By Alex Hamilton
Last Saturday, I climbed into a truck bound for Utah alongside ASC Program Manager Mike Quist Kautz, two mountain bikes, a motorcycle, three pairs of skis and a pile of maps. Our goal was to scout trailheads and camera trap sites for ASC’s Uinta Carnivore Study.
As with many good adventures, we had a mountain of gear and only the vaguest sense of what conditions would be like.
The High Uinta Wilderness is out there, and that’s part of its magic: The crest danced on the horizon like a mirage, always visible, always distant. After a mid-April snowstorm, driving access was limited to roads plowed for logging.
On the first morning, we wound through rain, snow and fog towards the Henry’s Fork trailhead, popping through to alpine sunshine around 9,000 feet, stymied by snowy roads at 9,200. We strapped on our fat backcountry skis and glided for 13 miles through breakable crust, slush and mud, rolling up the drainage. As expected, the lynx and wolverines didn’t come out to congratulate us on our effort. The moose and coyotes made appearances but gave up no clues.
“Try again later,” they shrugged. “Thanks for breaking trail."
To our surprise, we managed to use every piece of equipment we brought. In the Bear River Range near Logan, we mountain biked until we hit snow, then hiked and post-holed until we gained the ridge. While eating the last of our trail mix, we realized it was Earth Day. We’d been inadvertently celebrating all day.
ASC volunteers looking for adventure will find it on the way to their camera sites. Probably not the “wow-this-is-fun-what-perfect-conditions” type of adventure—although there will likely be some of that, too. Instead, they’ll find type-two fun. That’s what we encountered: Scrambles through downed trees, mud, creek crossings and fading trails. Our grinning hikes were interspersed with moments of deep longing to be back at the trailhead, only to arrive and think, “Hey, that was a good time!”
We’re excited for this summer.
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