From American Fork it was like 88 miles following the Mirror Lake Scenic Byway to the North Fork Road, then a couple more miles to this sign where you go another few miles to the East Fork of Bear River Trailhead….100 miles from American fork.
At the Trailhead the Forest Service has this display and description of the East Fork Fire from 2002, and an explanation of the Interpretive Trail that starts here and is 1/4 mile long. You should zoom in and read about this event, evidence of which you will see during the entire backpack.
Covering the mountainsides is the dead timber from the fire, but notice the green vegetation and colorful flowers that carpet the forest floor….bringing back to life the area.
Foremost among the green carpet is the new “Queen of Utah’s Trees,” the QUAKING ASPEN, since 2014 the Utah State Tree..
The Quaking Aspen propagates through its root system that usually survives a forest fire and very quickly sends up sprouts to save the forest.
There are good reasons why the Aspen is now the “Queen” of Utah’s trees. I say “Queen” as it is delicately beautiful, but resilent and a wonderful “helpmeet” for the tough “manly” mountains.
MOUNTAIN BLUEBELL–Mertensia ciliata
In the humid areas all kinds of wildflower are seen in addition to the Bluebell. Like the tall, long stemmed Monkshood.
MONKSHOOD, Aconitum columbianum
YELLOW MONKEYFLOWER-Mimulus guttatus
NOOTKA ROSE, Rosa nutkana
GIANT RED PAINTBRUSH, Castilleja miniata
GIANT RED PAINTBRUSH, Castilleja miniata
The Bear River-Smiths Fork Trail takes off to the east. It is often called:
The North Slope Highline Trail.
WHITE CLOVER, Trifolium repens
ALPINE PAINTBRUSH, Castilleja rhexifolia
SLENDER CINQUEFOIL, Potentilla gracilis
STICKY CINQUEFOIL, Potentilla glandulosa
BOG REIN ORCHID; BOG CANDLES, Platanthera leucostachys
New High Uinta Friends:
CHRIS WAREHAM and CHRIS VALENTINE
They were heading for Allsop Lake. I told them about the unique Native Cutthroat trout I caught there a few years ago, seen below:
Native cutthroat trout from Allsop Lake. The Cathedral is in the background.
REPORT FROM CHRIS & CHRIS: 7/15/14
Hi Mr Anderson!
Thanks for including us in your blog….we made it up to Allsop, and the rain started in earnest right about the time we arrived. We had to reconfigure camp a couple of times as the thunderstorms moved through to find drier ground to set the tarp over. We found a good spot in the trees and got bedded down, but not before getting pretty well soaked. Got dry and slept great even with the weather. The next day, caught a few of the native cutthroat that you told us about. The fishing was really good! Rather than try to make it up and over to Priord lake, we hiked back down (through the other couple of heavy storms) to the East Fork Bear River Trailhead, and decided to call it a trip. We headed up to Evanston and had a big dinner :^). It was a great time, with great scenery, and we’ll definitely visit again.
Good luck with the rest of your trip!
Wild strawberry leaves….saw no flowers yet as seen in Lakefork.
SHRUBBY CINQUEFOIL-Potentilla fruticosa
ROSY EVERLASTING or PUSSYTOES, Antennaria rosea
ROSY EVERLASTING or PUSSYTOES, Antennaria rosea
Pink ROSY EVERLASTING or PUSSYTOES, Antennaria rosea
Coming down to the East Fork of the Bear River. The Bear River has the distinction of being the longest river in the hemisphere–500 miles long– that doesn’t empty into an ocean. It begins in the High Hintas, flows north into Wyoming, swings west making a loop through Idaho, and then flows back into Utah emptying into the Great Salt Lake.
HEARTLEAF ARNICA-Arnica cordifolia
AMERICAN BISTORT-Polygonum bistortoides
SHOWY DAISY, Erigeron speciosus
Not identified…yet… tiny flower….number 318 photographed so far from the foothills to Kings Peak.
Zooming in on the very tiny flower…perhaps 1/8th of an inch in diameter or smaller.
RED CLOVER–Trifolium pratense
ARROWLEAF GROUNDSEL, Senecio irigangularis
The trail crews are doing a great job–thanks to Bernard Asay, Trail Supervisor for the Forest Service out of the Evanston Office. I’ll insert his picture below.
FALSE DANDELION or PALE AGOSERIS- Agoseris glauca
Notice the leaves, compared to dandelions, two pictures down.
FALSE DANDELION or PALE AGOSERIS- Agoseris glauca
COMMON DANDELION, Taraxacum officinale
TAPERTIP ONION, Allium acuminatum
LITTLE SUNFLOWER, Helianthella uniflora
Tie hacker stumps from the early period–1867-1880.
