Dirtbag After Dark
- Aug 5, 2016
- Trip Reports
Fall backpacking in the Uintas is so much fun. Gone are the crowds and bugs. At peak season, you have to go pretty deep in the range to find that solitude we all seek backpacking. But in the fall, you literally can walk a few miles from the road and have a lake pretty much all to yourself. I had a later than expected departure on Friday and had to decide quick where I was going to go for the weekend. It gets darker earlier now and the temps are much cooler than they were just a couple of weeks ago. There were some big thunderstorms pushing into the range and I made the last minute decision to head to Cutthroat Lake for the weekend. This may be one of the last new moon weekends of the year out there and I was not about to miss my chance to shoot some night photography of the stars in the Uintas. It was raining pretty hard on the way into the trailhead. When I arrived, it was really chilly and raining steadily with some occasional rumbles of thunder. I put on the rain jacket, and rain fly for the pack and camera bag, and made my way on trail in the pouring rain. By the time I got to the last pond before Ruth the rain let up and the clouds started to break up. I pushed a pretty good pace as I knew I only had less than two hours before sunset. After passing Hayden, Liberty, and Jewel lakes, I made the last push through the meadow and into camp. Just over an hour from the car and I was standing in my camp for the weekend.
Not knowing if the thunderstorms would return, I hurried and set up camp, got into dry clothes, and started to get my fire ready for the evening. As I was setting up camp, I met a new friend and his dog. Chris and his dog Targhee walked right by my camp. We exchanged pleasantries and he went to set up his tent in the meadow behind my camp. I invited him to camp for a fire and he accepted. We had a good night by the fire and Chris is a really nice guy. The clouds moved all the way out and the skies were clear. The stars were amazing and so bright! I set out my camera for a star trail, and huddled up to the fire and chatted with Chris. It was nice to have some company the first night. The temps for sure dropped because of the storms that day. I could see my breath at one point after dark. It was so quiet and peaceful there and I was really enjoying the view from the porch just outside of camp. Eventually I went to retrieve my camera. I coaled out the fire and turned in.
Saturday morning brought mostly clear skies and mild temps. When I got up Chris was up and we hung out and had some coffee. I put my rod together and headed out to do some fishing. The clouds really started building in around noon. But they never really got going while I was out fishing. I hooked into some really nice fish. I had one do the classic out of the water with the fly attack that was really a lot of fun. Eventually Chris had to wrap it up and head out and I returned to camp because the weather seemed to be getting worse. A rumble of thunder and some rain got me in the tent for about an hour long nap. I got up to broken clouds with the light playing on the peaks and the lake. I ran a time lapse as I watched the clouds float on by. They began to thin out in the evening as I made dinner and enjoyed the sunset. I was ready much earlier for shooting photography on the second night. But I had to wait for some stubborn clouds to move out of the area so I would have clear skies to shoot. They moved on about 9:30 PM and I put out my camera for my last star trail of the trip. It was a nice fire and the temps this evening were much warmer than the night before. Once the camera had shot the time lapse, I move around the lake to take a shot of the Milky Way and Cutthroat Lake in the pitch. It was mesmerizing to see the stars. After a while I got tired and coaled out my fire and turned in.
Sunday morning came and I actually slept in. It was about 9 AM when I rolled out of my tent. I made breakfast and then packed it up. I was on trail just before 11 AM. The hike out was very nice. It was much warmer than the previous two days and even felt hot in sections. I was moving pretty quick and was kind of in shock when I was standing at the overlook for Ruth Lake. The last section past Ruth Lake was busy with families and climbers. But the walk out of there with all the changing ground cover was pretty sight to see. I made it to the car in just over one hour. I got off the pack and put on the Teva's and hit the road. The drive out was beautiful as the display of fall colors was a sight to see. Another great adventure in the Uintas for the year. Soon, winter will return to the high terrain. So time is short in the Uintas. Just a few more weeks and this party will change from on trail to on the snow. Head over to my blog if you want to see the time lapse fun I did while I was out there. Cheers! Happy Fall!