow Lake.

It was not a “hop, skip and a jump” down into the canyon  to Crow Lake.

It was a very steep slide down, and full of dead timber, all adding up to a tangled, steep mountain that  would give me great difficulty with a pack on my back.    Oh, I could get down, but I had to be smart realizing that getting back out would be the problem.

I moved a bit further north, to SPOT track #15 where I could get a clear view of Crow Lake.

12,149 ft. Flat Top Mountain was guarding Crow Lake.  

Flat Top Mt. pass to the north east apparently has a stock trail that comes from Lily Lake.  This pass also leads to remote Bollie Lake to the east even though there is no trail.  There is a faint sheep herder trail leading to Bollie Lake from the top of the switchbacks on the Uinta River–Chain Lakes/Atwood  trail.

It was getting towards time to think of setting up my camp, but hadn’t found any water up high, and of course had ruled out trying to get down into Crow Canyon, so I headed back down Jackson Park looking for the origin of the small stream where I had got water in the morning.

Along the way stumbled on the remains of one critter who maybe didn’t get to the water in time, or likely had some other mishap.

I came to water and followed it up into a grove of pines where it sprung out of the ground.  There I found the only wood sign of the trip.

The bottom part of the sign says TIMOTHY LAKES 13 miles.

Back in 2006 I explored the Timothy Lakes coming into that area over Bluebell Pass and then went out down Swift Creek.  At that time I noticed this long trail coming up to the Timothy’s and wondered “Who on earth would ever use that trail?”

I set up my little camp.  Here you see my  2 man TarpTent that was sold by Gossamer Gear a few years back.  It then became known as the Squall Classic.  Today a take-off from this, but for just 1 person, is called THE ONE.  Click on that link to see details.

You can see that my tent is for 2 people–which I like so I can put most of my equipment inside with me.  Inside you can see my Therm-A-Rest NeoAir  mattress, and the Golite quilt sleeping system.  Click on those links for details.  They are both extremely lightweight and the best.  

There has been a tongue-in-cheek  rumor in the Uintas since my expedition in 2003 that I am the reincarnation of Jedediah Smith, however the theme of fire-making easily proves I’m not in the “flint/tinder” fire-making club he was in.  I now go for the incredible “tenderfoot” system you see above, with COGHLAN’S FIRE PASTE, and STORMPROOF MATCHES.  What a snap!

Just squirt a little paste under your dry twigs.

The match lights easily and burns long and will not be put out by the wind.

One might ask, “But where do I get  firewood?”

This is the usual scene in the Uintas, with a tangle of dead firewood everywhere. You don’t need an axe, nor a saw.

But a warning:  In the Wilderness Area you can not make a fire withnin 1/4 mile of a lake. In some areas, like The Naturalist Basin, you can’t light a fire anywhere.  There are high traffic areas where all the dead wood has been gathered and used and these areas need to be left alone for 50 years or so to return to their natural state for the good of wildlife and the natural environment.
Also in the Wilderness Area you can’t camp within 200 feet of a trail, a lake or a stream.  So keep on your toes to help maintain the wilderness.

I only make one small fire a day at dinner time.  In this instance it was to cook for 10 minutes my scalloped potato meal.  Cooking time for rice, etc. can be reduced by putting your meal to soak for an hour or so.  A fish cooked in aluminum foil will also only take 10 minutes and much of the cooking can be from the heat of the coals after the burning has stopped.

While the potatoes were cooking I mixed my egg nog, and my chocolate pudding.  That along with a handful of wheat thins was my dinner.  By the way, I don’t go backpacking to eat, cook, dirty a bunch of dishes I have to wash, etc.  So keep it simple.

The next morning the fire spot was cleaned up LEAVING NO TRACE.

The same for my whole camping area leaving it as though no one had ever been there.  ‘
So, remember:

The morning saw me heading up the Park again, seeing a bit more clearly Swasey Hole off to the west.

Up near the top while resting elk began wandering out in the park.  Can you see them?  Maybe it will help to click on the photo.

One gradually grazed  towards me.

Soon I could see it was a young bull.

This was a moment when I wished I had my Nikon D-200 with 450 mm. telephoto lens.

The digital zoom in the little Pentax Optio  was fine to about half of the maximum, then it got bad.

Still a worthwhile shot or two.

He was about to go into the forest so I made a sound to spook him.

Off he went to hook up with his buddies on the other side of the Park.

I did the last 100 yards or so to the top of the Park and followed a trail towards Crow Basin.

There, again, I found the bones of a critter who didn’t make it.

All of a sudden I was happily cruising down a gradually sloping meadow  leading towards Crow Basin, with Flat Top Mountain perfectly framed.  Wow, this was great  just sort of coasting into the upper basin!

But, all of a sudden the dream was dashed by a wall of cliffs, and boulder fields.