“Tie hackers” were lumbermen sent into the North Slope of the Uinta Mountains to work 12 ,months a year with their broad axes to make millions of railroad ties for the Transcontinental Railroad–first Irishmen from 1867-1880, and then Scandanavians from 1912-1940
About 2 miles from the Trailhead, there is a series of 4-5 ruins from the tie hackers.
Round nails weren’t invented until 1910, which are the ones found in all the ruins, so the ruins are from the 1912-1940 period.
The early period ruins have square nails, are smaller, and don’t have smooth interiors as all of these ruins do.
A fairly large tree grows inside one large ruin….which has one assuming that the tree is as old as 100 years.
Early period cabins have signs of rock fireplaces, but this remnant of a wood burning stove further designates these sites as from the latter period.
This outhouse and garbage hole likewise identifies this site as from the latter period. In the early period garbage was just thrown out the door accumulating in front of the small cabins, and I’ve never found an outhouse hole in sites from the early period.
A stovepipe further confirms our aging of the site.
More stumps very rotted away are from the older period. Further investigation would be required to understand the full historical picture.
Mt. Beulah 12,557 ft.
PARRYS PRIMEROSE, Primula parryi
ALPINE SHOOTINGSTAR, Dodecatheon pauciflorum
Finding safe ford of the Bear River where it broadens out and reduces the depth and strength of the current.
Good strong pole in hand and wadding slippers on I’m ready to cross the stream…carefully.
Just in case, my camera and lenses are safely sealed in gallon sized Ziploc bags.
My topographical map indicates approximately where the crossing will be made…and from there begin bushwacking up the steep side of the canyon.
Here and there in the burned out area conifers are also seen coming up.
MONKEY FLOWER, Mimulus lewisii
It was slow going up the very steep mountain detouring constantly around downed timber.
The FIREWEED–Epilobium angustifolium–plant is springing up all over, and later on will look like what we see below.
WHIPPLE’S PENSTEMON, Penstemon whippleanus
The rain, threatening all day, begins to come down.
I put my poncho on covering me, photography equipment and backpack, and waited. It slowed a time or two, but then kept coming down harder and the temperature dropped.
Just with a short-sleeved T-shirt and short pants, I soon began to chill and realized I had to get on more protection. A lull in the storm let me quickly get pack off, find a long-sleeved shirt, rain parka, and rain pants, then with backpack on my back again, got my poncho back on and felt safe. The three “killers” in the High Uintas are: Hypothermia, lightning, and High Altitude Sickness. One has to be prepared to survive all three.
As the monsoon persisted, now approaching 7:00 PM, I had to become concerned about finding a flat piece of real estate to set up my tent to get through the night.
I could see up above me what looked like the top of the hill where I would hopefully be able to set up a camp. It worked and soon, with rain still coming down, I had to get my tent set up. I covered my photo equipment and backpack with my poncho, and hustled to set up my tent. Luckily I was protected with rain parka and rain pants as I did so, but still only one thing is worse than trying to set up a camp in the rain–that being, to have to pack up wet equipment in the rain.
Finally it was done. I put my backpack in the vestibule area, and threw everything else inside and jumped in head first…..a bit of a problem as in my small one man tent it is almost impossible to get turned around inside.
It was CHAOS inside my tent, but I had got it done and was safe. No cooked dinner that night. Luckily I had filled my water container and was able to use one of my lunches that just needed water.
The rain persisted hard most of the night, along with lightning and thunder all around me. The purple container you see to the left is my urinal….making unnecessary going out for that, but I did worry a bit about maybe needing to do “Number Two?”
Approximate location on topo map of “Emergency Camp”
In the morning I waited for the sun to hit me and begin drying everything so I could continue….but it never happened, and finally I opened the vestibule to see a cloudy day. My experience had me believing that when a day begins that way in the High Uintas, the day would just get worse from there on, so decided it wise for me to pack up and head down.
I just hoped that Mother Nature would hold off the storm until I was at least packed up. I had made about 1,000 ft. in elevation gain with about 600 ft. to go, but quite frankly I was worn out and didn’t want to put myself in a situation of greater risk. So I hit my SPOT Tracker OK button, and began preparing to break camp.
I should have taken a picture of my tent set up, but was in a big hurry to get packed up before the rain hit…..but then clicked off a shot when ready to begin stuffing everything into my pack. At that point I all of a sudden heard a human voice:
“I KNOW YOU….YOU’RE CORDELL ANDERSEN!”
