Saturday, September 09, 2017

Hiking: Bald Mountain and Fehr Lake

This past Tuesday I wanted to get out, get hiking and try some fishing. Mostly, I wanted to get into the Uintas as I hadn't had the chance to go there yet this year. I had debated which lake I wanted to hike to in order to fish, and I kind of wanted to try somewhere new. Then I decided to hike to the top of Bald Mountain, a relatively short hike, and come back down, then hike to one of the lakes off the same trailhead that goes to the top of Baldy.
I had told my wife that I'd be back at around 4:00, so I had to keep that in mind as I was figuring things out. I driven out of the gas station parking lot in Taylorsville at around 6:20 and it was just shy of two hours drive time by the time I got there. I had stopped to go through the McDonald's drive thru at Park City, and to pick up a fishing license, some worms, and some Power Bait at the grocery store in Kamas. I didn't need to pick up a pass at any of the kiosks or whatever you call them along the Mirror Lake Highway, as my pass that I had purchased the day before, when my wife and I took a drive up there, was still good.
Saw these deer on the drive up. Just did a drive by experiment with my zoom.
As I began hiking, I started thinking that maybe I should've brought the short-sleeve shirt instead of the long-sleeve, because I was working up a sweat. And I had not been up at altitude like that all year--Bald Mountain Pass clocks in at over 10,700 feet, and the trailhead itself is just a bit lower than the pass. My legs were fine from all the stair climbers I've been doing, but I found myself lightheaded as I tried to adjust to the thinner air.
There was only one other car in the parking area when I began, which was quite a change from the day before, which was Labor Day. That day, there was wall to wall people all through the Mirror Lake highway area. In fact, on Monday we had got caught in bumper to bumper traffic coming back from our ride--people from the Uintas, and likely Strawberry Reservoir and other areas too. Tuesday was completely different and back to nearly normal levels of people, though there were still a few campers and motor homes belonging to people who probably wanted to stay up for a few more calmer days.
As I began my ascent, I could tell it was going to be a low visibility day due to the smoke from all the fires that had accumulated amongst the peaks. At that point I was not aware of the Weber Canyon fire, and thought that most of the smoke was blowing in from other states.
It's quite a slope, both to the right and left as you go up the trail.
I kept it slow to better adjust to the altitude and took a lot of pics along the way.
This is about where the woman who had climbed it 100 times passed me.
One woman passed me on the way up and then, just as I neared the top, she passed me on her way down. We stopped and chatted for a few, and I found out that this was about her 100th time climbing this particular peak. I had just heard a couple of weeks ago about a retired mail carrier who had hiked to the top of Mt. Timpanogos more than 900 times. It made me wonder. I mean, there are so many different trails to take, why do one particular trail that many times? But to each his or her own. I have hiked several of the trails in the Wasatch around five times and Mt. Olympus maybe ten times. That would be my personal record. The most times I've hiked any one particular peak. And I don't necessarily see me doing Oly again. So many trails, so little time!
After talking to that person, I got up to the top and hung around for a while, finding the exact top with my GPS (this mountain tops out at 11,943 feet) and then going to various points to see the 360 degree view.
Looking to the southeast. That's Mirror Lake directly below.

A little to the northwest is the Notch.

Another view of Mirror Lake and Highway 150

To the west. Among those lakes are Trial and others.

Reid's Peak

Large cairn on top. The actual high point is where I am taking the picture.
After eating my second breakfast, I headed back down. On the way, I met a couple of people from New Zealand who were camping nearby and enjoyed my visit with them. before I even got to the trailhead, I realized that I wasn't going to be able to hike into even the nearest lake along the other fork of the trail. This trail eventually leads to the Notch, and one can do a point to point hike if you start here and end up at the Crystal Lake trailhead, or start at that trailhead and end up at the Bald Mountain parking area. I certainly want to do that one some day. I have hiked from the Crystal Lake trailhead over the Notch and down to Ibantik Lake and that is a fabulous hike.
Anyway, I had spotted a lake on my map on top that was only about a half mile from the main highway, and I drove down the highway to the parking area, then hiked into Fehr Lake. I figured I had about an hour and a half to fish in order to get home by the time I had told my wife.
Fehr Lake is a Beautiful little lake.




Can you find the guitar in this image?

There are other lakes further back in. As I said--there are so many hikes, and I love Timp and all, but could never see me doing it even 100 times--just too darn many other places to see. One of these days, I'll get back on that trail and see the other lakes that were further in.
Views along the trail to Fehr Lake
Since I had an hour and a half, I just decided that my best course of action in catching fish was to try something for 20 minutes, and if there were no bites, to try something else. I first used worms. After all, I had stopped and bought them in Kamas, so I figured I'd better give them a try. Nothing. The Power Bait was next--rainbow with sparkles. Again, nothing. I decided to try a fly with a bubble. I used a brown scud and a fish took it, right after it hit the water. I reeled it in. If I had my backpacking stove with me, I would have cooked and eaten it on the spot, but I didn't, so I let it go. I let nearly everything go when I fish as it's rare for me to have my stove along, and I never take them home.
I tried the scud a few more casts, but got nothing. I figure that the fish hit it on that one cast because it was still basically dry and they were feeding on the surface, but after that first cast, it was waterlogged and sunk. Something to think about for the future. I should take my fly rod next time and that stuff that makes flies float.
I switched to spinners and caught nothing except an empty plastic cup that some uncaring person had thrown down, either in the lake, or on the land and then it had blown in. Either way, I didn't like it.
You can stop leaving your trash in the mountains at any time. I won't complain.
The trail back out afforded me a great view of the peak I had summited earlier that day.
Bald Mountain
I knew I would be back to climb it a fourth time some day---probably in my golden years--and then stopping in the forest below for a picnic or something. One thing I knew for sure--I would never run out of places to hike, for the first time, or for the seventh. And it's always a new adventure.