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Thread: Amethyst Basin

  1. #1

    Amethyst Basin

    For Father's Day I got a new backpack, an Osprey Atmos 65, hoping I could get into backpacking without having issues like I had with my old backpack when doing the Uinta Highline last year. A couple weeks back I responded to an invite from @pixie1339 to backpack into Amethyst Basin in the Uintas. It ended up being just the two of us (and Torrey) going, so on Friday, after a four-hour drive from my house (during which the truck turned over 185,000 miles), I met Lisa at 7:00PM at the Christmas Meadows trailhead. We'd never met in person but knew each other online, so after a quick introduction we heaved our packs onto our shoulders and started up the trail. We'd planned two nights in the area, the first in Christmas Meadows and the second at Lake BR-24 in Amethyst Basin. It made for a very easy first day due to the late start. Around 8:30 we'd covered 2.3 miles and were half a mile from the trail junction leading up to Amethyst. We left the trail in search of a spot to camp near Stillwater Fork. The sun had already set, and as it got dark we set up tents and took precautions in case of bears by hanging our food in a tree. Just before full dark we saw a moose in the meadow a couple hundred feet from the tents. At around 10:00 we turned in and I slept fitfully, not being able to get comfortable without a real pillow.


    Christmas Meadows viewed from the Stillwater Road


    Starting up the trail


    Torrey hiding in Christmas Meadows


    Boardwalk across a marshy area


    Colorful clouds after sunset



    I was awake a little before 7:00 on Saturday morning. I crawled out of the tent after lying there for a while, took the food down from the tree and got started making coffee. I heated more water for oatmeal while I drank my coffee, and after eating we took down camp and packed up. I filtered a liter of water out of the creek before starting our second day of hiking. At 9:30 we were on the trail and shortly reached the junction where we began the steep, rocky climb up to Amethyst Basin. There were numerous waterfalls and cascades along Ostler Fork which were great excuses to stop and rest while we took photos.


    Torrey goofing around in the tent on Saturday morning


    Our camp in Christmas Meadows


    Filtering water out of Stillwater Fork


    Torrey


    On the trail Saturday morning


    The steep, rocky climb begins!


    Falls along Ostler Fork


    Falls along Ostler Fork



    The clouds grew darker and it started raining and hailing at around 11:15. And I didn't bring any rain gear. Lisa had a rain jacket and pack cover that she put on. At first we tried sheltering under a tree. It slowed the rain but I was still getting soaked, so we just moved along as the water first began to puddle on the trail and eventually flowed down it. The storm lasted maybe 45 minutes, and an hour after it'd begun the sun was shining again. There were new hazards on the trail. In one marshy spot Lisa sunk almost to her knees in the mud and couldn't free herself. I went around the bog and got ahead of her and tried pulling her out, but her feet wouldn't budge. She stabbed at the mud around her legs with her trekking poles to loosen it up and was finally able to free herself. It only lasted a minute or two, but it was a tense moment.


    East Hayden Peak


    Rain and hail


    Water running down the trail


    Wet dog after the sun came out


    Hail


    Clouds surrounding Ostler Peak


    Waterfall that formed from the rain runoff



    We'd passed quite a few people on the trail. Most were going down, but a handful were going up the trail and we leapfrogged a few of them. There were many people with dogs, too, and a lot of the dogs were off-leash. Several carried packs similar to Torrey's, and I had three different people ask me if she was carrying her own food in the pack. "Nope, it's my booze," I should have replied. :D We got to Lake BR-24 at around 2PM. The sky was gray again, and we set up tents just in case it rained again. My clothes were almost dry. Luckily just a few days earlier I'd bought some new synthetic hiking pants because all I owned was denim. I was so glad because after that soaking I'd surely have suffered miserably in cotton clothing.


    Amethyst Meadow


    Sketchy crossing of Ostler Fork


    BR-24 and Ostler Peak


    Camp at Lake BR-24



    After taking a while to rest we hiked to Ostler Lake. My shoulders had gotten sore from the pack to BR-24 and it felt great to hike without my backpack. There was no trail to Ostler but it was a pretty short hike. I found Ostler Lake to be the prettiest of the three we visited in the basin. Lisa and I walked around the entire lake. Though the sky wasn't as nice as it could have been, the water was still and made for great reflections in the photos we took. There were a lot of good-sized fish visible in the water--it almost made me wish I was a fisherman.


