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High Uinta ~5 day backpacking ideas

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High Uinta ~5 day backpacking ideas

Postby mkpatrick » Sat Apr 17, 2010 8:41 am

hey guys,

I am an experienced backpacker/scrambler looking for a great ~5 day backpack in the High Uintas. I cant get anymore time off in mid summer (got a wind rivers trip brewing in August), so....

First question, considering the current snowpack what would be the absolute earliest time that I could access the high country? I have pretty solid route finding skills and would not hesitate to carry axe/crampons if needed for north slopes. Thinking late June might be realistic. If I am unable to get off in the early summer, what is the absolute latest time in the fall for a high country visit, at least with an average weather pattern in fall. Catching some golden aspen in Fall sound purdy good...

How stable is your early to mid fall weather pattern traditionally?

Next quesiton, Where the hell should I go??? Way too my beautiful places to explore with only 5 days to walk. I would like to visit beautiful lakes and scrambe up a few peaks. Fishing would be a big bonus.

Any books/forums that you would recommend to gather beta?

Thanks for any and all advice,

Matt
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The Uintas....what an awesome place. Nice choice

Postby imontop » Sat Apr 17, 2010 1:17 pm

Snow pack in Utah hasn't been as high as the last few years, but realistically, to avoid too much snow in the basins where the great fishing is, your right, late June is the earliest. Prime time is mid July through mid sept. How far into the fall the good weather lasts is a crap shoot. It's typically the same as the Winds. Heck, it can snow up there in July!

Here's few of my suggestions, keeping fishing in mind.

1. Kings Peak via Henry's Fork Basin.
2. Timothy Lakes on the south slope. AWESOME fishing! Very remote
3 Naturalist Basin. Lots of people, but beautiful.
4. Grandaddy Basin. Lots of fishing opportunities
5. Red Castle. You can do a loop combining this with Henry's fork basin.

These are just a few. Fishing is great, and so are the peaks to climb.
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Postby markv » Sat Apr 17, 2010 6:57 pm

I did #5 above once, and it stands as one of the finest trips i've had. Start from China Basin trailhead, hike south through the Red Castle area (rainbow trout), head southeast for an unnamed but fairly easy x-country pass. That hooks up with a few trails that go northeast and then north towards Anderson Pass by King's Peak. You can choose several routes from there back to your car. We went down the rockslide north of Anderson Pass and just went x-country through the basin. The Red Castle area is crumbly rock for climbing, but once you dip into the basin to the south there are some options.

I'd think if you don't mind the snow, you'd almost be better off going early or mid-June instead of late June or early July. Mosquitos. I'd either go early or late, but not right in between.

The typical monsoon pattern starts up in early July and stops by early September, but i think there are enough exceptions that you can't really plan for a pattern at all. On my Red Castle trip, it was mid August and we never saw a cloud. I would think your odds of clear skies and no snow would be pretty good all the way through September and even into a bit of October.

No guide books necessary. Just go.
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Postby mkpatrick » Sat Apr 17, 2010 11:55 pm

markv wrote:I did #5 above once, and it stands as one of the finest trips i've had. Start from China Basin trailhead, hike south through the Red Castle area (rainbow trout), head southeast for an unnamed but fairly easy x-country pass. That hooks up with a few trails that go northeast and then north towards Anderson Pass by King's Peak. You can choose several routes from there back to your car. We went down the rockslide north of Anderson Pass and just went x-country through the basin. The Red Castle area is crumbly rock for climbing, but once you dip into the basin to the south there are some options.

I'd think if you don't mind the snow, you'd almost be better off going early or mid-June instead of late June or early July. Mosquitos. I'd either go early or late, but not right in between.

The typical monsoon pattern starts up in early July and stops by early September, but i think there are enough exceptions that you can't really plan for a pattern at all. On my Red Castle trip, it was mid August and we never saw a cloud. I would think your odds of clear skies and no snow would be pretty good all the way through September and even into a bit of October.

No guide books necessary. Just go.


Great ideas, Guys-

I currently have a week off from June 7th-13th. I wanted to push it back a week or two, but am unable due other people being off. Late Sept is my #2 option.

