85 miles on the Uinta Highline Trail including Crater Lake and a Dinosaur: July 26 - Aug 1, 2020

Born to Hike

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Jan 14, 2017
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146
This trip was a week of discovery on this 85+ mile solo through hike:

I can do a 7 day trip with my 65 L pack.
Why there is not a complete Uinta High-route.
It is a challenge to keep up with the Calories.
The bigger lakes do not always have the bigger fish..different story with the smaller obscure lakes.
Crater Lake.
I found an Elasomosaurus Dinosaur!

This trip was planned over seven months ago, not fully believing it would happen. But the sun, moon and stars all seemed to line up for me to go..but even during the 6 hour drive to Chapeta Lake it was hard to believe it was actually happening: a through hike from East to West in the High Uintas, solo, 80 + miles in 7 days.

A good climb driving to Chapeta Lake
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Beautiful stands of Aspens on the drive up
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My Angel wife dropping me off at the Trailhead. It was close to a 6 hour drive to get there. She would pick me up 6 days later at the Highline TH by Mirror Lake -only a 2.5 hour drive away.
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Chapeta Lake, 5pm, July 26 2020. A beautiful evening with no storms threatening, I decided a nice Sunday stroll for a couple of hours into the sunset would be nice - with my pack on of course! :cool:
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It was a beautiful Sunday evening.
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Small Lake en route
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Meadows opening up
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Starting the climb, looking back from where I began
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Up into the sunset and sky
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1st glimpse of Queant Lake with that interesting square shaped flat top further South
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Taylor Lake. I would camp above the Lake not to far from here
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Selfie above Taylor Lake.
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I setup camp and hiked down to Taylor Lake for water and the scenery. Fish were rising..should have brought my pole to the Lake too.
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Nice to have the views that first night.
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Ok, I was not going completely solo.. 2 of my loyal dogs came along. Diesel making his way Monday morning towards North Pole Pass.
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Well marked route above treeline and towards the High Route.
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Snowfields
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Wide open Blue Sky
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The high route is theoretically to go around this basin shown on the right of this photo on the mountain tops and ridges and off trail - the planned route for the day.
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So I veered right (North) past North Pole Pass and continued to climb. Spring on top at 12,200 + feet.
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Looking back (East) from where I came. A lot of maneuvering through large "scree" and boulders - it was slow going even on the flat.
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At this point the only route was back down-hill towards Divide Lake, then up again negotiating through the same type of scree and boulders. I was quickly losing interest continuing this High Route, especially carrying a 40 + pound pack. No wonder others do not go on this section of the "High Route" - extremely difficult and slow to do with little reward.
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Divide Lake: no more High Route for me - had other other places to go and see. At Divide had a quick lunch and made my way to Fox Lake.
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Fox Lake looking back up towards North Pole Pass, where I continued left along the High Route.
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For the next 5 hours I boogied past Kidney Lakes and later Milk Lake towards Painter Basin - my next goal was to summit King's Peak the next day and pounded the miles to get as close to Anderson Pass before setting up camp..I was already spoiled by the wide open expanse and this part of the route was mostly through trees.
The first view of Painter Basin with a storm settling in.
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Painter Basin in the rain. It was 7 pm, closing out a 18 mile day. Not the most fun setting up camp in the rain, but very grateful for a dry tent and sleeping bag and very nice falling asleep to the sound of :thumbsup: :):cool: rain - apparently quite the storm all night long.
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Packed and ready to go the next morning to Anderson Pass and bag King's Peak: was happy that my 65 L Alta Backpack (one of the most comfortable packs ever made) was enough for this 7 day trip. Strapped on the sides of my pack is my tent and the dog's sleeping pad.
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Looking back towards Painter Basin while ascending towards Anderson Pass.
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The weather might change my plans..
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Close to Anderson Pass I stopped to resupply my water. I thought this would be the last water source..but discovered..
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.. a spring at Anderson Pass. Straight ahead is the no-name "pass" that drops directly down into the Henry's Fork area.
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There were many people descending King's Peak trying to avoid the weather coming in.
Hikers descending Anderson Pass.
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Nears Anderson Pass looking North East The dots are people leaving the area towards Gunsight Pass.
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Walls of hail were coming down around me, but there was no threat of thunder or lightning of any kind, so I decided to go for King's Peak.
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Hail came and went falling mostly UP and SIDEWAYS from the West smacking me in the face..I wish I took a video of that..
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Another crazy thing that happened during the climb to King's was a male hummingbird flying to us in the hailstorm checking us out (this was at 13,000 feet), then flying off as quickly as it came.
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Made it! Notice the storm was gone..
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Proof I bagged King's Peak.
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Patch of yellow beauties as Anderson Pass.
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Another hailstorm came down while descending Anderson Pass..too tired and out of calories from the last two days of hiking to take more photos I setup camp and watched the sunset light-up Kings and South Kings Peaks before going to bed.
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Morning view of Mount Powell from where I camped the night before. There are some small lakes up there I would like to fish sometime.