So I was stopped at SPOT track l#21, but hoped to at least be able to get photos of many of the lakes.

Looking south I could see DG-1 and for me impassable terrain.

I scouted down a ways to see if there was a place, but none safe enough for me.

In the middle basin it was much the same, if not worse.

To look down gave me that butterfly feeling in the pit of my stomach.  I guess I’m getting old after all.

Glancing up, towards the north and the upper basin it even looked tougher, but I thought that if I climbed up there maybe I would be able to see some of the 8 or 9 lakes  up there.

 I prepared to hike up as far as possible, leaving my pack there at track #21.

Notice that I clipped on my belt my SPOT Tracker.  You can’t relax and get separated from this incredible little device that could save your life–or at least signal where  the family could find your remains so they could collect the inheritance and insurance money without excessive expense!

This was my trail up to the top.  My Mountain Running shoes were fantastic in making me nimble and quick to maneuver this kind of terrain.

I didn’t quite get as high as I wanted, but a drop or two or rain warned me to hurry, so I clicked off a shot, showing a couple of the lakes that were now visible.

Here I pinpoint where all of the lakes are in the upper basin.

Flat Top Mt. from up high.

Crow Lake.

No name DG-1 lake.   And then the rain began coming down a bit heavier.  I headed back for my pack

Of course I couldn’t pass on clicking off a shot of this luminescent quality paintbrush flower.

I hurried on to my pack that was a bit wet, shouldered it and headed for cover.

I had got just a touch wet in all of this, but not bad, yet the rain came harder and harder, then turned to hail, and the temperature plunged.  It reminded me of an extreme situation I went through a few years ago when I found myself on the verge or hypothermia.

I have a profound respect for mother nature and go prepared to confront any dangerous situation that she throws at me–always trying to keep one step ahead of her to protect myself and have survival on my side..
I had to keep hypothermia from happening and needed to get my poncho on and begin moving to keep my body warm.  I got my poncho out and moved out of the tree cover.

I was trying to hurry a bit too much as the rain was pretty hard, and as I gathered the poncho and threw it over my head and pack I lost my balance, which hasn’t been too good in recent years.  I stumbled backwards over a dead log with its roots clawing at me.  It wasn’t the one you see below–which shot I insert since I didn’t think to afterwards take a picture of the real thing.

I fell backwards over the log with my pack on and as I whirled around trying to protect myself got my left foot caught in the roots so that when I went down over the log my toe was snagged and as I fell backwards with all my weight and that of the pack my foot  and ankle were bent back with tremendous force and I was sure it had to be broken as there was no way it could have withstood so much pressure.
There I was hanging upside down over the log only supported by my foot bent back to the extreme.  I was flailing around like someone hanging on a gallows, but rather than freeing me it made it worse. “Okay, Lord, I need you again.  Please give me the strength I need.”
That prayer calmed me some and  I should have thought to pull my camera out and take some pictures, but of course survival was a bit on my mind.  I was sure my ankle was broken, but first I had to get rid of my pack and have the hope of then freeing myself from the root.  I wiggled out of the pack and after repeated attempts to contort my body up and grab for a root, I finally got one and pulled myself up on the log and finally was able to free my foot.  It wasn’t broken, nor did I feel any pain at all.  “Thanks, Lord, again for giving me strength and resistance.”   I had been so convinced that the violent action and pressure had to have broken something, but to be freed and have no pain, seemed like the miracle of miracles.

I was convinced that all the supplements I have taken for years to cope with my joint problems and pain, and not accept the doctors advice in 1994 that I shouldn’t backpack anymore, all had contributed to making my bones, tendons, joints, muscles, etc. stronger than normal and able to resist what would have broken something real bad in anyone else.  Of course coupled hand in hand with all of that is the constant physical conditioning, training and running in 14 consecutive International Half Marathons in Guatemala, backpacking now 1,500 miles in the Uintas in the last 9 years, and doing around 2,400 miles working at Reams over the past few years

It would be worthwhile for you to check out the article referred to above on my website, WHERE DO YOU GET SO MUCH ENERGY, and click on the links therein and start taking some of the key supplements that have saved my life.

During all of that the rain had persisted in pouring down, so me and equipment were pretty wet.  Even over wet clothes I put on the lightweight yellow rain gear, then shouldered my pack and successfully got my poncho on covering me and pack.  I headed up , actually looking for a place where I could somehow set up my tent and get some protection.  But there was just too much water everywhere so I kept moving when up at the highest point near Jackson Park the lightning and thunder began a vicious onslaught like I had never experienced.

The blasts of thunder and lightning hit exactly at the same instant indicating that it was right on top of me.  I moved under the smaller, shorter trees avoiding totally being in the open.  One violent discharge literally shook the ground and had wavy wisps of electricity dancing around me.   

