Garfield Basin (High Uinta's)
The 2-hour drive past Duchesne was filled with big talk and fish stories that hadnít even taken place yet. Somehow, we were all going to be on Doug Miller Outdoors for our successes. The 11.5 mile hike w/ almost 50 lbs of gear on our back didnít even weigh on our thoughtsÖÖ it was all about the fish and the adventure.
We were on the trail by 8:50am. The trail began as a slight ascent through crowded pines and sweeping, dew-filled meadows. The cool mountain air smelled as pure and clean as ever; it was invigorating. The first three miles were easy. Slight inclines, not too many rocks to navigate and the adrenaline made it go by quickly. The rest of the trail would not be so forgiving.
Seven and a half hours later, we reached our goal: Five Points Lake. This lake is central to most those found in Garfield Basin. North Star Lake was the furthest away at 3.5 miles. After setting up camp, a few took to the lake in search of the fish. I was tired. My feet were sore from all the rocks, my shoulders & back ached from the weight of the pack. I rested.
Day 2 consisted of Gem Lake (4 fish), Spider Lake (20 fish), Drift Lake (60 fish) and a little stream that runs into Five Point Lake (12 fish). On our way from Drift Lake to Five Point, we past a high mountain lake that resulted in an Arctic Grayling for Howard. Quite a find! In all, it was a long day with many fish. Weather was great with almost no clouds all day long.
Day 3: We started out fishing the eastern shore of Five Point Lake and all caught a handful of fish (15). When we reached the northern bank, we followed the inlet river up to Lower Superior Lake. We fished half way around that lake and picked up a few fish (8). We then followed the inlet river up toward Upper Superior Lake which offered up another handful (14). After a break from the stiff breeze, we set off for Tungsten and North Star Lakes. Cross-country and a few hundred feet of elevation change, Brad and I arrived at North Star while the others veered off toward Tungsten. My experience has been that Tungsten and fish didnít coincide; yet North Star was the crŤme de crop. After searching for the bug of choice for the fish of North Star, I noticed that it was quite a bit deeper and dropped off quicker than the other lakes. I switched to my type 3 sinking line and put on a pheasant tail. After casting 30 feet or so, I allowed my line to sink for 25 seconds, then performed a quick retrieve. For the next hour and a half, I pulled in fish after fish after fish (55). Storm clouds and hunger sent us on our way down the mountain. After passing the headwaters of the Yellowstone and seeing its inviting holes, a few of us stopped to pull a few trout from the river (6). 3 miles later, we were back at camp. Another fine day of fishing it was.
Day 4 was our final day of fishing and we were all pretty tired from the previous daysí hikes so we planned on hitting Doll Lake which was only about a mile from camp and 400 feet elevation gain. Doll Lake sits right at 11,400 feet above sea level and was a bit milky in color. Shan and I went to the left while the other 6 went right. At first, fishing was average. Once on the south shore things began heating up quickly. I was fishing a yellow stimulator of the size 12 variety. The fish couldnít get enough. For the next 4 hours, I brought in fish like Iíve never done before (85) and everyone else has similar success. It was the kind of fishing that one will talk about for years to come.
Soon after lunch, storm clouds, thunder and lightening made the idea of waving a 9 foot graphite rod in the air seem quite silly, forced us off the mountain towards the relative safety of the pines below. A quick flick of the fly in the river below fetched a couple more Brookies before seeking shelter from the ensuing rain. After the storm let up, it was back to tight lines to find dinner. Itís a good think that there were some people that could catch fish that evening as I had zero success. I could have gone hungry, but did not.
Day 5 was our retreat from our retreat. The 11.5 miles went by much faster due to the lighter packs and descending elevation. I was back at the trucks in 4 hours 45 minutes.
The Uinta Mountains offered me a premium opportunity to regain my perspective. Many things that I left behind took care of themselves. I learned that Iím really not that important and that life is so much bigger than work, money and stress. The batteries are charged and Iím ready for anything.
Admin edited pictures for size. 640X480
08-02-2005 10:48 AM
Re: TR: Garfield Basin (High Uinta's)
Originally Posted by shlingdawg
Dude, that's one of the best trip reports I've ever read. Excellent work, with the pictures to match.
Thanks a lot.
Gosh. Thanks guys.
The fishing was better than we dreamed. Between the 8 of us, we landed over 1130 fish in 3 days. Overall, we hiked 55 miles; 23 of which were w/ the packs (in & out) the rest was between lakes.
We did see two other groups. One was camped at either Swasey Lake or Spider, but we only saw them one day. We saw another group w/ 8-10 horses camped at Gem but they seemed to stay there. We basically had Five Point, Tungsten, North Star, Doll, Drift and the Superiors to ourselves.
The Forest Ranger stopped at our camp to issue tickets for things we were doing wrong, but we got off w/ a warning. We were camped too close to a trail and the lake (you have to be 200 feet away from each) but we didn't know this. He also didn't like the table we fashioned out of pine branches & rope. He was cool enough though, just told us to pack otu what we packed in, clean up camp and destroy the fire ring when we left. At least we know for next time.
It's been 15 years since I was up there last and it was even better than I imagined. I can't wait til next year.
So it's official. You can have a fire again?
Originally Posted by shlingdawg
He said that they are trying to pass a rule that says that if you have a fire, you need to be 1/4 mile away from trail/lake/river. It's not passed yet, but he (the ranger) thinks it will be soon.
Originally Posted by Sombeech
There was water & snow everywhere up there still. I even passed one pond that was still 1/2 frozen over.
Also: deer like pistacio & chocolate pudding and rice.
Admin: thanks for re-sizing/hosting my pics. Sorry about the big pics.
I keep looking at those photos. You killed it on the fish! Once again, well done.
Look at those blue skies!!