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Looking back at Tungsten Lake while climbing towards Porcupine Pass.
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The climb to the base of Porcupine pass was a lovely one: lakes on the left..
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..and lakes on the right.
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Close to the top of Porcupine Pass.
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At the top of Porcupine Pass looking back where I came from..
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..and looking forward to where I was going: Oweep Basin.
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I've wanted to visit this basin the moment I learned about it: incredibly vast and open at over 11,000 feet in elevation.
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Good spot for lunch.
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The West side of Porcupine Pass as a backdrop while I had lunch. There IS a trail coming off of that.
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After lunch started the grand tour of Oweep, passing Squaw Pass on the right (North).
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I think the taller peak showing over the closer mountain range is Tokevanna Peak (?) to the North.
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How I filter and carry water on the go: A Sawyer Squeeze that quick-connects directly into the water bladder in my pack. I normally use a Cnoc bag that connects to the Sawyer, but the bag failed 2 days into this trip.
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Looking back on the upper portion of Oweep Basin in the background as I climb higher towards Lambert Lake.
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I decided to go off trail towards Lambert..this is the first Lake I came to, thinking it was Lambert lake..
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Good enough for a place to camp..and then realized I was East of Lambert by about 1/3 of a mile, so headed cross country to Lambert and..
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walked out to see a guy here (small body of water next to Lambert) in the buff just coming out of the water haha! His back was towards me and did not notice me come out of the trees so I quickly and quietly went around the opposite side to check out Lambert Lake..
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Lake Lake - super crowded for what I have been used to the past three days. There were around 15 people camping here - so I turned back and headed to the original little bit of paradise I found just 1/3 of a mile to the East..
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This will do just fine for the night: The evening was warm (for the Uintas) and clear and after 3 days of hiking I could'nt help myself to get in this little lake and clean clothes and body off.
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Fortunately the cleaning was not too toxic to kill the fish that were in there..
Diesel inspecting a catch: This little lake was a hot spot to fish - good sized and almost every cast: maybe they just wanted to get out of the water after I was in it haha!
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The next day heading up towards Red Knob Pass
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Red Knob Pass (to the left). Curious about Crater Lake that is just a few miles from here, I headed left around the upper portion of this basin towards Crater Lake.
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Information about Crater Lake is hard to find - even though it is the deepest lake in the Uintas. Some stories about this lake are crazy too, which peaked my interest and desire to go visit the Lake itself. Not know the best route to take, I simply headed around the upper portion of the basin below Red Knob Pass towards the lake.
Crater Lake is on the other side of the flat-top mountain in the foreground: a little foreboding of how to get there, which makes sense why many do not make the effort to visit the Lake while passing by on the Highline Trail.
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Greeeaaat..a boulder field to pass through on the way to Crater Lake
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It is slow and tedious going through a boulder field like this one, with packs on..
Looking back from the boulder hopping: the dogs did amazingly well following the route I chose through that freaking boulder field - only had to help them once.
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Coming to this was a relief, still some boulders to negotiate..
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Following the Crater Lake drainage
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Up, up you go..
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First you see Explorer Peak
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Looking back towards Red Knob Pass
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Suddenly Crater Lake appears: It was incredible to climb instantly into this upper basin. Beautiful. Breathtaking. Worth the effort and climb to get there.
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Crater Lake: I'll stay for the night.
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Crater Lake. Hard to find many photos of this Lake and Basin, so here ya go..
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Standing at the South Rim bordering Crater Lake looking South, assuming the best route to come and leave this Lake is from this direction.
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Explorer Peak above Crater Lake.
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Looking Northwest from the rim surrounding Crater Lake Basin
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My tent was so happy to be there it was floating in the air!
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There is a small rise East of Crater Lake, forming the basin.
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After setting up my tent I had to try the fishing: it was ok but not that great - no big ones interested. The soft grass next to the lake was inviting too.
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I could hear the sheep herders below, yelling and whistling as they came up the lower Lambert Meadow basin. I still felt pretty isolated until I saw one of the sheepherders ride up to the Lake on horseback, saw me and left! That made sense for the lack of good fishing in this Lake. Disappointed, I walked over to see where he came up and found a faint trail on the South side coming up to the Lake - the route to find and use getting to Crater Lake, not the northern boulder route.
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More views from the rim of the Crater Lake Basin.
Sunset over Red Knob Pass.
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Lambert Meadow and Oweep Basin drainage.
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Another pic of Explorer Peak.
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Sunset on Mount Lovenia
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Last light on Explorer Peak above Crater Lake. A calm, beautiful evening and night.
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Good Morning Crater Lake.