    Trail along BR-24


    Stream on the way to Ostler Lake


    Ostler Lake


    Lisa shooting Ostler Lake


    Ostler Lake


    Ostler Lake



    We were finished at Ostler with plenty of time left to hike to Amethyst before dark. The original plan had been to check out Amethyst on Sunday morning, but I think the lighting on Saturday evening ended up being much more favorable. The hike to Amethyst was about a mile from camp with 300' of elevation gain--still extremely easy compared to what we'd already done that day with our packs on. There were a few people at Amethyst Lake, some at a camp a short distance from the water and some fishing along the shoreline. We took our time there and just sat for a while, and were rewarded as the gray skies gave way to blue with puffy white clouds.

    On the trail to Amethyst Lake


    Amethyst Lake


    Amethyst Lake


    A nice bouquet of Paintbrush, Elephant Heads, and Bistort


    View out of Amethyst Basin



    Back at camp Lisa and I ate our dinners and were treated to a nice sunset. The sun glowed orange on the mountains across the basin and reflected in the calm water of BR-24. We had covered 8.2 miles for the day, luckily for me not all of that was with a backpack. We climbed into our tents early, and again I didn't sleep well. An inflatable pillow is definitely on my shopping list before my next backpacking trip. We woke up and got moving Sunday morning at about the same respective times as the previous day. It was an easy pack back to the trailhead with mostly downhill hiking, though as we lost elevation it got warmer than it had been all weekend. It was pretty uneventful, except for the time when I stumbled and fell. I caught myself with my arms before falling entirely prone, though one of my hands landed in a pile of horse shit. Luckily it wasn't too fresh! It took four hours to hike the 5.7 miles back to the trailhead. I'd left some frozen Powerade bottles in a cooler in the truck, and they were still slushy. I downed a bottle on the drive home and it felt good. I actually followed Lisa for a while down Mirror Lake Highway, but I spotted a familiar Jeep on the side of the highway and stopped to chat with a fellow geocacher, Tom "the Greenskeeper", and his wife who had both spent time with Traci and me in March during our southern Utah trip. He wasn't even surprised to see me there because he'd read my Facebook status that I posted from my phone at Lake BR-24 (go Verizon!). I got home in time for dinner with my family before showering and sleeping soundly in my bed with my two pillows.


    Lake BR-24 at sunset


    Lake BR-24 at sunset


    Lake BR-24 at sunset


    Packed up and ready to roll out on Sunday morning


    Ostler Fork cascades


    On the boardwalk to avoid mud


    Back at the trailhead where I had a still partially frozen Powerade waiting



    Full photo gallery:

    https://picasaweb.google.com/Dennis.Udink/AmethystBasin

    Map:
    Viewing on a mobile device? Click this link to open the map: https://maps.google.com/maps?q=http:%2F%2Fudink.org%2Fgeo%2FAmethystBasin.kmz&hl=en&sll=37.0625,-95.677068&sspn=40.545434,86.572266&t=h&z=12

    http://udink.org/geo/AmethystBasin.kmz

  2. Likes Deadeye008 liked this post
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  4. #2
    Looks like a nice trip other than the rain. We really needed the moisture though. Some great pics in there!

  5. #3
    Holy cow, that looks awesome! Thank you so much for sharing, those pictures were really great.

    I can't imagine going to the Uinta's without my Fly Rod, you'll have to bring one next time...you'll be hooked.

  6. #4
    I love that you included your dog in the hike. Looks like it had a lot of fun. Does it wake up at night and growl at strange noises, or pretty acclimated?
    Your safety is not my responsibility.

  7. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by Deathcricket View Post
    I love that you included your dog in the hike. Looks like it had a lot of fun. Does it wake up at night and growl at strange noises, or pretty acclimated?
    She's pretty chill. Never growls and rarely barks, whether camping or otherwise. She does seems to get nervous closer to morning while inside the tent--I'll wake up to find her staring at me and then looking around like she hears something outside, but I just roll over and go back to sleep.

  8. #6
    Beautiful pics and another awesome TR!

    Were there any mosquitoes or deer flies to speak of?

