Kermsuh Lake, Uintas, August 2011

Posted by on Aug 9, 2011

Kermsuh Lake. It doesn’t have all that much going for it when you compare it to the other two basins accessed from Christmas Meadows. The others have have better campsites, more lakes, less rugged terrain and faster fishing. But Kermsuh just has a special character that I appreciate. I first visited it last August on a solo trip. I only spent one night but I liked it enough that I wanted to do it again with some friends.

Here’s a map with our tracks for the hike out. I left the GPS off for most of the hike in. The total mileage one way was 6.63. It’s about 2.5 from Christmas Meadows to Ostler Fork (just after Amethyst junction). Then another 2 miles to Kermsuh junction and a bit over 2 miles from there to Kermsuh Lake.

View Kermsuh Lake Map full size in a new window.

We left Salt Lake late Friday afternoon and drove as fast as we could to the Christmas Meadows trailhead. We were on the trail just after 6:30 and we cruised up to the junction to Amethyst. We knew there was a decent campsite there but it was taken so we kept going for another mile and a half to an area where I had noticed spots before. It would have been cool to make it up to the meadow below Kermsuh but at least this way we didn’t have to find camp in the dark. I’m really starting to like these trips where we start after work on Friday and get in two nights of backpacking. It leaves me feeling like I went on a three day trip without taking any time off.

Watching the last bit of sunlight from our camp.

Nikita watching over the meadow. This was the first trip she’s gone on without another dog for a while (at least for the first day). She was so happy and much gamier than usual. It was like she was 5 or 6 years old again.
Nikita watching over the meadow

After the sun went down we waited for the stars to start showing up and set our cameras out to shoot some star trails. I was excited about the prospect of a half moon to light up the landscape. This shot is one of my test shots while setting up, notice the purple glow on the horizon. I THINK that might be aurora borealis. At the time I just assumed it was something from the lingering sunset but after I got home I saw on the news that there was a rare appearance of the aurora about an hour north of where we were. The photos showed a very purple light just like this but much larger in the sky. When I looked through my exposures from the star trails I noticed it dimmed out and then came back on and off well after dark.
Aurora Borealis?

I didn’t end up getting that awesome moonlit landscape I’d hoped for on my star trail.
Christmas Meadows

I was up early the next morning watching the sun roll across the valley.
Morning at the edge of camp

Tim wasn’t feeling so hot so we decided to hang around camp for a while and wait for Nate. He couldn’t leave on Friday night so he was just going to hike in on Saturday morning and meetup with us. We figured he should be walking through our camp by 10 or 11 but sometime after 11 he still hadn’t showed so we decided to head on up towards Kermsuh.
The path less traveled

We hiked up to the meadow about a mile below Kermsuh and spent the next hour or two relaxing and waiting for Nate. The meadow was deep and lush with wildflowers everywhere. Can you spot the dog in this photo?

Tim took a nap while Nikita and I went fishing. The river that winds through that meadow is huge and very deep and the fishing for small brook trout was red hot. I caught about a dozen on dry flies in the first 20 minutes or so. While I was fishing Nikita was just downstream doing the same. I’ve never seen anything like it. She would stand up on the bank of the river and wait for a fish to swim along and then she would jump into the water and try to catch it. Keep in mind that Nikita is NOT generally fond of water other than the occasional sit down in a puddle to cool off. But for the prospect of catching fish she was diving and swimming. Crazy. This continued up at the lake and again hiking back through. Here’s a few pics of her fishing. Wish I could have gotten one of her jumping in but no such luck.

On our way up to Kermsuh, Tim working the main channel with the fly rod while Nikita works on scaring them out of the side channels.
Team fishing

It was getting pretty late in the day and we had decided that Nate must not be coming. But then as we approached the end of the meadow I saw Sonny darting across the grass towards Nikita. You’d think after all the swimming she had been doing that Nikita would have just jumped in but I guess she only swims for fish. It was fun to watch them freak out about running into eachother and then being on opposite sides of the river.

It was just after 4 by the time we finally made it to Kermsuh Lake. Amazing how much snow is holding on up there this year.

We picked a camp on the north side of the lake. It’s pretty rock and exposed over there but we wanted the view of the cirque that the more hospitable south side lacks. After getting settled in we went to work at rounding up some dinner. Nate caught into this fat brookie right away. Amazing he landed it considering the accidental snag of the dorsal fin.

Closeup of the snag.

One of the three I kept.

Nate getting them ready to cook.

While Tim gets the fire rolling back in camp.
Kermsuh Camp

Cooking the fish

A-1 Peak with the moon lighting the landscape.
A-1 Peak

The next morning was clear once again. The lack of clouds in the Uintas this year is a little frustrating for photography’s sake. But at least the fishing was still going well. Here’s Tim bringing in another fat brook on a Maribou Jig.

Brookie and Hayden Peak

We hung around camp and fished for a little while before heading out.

Nikita showing Sonny how to fish. Or maybe he just couldn’t figure out what she was looking at…

Nate and Nikita making the river crossing through the meadow.

I didn’t take many photos once we dropped out of the meadow. I had woken up with a pretty bad cold and sore throat that morning. It really snuck up on me and made for one hell of a miserable hike out. Even now, three days later I’ve felt progressively worse each day since then, finally went to the doc this morning and got some meds so hopefully things will turn around soon. But despite the death march out of there it was still a fantastic trip. I don’t usually like going back to the same place twice when I have things left on my list but camping in the meadow and at Kermsuh Lake really hit the spot after the busy areas I’ve hiked the last couple of trips.

View the full set of photos on Flickr.

See more of my trip reports to the Uintas.

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  1. avatar
    August 9, 2011

    doesn’t look like aurora activity to me… purple is pretty damn rare and it seems like a hazy glow. but, definitely possible. i’d like to see the whole series. send ‘em to ksl if they truly are, seeing the aurora in utah is almost unheard of.

  2. avatar
    kite boarding equipment
    August 26, 2011

    My brother and I are heading up there this week. Now I have a good idea of what to expect thanks to your pictures.


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