Backpacking 50 miles in the Uinta Mountains for 5 days with ~50 pound pack


New Member
Sep 6, 2023

the purpose of this trip for me was to see how far I had come from the past year after summiting Kings peak in the Uinta’s exactly one year prior. I wasn’t prepared at all really. I had shittier gear and just went into it knowing I could handle anything but my training leading up wasn’t specific. It was a 3 day trip to Kings peak and it absolutely wrecked me. I was sore for a week and could hardly walk after for a few days. I was humbled. For this trip I wanted to spend 5 days in the mountains and see if my body could be in the right place after training specifically for 6+ months. Although we didn’t summit any peaks, we did have more total milage and elevation gain but all with a heavy pack on— the maximum pack weight For me was 48 pounds. So for this 2023 trip we did not have as much intensity as the 2022 king peak trip but it there was more to endure. Simply sleeping in the mountains takes alot out of you. We had to set up and take down camp 4 times each in 2023 vs only 1 time each in 2022. So a purpose was to see how far I had come with greater preparation.

The main purpose for me was to really find some clarity for myself and to unplug completely. I wanted to see what my mind was made of and test my overall work capacity and strength endurance. I wanted to connect with nature and keep pushing when I know there was no option but to keep going and through that, allow my insecurities and limiting beliefs rise to the surface. I wanted to feel a stronger sense of purpose and connection towards my highest self. I wanted to be able to document a journey that microcosms life. We are all so much stronger and more powerful than we may think. Especially when we had no option but to endure and keep moving forward.

Most of us have no idea who we really are, we spend so much time connected to the internet and social media that we consciously and unconsciously begin to compare ourselves to others, trying to fill the endless void of not being enough. I wanted my weaknesses to be revealed and conquered to know that I am enough and that I am capable of greatness regardless of the opinions of other.

On the mountain you have no option but to be purposeful. We must move forward, we must go through whatever terrain is in the way, we must eat what we have whether we feel like it or not, we must pump water to stay alive, we much control our breathing even when the altitude is high and the air is thin, we much set up camp, gather wood and rocks for a fire, we must keep our gear dry. We must do all of this when we are tired and dont feel like it. There is always purpose and action associated with surviving. We cant call anyone to bail us out, we cant stop if we want to gert back to the car or the next camp. We can’t ruminate of pain or mistakes. We must keep going. The shittier attitude you obtain, the slower and more challenging the journey becomes. We must have short term memory loss.

The only certainty is that we are venturing into the unknown and that anything can happen out there. We know that there will be ups and downs but we cant know when they are coming. Just when something seems “bad” we look back and realize that was a good time because it just got alot worse. Even on “Paper” when the trail is supposed to be easy, you quickly realize that milage and elevation gain means nothing and that the terrain is unforgiving. Mother nature is fierce. There are no perfect spheres and straight lines, just perfection in the imperfections. The hardest times arise when presence and focus are lost—even for a second.
Day 1 started early at 4:30 am. After finalizing our packs, breakfast fueled us for the road by 6 am. Arriving at the mountain around 8:30 am, the day welcomed us with clear skies. Embarking as two adventurers seeking the unknown, we faced the morning chill, a stark contrast to our accustomed Texas heat. Step by step, we ventured into the untamed wilderness, encountering cattle that embodied the wild spirit we pursued. These muscular creatures, acclimated to high altitudes and unperturbed by predators, shared the trail but defied our passage. We didn’t expect to see these beasts 11 miles into the journey and at 11,000 feet at the high-alpine lakes. Their vocal presence sent an intense message, marking our journey's shared territory.

Initially, a marked trail offered efficiency, but it didn't guarantee ease, as shifting terrain demanded constant vigilance. The trail faded after 5 miles, replaced by river crossings, fallen timber, and floods. Off-trail struggles consumed energy and distance. The final 3 miles tested our resolve, culminating in a steep climb. At last, Priord Lake's turquoise expanse appeared, reflecting the mountain sun.

Exhausted, we set up camp and refreshed ourselves at the creek, pumping cool mountain water. A plunge into the alpine lake reinvigorated us. By the fire, we consumed sustenance while unspoken trepidation loomed. The impending challenge—the imposing Priord pass—loomed large, appearing unconquerable from our vantage point.

