Thursday, September 15, 2011

Washington Lake


We finally gathered the gear needed to go camping, and planned a trip. We had originally intended on camping at Trial Lake, but it is already closed for the season! (funny as it only opened about a month or so ago.) So we camped at nearby Washington Lake with is east of Kamas, along the Mirror Lake Scenic Byway.


Jordanelle. Not a boat in sight. How strange.


Random part of the Provo River.


View from our camp site. I believe that is Bald mountain on the left.

We were quickly losing light, but the Provo River Falls was only about 2 miles south, so I decided to go.


View of the upper falls.


Cascades below.


At the time I thought these were the lower falls, but they are actually the middle falls. As you can see it is getting dark, and I didn’t realize there was another set of falls below. No worries, as we returned here the next day.


Campfire lit trees, with campfires in the distance.

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I really like fire-lit tree’s. Nice warm colors against a cool sky.


I was trying to get a night shot! Seriously this is about 10 at night, but uh, I didn’t realize it was the full harvest moon this night. Looks almost like I took it at 6 am. Kind of cool though.


The following morning we decided to walk down and check out the lake we were camped near. In hindsight I kind of wish I had done that during the night and taken some night shots. Oh well, next time.


Different view of Bald Mountain.

After this we decided to see if we could get to the fishing spot we did a few years ago. The campground for Trial Lake was closed, but fishing here was not.


Trial Lake.

Now we were here to fish, but really we were here because a few years back we camped here with some old friends and found this cute little pond that I thought was just beautiful. I didn’t have my camera that trip so I wanted to return with it. Now years ago, I remember we had a difficult time finding the trail. I remembered wandering around, until I in this weird way, having never been here before found it like a tracker. But when we hiked back down, it lead right to the road of the campground. So, I thought we’d be smart and find it that way.


Pretty meadow.

After this we found a small trail. We hiked it up a little ways until we realized it kind of, fizzled out. Not wanting to get lost this deep in the woods we decided to turn back. So ok, we will try what we did last year, and if that fails, well then we will just fish at the lake.


Cool dry river bed.


Success! we found them! This is the first, smallest pond. You can see the water ripple from a recent fish jump.

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Here is the 2nd, just a little bit bigger.


And the 3rd which I discovered is called Diamond Lake. Both times I have been here I have not encountered a single soul. In fact, last time we were here I was the only one to wander this far, our friends stayed at the first pond, Landis stopped at the 2nd, and I got half way around this one before I got this weird “You’re alone in the woods” feeling which made me want to return to the group.

Anyway, we spent some time fishing. I secretly hoped for a repeat of the conditions from last time (it started raining, and we ended up walking down the mountain in a drenching rain). Well, not the 2nd part. Because the lily covered ponds were just amazing in the rain.

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I got what I asked for. It was light at first, started to get heavy enough to put on the ponchos we were smart enough to bring along, but quickly subdued again. (yay! no walking down a mountain in the pouring rain!)

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As close as I could get to a lily without falling in.


I am still amazed that what I saw last time, the exact same conditions that brought me back 3 or 4 years later, were replicated almost exactly, and I got what I wanted. What are the odds?


We made it down the mountain with just a slight drizzle. Got my perfectly replicated conditions to get my picture, without the miserable hike down.


I have found that some scenes are much more interesting with an interesting foreground.

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Random hawk.


Fun old trunk. Lake Trial is a reservoir, and apparently can be quite a bit deeper which killed quite a few tree’s.

As soon as we got to the car it started raining buckets. Even with the rain, we decided to drive to the Crystal Lake trail head. We found about 6 different hikes condensed here, and one day plan to do them all, but this weather is probably not the time to do it. Next time.

We then drove back down to the Provo River Falls area.


The upper falls


The middle falls.


And the lower falls.


This view shows a little bit more of the upper falls. I really enjoy this area. It is right off of the main road, and offers a lot of pretty views with less than 10 minutes of walking/climbing. Again, we got to the car and it started raining pretty hard again. We are having pretty decent luck with the weather today.


Slate gorge. Not particularly astounding, but it is a gorge, and that does appear to be slate down there.

I wanted to explore some more, particularly since we had to pay $6.00 for an area use pass in addition to our fee for the camp site, but it was time we started to head towards home. I am doing some more investigating and finding new places to explore in the area, and definitely plan on returning to the area soon. Maybe not before the year is out, but definitely before the end on the season next year. It is absolutely gorgeous! This area, is what I would call Utah’s Yellowstone. Beautiful forests, with lots of things to see and do. I am very happy we finally got out to do this.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Lake Blanche


Today was a perfect day to go hiking. It was overcast with a slight wind. I have been wanting to hike up to Lake Blanche for a while now, and with it being a longer hike I decided today was the day to do it.

The Lake Blanche trailhead is up Big Cottonwood canyon, 4.4 miles from the mouth of the canyon at the big S curve in the Mill Fork b – South area. Take the paved trail up-hill past the restrooms. Be sure to bring plenty of water. I was recommended 2 liters per person. I would say if you can carry it, add another liter just to be safe.


Big Cottonwood Creek has finally slowed down some.


A little ways up the trail sits a little bench with this plaque.


Then a little bridge crosses Mill B South Fork River.


Landis cools down in the river. Not very high up and we’re already over heated.