It was Kevin Rogers, who led a group of 7 who had struggled into the area during the downpour the night before and 50 yards off set up their tents.
Kevin’s cell phone picture….as I have heard from him, added more pictures further along, and have the promise of more pictures soon.
Once packed up I dropped by to meet my 7 new “HIGH UINTA FRIENDS,” who were gathered around a campfire trying to dry out all their stuff.
Some of them knew me from my website, and had decided to one way or another get to LAKE LORENA. Kevin for years had been a professional guide, but admitted that this was one remote area that had escaped him, as it had me.
We got talking about my nearly 1,700 miles of backpacking, beginning with my 27 day expedition in 2003 that had kicked off the HIGH UINTAS WILDERNESS PROJECT, with many tough times when I had to be spurred on by Winston Churchill’s challenge:
But….had to admit that there had been times…..like the present one…when I had to add the word: “EASILY!”
I joked with them about my several “FOREST GUMP MOMENTS,” and admitted that I was again possibly facing one of those times….even though admitting that each time, after surviving, recovery, and a Big Mac & Mountain Dew, I became determiend to “NOT GIVE IN” yet!
They started asking me questions….one being,
“WHAT ABOUT THE WEIRD EXPERIENCES YOU’VE HAD OVER ALL THOSE MILES?”
I mentioned that the exact question was asked me in my Coalville speech, me qualifying it as:
MY MOST UNFORGETTABLE EXPERIENCES:
I think I mentioned learning about the “tie hackers,” being “unsung American heroes without whom the West might not have been won,” and “the liveliest if not the most wicked town in America!” but then launched myself into my two BIG FOOT experiences from 2013.
Describing when coming down Little East Fork of Blacks Fork, when all of a sudden stopping to rest…….Big Foot appeared and we tried to communicate using gestures…..
Then his son appeared on horseback….and I recalled a couple of years ago that a sheep herder in the area had lost a horse, and it occurred to me that is why we don’t see footprints of Little Foot since he’s on horseback. Then they began sort of making fun of us humans who need REI backpacks, and Golite sleeping bags, and Big Agnes tents to survive in the Uintas, etc. Then they turned and headed into the forest.
All the time I was trying to manipulate my camera that I had set on a rock, hoping to get some photographs, and even video.
But, once they were leaving I went for the camera to make sure I was getting something, but knocked it off the rock, and the clutter of it falling….WOKE ME UP….FROM THE DREAM!
The fall actually broke my skylight filter…saving the lens, and I checked to see if maybe I had got some pictures from what was maybe….a real experience? But, no luck!
It was just a dream, I told them, but…..maybe like the prophets of old…it was a VISION IN A DREAM giving me the idea that maybe there was something to the legend and I should keep an open mind.
I went down the trail with camera ready as always…..and then all of a sudden …..
HE CAME CRASHING THROUGH THE TREES…..AND HAD A RED T-SHIRT ON!
Back to reality…..I found it was ROB WILCOX, mountain runner, heading for Squaw Pass. I told him about the dream I had just had…..and caught him expressing…..
“Maybe there’s something to it!”
I then went on to tell them what I related in Coalville, that a rare experience had been:
Seeing a PINE MARTEN that came into our camp checking everything out, but didn’t have my camera in hand to get a shot.
Then remembered my MOST MEMORABLE EXPERIENCE
IN THE UINTAS
It happened in Crow Basin in 2011 you see in these pictures
Above Crow Basin, below Jackson Park
I was caught along the escarpment of upper Crow Basin in a rain storm, when attempting to throw my poncho up over my backpack lost my balance, fell backwards over a huge fallen tree catching my left foot in the roots and left hanging there with my whole load, convinced my ankle was broken. Finally wiggled out of my load, pulled myself up and was alright.
I got my poncho on, and moved up to the edge of Jackson Park with rain pouring down, then the lightning hit and got real close.
All of a sudden a bolt hit with lightning and thunder at the same instant right on top of me that shook the ground……
……..and WAVY WISPS OF ELECTRICITY DANCED ALL AROUND ME!
It was real close to being my end….but since I survived it is remembered as my
GREATEST EXPERIENCE IN THE OUTDOORS!
We bid each other farewell, me wishing them,
“God bless you in your attempt to get to Lake Lorena….and let me know how it goes.”
So far I haven’t heard from them.
Just heard from them and will insert here the message and after it a couple of photos…although Rich hasn’t sent me ones of the lake, nor replied to my question about the fishing….yet. Will update when able:
Glad you made it out ok! The weather held out long enough for us to get to the lake but my camera (phone) kinda died from all the rain. Rich (my friend in the orange fleece) took a bunch of photos. I have copied him on this email. Hopefully he’ll send you a few. It was great to meet you and talk with you for a while.
