Priord Lake Solo Trip, Uintas August 2013

Yvonne

I lava it!!!
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Jan 19, 2012
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Priord Lake Solo Trip, August 2013

With all the discussions going on about solo backpacking or not I have to say I love all my solo backpacking trips. And my trip to Priord Lake in particular was one of the best solo trips I’ve ever done. That said I couldn’t resist adding another Uintas trip last year. After my first trip a month earlier I was completely hooked and needed to see more.
After coming back from the funeral in Munich the day earlier I decided to spend a few more days in the mountains and explore a bit more of the high elevation environment. Just in case that the temptation was too strong I had all my backpacking gear in my car and after I picked it up from the airport I started early the next morning. The drive from my airport hotel to the trail head at the East Fork Bear River was smooth and I arrived around 9:30am at the trail head. I checked my gear and was ready to start. There was not much traffic at the parking lot, just another car. After signing into the trail register I had to burst out in laugh. The little printed sign I almost stepped on the floor was way too funny.




beware of Armed Boy Scouts!! :roflmao:

Just a couple of weeks prior to my trip was an incident with a Boy Scout group and a black bear that was shot by the scouts. It was too bad that the inability of the scouts to follow simple rules led to the unnecessary death of the bear. Anyway, the sign was hilarious.


The first part of the trail was easy downhill going and passed along the burn scars of a former wild fire. The burned log pole pines stood like sentinels in the landscape and with fresh undergrowth and a good amount of wildflowers they made a nice picture.



For the next one or two miles the trail slightly went downhill until it eventually reached the canyon floor with some meadows and the remnants of the former hacker cabins.



At the very beginning of the trip there were big towering clouds in the distance and they were getting closer and closer, building up to the first storm of the day. It was early, not even noon, but to my surprise this storm was going to hit me. My reputation of being a storm magnet was again confirmed as the first rumbles of thunder roared above me. :mad: After leaving the hacker cabins and a thickly forested area the storm hit me in full force. Thunder and lightning were coming down almost simultaneously and a downpour quickly changed into hail. These hail stones hurt as they fell down with accelerated motion. I quickly rushed under some trees and waited out the storm.


Luckily it didn’t last very long and as fast as it arrived it was gone again. I continued my hike and after approximately 4 miles I reached the trail intersection. Not sure which lake I wanted to visited I quickly made my decision and proceeded to Priord Lake.



After a few hundred yards past the intersection I had to cross the Bear River for the first time. A huge log was placed across the river and served as a perfect bridge. I usually do not like the trunk crossings a lot but it was way better than getting wet feet.


The trail gradually started to gain elevation, now and then I needed to cross a few mud pits. Two more creek crossings followed and the trail continued in a forested area without any exiting sights.



I started to get a bit tired, the aftermath of my jet lag from the transatlantic flight I guess. It was a bit crazy to literally exit a plane and immediately start hiking, ha ha. The trail began to get steeper and I slowed down a bit. After approximately 9 miles I reached the wide and expansive meadows around Norice Lake. Originally I wanted to camp here and explore Priord Lake the next day, but the entire lake and meadows were occupied by cattle. They pooped everywhere and I’m sure that they pooped in the lake, too. :mad: No way to stay here, the noise of the screaming cattle was unbelievable.



It was also unbelievable that cattle spoiled the pristine and serene area. It was bad enough to negotiate around the cow pats everywhere, but there high pitch noises was definitely something I wanted to avoid. And that pretty fast. I had a short stop and enjoyed the view towards Pyramid Peak and then continued to climb higher.


From here the trail was less obvious and I had to figure out my own way which wasn’t a big problem. With a little bit of bush whacking I finally ended up on the high plateau and followed the drainage towards Priord Lake.





The closer I got to the lake, the better were the views of the surrounding environment. I really loved every part of it and finally reached Priord Lake at 10,800 feet elevation. It was close to timber line and so it wasn’t very easy to find a good camp spot.



But finally I found a spot covered by a patch of trees on the eastern shore of the lake. It was pretty much protected but still offered some awesome views. I set up my tent which included a nice lakeshore view. As I could tell so far there was no one else camping here at the lake.




