Saturday, June 20, 2015

Waterfall hunting part duex

     Redo of my last attempt to visit one of my favorite backcountry waterfalls!

     The trail was illuminated only by the waxing light of the crescent moon as we hurried our way to Weir lake. It was my son and my ten year old German shorthaired pointer along this time.. The last time I took Padmay with us was our first and only attempt to make it to King peak--Utah's tallest mountain. That trip was cut short due to a close call (for me anyway) with lightening. Anyway, this was an impromptu trip to redo the attempt during Memorial day weekend.

     We arrived at the trial head a little after nine pm and we knew it was going to be long dark hike, luckily, I have been on this trail many times and know it very well. I do not recommend doing any night hiking as the tripping hazards alone make it a bad idea, however as my wife can attest, I'm not always of sound mind. Well enough about me, on to the story! After about an hour and a half of negotiating toe crushing large rocks, mud, and horse caused disasters, we found a suitable place to set up camp. Once that was accomplished, I set up my camera to shoot the Milky way, inspired in part by my new friend Jack, he was on his way to Great Basin National Park to do the very same thing. Here are a few shots I took, I played around with different ISO settings, not really the shots I wanted, but fun none the less!

     Even at over 50 miles away from Salt lake, the light pollution is still a hindrance and with the 12800 ISO on the top picture I was able to capture some of that light pollution and the colors it contained!

     With the Milky way shot, we hit the bags around midnight; I slept quite well, thanks in part to working all day, 3 miles in the dark, and of course, my backpacking cot. The cot I use was originally made by a company called luxurylite (not sure if they are still in business) and now a large sleeping pad manufacture makes it--this is the version I own. It weighs in at over three pounds, but I'm a side sleeper and sleeping on inflatable pads kills my shoulders, so it is worth the weight. My pack only weighed in at 20 pounds, so no big deal this time. We slept in until after nine and even the boy scout troop, a hundred yards away, weren't enough to get us up. Padmay, at 10 was just fine waiting until we climbed out of the tent, even though we go for long walks and the occasional run, she was sore too! Once out of the tent, I went straight to work on breakfast, I have been experimenting with decreasing my pack weight for a while and inspired by another friend, Beth, I started looking into home made alcohol stoves. My first try was out of two soda cans, however the one I brought along this time was made from a cat food can, thoroughly washed of course and inspired by yet another friend, Layne. Dehydrated backpacking meals are not my favorite and when ever I can I'll bring along real food. On this trip, we brought eggs and pancake mix.

     Here are a couple pictures of the stove in action! Warning, eggs were harmed in the making of this breakfast!

     The alcohol stove did the job, but is not very efficient, better to boil water only, unless you want to carry quite a lot of fuel. It was an interesting experiment and fun to experiment with different ways to cook in the backcountry!

     I am also trying something different this time for my blog, normally I will process my photos and as I do that, my story just writes itself. This time, however I started writing it before even looking at the pictures. However on my last trip, all of my new friends would stop every time they saw anything interesting and take a picture, something I used to do while on one of my adventures.  As my photography skills have improved, so has my critical eye for composition and light. This is a blessing and a curse, whereas I will skip an interesting shot if the light isn't right or I didn't bring the correct lens for the shot. This trip I intended to take pictures of anything I wanted, without worrying how it would turn out. Well as I was taking the above pictures I noticed something was off, but with my new self imposed moratorium on fussing about the perfect shot I let it go. I should have listened to my instincts, because my ISO was still set for 6400 instead of 100 (as I usually shoot with). So all of the rest of the photos here are the ones I could salvage. I spent some time shooting in my favorite waterfall gorge and almost all of them are too noisy to fix in post processing. Normally I wouldn't show any of these pictures, however this would be an even shorter blog if I didn't have any pictures to post. So it's worth the embarrassment.

     Bottom of the gorge.    

     The next one up.


     This is the main fall in the middle of the gorge, the is a better picture farther down.

Exiting the gorge.

     Mount Watson.

     We even relived our snowball fight from the last outing, I cheated, by hiding a snowball for later on, and just before the trailhead I threw another!

     We made it back to the trailhead around one p.m. and headed straight for Uinta drive inn, if you have never eaten there you need to, they have awesome burgers! Here is a picture of the the main waterfall in the gorge I took last fall, so you have an idea of what I was trying to do. This one, of course was taken the way I normally do! The pictures didn't turn out the way I would have liked and I learned a valuable lesson: always check you setting before you start shooting!

Monday, June 8, 2015

The Crazy Eight and the Waterfall Basin

An Idaho Backcountry Adventure

After a little planning and many discussions, our trip came to fruition! Our goal was to hike to Upper Palisades reservoir and if we had time, check out the waterfalls. Once a waterfall was mentioned, I knew I was going and need to schedule a day off. I spent the couple weeks getting ready; I have accumulated too much gear, and it can take a while to decide what gear to haul 22 miles into the backcountry. With the plan set and the transportation figured out, we were off. Roughly four hours of windshield time and we arrived at the trailhead. It was shortly after 11 am when we hit the trail.

The crazy eight

It sure is nice to see green at this elevation, unlike Utah, it rains quite a bit.

Our fearless leader.

 The midway point to the first lake, and our first break.

One of the many river crossings, there are several nice bridges that helped keep our feet dry.

We took a short break once we hit the first lake, and while taking in that beauty, we noticed a bald eagle circling the lake. Once back on the trail, we saw it again near the end of the lake in it's nest.

The inlet of lower Palisades.

It was a long seven miles to the upper lake, once there, we all set camp as the clouds kept the sun from us and threatened with the imminent showers it carried. We set camp quickly just in case. After a light sprinkling, we gathered some firewood, for the evenings fire. Thankfully, there wasn't any fire restrictions and firewood was easy to find. After a quick dinner, some of us did a little fishing. The lake is full of Cutthroat trout, however you are required to release them immediately, so no trout dinner for us this trip.

The next morning, after breakfast, we hit the trail in search of waterfalls! Our destination was a large basin with three waterfalls and four miles from Upper Palisades. We came across this beautiful pond just before entering waterfall basin.


The first waterfall! The falls appear to come straight out of the side of the mountain.

A very steep climb to the middle section.

Directly across from the first waterfall.
A little closer.

At the end of the basin is a box canyon and this beauty! Still quite a bit of snow, however none of it is on the trail. After a brief visit and some filtered water, we headed back to camp.

A couple more shots of an amazing waterfall!

As you can see, a storm was brewing.

"Rain's a comin' "

On the way out, I ran across this mushroom, I wonder if it tastes like caramel?

About a mile back from camp, the clouds unloaded on us, thankfully just a steady short lived storm. Once back at camp we made dinner and sat by the fire, cementing our new friendships.

The next morning I was up early and took a few pictures.


After a quick breakfast, we packed our wet gear and headed for the trailhead, we left at just after eight. Along the way and just before the lower lake we ran into two moose, this was the best picture I was able to take, they just wouldn't hold still.

We arrived back at the trailhead just after twelve, we weren't in a big hurry and took several breaks to help our sore feet, covering 22 miles in just over 48 hours. It was a great trip and I left with a few pictures and some new friends.