If TH access is doable and the south slopes are melted out, this may be the ticket. I certainly dont mind some snow travel, but dont really want 5days of continuous snow travel. Going early would keep the crowds down and dodging the mosquitos is always a great idea. Do you think the lakes will be melted out for fishing or still frozen in early June? I am getting all fired up just thinking about it.
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Postby ZeeJay » Sun Apr 18, 2010 2:08 am

June 7-13 is pushing things a little. Your best bet would be to do something on the south side of the main Uinta crest e.g the Swift Creek/Yellowstone Basin/Garfield Basin area. However, I think things on the north slope e.g. Henrys Fork Basin and the Red Castle area are more scenic, but there is more likely to be an unpleasant amount of snow in those areas that time of year.

On June 16 of 2009 I hiked to the top of Bluebell Pass via the Swift Creek Trail and encountered minimal snow. All lakes encountered along the way were completely melted out. But, these were all small lakes such as White Miller Lake, 10966, 10919, 10912, etc. I didn't pass by any of the bigger ones.

On June 18 of 2008 while climbing Mount Emmons I had good view into the upper Swift Creek drainage and the big lakes such as East and West Timothy Lakes and Farmers Lake were still frozen over. The following picture is looking NW into the Swift Creek Drainage and was taken from the Mount Emmons ridge, about 1.75 miles S of the summit. The largest lakes in the picture from L to R are Farmers and E Timothy lake in front of W Timothy Lake.

Image
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Postby markv » Sun Apr 18, 2010 7:09 am

Just for reference, (things change a lot) 2010 looks to be a somewhat low snow year at this point. 2009 was a somewhat high snow year, and 2008 was about average.
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Postby mkpatrick » Fri May 28, 2010 9:45 am

OK guys, June is not going to happen. We are now looking at late Sept or early October for a trip into the Uintas. I figure this time of year is a bit iffy weather wise, but if the forecast is bad, we have great backup options in Southern Utah (Canyonlands, Buckskin, Captiol Reef, etc.) Anyone have any advice regarding a late season backpack into the Uintas?
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Postby markv » Mon May 31, 2010 6:24 am

Same as above. Besides shorter days and colder nights, you have a good chance of having good enough weather, no bugs, and a great trip no matter which option you pick. Since i know it, my recommendation would be the Red Castle trip, but i haven't done all the others.
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Postby 46and2 » Mon Jun 14, 2010 3:34 am

I second the Red Castle option albeit with a slight change. If you want a loop hike that lasts 4-5 nights might I recommend:

o Start at East Fork Blacks Fork TH
o Take Bald Mountain Trail (11.6k feet) over to Red Castle (in Smiths Fork) -- camp 1
o Head over Smiths Fork Pass and Tungsten Pass to North Star Lake -- camp 2
o Go west over Porcupine Pass (12.3k feet?) , through Oweep Basin to Lake Fork -- camp 3
o Up and over 12k foot Red Knob Pass to Deadhorse Lake -- camp 4
o Back over Red Knob pass into East Fork Blacks Fork -- camp 5
o Walk ~8 miles back to your car.

I've been to all these places but on three separate trips. The scenery is nothing short of biblical! Deadhorse Lake is the prettiest place in the range... imho.
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Postby mkpatrick » Wed Jun 16, 2010 9:05 am

46and2 wrote:I second the Red Castle option albeit with a slight change. If you want a loop hike that lasts 4-5 nights might I recommend:

o Start at East Fork Blacks Fork TH
o Take Bald Mountain Trail (11.6k feet) over to Red Castle (in Smiths Fork) -- camp 1
o Head over Smiths Fork Pass and Tungsten Pass to North Star Lake -- camp 2
o Go west over Porcupine Pass (12.3k feet?) , through Oweep Basin to Lake Fork -- camp 3
o Up and over 12k foot Red Knob Pass to Deadhorse Lake -- camp 4
o Back over Red Knob pass into East Fork Blacks Fork -- camp 5
o Walk ~8 miles back to your car.

I've been to all these places but on three separate trips. The scenery is nothing short of biblical! Deadhorse Lake is the prettiest place in the range... imho.


Crazy that you mentioned this option. I have been studying Topo maps and was considering this idea because I really wanted to see the Dead Horse Lake area. Do you have a rough milage estimate for this option? Also, does anyone know of a shuttle service that operates on the north slope of the High Uintas?
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Postby 46and2 » Thu Jun 17, 2010 2:50 am

mkpatrick wrote:
46and2 wrote:I second the Red Castle option albeit with a slight change. If you want a loop hike that lasts 4-5 nights might I recommend:

o Start at East Fork Blacks Fork TH
o Take Bald Mountain Trail (11.6k feet) over to Red Castle (in Smiths Fork) -- camp 1
o Head over Smiths Fork Pass and Tungsten Pass to North Star Lake -- camp 2
o Go west over Porcupine Pass (12.3k feet?) , through Oweep Basin to Lake Fork -- camp 3
o Up and over 12k foot Red Knob Pass to Deadhorse Lake -- camp 4
o Back over Red Knob pass into East Fork Blacks Fork -- camp 5
o Walk ~8 miles back to your car.