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I left this beatiful spot following the faint trail South of the Lake - it led all the way to the lower basin.
My finger pointing to the faint trail leading up to Crater Lake - it is South of the Lake.
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Hiking to Red Knob Pass was following several sheep trails, and through several sheep..
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The walk from Crater Lake to the top of Red Knob Pass took about 1.5 hours: not to bad I thought..
Red Knob Pass looking North.
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Red Knob pass looking West towards Dead Horse Lake.
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Red Knob Pass looking South towards Crater Lake - you can see Crater Lake in the distance: 1.5 hour walk from there to here.
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Looking Southeast.
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I really enjoyed Red Knob Pass: definitely my favorite mountain Pass on this trip. The views here reminded me of the Windriver Range.
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Beginning the descent to the North slope of the Uintas. Will only spend a few hours on the North slope on the trip..
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Meadows and wildflowers
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..and more wildflowers
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The amount of wildflowers on the North slope compared to the South Slope was amazing and beautiful to hike through towards Deadhorse Pass.
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Deadhorse Lake. Time for lunch and some rest before mountain pass #2 - Deadhorse Pass.
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I love looking at the Geology of the mountains - the climb up Deadhorse Pass was no exception
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The views open up quickly ascending Deadhorse Pass..
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More fascinating geology close to the top of the Pass.
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Deadhorse Pass looking down into Rock Creek Basin. Just over the middle ridge is Crater Lake where I stayed the night before - less than 2 miles away - if your an Eagle that is.
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oh the Geology..and history of this place..
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West Fork of the Blacks Fork, Ejod Lake, Deadhorse Lake.
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Upper Rock Creek Basin and drainage. Continent Lake is just to the right out the picture - my next stop that day.
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Continent Lake. I was here last year, but without a fishing pole, and regretted it as I saw the fish swimming around in the clear water.
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I have been passing these guys back and forth the whole trip - taking close to the same route as mine. Looks like their bringing home dinner from Continent Lake.
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Continent Lake and Deadhorse Pass in the background. I redeemed myself and fished for an hour or so. Tired from the climbing two passes and the hike in general that day I started to look for a good spot to camp.
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Remembering an area above Ledge Lake from last year I went looking for it..
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This spot will do
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It is worth looking for epic places to setup my tent and enjoy the views around me - especially on a trip like this one.
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Fresh smoke from a forest fire to the West beyond Rocky Sea Pass.
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This would be the last night on this Trip: I was in familiar territory now and started to think about a double cheese burger I could get to the next day. But one more look at the sunset..
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It would not be a fulfilling scenic trip without taking the "high route" of Rock Creek Basin..
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Helen Lake. Just on the other side of this ridge is Amethyst Lake on the North Slope of the range.
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More high meadows and wildflowers. Not as abundant as the North Slope of the range, but still very nice..
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Glady's Lake. Numerous fish rising to the surface here.
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Brinkley Lake. The last lake before climbing Rocky Sea Pass.
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Seriously after a full week of hiking and six mountain passes, this one looked easy to do. Plus my pack was much lighter too.
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East side of Rocky Sea Pass.
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The forest fire West of Rocky Sea Pass and Mirror Lake. Mount Timpanogos in the background. From here I could call my wife and let her know she could soon leave to come and pick me up at the Highline TH.
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Taking a break at Pigeon Milk Spring. The water here tastes sooo good - unfiltered! Only 7+ miles to go..it has been a 12 mile day so far. Will be an almost 20 mile day. Those cheeseburgers are worth it. Plus I wanted the next day, Sunday to be a good rest day at home before the real world set in again.
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I earned this scrub, and am definitely thinner around the face and waistline. You burn so many calories doing a hike like this and it is difficult to keep up. That double cheeseburger is waiting for me..
Modeling my new hat.
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The burn area around Scudder Lake. Signs of new life two years after a fire came through..
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It was a hot fire and burned the soil and wonder if pines will grow here anytime soon..my guess is an eventual open meadow down to and around Scudder Lake will replace the burn.
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My sweet wonderful wife waiting to take me home - after the double cheese burger naturally..
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..but wait there is more to this trip..
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One evening I was eating my freeze-dried dinner when I realized I was looking at a Dinosaur fossil!
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You can actually count the vertebre running along the top.
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The size of it compared to my full sized black lab. I stepped it off to be about 18' long.
Turns out the head is on the left of the photo with the tail going past where Diesel is standing, which means the actual animal size was closer to 30' long!
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Apparently it was one of these (I'm not a paleontologist, so this is my best guess) : a juvenile Elasomosarus Dinosaur! How cool is that? It lived and died here where the High Uintas now stand (current elevation over 11,000 feet) about 100 million years ago. Wow!
A fun way to end the report of an EPIC trip! It was life changing and I'm very glad I did it: Solo, in the High Uintas.
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Last edited:

