Weir & Island Lakes, Uintas

Nick

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I spent a couple nights in the Uintas last weekend for the Backcountrypost Uinta Fest. I was able to slip out of work a little early on Friday so I went home, picked up Nikita, and raced on up to the Crystal Lake trailhead. Most of the group was planning on coming in on Saturday and meeting us at Crystal Lake but I planned to hike in towards Weir and Marjorie Lakes and hopefully meet up with Bill and his family that night.

To my surprise, I was actually able to find a parking spot at the Crystal Lake trailhead when I arrived around 4:30. That place has a bad reputation for having nowhere near enough parking spaces on a busy weekend. I quickly loaded the last few things into my pack and headed down the trail. I was an hour or more ahead of Bill but I wanted to get in a ways and then spend my extra time meandering and fishing.

For the first time since this spring, I was able to bring Nikita along for the hike. She was beyond excited on the drive up and had good energy for the first mile or so before slowing down quite a bit. Her age is really showing this year so it was awesome to have such a short trip that I could get her out on.
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A meadow along the trail.
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I told Bill I would make it obvious where I turned so he would know where to go. :D
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We stopped in this meadow and relaxed for a while. There was a surprisingly huge amount of boyscouts running around. I was hoping school starting up would have cut the numbers of big Friday night groups down but it was not to be.
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After relaxing in the meadow and stopping to fish a small lake, I finally found myself at Weir Lake.
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I was only at Weir for a half hour or so before Bill and his family arrived. We got camp setup in a cool dry lake bed and sat around the fire for hours. I tried a new recipe that I created in my food dehydrator; gluten-free spaghetti! Granted, the gluten-free noodles aren't totally paleo but I figured I'd let it slide. It was so awesome.
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It was a clear night and I didn't even bother putting on my fly. It was nice to wake up to Nikita patrolling the area again.
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As I was getting ready to hop out of my tent, I saw the goggles I had brought along. BTW, thanks for the idea ststephen ! The goggles made me think swimming sounded nice, so I popped out of my tent, wandered over to the lake and dived in. It was brisk seeing how it was only about 8am, but it felt awesome. And it only took me a few minutes to stop shaking! :cold:
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Out tents in the dry lakebed. In any other year, this would at least be marshy. On a wet year, the high water mark would be several feet higher than our tents. It made for a hell of a good campsite.
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Later in the morning, we broke camp and continued hiking towards Duck Lake where we would connect with the trail up to Island Lake.

Bill's boys climbing around on the trail near Duck Lake
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Nikita being older than she used to be. :(
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A little storm blew through right as we arrived at Island Lake so we went to the first known campsite on the NE shore. As soon as we got there, the storm blew out and it was beautiful. The nice cliffs to jump off were across the lake from us and there was quite the crowd so we didn't rush over. It was fun to watch them fly off of there one after another.
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After sitting out on our rocks for a while, pixie1339 arrived and joined us, and not long after that, another storm moved in. This time it looked a bit more serious so we all fled back into camp and dived into our tents to wait it out.

After the first big burst of the storm, I popped out of my tent for a minute to see Waynee-ack and his son down in our camp! I went down to chat just as the storm started to pick back up so I recommended they setup their tent and wait out the storm.

The storm lasted a bit longer than average but after 2 or 3 hours, we were able to get out and move around but the clouds were still threatening and it was still trickling a bit. Wayne was debating heading out early because they hadn't packed sufficient warmth for a cold night, meanwhile Bill was debating the same because they had the kids (including a 10 month old) cooped up in the tent and they also needed to be able to make a quick getaway in the morning because of obligations back in town.

We all debated whether the storm would continue. It kept looking like it might clear, but then a new dark cloud would arrive. Shortly after 5pm, Wayne and Bill decided to bail. That meant Lisa and I would be the only ones left so we went to work gathering wood for the night. By the time everyone was packed up and walking away, the sun was shining and the last few drops of rain were coming down.
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And then it stopped. From this point on there was no wind and the weather was perfect.
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I was hoping some of the clouds would have stuck around for a nice sunset but it was not to be.
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I hoped to do some night shots that night but clouds moved back in after dark so we just hung out around the fire and talked. The next morning, the water on the lake was perfect glass and the sky was filled with beautiful puffy clouds. I sure wish I had woken up to shoot sunrise, it might have been nice.
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We took our time packing up in the morning and took it easy hiking out. I hiked a little off trail to check this lake between Long and Island. As Nikita showed me by trying to catch one, it did have fish, but they were small.
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We stopped at Island Lake for a bit and I fished. I had gotten totally skunked up at Island so it was really nice to get a couple brookies on the Tenkara here at Long Lake.
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It was a good backcountry fest. The weather was a bit damp that afternoon but nothing out of the ordinary during monsoon season in the Uintas. Looking forward to the next backcountry fest to meet more of you!

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JD

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Great report. I bet it was great having the buddy out for another trip with you.ish I could have had that trip on my schedule to meet you guys maybe on the next one.
 