I had decided to head down the mountain, but I couldn’t venture out  in the open to cross the  Park.  I stuck to the fringes moving south.  Eventually the storm passed and the sun came out, and I quickly made it to the previous camping spot and source of good water.  I spread my wet gear out to dry some, filled up with good water, mixed a couple of bottles of egg nog, and one of Endurox/Cal/Mag/Gatorade.  
Then a dark lightning filled sky approached from the north, and I moved fast down the mountain to the south.

In 5 miles I only slowed a few times to down egg nog, then Endurox, and once an hour popped an FRS energy chew in my mouth.  They are promoted by Lance Armstrong and I have found them very effective to increase energy, stamina and endurance.

I was pretty tired moving down the mountain, as the braking action was fatiguing and so I stopped once to rest  for a few minutes.

That resulted in me having to quickly put my poncho back on about 200 yards from the car.  But I made it, doing at least 6 miles from Jackson Park, and a bit more than 10 miles on the day. I moved down the road quickly before the rain turned it into a quagmire and happily got to the pavement .

I hoped to get some food at the Rock Creek Store, but they were closed and so I went on to Duchesne, gased up, got some good food and headed up the highway.

I was worn out but grateful to have made it through quite an eventful day–to say the least.

Fatigue go the best of me so up in the coolness of Strawberry Reservoir I stopped at the Strawberry River rest area and camped.

It was from here on Saturday morning that I warmed up the sat phone and made my call to KSL OUTDOORS Radio. In the interest of full disclosure, Tim, and Navi, my report to you that morning was from Strawberry as explained here–and it was cold that morning there.

Gave my report to Tim, Navi,   and Jeff.  Click on PODCAST to hear the report, my participation at the 6:47:45 point

As my backpacking is finished for this season, I want to thank Tim, Russ, Jeff and Navi for the great public service you perform through KSL OUTDOORS Radio.

 Special thanks to Russ and Skycall Satellite for providing me a phone for the summer.  I hope that my encouraging everyone to be safe in the outdoors by using a SPOT tracker, and a sat phone, gives a boost to your business, saves a few lives, and provides comfort to loved ones at home by receiving the OK message from loved ones each day while they are in the wilderness.

 I will continue with my research and effort to put my whole project together, so will check in from time to time and always be listening.

I will  confess that recently this has not been quite as easy as it was  back a few years.  At times I have sort of “tongue in cheek” thought about Forest Gump and his experience running around the country for 3 years, and likened my 9 years and 1,500 miles of backpacking to his experience.

He had acquired a small following .  Once out in the desert he stopped and turned towards them.  One of them said, “QUIET. HE’S GOING TO SAY SOMETHING!”

I call that “The Forest Gump moment.”   I have experienced it several times, including during this trip report I’m giving you.

That’s what went through my mind after the two survival experiences described here when I was resting, drying my things, and mixing up some nourishment.  I guess I should have remained, persisted right then at trying to get down into Crow Canyon, but frankly what went through my mind was, 



But, back at home and rested up I recalled my slide show of a few years ago with the theme seen below:

I think about that, and then look at my Google Earth maps of  Jackson Park and Crow Canyon and think, “I CAN GET TO IT, BUT THROUGH LOWER JACKSON PARK.”

So, I might just do another backpack next year–and it will likely be to finally make it to Crow Basin.  

Of course you young bucks out there  could decide to beat me to Crow Basin, which would be fine.  Just get to me a good report with photos I can put up on my website.  So there’s a challenge I give  to some of you, my High Uinta Friends.  

 Let’s all do our darndest to KEEP MOVING,  NOT GIVE IN and learn to ENJOY SAFELY THE GREAT OUTDOORS!

Hey, and check out all the great equipment and supplements I have given you links to.  They will  help us hang in there and survive, so get the stuff you need from these links and in that way help the High Uintas Project  and all of us to keep going.


SURVIVAL in the High Country

This “article” is rather a photo essay, the text found in the captions and comments. So to get the whole story click on the first image and then view one at a time, reading the captions and comments. The following crucial aspects of survival in high alpine areas, with certain elements applicable to any wilderness experience, are as follows:
1.  Lance Armstrong Inspired 27  Day Survival Epic
2. A Kings Peak/Henrys Fork life and  death experience–sick, heart attack and the ultimate survival principle.
3. Bears.
4. Hypothermia
5. Life and death survival tools: Satellite phone and SPOT personal satellite tracker.
6. Lightning.
7. High altitude sickeness.–an introduction on the Garfield Basin Trail.
8. My First Survival Experience complicated by High Altitude sickeness.
9. Survival:  Weakened by sickness and attacked by High Altitude Sickness–HOW TO GET HELP?
NOTE: Each of these will be added to and completed over the next year or two.