Amethyst Basin and Middle Basin, July 2013


I lava it!!!
Jan 19, 2012
The Uintas were on my bucket list for years. A high pristine mountain area combined with alpine lakes and solitude – it all was way too tempting for me. I never made it to the Uintas when I lived in Western New York because I usually spent my time in Utah in June, way too early for a high mountain trip. But then I moved to Southern Utah and the mountains were calling again. More intense than ever before, I really had to go this summer. After a period of planning my first trip I decided to hike into Amethyst Basin and Middle Basin for an extended weekend trip.
I was really ready to go. July came and a family emergency back in Germany put everything into jeopardy. I spend the next few days just waiting for some news. They would either be the one or other way. My dad-in-law finally recuperated and I decided to go. I had a pretty late start and arrived in Kamas in the late afternoon. Since I haven’t hiked in any high elevation mountain range for more than 15 years I decided to simply hike to Scudder Lake and get adjusted to the elevation.


At the end I never had any problems with the elevation and immediately felt like home. The hike to the lake was short and I was rewarded with a nice camp site and lovely views.


Unfortunately there were no clouds in the sky but the Alpenglow was still nice. I walked around the lake and enjoyed the solitude.


At night the Milky Way was out and it was so gorgeous. I set up my camera for some shots but it completely shut down after a few shots. I had no idea what all a sudden had happened. I immediately removed the memory card and battery. This was a complete bummer!!


Annoyed and concerned I went to bed. I couldn’t do anything tonight. The next morning I tried to turn my camera on and it worked for a few seconds. There was a lot of condensation inside and it shut down again. It was completely weird. I hiked back to the trail head and decided to hike without my Nikon for the upcoming backpacking trip. I left the camera in my car and hoped it would work again when I would return a few days back.

Luckily I always have my Canon S110 point and shoot camera as backup and therefore I used this little one for all the following pictures. I headed to the Christmas Meadows trailhead, repacked my backpack and started my solo trip.


The first few miles were pretty mellow with a lot of rewarding views towards the meadows and many wildflowers.



Pretty soon I reached the trail junction and also a big group of Boy Scouts. I hurried up the steep trail so I would have an advance in getting to Amethyst Lake. Wow, that was pretty steep. I stopped at the cascade to catch my breath but my point and shoot camera I couldn’t get really nice shots.


Eventually I reached to high point of the steep section and it mellowed out again, I caught the first few nice views of the surrounding area. After a while I passed BR 24 and another big group of Boy Scouts and headed on towards Amethyst Lake. I really hoped there weren’t too many people around there.


Another creek crossing and a hike through a meadow followed and I finally reached Amethyst Lake. Wow, this was so cool!!


I wandered around a bit and finally found a nice camp spot close to the lake but still with some trees around. I set up camp and chilled for a while. Unfortunately the mosquitoes were out in full force, the little buggers were really annoying.




I explored the lake and surroundings a bit and waited for sunset. Dinner was spiced up with my backpacking version of hot sauce and some red wine.




see the black dots on the left? These are mosquitos!!

Sunrise did not happen the next morning, it was pretty much overcast. I caught Ostler Peak with a bit of light on its tip, but that was all. I broke camp and hiked back to the intersection with Ryder and Kermsuh Lake. Immediately after the trail split I had to cross Ostler River and made it without getting wet feet.


The trail gradually climbed, alternated with mud pits and rocky parts. The sun was completely gone and it was overcast. I crossed Stilwater Creek and the last steep stretch out of a gully followed pretty soon.


I finally reached Middle Basin and it started to drizzle. I headed towards Ryder Lake but it was pretty much occupied by Boy Scouts. They were extremely loud and so I decided to hike back a quarter of a mile to the meadows and pitched my tent near some nice ponds. At least here I had a bit more solitude. It started to rain harder and I thought I would be one of these storms moving through the area.

I was so wrong!! This whole system was stationary!! I got stuck in my tent for almost 18 hours!! I poured the entire night, the entire next morning. I cooked dinner and breakfast in my tent and used the 5 minute rain stops for bathroom breaks.


The view was super exciting – I literally saw nothing!! The Scouts had all left yesterday evening when the rain started and after stuck for almost 12 hours in the rain I was almost ready to bail. I had finished my book and had no idea how long this system would stay. With no access to any radar sites and anything else I was pretty much committed to the weather. This was something were I usually freaked out; I hate it not to know how long the bad weather would stick to an area.


Finally, after almost 18 hours the rain started to dissipate and it gradually cleared out. My persistence was finally rewarded and I started to explore the area a bit.


I eventually ended up at McPheters Lake and the views were just awesome.I walked around the lake and on the western benches I found nice patches of wildflowers.



There also was a small waterfall and I immediately decided to take a shower underneath it. That was cold, bone chilling cold but very rewarding.


I sat at the shore of McPheters and wished I had a fishing rod. Fish were everywhere rising to the surface, way cool. And no one else was here. I really enjoyed the solitude up here.


Eventually I ended up at Ryder Lake and explored the lake a bit. Here again were so many fish everywhere, even at the inlet creek. They were so close to the shallow surface that I tried to catch a few with my hands. A few unlucky attempts followed and then I caught one!!


