Return to Amethyst Basin

Discussion in 'Backpacking' started by Udink, Jul 16, 2017.

  1. Udink

    Udink Bad, nationwide.

    Messages:
    952
    Location:
    Price, Utah, USA
    Five years after my first backpacking trip to Amethyst Basin, a friend and I repeated the trek. It was over 100 degrees in Salt Lake City when I picked Chris up, but at the Christmas Meadows trailhead in the Uinta Mountains it was only 80 degrees. We began hiking at 6:30 in the evening. My pack felt great on my back--I'd gotten the weight down to 33.5 pounds, which is the lightest I've ever had for a two-night trip. At around 8PM we reached the junction with the Amethyst Basin trail and camped nearby, having hiked just over two and a half miles. We had dinner around a small camp fire and went to bed relatively early.


    Ostler Peak and Spread Eagle Peak from Christmas Meadows
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    Christmas Meadows trailhead
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    Beginning of the trail
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    Sign along the trail
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    Christmas Meadows
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    Mucky trail
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    Chris on the boardwalk
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    New wilderness sign, about 1,000 feet beyond the wilderness boundary
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    Setting up camp
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    Colorful clouds through the trees
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    Colorful trees around the fire
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    After breakfast and packing up camp on Saturday morning we hit the trail, which immediately began climbing. For half a mile it was steep and rocky, paralleling Ostler Fork and its many cascades. The trail leveled out and it was a pleasant walk through the forest after that. We passed a guy going the opposite direction wearing a day pack, with a dog on a leash, and two pack goats following obediently behind him, and I realized that I'VE BEEN BACKPACKING ALL WRONG! We reached the beautiful Amethyst Meadow at noon and had to cross Ostler Fork on a couple of flimsy logs. After a quick visit to Lake BR-24 we found a nice spot away from the trail and any lakes to set up camp.


    Sign pointing to Kermsuh, Ryder, and Amethyst lakes
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    Ostler Fork falls
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    Trail climbing to Amethyst Basin
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    Wild rose alongside the trail
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    Hayden Peak
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    Blazed pine tree and steep, rocky trail
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    Many fallen trees that have been cleared
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    Pack goat
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    Avalanche path
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    Lush green trail surroundings
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    Nice try
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    Ostler Peak over Amethyst Meadow
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    Improvised creek crossing
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    Reflection in Lake BR-24
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    Tents in the trees
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    With our loads lightened, we went on a tour of Amethyst Basin. First we hiked to Amethyst Lake. On the trail we encountered two forest rangers and endured an awkward 10-minute quiz/lecture about Leave No Trace ethics. Like, WTF? Amethyst Lake was just meh. It's a big lake with choppy water and not terribly scenic, and there were quite a few large groups camped there. However, there was barely some cell service! :D Next we hiked to Ostler Lake and bushwhacked around the entire perimeter. There were only a few people around Ostler Lake, including those two rangers we'd seen near Amethyst. They appeared to be moving some rocks around, possibly making a fire pit? Not sure what was going on there.


    Trail to Amethyst Lake
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    Inflow to Amethyst Lake
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    Amethyst Lake
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    Amethyst Lake
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    View out of Amethyst Basin
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    Patterns in the quartzite
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    Ostler Fork below Amethyst Lake
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    Ostler Lake
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    Ostler Lake
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    Ostler Lake reflection
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    Chris and I returned to camp and started a camp fire just in time for it to begin to hail. At first it was sparse, but the hail grew in intensity until it was nearly marble-sized and covering the ground. We took shelter under some trees for what seemed like half an hour or so. The hail gave way to rain, and I was beginning to worry that we'd end up sheltering in our tents all evening. I was slightly embarrassed when I realized that the storm had subsided about five minutes earlier and that the water dropping on my head was coming from the trees I was standing beneath. Chris was barely able to get the fire going again after using his last fire starter and then some toilet paper and hand sanitizer to get the wet wood burning. We were able to dry out a little before eating dinner and going for a sunset walk around Lake BR-24. Two guys on horseback had set up camp between us and the trail and we had to walk past their horses along the way, and luckily the horses were pretty calm. We retired to our tents before 11PM and I slept pretty well considering the dampness.


    Hail on my tent
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    The hell is this?
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    Drying a chair over the fire
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    Lake BR-24 and Ostler Peak
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    Lake BR-24 reflection
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    Lake BR-24 reflection
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    Fire at night
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    We were awake early on Sunday and were quick to eat breakfast and pack our gear away. By 8:30 we were on the trail descending out of Amethyst Basin, hoping to stay ahead of the crowds still camped in the basin. Three hours later we arrived at the trailhead, having hiked a little over 16 miles total for the weekend. I don't often like repeating hikes--and I'm sure there are equally beautiful locations in the Uintas that would have been new to me--but sometimes a familiar and comfortable trip hits the spot, especially when one hasn't been backpacking for two years!


    Camp on Sunday morning
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    Horse neighbors
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    Stream crossing
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    Ostler Peak over Amethyst Meadow
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    Curve in the trail
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    Very pale Indian Paintbrush
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    False Hellebore (Veratrum californicum)
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    Blue sky reflected in marshy trail
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    1929 aspen carving
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    Photo Gallery: Return to Amethyst Basin
    GPS Track and Photo Waypoints:
    [ Google Earth KMZ ] [ Gmap4 Satellite ] [ Gmap4 Topo ]
     
  2. Cuberant

    Cuberant Member

    Messages:
    578
    Location:
    Morgan, UT
    That's a beautiful basin, worthy of a repeat trip!


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
     
  3. Rockskipper

    Rockskipper Member

    Messages:
    647
    Location:
    W. Colorado
    That particular horse is a mule! They're almost always very level-headed.

    And LOL on drying the chair over the fire. Great report and super photos.
     
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