Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Backpacking Across Europe... or the Uintas

Last weekend Seth and I went on a three day backpacking trip with his sister, Collette and her husband Marty. It was Collette and Marty's first backpacking experience and the only one I'd been on for about 20 years. This naturally made Seth our guide. He'd been on several backpacking trips and is an avid map reader, so he picked out a good spot for us up in the Uintas.

So I made this fancy map of where we hiked, but apparently I drew it wrong. We actually started at Crystal Lake and went between Lily Lakes. I think I got the rest of it right though.

Marty and Collette

Anyway, the first day we ended up hiking about 3 miles to Twin Lakes where we set up camp. The trail still had patches of snow which made things a bit soggy, but we still able to hike pretty well. About a mile into the hike we came to Wall Lake. This is where most of the people we saw were staying. Since we weren't sure how far we'd be able to hike, this was the deciding point of whether we would camp or continue on to one of the upper lakes. We were all feeling good at this point so we kept going. The trail was a little steeper for the next two miles, but it was a nice challenge.

Wall Lake

About the time we got to Twin Lakes, the weather turned on us and we got a little rain and wind. We were all pretty tired so Seth went on ahead for a ways to see if he could find a good place to camp. He came back about a half hour later and said that the spot we were in was the best so we ended up just staying there! I put a little arrow on the map above of where we actually camped. It was really beautiful! We were camped right on the Twin Lakes and could see Wall Lake down below us. It was a wonderful spot.

Collette and Marty by our campsite at Twin Lakes

Luckily the weather calmed down that evening while we set up our tents and such. Seth and I even got in some fishing. I didn't catch anything, but Seth caught at least one Cutthroat.

Seth with his first catch of the trip... but definitely not the last!

That night the weather was kind of crazy so we went to bed early. Come to find out none of us slept a wink. The wind and rain beating against the tents combined with our thin foam pads and mummy bags made for a long terrible night.

When we got up in the morning I was informed by Seth that our tent was full of cold water. Apparently the rain had been running off the rain fly on the tent and falling onto the tarp beneath us. This probably wouldn't have been an issue normally, but there happened to be a small hole in the bottom of the tent floor. Plus water soaked through the walls of the tent too, so we were pretty much hosed. I hadn't noticed the water because I like to sleep by the tent door to protect Seth from bears, and ended up being on a slight incline to where he was. So all the water pooled onto Seth's side of the tent. I guess he found out about the water in the middle of the night when he got up to go "look for springs." As he climbed out of his sleeping bag, he put his hand down into a puddle of ice water. Sweet.

Lucky for us that was the last rain of the trip. It was all blue skies from there on out. We dried out all our stuff the next morning and relocated our tent to a more level, rain-resistant area.

Drying out the tent after a stormy night

On day two we left our camp and hiked a couple miles up past several lakes. First we came to Clyde Lake which was a huge lake teaming with fish. As we walked along the bank we could see tons of fish swimming around and we were really tempted to stop. But, at that point we had our hearts set on Hidden Lake. We'd heard it had a lot of bigger fish because it was further away and not many people went there. So we kept going... past Peter, James and John Lakes... past Three Divide Lakes. So many lakes... so many temptations. But we resisted them all and finally made it to Hidden Lake.

As I stood at the edge of the lake getting my fly rod all rigged up, I saw something swimming in the water. At first I thought it was a small fish, but something looked a little odd. I stared at it for a moment and realized this thing had legs... and a tail. It was a salamander!

After hiking all that way to Hidden Lake, all we saw were salamanders. Hoards of them. They sure were creepy little buggers. And some of them were huge! We never did see any fish. We stayed at Hidden Lake just long enough to have a snack and rename the place. We dubbed it Salamander Lake. Seth called it Mild Disappointment Lake. We cut our losses, slid down a snow bank and hiked about a mile or so back to Clyde Lake where we all managed to catch a few Brook trout. We took them back to camp, wrapped them in tin foil and cooked them on the coals. Delicious! (especially with freeze dried lasagna and chili mac).

Marty receiving messages (or just a nap) on what we dubbed as "Zen Point"

On the morning of day three we packed up our stuff, took some final pictures and headed back home. By the time we got back to the car we were all pretty tired and ready for a shower. Seth and I had a really great time and it was so fun to get to hang out with Collette and Marty. We hope we get to do it again soon!

Group shot overlooking Wall Lake


heidi said...

I'm glad you had such a lovely time! I like your pictures. The one with Seth on the rock--he's holding that fish with what looks like such tenderness. :D Also, the one with you holding your hat is ADORABLE. Sad about the HOLE in the tent! That reminds me of this one year, up in the Sawtooths, Paulie and I left our campsite (we were car camping that trip--once in a rare while I'll submit to backpacking, but, I like when we can bring a cooler full of fresh fruit way better-er!)... Anyway, we left to go on a hike and try out these hot springs, and, as we were leaving, I asked Paul if we should put up the rain tarp, and, he looked at the sky and went, "Nope--there's no way it's going to rain today. It's absolutely clear." Guess what happened? Yup. Rain got all over our bags, in fact--but mine got the worst of it, so, my gallant honey swapped with me.

I'm also reminded how much Paulie and I like to camp with fisherpeople. Whenever my dad's around, he can usually be counted upon to catch some yummy fishies. Weird how nothing's ever as good at home, as it is out camping.

Except my hair.

I love you guys! Glad you had such a nice backpacking experience, wetness and all.


Seth said...

Nice job writing this up sweetie! You described everything very well. :-)

Rachel said...

I'm so glad you're there to protect Seth from the bears. That looks like a delightful time.