It had been a very very long time since I had been backpacking. Probably 13 or 14 years. That was about to change, as Dave mentioned one Sunday that he wanted to take a "boys trip" and go hiking up to the High Uintas, in the Grandaddy Lakes region.
My first thoughts were that I was excited and I had always had an interest to go to the Uintas and hike and fish. I did some preparing, by purchasing a new backpack, a pad, and some smaller items like cooking necessities, and some clothing goods, too. I figured it would be worth it to get these items, since I had another backpacking trip planned later on in the summer to go fishing up in Canada.
The plan was to leave Monday morning and then return Wednesday, so two nights and three days. I looked up some information on the Grandaddy Basin, and it appeared it was popular, had good fishing, and was quite pretty. I definitely was planning on taking some of my fishing gear.
On Sunday, the day before we left, I went over to the Arbons and picked up some stuff that Dave had bought for everyone, including some great freeze dried meals, some 100 percent deet, and a mosquito net to go over my head - which I thought was overkill, but I'll share more about this later.
Monday morning arrived, and I had packed my bag with as little gear as possible - trying to make it very light. After all, I hadn't done this kind of hiking for a long time. The drive took around two and half hours, but we got lost on the way there. Luckily we were able to find the right road after a short detour. We got to the trail head, had some lunch, and off we went. The hiking didn't seem too bad, and after about an hour anything that did mildly hurt at first, didn't anymore. Our first real rest was at a nice meadow, almost a marsh type looking area, and we quickly noticed that there were mosquitoes.
As we started to decend into the basin, we could see several lakes, but the biggest and most prominent was, of course, Grandaddy. The area was beautiful. We first passed Grandaddy Lake on our left, then within two minutes we were passing Betsy Lake. We decided to go further the first day, and camp at Fish Hatchery Lake. I was beat by the time we got there, and everyone was, I think. We were pretty exhausted, and my feet by this time were hurting. We split up to find a campsite, and of course we each had a walki-talki... thanks to Bryan. We finally found one that looked decent. We set up camp: I had my own tent, Dave had his own tent, and then Tyson and Bryan shared a tent. Bryan took a nap, and Dave, Tyson, and I went down to the lake for some fishing. I was glad to see Tyson was at least interested in trying it out. I quickly discovered that Tyson was a bit of a "closet" fisherman, and would have been willing to stay fishing longer than I was.
We caught some great fish the first night. We found out right away that the deet needed to not just go on our skin, but on our clothing as well since the mosquitoes were landing on our backs and could bite through our shirts. The amount of mosquitoes was insane. The mosquito nets that went around our head were absolutely amazing, and a must have! We each had our own freeze dried meal that night, and they were surprisingly good. Tyson had some Jim Gaffigan and Bryan Reagan on his phone that we listened to that night as we ate some "space ice cream".
I slept decently the first night, but not great. I did get a little spooked as apparently this place is bear crazy, and I heard some dear trotting around outside of our camp.
The next day we set off with our day packs and decided to check out some lakes further down the trail. We also took our fishing gear (I forgot to mention that I had originally given Tyson a rod and reel to carry up since he was interested). We passed by Pine Island Lake and Lilly Pad Lake. From there, we made the decision to go to Governor Dern - which was pretty far, but we wanted to check it out, so off we went. It was definitely far, and had quite a decline to get there - which meant we had to climb it again. The lake was really pretty, and even though the reports showed it to have only "OK" fishing, the fishing ended up being fantastic and we caught some awesome Brooke trout. Only after an hour or so, we decided to make our way back. We were spent by the time we got back to camp, and we all decided the best option was to pack up camp and make our way back towards Grandaddy Lake so on Wednesday our hike would be less.
Pine Island Lake
We ate a lunch, packed our stuff up, and relaxed for about 40 mintues. Then, off we went. My feet were hurting pretty bad, but luckily some ibuprofin helped with the pain. We hiked back towards Grandaddy Lake and once again split up to find a good camp site. We found a spot, with about 2 hours left of light. It was too close to the lake for us to make a campfire. Tyson, Bryan and I set off towards the lake to get some more fishing in. Bryan hadn't tried fishing yet, so it was time to get him a fish. We started at a little pond next to our camp, that looked promising. Tyson quickly got a big cutthroat on, likely the biggest of the trip. It was awesome. Forty yards away was Grandaddy. We fished it and between the three of us, we caught probably 15 or so fish, and had another 10 or 15 on. It was fast, fun fishing.
It was a fun night, we had some more good dinners, and a berry crisp/cobbler. We had tried filtering water from the pond to fill our bottles, but it tasted absolutely awful - just like sulfur. Grandaddy Lake water was a little better but not much. I couldn't drink it. So, I decided to wait until the next morning until we would cross a stream or spring.
I slept better this night. We woke pretty early, and I had some freeze dried berries and granola. It was surprisingly good. The other morning I had an egg skillet that was also pretty decent.
The trip was a lot of fun. The hike back was pretty tiring, but it was crazy how many people we passed...at least 10 to 13 different parties. Meanwhile, thunder clouds were moving in, and we could already hear thunder. Our timing for the trip was perfect, and it was shocking that we didn't deal with any bad weather.
It was relieving to get back to the truck, and the hike back seemed to go by pretty fast. We were all exhausted. Dave said he would treat us to a burger and shake in Heber. It sounded fantastic, and it was amazing to eat some "real" food again, that was freshly made. The trip was fun, and I'd gladly do it again. The fishing definitely made the trip extra fun.