Miya

Because I am able.
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Joined
Dec 31, 2017
Messages
1,231
Amazing!!!
Thanks for sharing so many photos!
The dinosaur fossil is so cool! I probably wouldn't have ever figured out what it was LOL. Hope your double cheeseburger did not disappoint!
 

Bob

Trailmaster
Joined
Mar 3, 2013
Messages
2,736
Nice
Many years since I've been in the Uintas bpacking... 1973 I think.... Pretty much trailless back then.....
 

Born to Hike

Member
Joined
Jan 14, 2017
Messages
146
Amazing!!!
Thanks for sharing so many photos!
The dinosaur fossil is so cool! I probably wouldn't have ever figured out what it was LOL. Hope your double cheeseburger did not disappoint!
Sometimes I wonder if I post too may photos, but as a reader on this site, the more info the better for routes I'm interested in..so I post them.
That double cheeseburger was awesome! as well as the shrimp platter, a shake, 2 orders of fries... :cool:
 

Born to Hike

Member
Joined
Jan 14, 2017
Messages
146
Amazing!!!
Thanks for sharing so many photos!
The dinosaur fossil is so cool! I probably wouldn't have ever figured out what it was LOL. Hope your double cheeseburger did not disappoint!
Oh yeah that dinosaur find was epic - my kids thought I lost it when I was texting them what I had found haha!
 

regehr

Member
Joined
Mar 28, 2012
Messages
1,449
hey, funny, for a while I've had a low-grade obsession with Crater Lake but haven't managed to visit it yet, great to see it's as nice as I'd have hoped!
 

WasatchWill

Ready For More
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Joined
Jul 23, 2013
Messages
1,559
Wow! Awesome looking trip! Can't believe that dino find! And Crater Lake! That's part of my plan in a couple of weeks where I'm aiming to do a trip out of EFBF over Bald Mountain into Red Castle for a night, then up, over and out to Crater Lake for the 2nd night, and then hit Red Knob for an attempt to summit Wasatch Peak, simply because its name is, well, Wasatch. Then down trail to close the loop back to EFBF trailhead. So thanks for the tip on the southern path.

