Trip #3-2010 BIG FOOT COUNTRY, BEAR RIVER, TIE HACKS

LET’S START WITH THE GOAL


Trip #3 July 9-18  East Fork Blacks Fk. Trailhead –Little East Fk, Alpine Lakes, Squaw Pass, Porcupine Lake/Pass, upper no-name No.Star Lakes, Tungsten Lk/Pass, Y-19, Y-20 Lakes, Oweep/Lambert Lakes back to Trailhead . PURPOSES: Find and photograph Big Foot and family, test at least 14 lakes.  Fri-Fri-Sun.

This was the plan, but if you tracked me on the SPOT website you will have noticed that some modifications became necessary.  I’ll get into that as I describe what happened.  
First up on Friday, July 9th, the route was to Kamas and then up the Mirror Lake Scenic Byway, making a stop at the Highline Trailhead to use the facilities and see what the action has been thus far.
I checked the register and found the following:
From there I continued north to the turnoff and the North Slope Road heading east. To that turnoff it is about 100 miles from Springville, Utah.  I didn’t activate my SPOT tracker until actually arriving at the East Fork of Blacks Fork Trailhead, but I’ll insert here the Google Earth image that shows the Wasatch Front on the left, then tracking  (done on the way home) beginning at Francis and Kamas and up the Scenic Byway and down to the North Slope Road and  the 20 miles east, and the backpack.  The tracking north into Wyoming will be explained later.
I had got a late start and so didn’t leave the Trailhead until about 1:30 p.m.

The East Fork of Black’s Fork Trailhead.

I added my name to the short list in the Forest Service Register.
The 1st entry was on July 2nd, a trip to the Red Castle Area, reporting on their return that Red Castle Lake was still frozen over on their trip.
The sky was ominous.  The Evanston weather report I had for 7 days reporting afternoon thunderstorms for the next few days.  So off I went sort of into the teeth of the storm.
I set my camera on the rail of the bridge crossing the East Fork of Blacks Fork and got my portrait.  Of course Big Foot and his (its?) family were supposed to be waiting for me to take their portrait up Little East Fork.  Soon I was hiking with poncho protecting me and gear from the rain.  1.6 miles up the trail I managed fording Little East Fork that was high with the run-off but luckily split there into 3 streams.  Then up the canyon and eventually to the 1st ford.
There I was shocked with the realization that I had forgotten my wadding slippers which for me were essential.  I wasn’t about to wade the stream barefoot with my very tender and delicate reconstructed ankles and feet.  Neither did I want to  get my hiking boots wet and continue with wet, cold feet.
Especially early in the season one should have wadding slippers for most areas.
I had some good ones–much better than the heavy bulky ones now used by most hikers seen later with some new Uinta Friends.  But, mine were in Springville.  I decided I would not ford the stream but rather bushwhack my way up the south side of the canyon to where the trail came back across the stream.  It crossed my mind that this was a stroke of “good luck” as I would have a better chance of finding Big Foot off-trail where few if any backpackers had ever been.
My route was on the steep left side of the stream, providing me with some great exercise!  This was especially so as I was going prepared for a 9 day trip, and of course all my photo equipment which, with 3 lbs. of water totaled out at around 53 lbs. on my back and around my waist.
Lots of downed timber to say the least.  My balance and agility had improved a great deal since my first backpack of the summer.  Of course I was slow as a snail, especially in this kind of country. Due to my late start I wanted to keep going until 7:00 or later, but all of a sudden a storm was on top of me  and I frantically searched for a level spot wide enough between rocks and downed timber to set up my tent.  Then the rain was upon me, and I had to settle for what there was.  I covered my gear with my poncho and stumbled around setting up my tent and dumped everything inside.
  I had to eat a cold dinner of Wheat Thins,  egg nog and an energy bar.  It rained off and on all night.  I awoke early Saturday and tuned in to KSL OUTDOORS Radio, but reception was very bad.  I did pick up that they wanted me to call twice, once at the designated time, 6:37, and later to talk about fishing in the Uintas along with someone from the DWR.  I got the first call in though with a weak signal.  After 7:00 a.m. I tried again many times and failed.  Radio reception was also bad.  
Everything was a bit wet and so I got a late start scratching and clawing my way up the mountain.  No tracks of Big Foot even though I kept thinking I had seen a fleeting and frightening glimpse of his wife–but then realized it had been a nightmare of a woman I had to do with for a while…..best leave it at that!  Noticing as I could through the thick forest the mountain ridges around and ahead of me I calculated that I was about where the trail had to come back across the stream and began angling down–“down” as usually I had to keep high to avoid often near impassable terrain. 
 For the first time in my experience I began wondering if a GPS device might not be a good idea.  I’ve always resisted saying, “Jedediah Smith wouldn’t have used one!”  But, it occurred to me that he wouldn’t either have had a down sleeping bag, rather a buffalo rob!  
For information go to:  GPS
I had navigated pretty good and all of a sudden I was where the trail crossed the stream.
I had ahead of me a long stretch before another ford and I began enjoying myself back on a trail and photographing the many varieties of wildflowers.  
Zooming in on many tiny varieties that go unnoticed by hikers as they are so tiny, these being about 1/4 inch wide.
Eventually I came to the 3rd ford.  Mostly because of the off-trail bushwhacking up a steep canyon littered with a jig-saw puzzle of downed timber, I was pretty tired and I began getting that feeling that for me to continue I would need to take a day of rest.  


