The Ultra Experience

Here's to the adventures of my life which are usually ultra marathon trail running or fly fishing but may include other trips, experiences, thoughts, opinions, or pretty much whatever I want. As co-founder of Altra Footwear my life and adventures seemingly revolve more around developing and promoting the best footwear in the world...and I love it!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Hayden Peak Backpacking Trip

The Uintah mountains are home for me. I have such fond memories of the Uintahs. In fact some of the earliest and most distinct memories of my life occurred when I was 5 years old while my family was horse camping/backpacking at Mohican Lake in the Grandaddy basin. I carried my first backpack (clothes, sleeping bag, and foam pad) when I was 8 years old on a 7 mile trip into Duck Lake. Although more exotic trips have taken precedence over the last few years (LDS mission, Alaska, study abroad in the British Isles, Hawaii, a NOLS course, backpacking Europe, John Muir Trail, southern Utah, etc), I find peace and solice in the feeling of being completely at home in the Uintahs.

This past weekend was no different. Golden Harper and I set about for a quick trip to Ryder Lake and McPheter Lake with the goal to bag Hayden Peak from the backside. The trip was almost flawless. The 9+ miles in were banged out in less than 4 hours and we found a perfect campsite on a grassy ledge between the two lakes. Mosquito's were a bit voracious but the views were perfect. We fished Ryder lake that night which produced plenty of small Brook trout and an occasional Cutthroat.

The following morning we were all about business and off we went despite a few scattered showers. The rule was as soon as we even heard thunder we were to head down for cover. Luckily a mild breeze and a couple spattering drops of rain were all we encountered as we scrambled up the mountain. The way is rocky with no trail but can be accomplished by most strong, stable, and determined hikers. From our campsite we summited in 1 1/2 hours including a couple of picture/breather breaks. Seeing Kings Peak in one direction and Mount Timpanogos in another is pretty awesome! Serenity Now! (with no sarcasm)
The way down was a little more difficult and provided for some careful navigation. Once at the saddle where you can either scramble down to the Mirror Lake Highway or McPheter Lake we found a steep ravine with stable snow. So what would two semi-mature 27 year old men do? Slide down the 50 degree slope and avoid the boulders of course! Unfortunately our camera battery died or else we would have some gnarly pictures of the 30 seconds and 600 feet of blissful descent. A nap, fast afternoon fishing at Ryder, a real thunderstorm, slow but big fish at McPheter Lake, and an eventful day came to a close. Tired but content with life we curled up and slept to the indescribable smell of mountains.
The final day was uneventful compared to the previous. Taking our time in the morning we unsuccessfully went to go and catch the big one at McPheter and then had some fast pond/stream fishing at the outlet of Ryder. The hike out went quickly as we swiftly hiked down the mountain with our lightened packs. Another great trip and the Uintahs continued to impress both the eye and the soul.

Note the slide path below the moon. Yep...that was it!


Anonymous said...


I was there the day after. Came up from the ML Hwy...windy but warm. Caught a big one in McPheter. Saw your tracks!

Coincidentally, I am a NOLS instructor. What course did you take?


Brian Beckstead said...

Beautiful area huh? Yeah I caught a few NICE fish at McPheter. Can't give out too many secrets.

I did the Outdoor Educator backpacking and rock climbing6/7/2007 to the Absarokas. It was fantastic. Have fun a NOLS. It's a great program which I wish more people would take advantage of.


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