2019 Highline Planning - Leidy to Mirror Lake

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DrNed

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Thread starter #1
In 2019 I turn 50 and to commemorate that milestone I'm hiking
the Highline in the Uintas from Leidy to Mirror Lake Highway in 8 days.

I'm looking for some honest, critical comments about my itinerary to
ensure I consider the potential challenges.

Also if you have any thoughts on my selected camp sites, particularly
if any of them are impractical, I'd appreciate it.

My idea was to get 30+ miles in the first 2 days so I could take 0 day, leaving
me about 10 miles a day until the end.

@LarryBoy I've read your Trail Guide many times now. I so desperately want
to do those long ridge walks for the views but I fear I'd be way too slow
doing it that way.

My rough itinerary is as follows:

Friday: Leidy Peak / Hacking Lake --> shelf above Reader Lakes. ~ 15 miles

Saturday: Reader Lakes --> Painter Basin. ~ 17 miles

Sunday: Zero Day. Recover from previous 2 days.

Monday: Painter Basin --> Northstar Lake. ~ 10 miles

Tuesday: Northstar Lake --> Unnamed pond north of Lambert Lake. ~9

Wednesday: Lambert --> Dead Horse Lake. ~ 9 miles

Thursday: Dead Horse --> Brinkley Lake (via Upper Rock Creek trail) ~ 10 miles

Friday: Brinkley --> Hayden Pass Trail Head. ~ 10 miles.
 

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Nick

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#2
There seem to be some low estimations on your mileage.

Leidy to Chepeta Lake is 16+. I don't recall exactly, but I know it's more than 15 just to Chepeta. Add a couple more to get to the shelf above Reader.

Brooke Lake on the west side of North Pole Pass to upper Painter Basin is 15 miles. Maybe it's only 2 from there over North Pole but that seems low. It's a long pass to cross. And that drainage kind of sucks to walk through until you get into Painter. It would suck extra bad to do it with North Pole the same day.

Black Lake (near Brinkley) to Hayden Pass is more like 13.5.

I personally wouldn't do a layover. I'd just spread your days out a little more. Especially that god awful Reader to Painter day. That's personal preference though.

Make sure you camp at elevation out at Leidy before you start hiking. That's a big, high elevation day to do if you're not acclimated.
 

DrNed

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Thread starter #3
Thanks Nick!

That's exactly the insights I'm looking for.
I need to remember to add additional distance
to the mileages I get from CalTopo.

I know you just did it starting from Chepeta, in like,
3.5 days?

Where were your camp sites?

Thanks again.
 

LarryBoy

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#4
Agree with Nick re the mileage on the first two days. Those are big days by anyone's standards. Doable with good weather and just hiking for a long time. But that's depending on the weather in the Uintas... a risky proposition.

On that same note, keep in mind that, for any day you're camping above treeline, there's at least an even chance that you'll have to adjust your plans in the fly. In particular, that north star camp is really exposed and absolute misery, or downright dangerous, if it's stormy. For that camp in particular, you can head maybe half a mile down the trail that heads south from tungsten pass and there's good camping there.

If it were me, I'd plan:

1) leidy to whiterocks lake
2) whiterocks lake to fox lake (get up EARLY and keep moving so you dont hit north pole pass during thunderstorm time)
3) fox lake to painter basin. It's not a zero day, but you have no passes and little gain/loss so still an easier day
 

Nick

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#5
3) fox lake to painter basin. It's not a zero day, but you have no passes and little gain/loss so still an easier day
FWIW, Fox to Painter still has enough ups and downs and not very inspiring scenery that it still felt like a rather large day to me. Some of the longer days felt easier just because the scenery was better. We were closer to Brooke and it was still about 15 miles.
 

Nick

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#6
Thanks Nick!

That's exactly the insights I'm looking for.
I need to remember to add additional distance
to the mileages I get from CalTopo.

I know you just did it starting from Chepeta, in like,
3.5 days?

Where were your camp sites?

Thanks again.
We did it in 97 hours/4.5 days. Started at 2pm on day 1 and ended at 3pm on day 5. This is where we camped on our shorter 'Cheat-peta' route:

Night 1: Near Brooke Lake, west of North Pole
Night 2: Upper Painter Basin
Night 3: Oweep Creek, still a few miles from Lambert
Night 4: Ledge Lake in Rock Creek
 

LarryBoy

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#7
FWIW, Fox to Painter still has enough ups and downs and not very inspiring scenery that it still felt like a rather large day to me. Some of the longer days felt easier just because the scenery was better. We were closer to Brooke and it was still about 15 miles.
I think part of it is that the trail thru there is fairly rocky/crappy/faint. Not physically tough but you do have to pay attention and watch your step.
 