I found a nice spot for my camp and decided to stop early, take my supplements and consider seriously some things that were weighting down on my mind.  
I got my water bucket and headed  for the stream to get the water I needed to mix all my stuff.
While there two backpackers appeared.  They were equipped with wadding slippers and mentioned how difficult the fords had been downstream. They couldn’t believe how I had avoided both difficult fords.   Up this far the stream was smaller and I got shots of these new Uinta Friends as they crossed the stream.


Take notice of the crucial pole you should always use to steady yourself as you cross.
Made it, but forgot his boots.
His buddy sailed them over the stream.  Then his own.
Then he was on his way too.

They were on a great loop backpack up Little East Fork to Squaw Pass and down to Oweep Creek, then over Porcupine Pass down around through the upper Garfield Basin and the headwaters of Yellowstone Creek to Smith’s Fork Pass and north into the Red Castle Area.  From there they would take the Bald Mountain trail back to the East Fork of Black’s Fork Trailhead and their car. I confess feeling a bit envious of them and their youthful energy, but I had to pay heed to what my body and mind seemed to be telling me.  I got my water and  was soon back at camp  preparing my recovery supplements.
I settled in for a “day of rest” and contemplation with a lot on my mind.
I’ll admit that none of this was as easy for me as I had hoped.  I was strong enough, but so slow that to do it all would require more time than alotted.  Some of my kids smile and say, “Dad, what do you expect, you’re getting sort of old!”   But, my balance and agility were improving with each trip.  High altitude sickness, a great concern in the last few years, didn’t seem to be a problem anymore–even though I had only been as high as 10,800 ft this summer with much higher passes ahead of me. Nights were long as I had difficulty sleeping well. Maybe a bit of loneliness was part of what I was feeling, but it was clear that after 1,350 miles of backpacking in the last 8 years I wasn’t enjoying myself as much as a few years ago.  It was also a bit disconcerting to be a bit fearful of finding a way to ford the streams, but maybe it was wisdom?   I began daydreaming about having a little house trailer parked at Trailheads sleeping in comfort, eating good  and doing day hikes photographing flowers and wildlife, and maybe doing a good study on “Fishing the Streams of the Uintas,” but first finishing  my research and search for the  unsung American heroes, the  Tie hackers. 
But there was something much more weighty on my mind.  In a recent Foundation for Indian Development newsletters (I’m the volunteer Executive Director)  I had talked about how low donations were and how terribly sad I was to have to say “NO”  to life and death requests for help from my Mayan brothers and sisters.  I recognized that the economic situation was (is) difficult, but that those who wanted to donate could easily do so, perhaps by taking one day less vacation,  one day less golfing a month, or one less movie a month, eating out, etc.  But there I was fooling around in the Uintas and not working enough to be able to donate much myself–except for my time keeping the 40 year effort alive.  With the desperate economic situation I felt like one big hypocrite to say the least. For information on what I’m talking about click on FOUNDATION.  On that website you can donate Online to one of the most worthy causes around–to which I have dedicated more than 50 years as a non-salaried volunteer.