Our excitement made sleep elusive under the starry sky. Morning greeted us with brisk mountain air, temperatures ranging from mid-30s to high 60s, while the fierce mountain sun intensified the heat within our gear.

With the sun rising, we kindled a fire against the cold, replenishing our bodies with sustenance and hydration. Yet, the challenge ahead, Priord Pass, loomed large, stirring anxiety in Daniell. An unmarked rocky pass above the tree line, uncharted territory for him, made even more daunting by having to also carry a nearly 50-pound pack.

Acknowledging the daunting prospect, I remained confident. Years of peak climbs and pass crossings reassured me that proximity would erode its intimidation. We strategized to divide the journey into achievable checkpoints.

As we pressed forward, hidden doubts gnawed at me. The trail led us upward, cairns guiding our path through the rocky expanse. With each switchback, the path grew steeper, the landscape harsher. I chose to abandon a trekking pole, strapping it to my pack, prioritizing stability by having an extra hand to keep my center of mass lower on this treacherous terrain.

The initial stretch of the pass tested our mettle, but progress was tangible. The following segment challenged our endurance, straining Daniell's patience. Amid his frustration, an unfiltered "I hate you, “I FUCKING HATE YOU” slipped out. I laughed it off, sensing the genuine emotion behind his words.

Observing Daniell's wavering determination, I realized his mental state was as pivotal as his physical one. Retreating wasn't an option; the only way was forward, tapping into his inner strength.

In that moment, I became an example. The challenge? Carrying Daniell's 50-pound pack to ease his burden.

Determination propelled me forward as I left my own pack atop the pass. A grueling 20-minute ascent followed by another 15-20 minute decent to return to Daniell. Now With his pack strapped to my back, I pushed my limits. Yet, the satisfaction of reaching him, providing relief from his load, eclipsed the physical exertion.

Gratitude and a shared sense of accomplishment united us as we conquered the pass together. A common growth emerged from the experience, a bond forged in challenge and mutual support.

The descent brought temporary respite since it was much lass steep and slippery. However, a misguided shortcut underscored the importance of taking the longer, safer route.

As we dropped elevation into the South valley, surrounded by lakes and forrest, we were in bear country.

We Made it to Reconnaissance Lake and our new companions: relentless bugs. A fire and a cold plunge into the icy alpine waters renewed the spirits.

During our time there, Daniell tried his hand at fishing, hooking some fish that he ultimately released back into the waters. This added another layer of connection to the wild environment, reinforcing our journey's significance.

As night fell, a torrential downpour of rain jolted us right after we luckily retired to our tent, keeping us dry. our tents mere feet away but drowned by the rain's roar, we couldn’t hear a peep from one another.

I slept like a baby. Despite sore feet, I rose invigorated. Our morale stood strong, fortified by our victories over adversity and our embrace of the untamed wilderness.

day 3 was definitely my most energetic day both mentally and physically. Slept like a baby and woke to the serene views of reconiassiance lake. One of the reasons we chose to go to reconiassiance lake was because it’s relatively hard to get to and there isn’t a trial that leads there so we knew it would be pretty much untouched by people and we definitely knew we’d be the only people there for that night.

The mountain that towers over the lake had an intense vibe to it. it radiates power and boldness. We actually considered staying at reconiassiance lake for two nights but then as we got moving decided against it because We would have had too much ground to make up and we didn’t really know what we would do all day if we just stayed there.. One can only take some many cold plunges and partake in catch and release fishing

Because of the crazy downpour from the night before we had a few things we had to dry in the AM. So we go the fire going and dried our gear, pumped water and got prepared to get moving again.

The goal for today was to get to dead horse pass, climb up it, then trek down to dead horse lake where we would camp a mile or so north of the lake and set up near the river. The idea was to hopefully avoid some of the bugs and also get us a little bit closer to the final camping area—which wasn’t really a specific destination just some forrest camping. We had alot of miles to cover before we could get back to the car

As we hit the road, we were bushwhacking off trail some more and and to drop some elevation before we had to gain again. Their terrain was either super rocky or was marshland. The county we were trekking through had tons of lakes, forrest and grasslands. It’s wild how the uinta’s have about 500,000 acres of untamed wilderness and all of it is very similar, but when youre in it, each canyon, valley, mountaintop and basin have a unique feel to it.