What a wonderful solitude and no annoying cattle, it was definitely a good decision to camp here.
While I was filtering water for dinner, I heard another noise and at first I couldn’t figure out what it was. It sounded as if someone was jumping into the lake but I couldn’t spot anyone. I took me a while to figure out what it was: a beaver!! Each time when he started to dive he was splashing its tail on the surface of the lake.



It really sounded like someone was jumping into the water. Another storm moved in and dumped the usually amount of lightning, thunder and rain and quickly moved out of the area into the next basin. I used the time to read a bit and took a nap. The sky cleared and I took a few pictures.



At dinner time I was rewarded with a nice sunset and alpenglow. I really love sunsets in the mountains and normally you never get disappointed by the ongoing light show.





Darkness came fast and along with the dark it was getting cold. It was time to get back into the tent and I read a bit. Because I have only brought my point and shoot camera on this trip as well as my micro four third camera; I couldn’t take any night shots. Around 2 am I was woken up by a tremendous noise and I sat straight in my tent!! The whole ground was shaking and trembling!! A huge rock fall occurred on one of the talus slopes and tons of rock gave way to gravity and fell down. It took me a while to get back to sleep.


I was too lazy to get out for sunrise the next morning and slept in a little bit. Today I simply wanted to relax and explore the area a bit. Originally I planned to find a way up on the southern slopes with views into the next basin, but somehow I was unable to find a good starting point on the loose boulders. Instead I walked to the western slopes as it looked doable to climb up to the ridge.



I crossed the Priord Lake Inlet and began to climb up the slope. Despite a few boulders it was an easy exploration hike so far with lots of wildflowers. It was really pretty and I enjoyed the view and solitude.







Shortly after I have passed the slope with all the wildflowers the trail got steeper and steeper and soon I reached timber line. A tundra landscape welcomed me and even with that barren landscape where small bushes tried to cling to the steep and exposed slopes it was an interesting view. I like the sharp edges of biomes and the sudden change from one zone into the next. Even the temperature changed and a sharp wind was blowing through the unprotected landscape.



At one of the talus slopes I discovered a good and doable pass up to the ridge and started to climb. It was super steep and the high elevation slowed me down a bit, too. But the surrounding views were absolutely awesome and breathtaking!!

the way up


almost there!!

Finally I reached the highest point and enjoyed the awesome views into Amethyst Basin where I had camped a month earlier. This was so amazing!! I saw Ostler Peak and Ostler Lake in the distance, as well as BR 24. What a view!!






Amethyst Basin with BR 24, Ostler Lake and Ostler Peak


The view back showed Priord Lake and my camp spot.

Too bad, but within minutes some nasty looking storm clouds appeared and I hurried down the talus slope as fast as I could. I wanted to reach timber line as soon as possible and it took me roughly 20 minutes to get down to that point. I guess I was almost flying. ON my way down I saw a nice circum horizontal arc


Back at camp the first storm arrived and I took a nap. It was just a few sprinkles and a rumble of thunder, but you never know and I wanted to play it safe at my camp site. Later that afternoon I walked around the lake. Fish were rising everywhere to the surface and I wished again I had some fishing gear.





Sunset again was a real treat; it lasted long and rewarded me again with nice and wonderful colors. I really love the high alpine sunsets a lot.





After dinner the same procedure followed: An early retreat into my tent and a couple hours of reading.
The next morning I started earlier, broke camp and packed my gear, ready to get back to the trail head. A few shots at the lake followed and then I descended to lower elevation and the hike back out.



After 4 hours I reached the trail head where I saw a Boy Scout group. They were the first hikers I saw the entire time. The funny sign at the tail head was removed; obviously someone didn’t like it too much. :)



What should I say? This was probably the best solo backpacking trip I have ever done. I had completely solitude and the entire lake for myself. Not a single soul showed up and I had enjoyed every single hour of that trip. I’m pretty sure I will go back to Priord again, so far it was the best Uintas trip.

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andyjaggy

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Dec 2, 2013
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I so need to get to that lake this summer. It looks like an amazing trip, minus the cattle of course.
 

DrNed

The mountains are calling and I must go
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Mar 31, 2013
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Great report & photos! Your photos bring out what so many love about the Uintas - alpine lakes, large meadows and . . . . cows. :disagree:
Thanks for sharing!
 

slc_dan

Desert Rat-Weekend Warrior
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I'm excited for Mountain Season. Great Report, Priod looks fun.
 