DAA

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Jun 14, 2012
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Looks like fun! Timing for this one was impossible for me, but if I'm ever able to make one of these, I shall.

Glad you got your old friend out too. My old boxer goes with me on my daily walks around the neighborhood. Used to be that five miles was nothing for him, but anymore he has trouble doing three miles and it's obviously painful for him. But when I occasionally try to sneak out for a walk without him, so I can go further, he makes it plain that he would rather get out and live with the pain than be left behind. Breaks my heart to see him like that...

- DAA
 

pixie1339

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Jan 21, 2012
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Good times! That was a fun trip, and the weather was awesome aside from that big storm that rolled through. You never know what you're gonna get in the Uintas. We got rained out a couple days early on our Labor Day trip. The storms just weren't moving on and we got sick of sitting in our tents in the cold the whole time.:(
 

lostlandscapes

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Jan 17, 2012
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Awesome TR. Echoing the others sentiments, glad to see Nikita get back into the mountains again. She's definitely in her element out there.

By the way, that long storm you sat through made me wonder....did you notice anything different with the weather in the Uintas this summer? Greater frequency of storms? Longer lasting? More lightning, less rain, etc??? Just curious, with all this wonky climate stuff going on everywhere I'm wondering how it's affecting mountain ranges....
 
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Nice report Nick. Wish I could have made it.
 

JD

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Nick did you fish Weir at all? I might head out someplace sunday night for a quick trip looking for a good fishing hole for the night.
 

Nick

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By the way, that long storm you sat through made me wonder....did you notice anything different with the weather in the Uintas this summer? Greater frequency of storms? Longer lasting? More lightning, less rain, etc??? Just curious, with all this wonky climate stuff going on everywhere I'm wondering how it's affecting mountain ranges....

It was definitely stormier up there but I don't think it was wetter than average. I think last summer was just abnormally dry.


Nick did you fish Weir at all? I might head out someplace sunday night for a quick trip looking for a good fishing hole for the night.

I casted the tenkara in there a few times but didn't try long. They were rising but were mostly all quit far out from shore. I did notice that the little unnamed lake on the way in (shortly after taking the turn towards Weir) had some good fishing. 2 years ago I walked by it and so no sign, but this year there was a boy scout troop pulling them in one after another as I walked by.
 

JD

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It was definitely stormier up there but I don't think it was wetter than average. I think last summer was just abnormally dry.




I casted the tenkara in there a few times but didn't try long. They were rising but were mostly all quit far out from shore. I did notice that the little unnamed lake on the way in (shortly after taking the turn towards Weir) had some good fishing. 2 years ago I walked by it and so no sign, but this year there was a boy scout troop pulling them in one after another as I walked by.
Thanks Nick, My wife has a trip and is gone early sunday so I am hoping to hit the trail for the night just looking for some place to fish and relax I am guessing no crowds that night. I will look for the other lake on the map
 

Nick

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Thanks Nick, My wife has a trip and is gone early sunday so I am hoping to hit the trail for the night just looking for some place to fish and relax I am guessing no crowds that night. I will look for the other lake on the map

It's this one... on the left side of the trail on the way to Weir.


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JD

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It's this one... on the left side of the trail on the way to Weir.
Awesome thanks for putting it up. Would you set up at Weir or not then??? I havent been in this area before so want to check it out. Thanks
 

Nick

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Awesome thanks for putting it up. Would you set up at Weir or not then??? I havent been in this area before so want to check it out. Thanks

I dunno... Weir isn't particularly beautiful but it's deep and has lots of cool rocks to sit on around the lake. That smaller lake isn't any prettier but at least it's natural (no dam) and I would think you'd have a better shot at solitude there. Might get less pressure too since a lot of people probably walk right past it.

Honestly, if I were you, I would go check out Marjorie, simply because I've never been there and I hear there are grayling in it. Pot would probably be nice too.
 

JD

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Just got back I hit Majorie the trail less traveled as it seemed I did see two people come thru last evening. Yes it does have grayling they were hitting well on the west side towards the spill way lake was boiling at dusk. Didn't take to long to get in or out shorter time than I had planned but was a good fast short trip.
 

Nick

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I've been to the other Hidden Lake in that area, but not that one. Looks like a fun exploration. Here are coords for the one in question if anyone wants to see quickly:

40.654586, -111.022713

Could be fun to approach from the bottom via the North Fork Trail. I'd bet it could hold fish looking at it on sat, but who knows. Those other little ponds nearby look kind of fun to explore as well, although they don't look fish worthy. I have a spreadsheet somewhere that has the surveyed depth of every lake in Utah but I am having trouble locating it at the moment.
 

Hurakan

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Jun 18, 2013
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Thanks Nick, There is a good chance ill check it out this weekend. Taking up someone who has never backpacked to Long Lake then from there I might hit it up as I do the loop. If it has Fish Ill definatly post some pics.

Until you find the spreadsheet this one covers more popular lakes. http://www.hikesandlakes.com/highuintas.html
 
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