Thursday, August 20, 2015

Hiking and fishing the Uintas

Another day, another great adventure.

I believe, but I'm not certain, that this is Little Lily Lake.
I had originally wanted to do a backpacking trip this week, but after not being able to find anyone else to go, decided on a longish day hike to some great fishing in the Uintas.
My plan was to go to Little Hidden Lake and Divide Lakes which are accessed via the Crystal Lake Trailhead.
I started off on the trail and the first thing I noticed was that neither of the trailheads that start from that parking lot had the name of the major lake in the area that I was planning on hiking to. I was looking for Clyde Lake to be on the sign because that's near the Divide Lakes, which are near Little Hidden Lake etc. I started up the trail not knowing where I was going really. I'm glad I didn't attempt it in the dark as I had originally planned. My Uinta maps are buried underneath tons of rubble in the basement (my daughter and her family live down there), and I didn't want to buy another one knowing that those were down there, so I just thought I could manage without. I did, but I ended up spending a lot of time traveling cross country and trying to figure out where the actual trail was and which lake was which. My GPS was helpful with that, but some of the smaller lakes weren't on my GPS map. I think part of my problem is that I get too involved in looking around, and miss the obvious trail.
I found myself looking down at Wall Lake where I had camped in the 1970s just after Christmas one year.
Anyway at about 7 am, I hit the trail,  heading up the right one and took a fork to Cliff Lake, which I remembered was along the path to Clyde.
Somehow though at Cliff, I got off the real trail (probably by looking around at the amazing scenery--and I was trying to find some wild roses in bloom for pics).
No wild roses, but there were flowers in abundance. These will have to do.

The area is so close to the highly popular Trial Lake Campground that there are trails heading everywhere and most of them vanish after a while, or turn into deer trails and peter out. Using the GPS, I determined where Clyde was from there and set off cross country to find it. Clyde Lake is beautiful and it looked highly fishable as I passed it by—I could see fish swimming and eating insects near the shore. But, I wanted to get to Little Hidden Lake, because the book I had read had said that there were some larger fish in it and it was excellent fishing. I had to pass by the three Divide Lakes in order to get to Little Hidden Lake, and there were some people camping there and I asked if they knew where Little Hidden was. One of them said, “yes” then pulled out his map and explained how to get there. What he actually showed me was "Hidden Lake". Nice guy. I found it a few minutes later with no problem. I had found another nearby lake which I assumed was "Little Hidden Lake", but now that I think about it, I'm fairly certain that "Hidden" and "Little Hidden" are the same lake. At any rate, there are many lakes up there and I wasn't able to positively identify all of them. The one I thought was Little Hidden Lake, may have been James Lake
I'm not sure if this is James Lake or what...
or one of the many other unidentified lakes that are found in the Uintas.
I decided to head back to the Divide Lakes.
Divide Lake 2
I ended up at Divide Lake 2 where I could see tons of fish eating bugs off the surface. I ended up catching six fish there, but didn't catch my first one until 1:15.
My first fish
After a while it seemed to slow down so I decided to try Divide 1 and caught one more fish. At about 3 pm, I thought I'd try Clyde Lake. The first spot I tried at Clyde I caught one, but that was it. So I decided to move. I went around the lake and saw a place where there were some old trees in the water, and some fish swimming nearby and sat there. I caught five more fish, bringing my total to 12 by about 4:30.  By the way, the fish in Clyde Lake are larger than the ones in Divide Lakes. I was fishing near the southwest corner of Clyde, right where the trail comes into it from below. There was a group of guys fishing along the south edge, stretching east who also seemed to be catching fish.
Clyde Lake close to where I caught five fish
My feet were hot. I decided to stick them in the lake.
Just one more reason to bring a bandana along--drying feet.
 Because of the trail situation, I had decided that I didn't want to attempt descending after dark, so I had made the decision to go down earlier while it was still quite light, and fish at Crystal Lake, which is near the trailhead.
Again, I was glad I made that choice because I got off the trail again when it vanished into some rocks. I heard some guys below though and thought that they were probably on the trail, so I waited until I could see where they were and started toward them. They were on the trail, and I talked to them for a couple of minutes. They weren't sure where they were either, so I told them where Clyde was etc. and they said, “good, we're on the right trail.”
I talked to an elderly couple further down the trail. They said they had come up to Clyde Lake 35 years previously and wanted to visit it again. I gave them general directions, mentioning that I had lost the trail up there, but showing them where it was up over which ridges and stuff. I'm pretty sure they weren't going up there to have a picnic, but it was kind of romantic anyway.
When I got to Crystal Lake I had some memories flood back because I had been a Scout leader several years (10 maybe) ago when I had last been there. I looked for the lean-to the boys had made, but couldn't even find the right spot. I didn't spend a great deal of time looking though, because I wanted to get fishing. The waves were choppy because a breezed had kicked up and one thing I'd noticed at some of the other lakes I'd fished was that when the wind was blowing, the fish didn't want to bite as much. I ended up catching one, making my total 13, but that one was different from all the others. It was an Arctic Grayling—the rest had been trout—and that beast really fought me. It jumped out of the water three times as I reeled it in. Of course, I was doing catch and release, so I let the fighter go to live another day.
Arctic Grayling. He's the fighter!
As for the day itself, it was beautiful. The sky, however, was a bit murky due to all the forest fires in California, Nevada, Oregon, etc. We always get that smoke trapped in our mountains for a while. There were no clouds in the sky, and I was treated to a rare Uinta day that didn't include an early afternoon rain storm. I really enjoyed listening as the breeze came through the trees. It's interesting how you can hear it coming from a long way off, before a particular blast reaches where you are. That's an amazing thing about being in the forest. The temperatures were nice, though I got a little cool sitting in the shade at Clyde--I also got a little hot in the early evening sun at Crystal.
Never leave your hip belt buckled for always makes you look like you have a pot belly.
I ended up leaving at around seven, stopped in Kamas and got a personal pizza, and began the drive home, arriving at around nine. Just another great adventure in the wilderness. I couldn't be happier.

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