Last night, we pulled into our camp at 930pm. It was a long, long drive from Idaho to Utah covering three states, Wyoming too. I drove Salamander’s car to the western terminus and then we all jumped into the lead truck and drove another three hours to our starting point. All in all, it took us 12 hours to get to the eastern terminus or in our case, the beginning. Once parked, we pitched out tents, drank my last IPA Beer for the next week or so, and quickly went to sleep.
Salamander, aka Sally & I were up early in the morning getting all our gear situated, packs loaded and water filled. Her wonderful husband Roy, made us a send off breakfast that kept us moving on trail all morning. We had breakfast burritos with eggs, bacon, potatoes, peppers, cheese, salsa, sour cream and avocado. it was our final home cooked meal, or in this case tailgate, for the next ten days.
Once our belly’s were fat and full, we headed out onto the 110 mile Uinta Highline Trail. This is an obscure trail that some 100-200 people a year hike. It has no resupply options and is a long way from anywhere. But the mountains are huge, the valleys are deep and the wildlife is prolific, so off we went.
The first day with packs topping off near 40 pounds, we hiked 2400’ in elevation. That’s ridiculous climb for first day on the trail. The one reprieve was the trail was mostly in the shade covering of trees, but the loose rocks and red shale were murderous on the newly planted feet. It was hot! We’ll I guess there are extremes of hot like California heat which is in the 110’s, but this felt like a furnace. I think I was producing as much heat as the ambient temperature. We made it five miles to a small lake and found some water.
After our snack, we headed back into the trees. When I say that, there truly, is not a heavily marked trail out here. Most of my hiking and backpacking have been on trails that are clearly posted, maintained and fairly free if debris. Highline Trail is so infrequently used that the trail or lack of it, is overgrown or just not there. Prior to leaving Idaho, Salamander had me download the GPS coordinates so I could navigate with my phone if I was unable to find a rock Cairn or trail. I’m gonna be using it a lot.
We did lots of climbing today. Saw some cattle in the distance, and heard elk from far away. This is a wild and scenic place and by the end of the day, we had covered some miles, gained quite a bit of elevation and were ready to bed down. Our last venture of the day was crossing an unmarked meadow and finding water.
We dropped our packs. Salamander had talked to a group from Backcountry Horsemen who were adamant that there is a spring flowing in the meadow. We grabbed our empty water bottles, a few items to attempt to clean our filthy bodies and went hunting for this unmarked unnamed spring. We walked for a half mile and sure enough, found a trickle that flowed down meadow and had some decent sized pools. Hallelujah, we were blessed with water, bathing holes and sunshine.
Day one was mentally and physically exhausting. Our packs were heavy, the altitude was already close to 10000’ and I was wondering what I was doing in this extreme wilderness? I do believe that the Lord was laughing a bit with me. Sweetheart, this is just the beginning. We have much to talk about, much to address and this is exactly where I need you. Uinta Wilderness has no cell towers, no real way out but walking, and is about as far away as one can go to get disconnected. This is exactly where I need you to be.
As a deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God. Psalm 42:1
One thought on “Day One July 18: McKee Draw to Big Brush Creek 12 Miles”
Love reading your blog, Kelly. You do such a good job. God does have a sense of humor so enjoy it. I will keep you in my prayers for a safe hike. Carry on and Salamander is a good companion for you. Laurel
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