Yvonne

I lava it!!!
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Jan 19, 2012
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Great report & photos! Your photos bring out what so many love about the Uintas - alpine lakes, large meadows and . . . . cows. :disagree:
Thanks for sharing!

without the cows it would be absolutely perfect.
That let me think all the time. We have all the restrictions and rules, but they sh... everywhere and cause more damage than a cautious hiker.

I'm excited for Mountain Season.
You're not the only one!!! I can't wait for my first mountain trip this year.
 

Nick

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Infuriating to see cattle grazing in one of the most beautiful wilderness areas in the state. But your pictures are beautiful. I just love it when you post these great trip reports. Priord is amongst my favorite destinations in the entire Uinta range.
 

Duke

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Feb 19, 2012
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What a great TR. Thanks. The crowds in the Uintas have pushed me elsewhere but I need to go back. It seems that some are able to find solitude and when it comes right down to it....the crowds aren't really that bad. I think some careful planning can result in a nice trip like you took. I just need to stop heading to my same-o same-o places and head to some unknowns like you did. Very nice.
 

Yvonne

I lava it!!!
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Joined
Jan 19, 2012
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Infuriating to see cattle grazing in one of the most beautiful wilderness areas in the state. But your pictures are beautiful. I just love it when you post these great trip reports. Priord is amongst my favorite destinations in the entire Uinta range.

thanks Nick.
It usually takes time to get some of my trips ready, I'm way too lazy to post much. :)
And I'm with you, Priord is one of the most beautiful locations in the Uintas I've been so far.

What a great TR. Thanks. The crowds in the Uintas have pushed me elsewhere but I need to go back. It seems that some are able to find solitude and when it comes right down to it....the crowds aren't really that bad. I think some careful planning can result in a nice trip like you took. I just need to stop heading to my same-o same-o places and head to some unknowns like you did. Very nice.

I had three Uintas trips last year and even at Amethyst Lake I had it all by myself. Everyone else camped at BR 24. I had expected a lot of crowds but there weren't any. Even Ryder Lake was perfect, I camped a bit away from the lake and had perfect solitude.
I'm not a big fan of crowds, too and usually try to stay in the less visited areas. Priord is a good place to go, it seems that it get less traffic as everyone is heading to Allsop.
 

Laura

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Oct 1, 2012
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Love it! Awesome pics, I can't wait to try my own first solo backpacking trip (this fall in Canyonlands!)
 

Yvonne

I lava it!!!
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Joined
Jan 19, 2012
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Love it! Awesome pics, I can't wait to try my own first solo backpacking trip (this fall in Canyonlands!)

you will love it!! And I'm sure you'll be hooked after that forever.

On my next mountain solo backpack I will definitely bring my SLR camera and not only my point and shoot camera like on this trip. Way more options for good pictures, especially at night.
 
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Great report Yvonne! Sweet sunset shots.
 

Parma

@parma26
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What a great TR. Thanks. The crowds in the Uintas have pushed me elsewhere but I need to go back. It seems that some are able to find solitude and when it comes right down to it....the crowds aren't really that bad. I think some careful planning can result in a nice trip like you took. I just need to stop heading to my same-o same-o places and head to some unknowns like you did. Very nice.
I find it better to go during the week and avoid weekends.
 

Ericephoto

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Mar 22, 2013
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That's a cool area! I've never done that trail to the lake but I've gone in to Allsop Lake, it's equally as beautiful and "cowy"!! I've also explored the ridge that separates the two drainages from where the trail splits but it was a sketchy crossing and not one I'd repeat! Solo trips in the Uintas are amazing and storms are the name of the game there in the summer.
 

steelie

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May 6, 2014
Messages
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very nice pics!
FYI - Beavers do that to alert other beavers of you, and to try and scare you off. Yeah - its loud. I've had one do it close enough that I got splashed....I think that is about as agressive as they get though.
 

WasatchWill

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Jul 23, 2013
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Incredible pics. This just gave me the itch to try and squeeze in a 2-3 day loop of Priord and Allsop this summer. I'll have to see if I can't fit it into some July vacation time after my Kings Peak trip and if not, maybe sometime August.
 

Curt

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Feb 1, 2014
Messages
400
Great Report. I love sunrises and sunsets. Your sunset pictures are awesome. I notice that you haven't posted any of these pictures to Flickr. I'd like to add them to my favorites.
 
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