The next day, Sunday, I started off sleeping in some, clicking on my radio in time to listen to The Mormon Tabernacle Choir and, in keeping with the “Day of Rest,” I even had my simple little Sacrament service using my own modified version of the prayer from my tiny military version of the scriptures.
The decision came quickly to get down the canyon and on to home to begin acting on my own advice, work more and be able to become a more significant donor helping those in need.  I would do my darndest to finish working on key aspects of my High Uintas Project, but do better putting in order my priorities.  A Google Earth SPOT tracking of the backpack shows me returning as I had come, bushwhacking down to the main canyon and on to the Trailhead.  Looking at this view, and zooming in on what I hadn’t been able to accomplish awakened an excitement in me to still one day make this trip–but the loop route.  I hate failure, so one day . . . . . 

As I moved down I stopped frequently to photograph the inspiring beauties of our Great Creator, and constantly felt grateful for my faith being strengthened and confirmed, and for the incredible exercise I was getting going through this off-trail wilderness.









Within a couple of hours I was bushwhacking down through familiar territory and feeling energized by all the wonders around me.  I didn’t see Big Foot, nor his wife (except through the horrible nightmare), but I will spare you the trauma of inserting a photo here–you will just have to believe me!


Soon I made it down to the main canyon, got safely across the divided river, and in good time was at the last sign (actually the only sign) that was a crosstrail on the other side of the river from the Trailhead.

A few minutes later I was gratefully at the car, having made the 7 miles since noon, but with the off-trail portion, it translated to more like 10 miles.  Not bad for an old 74 year old geezer!

Now I noticed at the Trailhead a sign warning me of “TREES ON THE TRAILS,” not to mention the increase X100 for my bushwhacking route.  Also I noticed another sign concerning the domestic grazing permitted in the area–I took notice as I could hear from my off-trail route the sheep being moved up the canyon as I was going down.

Many have asked me about sheep and cattle in the high country.  It continues due to what they call “Grandaddy traditions” carrying on what has been going on for many years, all of them on the North Slope coming from Wyoming–which you will see in a minute or two.
I headed west on the North Slope Road with the plan of taking a bit more advantage of having made the trip by camping out on, and exploring the Bear River, and doing a bit of exploring for the tie hackers.  Along the way of course I had to stop often to record the stunning beauty.

Some of these images of wildflowers will eventually be worked into my Alpine Wildflower Albums in the Galleries section.


At Carter Creek I took a telephoto shot of the remains of a tie hacker splash dam, and a bit further along observed a doe with two new speckled fawns, and in low light clicked off a shot as they took cover.






We have now arrived at the East Fork of the Bear River, seeing in the distance Spread Eagle Peak.

From this spot I turned my camera to the west to capture an image of a humble log cabin.

From my youth I had always dreamed of having a log cabin in the mountains–somewhere, but this isn’t what I had in mind.  If said “cabin”  is to come from my High Uintas Project’s commissions on outdoor items purchased from links on my website, it will be way down the road as so far the Project’s income comes to $11.64!   Maybe we could do better by asking for a donation to the causeif you feel there is value to you in my website and the guidance I give to make possible safely enjoying our wonderful outdoors. You could perhaps look at a donation being like a subscription to your favorite magazine.  Best we get back to enjoying the beauties of nature I found all around me along the Bear River.









The Bear River flowing out of the High Uintas.

Some of you might recall from other articles on my website that the 500 mile long Bear River,  born in  the Uintas,  is the largest river in North America that doesn’t empty into an ocean.  It flows north into Wyoming, then swings west into Idaho, and turns south flowing back into Utah and the Great Salt lake.  As you see it is a beautiful fishing stream.  I fished a little, then got diverted to photographing flowers, when Sherman and Jan appeared, fly fishing rods in hand.