We eventually made it to the famous unita highline trail which was a nice change of pass where we could be just a tad bit more mindless. The terrain is still intense and unforgiving but at least we dont have to constantly be checking the map. We had to travel through some previously burned forest that was the result of wildfire

We were definitely in bear country, observing many signs. We strolled through and over many breathtaking creeks, streams and fields of wildflowers until we started to regain some elevation to make it towards dead horse pass.

We climbed up the rocky plateaus as we left the grasslands and marshes behind us.

Making it to the top of dead horse pass was a huge relief and accomplishment. It was absolutely stunning up there. By far my favorite view we got to experience on this trip. We looked back at where we came from and basked in the beauty, acknowledging all the ground we had covered but looking towards where we were headed was incredible.

Another piercing blue lake that is dead horse lake was astonishing. It was absolutely miraculous to see. We refueled on top of the pass and then started the trek down. Climbing dead horse pass was not even close to as challenging as Priord pass the day before but it was still a mission and feat. But coming down dead horse was more challenging than going up. We had an actual trail to follow but there were sections that were less than a foot thick and exposed by rugged cliffs so we still had to be cautious and intentional

I had ran out of water on top of the pass so I had to be careful with how i expended my energy coming down. didn’t want to breathe too hard and lose too much water. But all was good. We made it down to the lake and river and I pumped water as we ran into the first party we had seen all adventure. we chatted for a moment and then hit the road for about another mile or two until we found a decent camping area not far from a river.

A storm was chasing us so we set up a tarp for our gear before we started setting up camp

since it was so wet, we weren’t able to make a fire. The weather cleared up and we went to pump water and soak our aching feet in the river to offer some relief

Back at camp we had some down time to reflect on the joinery thus far and I did some full body mobility to open my body up from all the pounding it had taken.

Fyi, the bugs were just as bad away from the lake. I literally got eaten alive this trip

Another early bedtime and some rain showers to fall asleep to

Day 4 & 5 were BRUTAL for so many reasons. But you'll have to watch the video to learn more

What I learned:

I learned so much on this trip and I’m still dissecting and processing all the insight and values obtained as well as what needs to be implemented and what needs action

but at the end of the day I learned that There is harshness and simplicity in nature.

Living in the mountains, the purpose is clear as to what needs to be done. everything requires work and effort but there is rarely any questions as to what needs action.

I learned that the body is capable of so much more.

Sure you get tired and beat up out there but there is always another step that can be taken. We can always cover more ground. We aren’t done when we are tired or hurting we are done when we are finished.

So this gave me alot of confidence to take on even more brutal and enduring journeys in the future.

Just because you’ve never done something before doesn’t mean you can’t conquer it.

Even in a calorie deficit, you can dominate any landscape.

1 lb of body fat contains 3500 calories. So as long as you are getting enough protein you can thrive for a long long time in a deficit.

There are no excuses that are valid. I went down hard as fuck and rolled my ankle pretty bad, bruised my shoulder, both knees & i definitely bruised my ego.

but I realized sulking and resting would do me no good at all. There is no one to call and pick you up or bail you out.

The only option, when things get tough, is to keep moving forward and before long you will surprise yourself as to what you are capable of

I learned that it is not only okay to rely on others, we must if we want to go far.

There were moments when Daniell relied on my heavily and moments where I needed him.

Life is a long and lonely journey when going at it alone so You better find some good brothers and community to go at it with you.

Even if others may slow you down in areas, you will be able to go alot further with support from the community

I learned that I had gotten so used to distracting myself in the modern world.

Even though there is always work to do, there is always something seemingly more enticing to pull you away.

Those distractions in the real world for me became evident when you have not many distractions available on the mountain.

For me it was women. Whether its women on instagram or SM to scroll and look or at whether its masturbating, etc.

This is the biggest thing pulling me away from my purpose and historically the biggest distraction I struggle with.

So I have decided I need to quit masturbating all together for at least a few months until I can realign myself with my greater and higher purpose.

I learned that nature parallels any other struggle we deal with.



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