Wild Raspberries! They seem to grow all over up here.


Wild flowers are in abundance on this trail. Well I guess a wet spring and a mild summer may have helped that.


Very rocky trail. Hard on the legs.




And quite suddenly the color of the sand dramatically changed to this more reddish brown.


This butterfly let me get quite close!


We thought we were making a pretty good pace when this guy, had to be at least 60, sped past us. Kind of embarrassing.

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Lovely views!


Berries… I bet they taste like burning.


The river below. We thought for sure we had hiked over 2 miles and had to be getting near our destination. No, this is about halfway, and the trail gets much steeper after this.


Another nice view though.


Another butterfly. There were about 10 fluttering around here, and I was hoping to get some really good shots, but then a large group coming down scared them all off. :(


And we get our first glimpse of sundial peak. I knew the place we were heading had an amazing view of this… I didn’t realize how close up it was. We are still not even close!


Pretty little valley.


You can just make out a lazy waterfall at the tip of the valley.


We passed through another patch of aspens. These ones were particularly large! I don’t think I have ever seen any that big!


Unknown berry. Looks kind of like Nightshade, but I am certain that does not grow here.


Hrm. It would appear I like aspen trees!




Twin peaks. This image is the first of quite a few that will show my problem today. The overcast conditions, while making for exceptional hiking weather, makes for really, really crappy landscape shots. Oi.


Sundial and twin peaks.


Piddy Flower.

A little further up we saw a split in the trail. I looked both directions, and found what appeared to be the more beaten path. A little higher than that I came across this.


Uh… did I go the wrong way? It really did look like the more used trail what gives? Well I climbed up a little ways to see if the trail switched back, and it did. I guess a rockslide covered this section of the trail, but it wasn’t to difficult to scramble up 8 or so feet and find the trail again.


You can just make out the SL Valley below. I imagine on a more clear day this must be an amazing view.


And then we got to the interesting part. Large slabs of rock that show evidence of a glacier scraping across them. I am a huge nerd, and this was just fascinating to me. If I had more time, and wasn’t so tuckered out I would have spent a lot more time exploring and playing on them. So cool! Btw, this is your sign that you are almost there. Only another 5 –10 minutes to the actual lake.




Loads of wildflowers too!

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I can’t decide which one I like better!





I like this one. It shows the glacier evidence, Sundial peak, and decent sky for once!


The first glimpse of the lake.


Sundial Peak above Lake Blanche. It is a good shot, but the lack of sky just destroys it for me. I need to return on a better day. Perhaps in the fall.


Same issue. We found a nice boulder to sit on and eat some granola bars and other snacks. Replenishing some much needed calories and catching our breaths. It was a breathtaking view. Looking back I wish we had packed a full picnic as the hike up was a lot more intense than anything else we have done, Either way this was the best part, just sitting and taking in the views. That is until a family came in and discovered the echo. Over. And. Over. Again. We then decided to check out lake Florence and Lillian.


Twin Peaks.


Lake Florence, and if you look really closely you can see Lake Lillian towards the top left of the lake.


Well this is new. I don’t think I have ever seen a waterfall reflected in a lake.


Glacier activity.


Lake Lillian.

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The stream seems much lazier here than it does downstream. It must be joined by others.


Sundial peak doesn’t seem as impressive from this angle.



The view from here. After enjoying a nice relaxing view and rest we decided it was probably best to start back, as we were losing daylight, and there was a good possibility of rain.


There is a dam here that obviously failed.


Same story as Lake Blanche. It is a scary thought that 2 poorly built dams that were here seem to have failed catastrophically. I couldn’t find any information on it other than they were built in 1913. But they appear to have been able to hold enough water to cause significant damage if they failed while full. Kind of a scary thought!




A little better, but still terrible sky. You know, I have broken just about every single “rule” on photography and have enjoyed some of the outcomes. Today however is proving that a landscape photo is only as good as the sky you have. Its frustrating too because, short of returning at a different time or day, there is absolutely nothing you can do about it.




I normally am not a fan of this kind of “I was here” graffiti, however 1924, and if I am understanding it right, returning in 82. Nice.



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Again, can’t decide which one I like better. Both offer interesting views.


A girl on the trail saw my camera.

“O wow! are you a photographer?!?!”

“Uh, well yea, I guess you could say that.”

“Wanna take a picture of my snake?”

“Uh… sure why not.”


“How much further is it?”

“Bout 20 minutes.”

“K Thanks! Bye!”



What in the world happened here?




This is the shot of aspens I was looking for.


See the round mound to the left of the stream? Yea, that is where we were.


Pretty valley view.


Missed this on the way up somehow. I love these old signs they have in this canyon.


I have sky!


Where Mill B South Fork River, joins Big Cottonwood Creek. Totally losing light.

This was probably the most intense hike we have ever done. 3.5 miles one way should not have been this rough, but this is a tough trail. We are both sore. It is exceptionally pretty, and I highly recommend it! Even though it was tough, and the weather, while good for hiking, was bad for pictures. This trail would get a perfect 10. The only thing that will take 1 away is how popular it was. Lots and lots of company. On 2nd thought, considering it was a holiday weekend, it wasn’t that crowded. I’m going with a perfect 10.

squirrels 10