10 seconds of fame or something followed for a quick shot and then the fish was gone. Wow, this was so cool. I haven’t done that for years!!


Back at my camp site in the meadows I explored the ponds and marsh a bit. Wow, this was such a beautiful area. There were nice reflections everywhere in the ponds.




Around sunset I got a pretty awesome lightshow with a fantastic Alpenglow along the surrounding cliffs. Wow, the colors were simply awesome and it got better and better with every minute. Purple, pink and red determined the scene.


My point and shoot camera could not pay justice to the scene due to the limited opportunities to take pictures in high contrast situations. Anyway, it was nice and great and I enjoyed it.


The light show lasted forever and after a nice and clear night I broke camp the next morning. Originally I wanted to hike to Kermsuh Lake and spend another night. But the last night I had a pretty weird experience: I had the feeling I needed to hike back to my car for some reason. And I followed my intuition.


The last few miles I had to deal with some early morning thunderstorms. They were pretty close and lightning crashed down close to me and it hailed hard. Eventually I reached the trailhead and my car and after I reached civilization again I knew why I had to come back earlier than expected: I had a phone message on my cell and it notified me that my dad -in –law had passed away the night before.

I immediately drove back to St. George and had to start making arrangements for an unexpected trip to Munich. Despite the sad outcome it was a wonderful trip and I’m pretty much hooked and need to go back soon. I really loved every minute of my solo trip.

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Way to go Yvonne! Amazing how much better the experience is once it is quiet. Glad you sticked it out.
Catching fish with your bare hands!?! You're hardcore. Great trip report. Perfect balance of text and images. I can't wait to get up in the Uintas again.
Nice shots! I remember talking to you about sharing a chunk of that storm in the Uintas. Good to see a bit more of the area than we explored and some similar weather shots to those that I got. Ass Blaster in the wilderness might be scarier than the bears :hot:
Fantastic report Yvonne! I agree with NateGeesaman, Ass Blaster would be much scarier than bears . LOL
Fantastic trip Yvonne, awesome photos (did you try putting your camera in a bag of rice to dry it out?) though sorry to hear about your father-in-law. Your trip gets me jonesing to do my first solo backpacking trip, and to get Stan (who loves hot sauce) some Ass Blaster to see if he can handle it. :D
Wow, Yvonne! These shots are beautiful. I'm so jealous! When I visited Amethyst Basin it rained almost the whole weekend, and when I visited Middle Basin there were no clouds for three days. Outside of the time you spent waiting out the storm you had some wonderful conditions. Thanks for showing me how gorgeous it can be up there when the conditions are good.:)
@NateGeesaman and I were in Amethyst that weekend, we had to hike out during that storm.
Really is a beautiful area. I'm excited to do something similar next year.

I was close to bail after almost 18 hours of rain and no end in sight.
I remember the pictures of you guys and they looked pretty much like mine with nothing to see than fog and low hanging clouds.

Beautiful shots.

Ass Blaster?


I sometimes use "Spontaneous Combustion" as well.
I'm kind of a hot sauce addict

Catching fish with your bare hands!?! You're hardcore. Great trip report. Perfect balance of text and images. I can't wait to get up in the Uintas again.

They were just swimming toward me in the shallow water. And yeah, I've done that before way back in Germany :)
But I need to get a rod and learn how to fish

And I can't wait to get back this year again
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Fantastic trip Yvonne, awesome photos (did you try putting your camera in a bag of rice to dry it out?) though sorry to hear about your father-in-law. Your trip gets me jonesing to do my first solo backpacking trip, and to get Stan (who loves hot sauce) some Ass Blaster to see if he can handle it. :D

Laura, when I came back home I let my camera dry in a box full of rice. I guess the extreme temperature differences and especially the humidity up there was the culprit.
I had the same issue later for a few trips and especially my lens always had a foggy spot in it when it was super humid.
I replaced it end of last year. It was really disappointing to have great compositions destroyed by it.

And yeah, go!! Solo backpacking is awesome!! I really enjoy it a lot between some trips with friends. But sometimes I simply need a trip for myself .
Beautiful shots Yvonne!!!! Especially from a point and shoot!
Beautiful photos, Yvonne. I love love love it when you post trip reports!!! So awesome! This really is one of the best places in the Uintas. An excellent place to start exploring.
I was at Amythest & Middle Basin's in mid September and everything was brown by then. Great to see your photos and all the color. Disappointing to know that the mud pits are there even in mid summer.
It looks like you had an amazing trip. you did quite well for only having a point and shoot. That's either a testament to your skills as a photog, or a testament to how drop dead gorgeous the Uintas can be. Or both! ;) I have been trying to decide where to go in the Uintas this coming summer and you have made a compelling case for Middle Basin.
Beautiful photos, Yvonne. I love love love it when you post trip reports!!! So awesome! This really is one of the best places in the Uintas. An excellent place to start exploring.

if I had more time I would post more. I have a lot of trips waiting to be posted in the future and I will try my very best to do so.
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