Solo Uintas Loop From East Fork of the Bear

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uinta_eagle

Free Ranger
Joined
Jan 28, 2012
Messages
25
After lurking around this forum for several years, and thoroughly enjoying the vicarious pleasures of reading about your varied and exciting experiences, I've finally found the ambition to contribute a post of my own.

Labor Day weekend, 2013 found me deep in the High Uinta Wilderness on a solo backpacking excursion that GPS logged just shy of 40 miles - starting and ending at the East Fork of the Bear River trail head. I began the trip on Friday, August 30. All my best intentions aimed at getting an early start on the day came to naught. It was a little after noon when I signed the trail register. I camped the first evening in a small meadow just below Priord Lake.

Saturday, August 31, I crossed the crest of the Uintas to the south slope over Ostler Pass (as advertised, the trail is almost non-existent!) From there, I wandered through Upper Rock Creek. The second night was spent just south of Deadhorse Pass where the last of the tree line conifers are anchored on a bench overlooking the Highline Trail.

On Sunday, September 1, I crossed Deadhorse Pass, descended through Buck Pasture on the West Fork of Black’s Fork, then traversed back into the East Fork Drainage using the Bear River – Smiths Fork Trail. My truck rumbled off the mountain just as the last light was fading in the western sky – putting me home on Labor Day to enjoy activities with my family.

Being a holiday weekend and the last weekend of summer, I expected to share the trails with a lot of human company. Surprisingly, I saw fewer than a dozen people. Almost all were near the West Fork of Blacks Fork trail head engaged in day hikes to fish the river. I saw at least twice that many goats, the largest mule deer buck I've ever seen, and one very curious squirrel.

The weather was beautiful. Other than a few spitting sprinkles, I endured no rain. There were no mosquitoes. Temperatures were mild both day and night.


I have attached a few samples of the scenery.

Trail Head at Noon
Trailhead at Noon.jpg


Lingering Effects of the Fire
Lingering Effects of Fire.jpg


Almost to Camp
Almost to Camp.jpg


Alpenglow Near Priord
Alpenglow near Priord.jpg


First Morning in Camp
First Morning in Camp.jpg


Up the Basin
Up the Basin.jpg


Priord Lake
Priord.jpg


North Over Priord
North over Priord.jpg


Halfway Up Ostler Pass
Halfway up Ostler Pass.jpg


Not Much of a Trail
Not Much of a Trail.jpg


Priord Lake from Ostler Pass
Priord from Ostler Pass.jpg


Down the Basin Towards Norice Lake
Down the Basin.jpg


Upper Rock Creek from the Pass
Upper Rock Creek from the Pass.jpg


Upper Rock Creek Panorama
Upper Rock Creek Pan.jpg


Cliffed Out - Spent an hour climbing down from here and spotted the largest buck I have ever seen!
Cliffed Out.jpg


Second Camp - What a View!
Second Camp.jpg


Packed for Home on the Last Morning
Packed for Home.jpg


Goats Everywhere!
Goats Everywhere.jpg


At the Top of Deadhorse Pass
At the Top of Deadhorse.jpg


The "Dead" in Deadhorse Pass?
Deadhorse Pass.jpg


Deadhorse Lake
Deadhorse Lake.jpg


Where I Came From - Looking Up from Buck Pasture
Where I Was.jpg


Curious George
Curious George Too.jpg


The Last Climb - It's Downhill from Here - Dead Man Pass
Dead Man Pass.jpg


Nearing the Finish Line Just in Time
Nearing the Finish.jpg


I would definitely do this trip again... although with a variation. Next time, I would cross over the ridge west of Deadhorse Lake to Allsop Lake and descend back down the East Fork of the Bear drainage to the trail head.

Going down West Fork of Blacks Fork became brutal with the final leg over the Bear River Smith's Fork trail. This trail passes through a lot of burned areas with many elevation gains and losses... Half the distance parallels a road with obviously heavy ATV traffic. I passed through late enough on Sunday evening that most of the traffic had gone back to their camps - I could only hear them in the distance through the trees - but it still wasn't the wilderness experience that I had during the earlier part of the trip.

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Artemus

I walk
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Joined
Jun 25, 2012
Messages
4,337
Nice report, Eagle! Thanks. How steep is the north side of Ostler pass? 20 degrees, 30? Is it stair-step steepness? I turned around at the pass in the winter due to avalanche conditions, coming from the south up Rock Creek, and always wondered.... Looks quite steep in your photo.
 

uinta_eagle

Free Ranger
Joined
Jan 28, 2012
Messages
25
Nice report, Eagle! Thanks. How steep is the north side of Ostler pass? 20 degrees, 30? Is it stair-step steepness? I turned around at the pass in the winter due to avalanche conditions, coming from the south up Rock Creek, and always wondered.... Looks quite steep in your photo.
Thanks! I would guess it's probably about 30 degrees in most areas...possibly a little steeper in places. Like much of the Uintas, it looks steeper than it actually is. It was challenging but not particularly difficult. I just took it slow, watched for remnants of the old trail and the few cairns that exist. I also found the footing to be better than it looked from a distance. There wasn't as much loose scree as I expected.
 

Nick

Spiral out.
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Joined
Aug 9, 2007
Messages
12,669
Fantastic trip report! That is such an awesome route you took. I've been wanting to tackle Ostler pass for years so it's especially awesome to see it done. And I think I got cliffed out in the same spot as you one trip. Beautiful country to walk through in upper Rock Creek. One question - if you had two vehicles, would you still slip back over into the East Fork at Dead Horse or would you then go down and just end at WFBF TH? I ask because out of those two drainages, I found WFBF to be many times better than the trail up through EFBR. I'd hate to miss that part but crossing over that last chunk sounds pretty lame after all the goods you would have just gone through.

After lurking around this forum for several years, and thoroughly enjoying the vicarious pleasures of reading about your varied and exciting experiences, I've finally found the ambition to contribute a post of my own.
And thank you so much for this. It bums me out sometimes that so many people use BCP but not that many actually post their own trips for some reason. So thank you! BCP wouldn't exist if it weren't for trip reports like this! :)
 

uinta_eagle

Free Ranger
Joined
Jan 28, 2012
Messages
25
Thank you Nick - I've made a resolution to start recording and sharing my trips... so expect to see more :)

Thanks for providing such a great forum.

Actually, given a car shuttle, I would probably do as you suggest and just end the trip at WFBF trail head. That drainage is one of my favorite hikes. The scenery is spectacular and it's such a gentle slope that the downhill trip to there was very enjoyable. However, I still have an urge to cross that pass between Deadhorse and Allsop just to say I've done it ;)
 

River

Member
Joined
Jan 26, 2012
Messages
419
Looks like a great trip!

And thank you so much for this. It bums me out sometimes that so many people use BCP but not that many actually post their own trips for some reason. So thank you! BCP wouldn't exist if it weren't for trip reports like this! :)
More prizes :D
 

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