A TEEZER: On the photo/essay on Trip #1a “ACID TEST #2” to Scudder, Wilder, Wyman & Packard Lakes and the beautiful Canyon of the East Fork of the Duchesne River now on the Home Page I tell the story from a new “High Uinta Friend” of
“SILVER FOUND ON MT. AGASSIZ!”
I checked in for accessibility conditions on the South Slope with Sheila, Lori, and Cindy seen below, who is new. I also printed up for the Forest Service a set of photographs of the Crow Basin area that they could show to interested outdoors-men and women.
High Uinta Friend, Jori Thomas, had advised me of a weather watching website you see below on my cell phone showing that there had been new snow in the area of my backpack, just the day before. This is updated during each day with a video camera apparently on top of Lake Fork Mountain above Moon Lake. I’ll insert the link below the image. Thanks JORI.
Below are shots of the Duchesne River from the bridge in Duchesne, showing the contrast from one year to another.
About half way to Moon Lake you come to the nice Bed & Breakfast..Store at Mountain Home.
NOTE: The way I’m headed in this photo is heading for Rock Creek and the Stillwater Reservoir and Trailhead. For Moon Lake you keep heading north.
We are looking north towards Lake Fork Canyon, with the tip of 13,219 foot Mt. Lovenia seen on the right.
I was the only car at the Trailhead with most signed into the register just on hikes around the trailhead area.
The Forest Service Hostess is Jan Spencer who mentioned it had been quite cold lately. I should have asked, but soon perhaps that could be a good summer job for me.
Ready to go carrying food for 5 days, and actually too many supplements and extra stuff I never used. I did leave my tripod….a “NO, NO” for a real photographer, but I just set my camera on a rock or a log! I still went up the trail with 45 lbs. on my back and around my waist, including 2 quarts of water as I recalled the first water from 2-3 miles up the trail.
Lodge pole pine forest
Gradually we climb and the forest changes
A heart shaped leaf…..and soon the flash of Heartleaf Arnica is all around us.
At this junction the trail joins us from the Moon Lake Campground. We’ve come a bit over 2 miles.
So, meet the UTAH STATE TREE:
The QUAKING ASPEN
I saw more elk tracks than deer…..both are benefited by the Quaking Aspen.
A mule deer female or doe, almost completely having changed from its grey winter coat to its summer one.
Spruce, firs, and pines are each beautiful in their own way, but now have to bow to the Queen of Utah trees…
The Quaking Aspen!
We’re now getting up there with Moon Lake way below us.
Even the “stones” turn into beautiful flowers….and they get even more impressive later on.
We will now leave Moon Lake and the canyon behind us and get into the “high country.”
Just one more plant we see from this spot.
It is the Mountain Mahogany blossoming.
Now, INTRODUCING A NEW WATER PURIFICATION SYSTEM:
The Platypus Gravity Works System. Hanging high on the tree is the “Dirty Water,” that drains down flowing through the filter and in this case into the Platypus Clean water container.
One of the adapters screws into my water bladder, and as you’ll see adapters adjusts to other containers. With the bladder, I had to seal the leak first, and here is another tiny item that always goes with me:
PLASTIC SURGERY. It is in a tube, like Super Glue, but much better and the only cement that has kept my water bladder going now for 11 years. You can buy it at www.Amazon.com
On this trip I have already used it several times: For my glasses, and a latch on the back door of my camper.
One sign was missing and I found it on the ground, the post having rotted.
It is a very important sign….some aspects of which rub some the wrong way, but there are reasons why we should all respect these rules….and below I’ll give the details for those who might not know, or who might need to remember what we have to do to maintain this amazing Wilderness.
I insert this map in reference to the middle restriction above about no campfires closer than 1/4 mile from the restricted lakes.. the orange areas….which are almost all the ones you have ever seen or heard of.
My first reaction was like the vow: “I’ll give you my gun when you pry (or take) it from my cold, dead hands!” which I used to think of concerning my “campfire” that I wasn’t going to give it up! But, then I saw some areas totally bare of a dead branches or sticks, as high as a man could reach. it was like a sterile desert!
This is my new lightweight backpacking tent for one person:
BIG AGNES Fly Creek UL1, weight=1 lb. 12 oz. Cost: $329.29.
You can get it at: amazon.com
I went for increased comfort this year by purchasing an inflatable pillow on sale…and really thought it would be a pillow, but it ended up being only a 1″ thick pad…so INTO THE FIRE! Somewhere around 1 lb. of weight off my back. Not a lot, you’d say, but in a 5 mile day I take at least around 9,000 steps….adding up to me lifting 9,000 lbs. less weight during the day!
Here I’m using the adapter to a typical chocolate milk bottle…that costs nothing and weighs less! I take 3 or 4 of them with me. Enough of that….ON THE TRAIL FOR THE 2ND DAY!
Soon I see my first human beings…until then I could only see one horse track up the trail this year.
....and Dan Jenkins. They were heading for Tworoose Pass and lakes in that area.
Dallas and Dan became another couple of High Uinta Friends and wished me luck.
At about 5.5 miles I come to what I call the “shortcut to Atwine Lake,” that requires fording Brown Duck Creek.
I look for the spot where the stream widens out making shallower water.
