Bald Mountain Pass, BMW F800GS, bolete, Brigham Young, Butterfly Lake, Fehr Lake Trail, Flaming Gorge, Hoover Lake, KLR 650, Manila UT, Mirror Lake Highway, Moosehorn Campground, Picturesque Lake, Pika, Scout Lake UT, Shepard Lake, Tiger salamander, Uinta Mountains, WYLD beer, Yellow-bellied marmot, Zion
Days 16, 17 & 18 (August 8, 9 & 10, 2013). Our next stop after the Green River was the Mirror Lake area in the Uinta Mountains of Utah (one of the few ranges in the US that goes east–west rather than north–south). Lucas, Lucía and I visited the area a few years ago and took a great hike through a series of lakes from where we collected hydra and green sponges. Adrián and I left the campground at the Flaming Gorge early in the morning and took route 44 in the direction of Manila, UT. We saw many deer, death and alive, by the road (Trevor’s story came to mind). We stopped frequently to take pictures of the wonderful views of the Flaming Gorge and some cool rock formations. Several of the different geological strata that we traversed were labeled with road signs. Somebody spent a lot of energy trying to educate travelers about Earth’s geologic history. At Manila we stopped to take a look at the rodeo. We then move north and crossed back into Wyoming. We had decided that we would camp for the next few days so we stopped for provisions at Evanston before moving into the mountains. The weekend was approching and we wanted to find a place before the campgrounds got crowded. Dark clouds were hovering above the mountains so we expected rain. We took route WY/UT 150 (Mirror Lake Highway) south from Evanston and quickly started climbing into the Uinta Mountains. The first campground we checked was Butterfly Lake. We found a campsite there but neither of us were thrilled about it—thankfully, my brother and I had a similar taste when it comes to camping. We wanted to check other places but did not want to loose that site. Thus Adrián stayed at Butterfly Lake and I continued south. At the Moosehorn Campground near Bald Mountain Pass I found a campsite I liked. It was a bit harder to secure the site because I had to track the hosts who were riding around the campground on a golf cart. I paid for two nights, left one of my bags at the table on the campsite, and rode back to Butterfly Lake to get Adrián. It was pretty cold and the road was wet. We set up camp quickly and immediately started a fire since more rain was imminent. Our campsite was at 10,443 feet (3,183 meters) so we were short of breath due to the altitude. I took a short nap in the tent while Adrián stayed tendering the fire. It rained a little while I was sleeping but then the rain ceased and we had a very nice dinner sitting by the fire to fight the cold. At breakfast next morning we met Anissa and Whitney from Salt Lake City, who were camping across the road from us. Whitney showed me a detailed map of the area and recommended the Fehr Lake Trail which turned out to be the one I had followed with my kids. So Adrián and I went for the 3-mile hike to Hoover Lake (and neighboring Maba Lake) passing by Fehr Lake and Shepard Lake on the way. When we got back to the camp a few hours later, we found that Anissa and Whitney had left beer, corn, and wood for us, together with a short note wishing us luck. Nice people! We cooked the corn wrapped on aluminum foil on the glowing coals of our fire and drink a nice cold organic WYLD beer. It rained for an hour while we were sitting by the fire. The following day we took another hike to Picturesque and Scout Lakes following the Lofty Lake Loop trail. We had lunch by Picturesque Lake where Adrián discovered several axolotl-looking creatures that were probably larval stages (efts) of the tiger salamander. On a rocky outcrop we saw a sunbathing yellow-bellied marmot (see picture) and an American pika. Later that day we rode our bikes to Bald Mountain Pass to enjoy the magnificent view of the valley below. While sitting there we met a man who told us that from out of space the Uinta Range looks like an arrow pointing at Salt Lake City, “Zion”, the promise land that Brigham Young selected for the Mormon pioneers. With a little bit of imagination, in the terrain view of Google maps the Uintas look like a fish evolving small legs in its way to conquering land. The mouth of the fish does point toward Salt Lake City. Back at Moosehorn, Adrián cooked the rest of the corn on the fire while I sauté—with onions and carrots—a wild bolete mushroom (we hoped) that was growing at the campsite.