Best of luck on your adventures. KEVIN
Great to hear from you. I do have quite a few pictures and some good ones of Lake Lorena. I will get them off my phone and send them to you soon.
Thanks for the fun stories. Good luck on your next encounter with big foot!
FISHING REPORT FROM KEVIN: 7/15/14
The fishing was horrid. In fact, my brother who was there with us is a Hydrologist and wanted to take samples of the water. We saw no evidence of fish (other than dead ones) for 2 hours and he speculates an anoxic or hypoxic (they’re effectively the same thing) event took place in the lake over the winter due to the presence of algae on the bottom of the lake. Either that or the storm scared the fish into a deep hole.
Nevertheless, it didn’t make up for a rough night! We left around 3 after another deluge that lasted from 2-3pm which was much more severe in volume and intensity. One strike (lightning) hit above camp not more than 300 yards away (simultaneous flash & thunder). Thankfully, the weather subsided for the hike out and by the time we hit the trailhead, the sky was 60% blue. Go figure!
Keep in touch!
Rich’es photos of LAKE LORENA follow: (Thanks, Rich)
Now I’ll continue telling the experience of going down to the river and back to the Trailhead.
I knew as I started down the steep, slippery slope that I couldn’t make a miss-step, so carefully I moved, zig-zagging all over the place to get around downed timber.
Do you recognize this flower?
Here’s the whole plant that you should recognize from its leaves….the monsoon caused the fluffy seed heads to become almost unrecognizable.
I finally made it to the river that had risen due to the rains, and I couldn’t find my ford.
I finally found this log jam on the river and carefully made it across, only wishing I had with me a machete to clear out the branches that made it more difficult .
In one meadow I found a unique flower I had been looking for and got a few shots;
ORANGE SNEEZEWEED or OWL CLAWS, Dugaldia hoopesii
ORANGE SNEEZEWEED or OWL CLAWS, Dugaldia hoopesii
All the way the clouds were threatening….with drops falling at times, and then it started building.
Then with a BANG another monsoon broke loose, and I said a prayer for my friends up on the mountain……and hurried along towards the safety of the Trailhead and my little Cabin A trailer.
A thorny THISTLE had me thinking about my nearly 1,700 miles of exploring the Uintas, and had me concluding that in my 79th year I had to get my priorities straight and move on to the remaining phases of my HIGH UINTAS WILDERNESS PROJECT.
So, in a sense I’m doing like Forest Gump when after 3 years of running around the country with a little group of followers, he stopped, and turned towards them. One of them shouted,
“Quiet, he’s going to say something!”
I know myself well enough to realize my backpacking days aren’t over with–as quite frankly I have gratefully been able to do better than I would have ever imagined possible just 18 months ago when it looked like I was a cripple, but the reality is that I have got to move on to the concluding phases of my project before it’s too late.
I’ll have to admit that failing at doing my DREAM LIST OF BACKPACKS has an interesting humanizing and humbling effect on me….that is a relief….. lightening my load, and opening up the way to finally finish what I vowed I would do 62 years ago–share what I vowed to learn about the High Uintas with as many as I could reach.
As is happening already, my DREAM LIST OF BACKPACKS is blessing the lives of younger adventurers who can complete them all–and be blessed in the process.
At this writing I’ve already heard from several High Uinta Friends who soon will be heading for high adventure….getting to LAKE LORENA. I just hope it won’t get too congested!
As I drove down the canyon I turned to bid farewell to Mt. Beulah, grateful for the wonderful experiences the Creator has blessed me with in these incredible mountains that have blessed my life in so many ways…..and for the opportunities of sharing my experience with hundreds and thousands from all over….some of them thanking me for literally “SAVING” their lives through my frank sharing of experience and my suggestions how to go into the Wilderness safely.
I stopped near Bald Mt. Pass to take a last shot of Hayden Peak & Mt. Agassiz, grateful for Ferdinand Hayden, and Louis Agassiz, and others like them, who over a century ago paved the way for all of us to be blessed by this wonderful Wilderness.
A wonderful spot as the sign indicates, the drainage to the east being part of what becomes the Green & Colorado Rivers, fed by most of the streams from the North & South Slopes that drain into the Pacific Ocean, and the Provo River to the west draining into the Great Salt Lake, along with the Weber, and Bear Rivers–ALL OF WHICH, NORTH & SOUTH, EAST & WEST, CONTRIBUTE 90% OF UTAH’S WATER!