Perry

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#8
I'm excited for your adventure! I was a month short of 59 when I did my first stab at the UHT in 2016 so I'm probably geriatric compared to you. Take that in consideration when reading my advice :)

I concur with much of what has already been said. I found that the stretch from Hacking Lake to Brook/Fox lakes area to be pretty slow going. The passes are long and the walking slow due to what I call "rock dodging". The trail in many parts is faint at best and you're just cutting across the tundra-like terrain. Lots of head's down, watching where you are stepping kind of maneuvers. I think big days in that area are probably unrealistic unless you're a super hiker.

My other thought is: logistics. Due to the location of major passes, and other high-elevation exposed areas, once you factor in potential localized weather events your options for where to camp each night quickly become limited. This is particularly relevant on the stretch between Anderson and Deadhorse passes.

I have two trip reports out there for my two trips along the Highline if they might help with additional beta. I can lookup the URLs if you are interested.
 
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LarryBoy

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#9
Oh also the area around Dead Horse has been particularly ravaged by beetle kill. Had a tough time finding a campsite that wasn't right underneath a huge widowmaker or two.
 

Parma

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#10
Here are some mileage totals from my time on the Highline according to my Gaia GPS app:
Fox Lake to Painter Basin (we camped at the edge of the trees just before it opens up to the base of Anderson Pass): 11.73 miles
Painter Basin to North Star Lake (including Kings Peak summit): 12.37 miles
North Star Lake to Dead Horse Lake (about a mile or so below the lake): 17.18 miles
Dead Horse Lake camp to Olga Lake (going by Helen/Lightning Lake in Rock Creek Basin): 16.13 miles
Olga to Highline TH: 7.2 miles

I totally agree with taking a lesser day on day 1 to acclimate yourself.
Be prepared that doing two passes in one day gets tough...we did it a couple times and that second pass of the day is a butt kicker!
And taking a zero day at Painter Basin wouldn't be that great. I don't remember any lakes in that area. Just a stream and lots of sheep.
 

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DrNed

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Thread starter #12
Here are some mileage totals from my time on the Highline according to my Gaia GPS app:
Fox Lake to Painter Basin (we camped at the edge of the trees just before it opens up to the base of Anderson Pass): 11.73 miles
Painter Basin to North Star Lake (including Kings Peak summit): 12.37 miles
North Star Lake to Dead Horse Lake (about a mile or so below the lake): 17.18 miles
Dead Horse Lake camp to Olga Lake (going by Helen/Lightning Lake in Rock Creek Basin): 16.13 miles
Olga to Highline TH: 7.2 miles

I totally agree with taking a lesser day on day 1 to acclimate yourself.
Be prepared that doing two passes in one day gets tough...we did it a couple times and that second pass of the day is a butt kicker!
And taking a zero day at Painter Basin wouldn't be that great. I don't remember any lakes in that area. Just a stream and lots of sheep.
Thanks for those mileages - very helpful!
 

DrNed

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Oh also the area around Dead Horse has been particularly ravaged by beetle kill. Had a tough time finding a campsite that wasn't right underneath a huge widowmaker or two.
Good to know.

What's your opinion on doing Red Knob & Dead Horse in the same day?
 

LarryBoy

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#16
Good to know.

What's your opinion on doing Red Knob & Dead Horse in the same day?
Certainly doable, but if you started from Lambert Meadow as previously stated, that'd put you over dead horse pretty late in the day.

If I were to go it. I'd push farther the previous day and camp in upper Lake Fork, just at the edge of treeline. Hit Red Knob and Dead Horse early in the day.

There are enough groves of trees that camping shouldn't be an issue around the head of rock creek tr.
 

Perry

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#17
I second what @LarryBoy said. We stayed at the lower end of the Lake Fork drainage then went over both passes staying in the Rock Creek drainage the next night. Other than a weather system we were racing it was one of the best days of our trip. If I were to do it again I would do as @LarryBoy suggested, stay a bit higher up Lake Fork. Where we stayed it was pretty cold and damp being low and next to the river, plus would be a better starting point for doing the two passes.
 
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Nick

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#18
For me personally, doing Red Knob and Dead Horse the same day was one of the more pleasant days of the trip. I think it's kind of a mental thing for me, being above tree line and having awesome views. We started several miles east of Lambert that day (40.748512, -110.523781) and got to Dead Horse in time to rest and wait out the afternoon storms before going over in the late afternoon when things cleared up as they usually do. It only took us an hour from the lake to the top of the pass and then it's quick down the other side to a campsite.
 

DrNed

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Thread starter #20
Night 2: Upper Painter Basin
Night 3: Oweep Creek, still a few miles from Lambert
So as I play around with my days & mileages I'm now leaning towards
getting to Painter day 3.

What are your thoughts on the Painter to Oweep Creek?
Any estimates on mileage from Oweep to Ledge Lake?
 

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