It shouldn’t be any kind of a big deal but 11 years ago early in the season I was returning from Reconnaisance Lake taking the straight route that led me to Rock Creek when the run-off had the stream running high. It was late afternoon and the ford was in the shade making seeing well the footing a bit difficult. I didn’t have experience fording streams and just carefully went for it, but half way across I stepped on a large boulder slanting down into deep water that just sucked me in and there I was trying to swim with pack on back, camera around waist. I finally made it to the other bank soaking wet…worried for my survival. but also for my Nikon film camera and equipment. I made it out, but lost the camera.
Since I have learned to ford streams and tackle them always with caution, but without fear.
Socks stuffed into boots and the boots sent flying across the stream…....
.….and they made it. Do you see them?
Once again “ye old red bandanna” came to the rescue to bandage my arm. A bandanna is one of the essentials, used for many things on a backpack.
While getting my socks back on, let’s mention other keys to me never getting blisters anymore. You’ll notice I first put on each foot a blister preventing sock that you can get from REI or Amazon–they are called “Cool Mesh Wright Socks,” you can get them clicking on that. They are easily worth their weight in GOLD! Next, notice that on my right foot I put on a running sock because that foot is just a tad smaller than the left. This is the equalizer that makes both boots, or shoes fit perfectly. Last comes a fairly thick hiking sock on each foot.
Each boot has one Dr. Scholls gel insert with a hole cut out for the ball of my foot, then the regular insert over that…where for years I suffered metatarsalitis that clear back in 1994 had a specialist recommend I not do half marathons or backpacking anymore. I found a way to solve that problem on my own and it has worked another miracle….with 13 more consecutive International Half Marathons, and now over 1,600 miles of backpacking.
From the creek the trail went up and up, and up to skirt around the edge of Round Mountain.
Along with so much of life that is sprouting, growing and blossoming, we find in many places WILD RASPBERRIES, that in late summer will be a good food for animals, including bears.
In one photograph we see widely differing rocks that represent vastly different evolutions of time and earth forming conditions. On the left widely spaced layers representing changing seasons. On the right another sedimentary rock with much closer layers. See them close below.
Sprouting everywhere is the ground cover that grows in many of the forested portions of the Uintas.
Then there’s the TRAIL!
WHAT A NIGHTMARE!
Literally hundreds of times the trail is blocked, then lost. The couple of miles on the trail evolves into at least 5-6 miles that totally wore me out. This was probably my fourth time using the trail….and will be my LAST!
A tree killed by lightening.
Here we see a strange kind of lichen.
UP THE TRAIL! ??
Only abundant deer, and especially elk keep the trail open.
Atwine Lake is at about 10,150 feet . I was going to have a cold dinner that didn’t require cooking so set up my camp about 200 feet from the lake.
I was totally fatigued. My experience in recent years has shown me that to have two consecutive hard days had the potential of hurting me–especially in the early season before I got in shape. But, I set up my tent and prepared everything for the evening and night. Then, all of a sudden I was overwhelmed with a deeply congestive cough! My lungs were all of a sudden struggling. This reminded me of one of the other times when I began having High Altitude Sickness.
I noticed nearby a tree that had been scraped, likely last year as it was too early for this season, most likely by a bull elk rubbing the velvet off his antlers.
Sure enough the lake seemed to only have brook trout, several caught and released.
Much of the exploring planned would be winding my way through downed timber that had become very hard for me, and I just wasn’t willing to tackle that.
I’m well known for constantly bringing up Winston Churchill’s call during World War II, but as explained in my Coalville Speech I’ve had to fudge just a bit and add a word as seen below.
But, before any hard and fast conclusions, I still had to get down the 12-13 miles of trail to my car and comfortable little Cabin trailer. So off I went headed for Brown Duck Lake.
Another of the first mushrooms of the season….which I wasn’t about to eat!
I passed by no-name X-45 lake which was too shallow for fish.
You won’t recognize it, but this is my bridge across Brown Duck Creek just after it leaves the lake.
Just up the trail from the crossing I hit the main trail with this sign, and had a rest before going over to Brown Duck Lake to test the fishing.
A few casts quickly produced several regular sized Native Cutthroat trout which of course were released.
Lots of dandelions with which I could have enhanced my soup and Rice’A Roni….cooked in my campfire 1/4 of a mile from the lake.
Now, DOWN THE TRAIL!
Oh, and Wild Strawberry blossoming all along the trail.
I passed the “short-cut” and kept trudging along soon passing the Wilderness boundary and nearby set up my camp for the night. The next morning I was on my way, seeing some “Visions of Nature” that had gone unnoticed on the way up.
First a friendly resident of Altonah, CINDY WARR who has already emailed me and received pictures of them, and said, “I checked out your website last night. It’s cool, I would love to sit by the camp fire and hear some of your story’s, sometime.”
And friend, PETER from Kamas.
“You’re getting close!”
was the shout from Bryan and Marsha Broadhead from Roosevelt. I must have looked bushed and they thought I needed some encouragement.
……and their dog. Sorry I forgot to get the name…as I was deliriously “bushed!”
WOW….SALVATION IN SIGHT!
No campfire, but I did have propane and had a great early dinner after getting to Duchesne and cell phone and internet reception at the Public Library parking lot where I listened to ESPN radio and the USA vs PORTUGAL game that was ALMOST INCREDIBLE! …..well, it was for Portugal, as in soccer even a 2-2 tie is wonderful!
By then I learned that my wonderful daughter, Mahana, during my backpack had given birth a month early in Provo to handsome little Ryan Andersen Craig and I had to get home quick…but.to be safe for an old guy, getting a good night’s sleep first.