What a great chance encounter.  Are you noticing their humble waders?  Let’s focus on them.

Later, on my way back from the tie hack search in Wyoming, I stopped to say goodbye and was invited to a wonderful picnic lunch, along with some great conversation. THANKS TO BOTH OF YOU!   She had won the fishing contest with one Brown trout caught on a tiny nymph.

I decided to finish off the trip exploring more about the tie hackers.  See my preliminary photo essay on these incredible Americans clicking on TIE HACK HEROES.   I have 3 or 4 more aspects of their history to investigate and then I will publish for the world this great story.  So far what I have is the best I have seen on the Utah tie hacks, and I’m determined to do these heroes justice. What I have found in print, and the DVD shown above deal with Wyoming tie hacks, mainly from the Wind River area.   
One aspect of my investigation deals with the Hilliard Flume, described below.

I drove up into the mountains   west of the Scenic Byway to find evidence of where this flume came down the mountain.  There were places where its construction was built 30 feet off the ground. In other places they dug huge trenches through the terrain.  I found one of them shown below.

Here we see the beginning of the cut through the terrain as the flume came down the mountain.  Below the camera was turned around looking down (north) seeing the cut.

Nearby I noticed across the gully what looked like cabin ruins, and got close.

Low and behold it was MY CABIN!

This coming Friday and Saturday–July 16th and 17th I will be in the area with my maps and old Forest Service writings that show where there might still be some remains of the flume.  But I didn’t have my files with, so decided to not waste time and head north into Wyoming to search for the aspect of the tie hackers I would most like to find.  As I headed north I was being approached by a white wave.

More sheep for the High Uintas alpine basins.

Mexican sheep herders were moving 1,200 sheep into the high country.  Back 60 years ago sheep herders in the High Uintas were Basques from Spain.  Now they are from Mexico, Peru and Chile.

There they go towards Lamotte, Ostler and Spread Eagle Peaks.

We are heading north towards Evanston, Wyoming driving through wonderful ranching country. Our objective is to learn more about what became known to many as Beartown.  About 10 miles from Evanston there is a tourist historical turn-out  that everyone should take a moment to see. The part I was interested in was:

I’ll zoom in for you.

I can’t believe that “Nothing remains today…”   A town of 2,000 people has to have something remaining and I want to find whatever it might be.  I drove around some, like up to the nearby Sulfur Creek Reservoir, but found nothing.  We are looking south towards the High Uintas.



Once again I didn’t have my files with maps and aerial photographs, etc. in hopes of locating the area, and then finding and photographing something.  I will work on that also this coming Friday and Saturday, and report.

I returned south up the Mirror Lake Scenic Byway and soon had to begin stopping again from time to time.

Here we are looking towards Lamotte and Ostler Peaks.  To get to this beautiful area, you turn off at the sign to Christmas Meadows and drive about 4 miles to the Trailhead.  From there you can backpack to 3 basins:  Amethyst, West, and Middle Basins, absolutely gorgeous areas you can see in my Mountainscapes album in the Galleries section.

From here I drove up and over Bald Mountain Pass, of course stopping frequently when I just couldn’t resist.






Below is the SPOT Tracker Google Earth view of my travels on Trip #3.

To the east is the North Slope Road leading to the area of the backpack.  The tracking line from the North is from the Wyoming area of Bear River Town following the Mirror Lake Scenic Byway that traverses the western end of the High Uintas and continues down to Kamas, and then to Francis where it ends.   

If all goes well I will be exploring the Hilliard Flume, and searching for remains of Bear River City.
Before I leave I will have before this article the SPOT TRACKER link to where I will be on that short trip. On Saturday morning I will make my satellite phone call to KSL OUTDOORS RADIO, most likely from a camp along the Bear River.

In the meantime, if you want to learn some about the Tie Hackers, go to this article by clicking on:
TIE HACK HEROES.   It is a what I call a photo essay.  To get the story you should go from picture to picture reading the captions and comments.


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