Trip Report: Uinta Wanderings

hayden_peak_murdockThe views of Hayden Peak and ridge line from half way up Murdock Mountain. Smoky skies made it hard to get any decent shots on this trip. This was one of my favorite compositions from the trip, and I think will be a spot I visit in the future for some nice evening light.

It seem the more time I spend in the Uintas the more time I want to spend in the Uintas. While not as grandeur or as majestic as other mountain ranges in the west, the Uintas have a unique character that keeps me coming back for me. Arguably the best scenery in the Uintas is deeper into the range, but I continue to find the area along the Mirror Lake Highway beautiful in it’s own way.

On this particular day I decided to hit up some random lakes along the Mirror Lake Highway. My goal was to find a good composition for photographing Hayden Peak. I call Hayden Peak the sentinel of the Uintas. I am always taken with that peak, as you come up and over the summit near Bald Mountain it appears on the skyline as a gnarly and foreboding rock. Some day I want to climb it, but for now I will be content to photograph it.

The Highway was a zoo, I had never see so many people along the Trial Lake area. Cars were lined up along the Highway for a quarter mile up and down from Trial Lake. Ugh. The Uintas amaze me though, it’s very possible to find solitude and peace here, even when it seems all of Salt Lake City is up here fishing. The secret? Walking. A mere 5 minute stroll up any of the dozens of trails in the area will quickly put you on your own.

I started out at Butterfly Lake, a popular and busy lake. The views of Hayden Peak from here were pretty good, and there was a meadow with some incredible flowers just to the west of the Lake. It’s busy though, with a campground just South of the Lake.

butterfly_lake_flowersSome nice yellow flowers found in a boulder field just north of Butterfly Lake. 

Next up was Bud Lake. I saw one person camped on the shores of this lake. The water lilys were impressive, but the views of Hayden Peak was marginal at best.

Next up was Bonnie Lake. I saw no one at this lake the hour that I was here, despite the fact that it was a 5-10 minute walk from the road. There were some nice meadows west of the lake filled with Indian Paintbrush and Elephant Head flowers. The views of Hayden Peak from this area were really nice. There were several really good camp spots around the lake. I will definitely return here at some point, it would make an excellent camping spot with small children.

bonnie_lakeThe view of Hayden Peak from Bonnie Lake. You can see the nice flowers and lilys in this shot. The air was cloudy however and obscured most of the detail of the peak. 

Next up I decided to climb Murdock Peak, the rocky hill just south of Bald Mountain. The views from the top were nice, though the smoky air made it hard to see much of anything. It was a pretty easy climb up the talus slope to get to the wide flat summit. Someone had constructed a nice rock chair at the top. On my way down I found a grassy area that gave some really nice vistas of Hayden Peak.

hayden_peakThe view of Hayden Peak from the summit of Murdock Mountain. 

summit_chairMy summit chair at the top. Someone had a fire up here at some point. 

Next up, Ruth Lake. This is a really nice lake, though quite popular. A short 1 mile walk from the road. Ruth lake was surrounded by wildflowers, every edge of the lake seemed to be thick with Paintbrush, Lupines, and Elephant Head flowers. Water Lilys on the lake had bloomed with their nice yellow flowers.

ruth_lakeThe view from Ruth Lake. I love those lilys. 

Just a couple minutes north of Ruth Lake lies Naomi Lake. Another really pretty lake surrounded by thick fields of flowers. If I were backpacking this is where I would stay. Much fewer people than at Ruth Lake.

naomi_lakeNaomi Lake. I loved this field of flowers, it contained just about every type of my favorite flowers. 

Next I went cross country to an unnamed lake west of Naomi. No people. Next was Hayden Lake. This is a pretty lake. While it doesn’t have the views of  Hayden Peak that Ruth lake has, nor the wildflowers crowding it’s banks, the actual lake is much more scenic. There is a large talus slope to the west of the lake that I climbed and was given some nice views to the east. I saw one random person fishing here, but other than that had it to myself.

hayden_lakeThe view from up on the talus slope west of Hayden Lake. 

hayden_lake_flowersThere were lots of these little guys growing in the talus slope. I had never seen them before and have no idea what they are called. 

Next I hit up an unnamed lake North of Hayden. A pond more like it, but it was pretty with the towering talus slope of Lofty Peak to the South. Next another random unnamed lake to the east. I am starting to think it’s not possible for any one person to see every lake in the Uintas in their lifetime. That was it, 9 lakes, 1 peak, 10.2 miles. Only in the Uintas.

unnamed_lakeThe inlet stream to the unnamed lake North of Hayden Lake. Lofty Peak in the background, there is a lake up there on top…. maybe next time. 


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