We had a previous commitment to attend today, but when that got canceled at the last minute Mrs. Admin and I decided to take advantage of the situation, pack the dogs into the car and head up to the Uinta Mountains this afternoon to get away from another day flirting with 100ºF in the Salt Lake Valley. We thought about overnighting, but facing the prospect of having to assemble and pack all of our camping gear when the day was already half gone, we resigned ourselves to making it a daytrip only.
Now, Jake is game for anything, but at 12 years of age, overweight and arthritic -- the epitome of "fat, dumb and happy" -- Buddy's capabilities are far more limited. In fact, it's been nearly two years since we last tried hiking with Buddy. That one was an overnight in the Uintas to Jewel Lake
, and after two to three miles each way Buddy's hips took a major downturn. It literally took him months to stop limping after that trip. Checking a map it looked like I could take Forest Road 041 to within a few hundred yards of Beth Lake, and reports I read of the road condition were encouraging. That seemed perfect.
And it was, until I got to a spot less than a half mile from Beth Lake where the road had washed out a bit -- just past a sign that read, "Rough road ahead -- not recommended for cars or trailers." With another vehicle it would've been no problem, but with its limited ground clearance I didn't feel like ripping a hole in the oil pan of the Taurus on a rock. Especially on a dirt National Forest road about 30 miles from the nearest cell service. (Repeat after me: "I have to replace my truck. I have to replace my truck. I have to replace my truck..."
As if on cue, the very truck that I want came up the road through the washout in the other direction, barely slowing down for the obstacle.
So, time for plan B. We backtracked a few hundred yards, parked on the side of 041 and followed an relatively flat old fire road for a half mile or so to Haystack Lake instead.
We stayed there for a good hour or more. The dogs swam the whole time. I enjoyed a homemade smoked turkey sandwich from Samak Smokehouse, washed down with an ice cold 24-oz. Hopulent IPA from Epic Brewing (see, there are advantages to short hikes!). Temps were in the low 80s under a bright sun filtered only slightly by smoke from the wildfires to our south.
After packing up we bushwhacked down through the woods to reach a steepish alpine meadow leading down to Beth Lake, then looped around on the washed out road to return to the car. After seeing Beth Lake I'm actually happy that we had to resort to plan B, for Beth Lake was smaller, much wetter along its shore and therefore much more buggy. To both my surprise and pleasure, Buddy did rather well throughout the ~2 mile hike.
So well, in fact, that we drove to Moosehorn Lake where Jake swam last Sunday so that Buddy and Jake could get in some more swimming. We stopped at Dick's Drive-In in Kamas for the requisite burger and ice cream, and didn't make it back home until 8 p.m. after a wonderful day in the Utah mountains.