I've been to all these places but on three separate trips. The scenery is nothing short of biblical! Deadhorse Lake is the prettiest place in the range... imho.


Crazy that you mentioned this option. I have been studying Topo maps and was considering this idea because I really wanted to see the Dead Horse Lake area. Do you have a rough milage estimate for this option? Also, does anyone know of a shuttle service that operates on the north slope of the High Uintas?


The route as I have described it is probably in the 40-45 mile range. What is nice is that once you are up in the basins there is not too much up and down except for the passes. The East Fork Blacks Fork TH and probably Smiths Fork TH are the two on the north slope that can be used for a loop hike. I know of no shuttle service but maybe a local SP'er could help out.

One other option is to do a hike I have planned out but not attempted yet:

o Henry's Fork TH
o South to Henry's Fork Basin - Camp 1
o South over Gunsite Pass and Trailrider Pass to Lake Atwood - Camp 2
o North back over Trailrider Pass, Anderson Pass and then south over to Kings Lake at the southern base of South Kings Peak - Camp 3
o North over Smiths Fork Pass to East Red Castle Lake, Smiths Fork Pass Lake or Lower Red Castle Lake - Camp 4
o Northeast past Lake Hessie back into Henry's Fork and back to the car.
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Postby 46and2 » Thu Jun 17, 2010 5:41 am

Here are a few images of Deadhorse Lake. Don't tell anyone else about it though!

Image

Image
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Postby Scott » Sat Jun 19, 2010 1:12 am

If you want to see Deadhorse Lake while using a loop hike, there are two excellent options.

1. East Fork Bear River to Allsop Lake, over the pass to Deadhorse Lake and down West Fork Blacks Fork to the Bear River Smiths Fork Trail.

2. East Fork Bear River to Priord Lake, over Ostler/Priord pass to Helen Lake and the Head of Rock Creek trail to Deadhorse Passk down to Deadhorse Lake and down West Fork Blacks Fork to the Bear River Smiths Fork Trail.

Elsewhere, I list some of my favorite loops/routes on the page below:

http://www.summitpost.org/area/range/17 ... rness.html
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Re: High Uinta ~5 day backpacking ideas

Postby mkpatrick » Fri May 10, 2013 5:05 am

Hey guys!

I never made it to the Uintas 3 years ago when I formulated this post, but have tentative plans to spend some time in the Uintas this summer, thankfully with more time off (dates off are June 25-July 8th.) What kind of snow year have you guys had in northern Utah this year? How is the spring melt coming along? Seems like my dates are never perfect, but if I am willing to deal with the bugs and potential thunderstorms, I think early July should work. I am really stoked and my group will have 2 cars, so a point to point hike will be possible. My current plan is as follows:

1. East Fork Bear River to Priord lake
2. Priord Lake over to Helen Lake (how difficult is that up and over in early July? Crampons/Ice Axe) then to Reconnaissance Lake
3. Reconnaissance Lake to Dead Horse Lake via Dead Horse Pass
4. Dead Horse Lake to Red Knob Pass to Crater Lake
5. Crater Lake to North Star or Tungsten Lake
6. Porcipine Pass to Red Castle
7. Out via China Meadows

Another option would be to spend 4-5 days in the Uintas and then 3 days on the 4 pass loop in the Maroon Bells, as we will likely circle through Steamboat Springs to visit an old high school friend. I am not much for crowds though.

If you guys dont think the melt will be far enough along, our backup plan is the Dusty Basin area in the High Sierra. Any scrambles that are not to be missed along this route? Best fishing along the way (fishing is secondary to scenic beauty, but I will pack my fly rod if yall think it is worthwhile? I really like the route I have developed, but if you guys have an opinion, I am all ears to alternnatives. So much to see in the Uintas... As always, I appreciate the advice. Thanks for taking the time to read.

Safe Travels,
Matt
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Re: High Uinta ~5 day backpacking ideas

Postby mkpatrick » Fri May 10, 2013 5:07 am

http://images.summitpost.org/original/424027.JPG

I think this photo shows the pass from Priord to Helen. Looks kind of sketchy/loose, but I think it will go early season?
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