  9. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by Sandstone Addiction View Post
    Were there any mosquitoes or deer flies to speak of?
    Just mosquitoes, and they were only really much of a bother on Saturday afternoon/evening, and only then when we were holding still at camp. When hiking they weren't an issue. A tiny spritz of 100% deet sprayed on my arms was enough to keep 'em from bothering me.

  10. #8
    Nice photos! And the pack performed how?????? (I have an Osprey that I love! -give us a little gear review will ya please.)
    Life is Good

  11. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by Scott Card View Post
    And the pack performed how?????? (I have an Osprey that I love! -give us a little gear review will ya please.)
    I love the pack so far. My shoulders got a little sore on the second day of the trip, so on the third day before the hike out I re-packed so the weight sat a little lower and I didn't have any more problems. Being that this was my first trip with it, I still need to figure out how best to load it, and I'll slowly replace some gear trying to lower my pack weight, so it can only get better from here.

  12. #10

  13. #11
    I was over the drainage in the East Fork of the Bear and got caught in that same thunderstorm. I just made a day ride on my horse up into Norice Lake. So I had to keep moving and just huddle under the slicker


  14. #12

    Nice report

    Quote Originally Posted by Udink View Post
    She's pretty chill. Never growls and rarely barks, whether camping or otherwise. She does seems to get nervous closer to morning while inside the tent--I'll wake up to find her staring at me and then looking around like she hears something outside, but I just roll over and go back to sleep.
    I enjoyed reading this report. Cool dog too. That looks like a good place to stash the blue foam pad as obvious as it is looks good for quick use rather than putting it below the pack.
    Take care.
    M

  15. #13
    Aw, serene. What a beautiful hike. Thanks for sharing. Can't wait to get back up there this summer. Loved the dog too! I must ask, what breed is she? She's beautiful!

  16. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by Dice View Post
    Loved the dog too! I must ask, what breed is she? She's beautiful!
    She's a Brittany Spaniel. Several years back I found a Brittany wandering around in the desert and took her back to civilization. It took a few days to find her owner, but in that short time I decided I wanted the same breed. Looked around for one to adopt and found Torrey at the animal shelter in Payson. She's been a great hiking companion!

    Aww man, now that this TR got dug up again, I'm really itching for some more backpacking. Summer can't come soon enough!

  17. #15
    Trail Master UTJetdog's Avatar
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    That's a really nice TR.

    I've not been to Amethyst before. I usually keep going on the main trail to Ryder. That's a really great area, but in a normal year the spring seep/mud holes along the trail tend to be a bit much until late in the season.

  18. #16
    Great report and pictures. I have enjoyed all your reports. I am thinking of taking this trip next weekend but I do not see lake BR-24 on my National Geographic topo maps. There is a small unnamed lake between Ostler and Amethyst. The lake is southeast of Ostler and northwest of Amethyst.

  19. #17
    Quote Originally Posted by Tiemac View Post
    Great report and pictures. I have enjoyed all your reports. I am thinking of taking this trip next weekend but I do not see lake BR-24 on my National Geographic topo maps. There is a small unnamed lake between Ostler and Amethyst. The lake is southeast of Ostler and northwest of Amethyst.
    Thanks! :) Yeah, that small lake between Ostler and Amethyst is BR-24. It's also not marked on the USGS topo map--the only reason I knew the name is because of some Panoramio photos in Google Earth.

  20. #18
    I am thinking of taking this trip next weekend but I do not see lake BR-24 on my National Geographic topo maps.
    It's also not marked on the USGS topo map--the only reason I knew the name is because of some Panoramio photos in Google Earth.
    Just in case you guys are curious:

    Lakes such as BR-24 don't really have real names.

    The Division of Wildlife Services assigns all surveyed lakes by letter and number to track them for stocking purposes. This is true of the named lakes as well; for example BR-27 is Oslter Lake and BR-28 is Amethyst Lake.

    BR = Bear River.

    A lake in the Rock Creek Drainage, for example, would be designated RC-##.
    Utah is a very special and unique place. There is no where else like it on earth. Please take care of it and keep the remaining wild areas in pristine condition. The world will be a better place if you do.

  21. Likes Sandstone Addiction liked this post
  22. #19
    Great info! Thanks

  23. #20
    Awesome area!

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