As for Dead Horse Pass...I just went down that thing last week as part of my route from Allsop to Priord to Rock Creek to Dead Horse and back to trailhead at EFBR, and holy crap!!! That pass is much scarier when descending it down to Dead Horse Lake rather than ascending it. That and it's a bit more eroded along the top stretchess than it was just a few years ago.
 

regehr

Member
Joined
Mar 28, 2012
Messages
1,449
That's part of my plan in a couple of weeks where I'm aiming to do a trip out of EFBF over Bald Mountain into Red Castle for a night, then up, over and out to Crater Lake for the 2nd night, and then hit Red Knob for an attempt to summit Wasatch Peak, simply because its name is, well, Wasatch. Then down trail to close the loop back to EFBF trailhead. So thanks for the tip on the southern path.
not super different than a loop I'm hoping to do around end of the month -- will keep an eye out for you!
 

Born to Hike

Member
Joined
Jan 14, 2017
Messages
146
hey, funny, for a while I've had a low-grade obsession with Crater Lake but haven't managed to visit it yet, great to see it's as nice as I'd have hoped!
When you do visit Crater, be sure to approach it from the South - that is where the trail is.
 

Born to Hike

Member
Joined
Jan 14, 2017
Messages
146
Wow! Awesome looking trip! Can't believe that dino find! And Crater Lake! That's part of my plan in a couple of weeks where I'm aiming to do a trip out of EFBF over Bald Mountain into Red Castle for a night, then up, over and out to Crater Lake for the 2nd night, and then hit Red Knob for an attempt to summit Wasatch Peak, simply because its name is, well, Wasatch. Then down trail to close the loop back to EFBF trailhead. So thanks for the tip on the southern path.

As for Dead Horse Pass...I just went down that thing last week as part of my route from Allsop to Priord to Rock Creek to Dead Horse and back to trailhead at EFBR, and holy crap!!! That pass is much scarier when descending it down to Dead Horse Lake rather than ascending it. That and it's a bit more eroded along the top stretchess than it was just a few years ago.
You will love Crater Lake: its location, isolation and beauty are amazing - well worth the effort to get there. Who knows, maybe you'll find a Dino too!
I definitely noticed the eroded/inclining-to-the-side part of the trail on Deadhorse too..would be worse going down than up for sure. WFBF and Buck pasture are on my to do list soon!
Still deciding if this particular Peak looming over the ridge while crossing through Oweep basin is Wasatch Peak or Tokevanna Peak..they are relatively close together in that area. Will be looking forward to your TR on that trip!
 

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Nick

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Aug 9, 2007
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Still deciding if this particular Peak looming over the ridge while crossing through Oweep basin is Wasatch Peak or Tokevanna Peak..they are relatively close together in that area. Will be looking forward to your TR on that trip!

Doesn't look like Tokewanna or Wasatch to me. Where exactly was that photo taken? If I had to take a guess, if that was really shot from the Oweep side, it looks more like this unnamed peak: 40.779852, -110.549259. GE flattens out the features of the peak a lot, but the foreground features line up perfectly.

1597125036183.png
 

Janice

Member
Joined
Dec 5, 2017
Messages
420
It must have been thrilling to see that fabulous dinosaur fossil - I love your photos of it! I wonder if other people have ever stopped long enough at that exact spot to see it and realize what it is. Thank you for including the picture of the assembled skeleton - that is really cool.
 

Blake Merrell

Life Elevated - Rising Higher
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Feb 25, 2013
Messages
596
You were probably just a camp or two ahead of my group! we started at Leidy on July 25th and finished on July 31 at Hayden Pass
 
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Perry

Formerly Cuberant
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Aug 8, 2016
Messages
2,059
What an amazing trip! I, too, have had a fascination with Crater Lake. I had been wondering if there was a reasonable route up from the lake to the saddle to make an attempt at summiting Explorer Peak. I’ve spent many hours on Google Earth investigating. With your excellent pictures it looks to be pretty much cliffed out. Would you agree?
 

Born to Hike

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Jan 14, 2017
Messages
146
so on this page @Born to Hike mentions crazy stories about crater lake and this same thing is mentioned in at least one other thread on this site (maybe it was @andyjaggy?). but nobody has shared the actual stories. someone want to spill the beans here??
Oh the stories I've heard are not too crazy: One is all the fish rising to the surface spontaneously at a certain time each day. Another is someone catching a large Brooke Trout that was tagged from Mirror Lake. Then of course there is Big Foot.. :cool:
 
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