August 30, 2012

Three Months Later

We ride to the top of Mill Hollow, at the southern edge of the Church Camp Fire in Indian Canyon.  Bare tree trunks stand where a nearly impenetrable spruce and aspen forest once grew. 
In some places, extreme heat burned even the tree roots, leaving gaping holes. 
"What's in there?" Daisy wonders.
She checks it out, hoping to find a friend hidden in the depths.  No luck, though.
What's this strange shape?  Not a friend, Daisy concludes.  Could it be Sasquatch, the Ute version of Bigfoot, turned into a pillar of carbon?  
Some of the scorched tree trunks have a strange leapard  pattern, the result of bark peeling off in patches.. 
3 months after the burn, aspens are already making a comeback.  Some of the shoots are 3 feet tall.
On the ridge, this meadow was left untouched.  By next spring, tall, thick grass and colorful wildflowers will grown amidst the blackened trunks.  Phoenix rises from the ashes, life from death.

August 23, 2012

A Prickly Treat

Coco loves thistle. 
Notice how he bares his teeth so his lips won't touch the prickles!  Those flowers must taste really good to be worth the effort.

August 19, 2012

Lakeshore Basin

One son and his wife joined us on an overnight trip to the Leidy Peak area on the eastern end of the Uinta Range.  The above photo was taken from the southwest shoulder of Leidy Peak (12,028 ft), looking down Lakeshore Basin and southeast toward Marsh Peak (12,240 ft).
With three horses and 4 people, we took turns riding.  Daisy didn't get to ride, but she didn't mind. 
A series of lakes in Lakeshore Basin (10,800 ft)  provided photo ops and swimming ops for Daisy.
Rest breaks were scenic, too.
Our son, the early riser, captured the sunrise.  The rest of us had to wait for the photo download.

August 15, 2012

Albion Basin

The Albion Basin trail starts at 9500 feet, at the base of Alta Ski Resort near Salt Lake City.  We've had many memorable family hikes there. 
The wildflowers are spectacular most summers.  This year, we thought they were not as tall and prolific as we remembered.  A combination of  60% snow year and record heat must have slowed them down. 
One son and his wife posed in front of the jagged cliffs of Devil's Castle.
Our daughter and her family took a break with ski slopes in the background.   Our eldest son and family weren't able to join us this time.
Cecret Lake was the destination.  The reason for the name's unusual spelling is a secret, as far as we can tell. 
This granddaughter is having a fine time exploring the shore with her dad.

August 13, 2012

Hill and Dale

A new favorite ride is a loop from the Strawberry River turnoff, following Willow Creek, then Co-op Creek, with cross country game trails in between. 
We see plenty of healthy aspen groves with a mix of old and new trees. The horses enjoy the tall grass that grows in the groves.
Sometimes they bare their teeth to avoid the prickles and bite off a thistle flower for dessert.
We have views of Strawberry Reservoir,
and an occasional glimpse of Timpanogas in the Wasatch Range.
The lush valley shown above was formed from a series of silted-in beaver dams. 
Along Co-op Creek, many beaver dams remain active.  This beaver lodge has fresh sticks on top with greenery still intact.  The beaver have been busy.

August 12, 2012

Mountain Signals

Every year, we ride in the Reader Creek drainage at least once.  John Reader grazed sheep in the area in the early 1900's.  Thus, the name.
The delicate elephant head wildflower blooms along the creek.
Steve played mountain man for a group of Boy Scouts, donning his bobcat hide headgear for the kids.  Boss snorted at the outfit.  He prefers the cowboy look.
Our destination was Taylor Lake, named after Rex Taylor, the first person to stock the lake with fish.  At the time, clueless fishermen thought this was a great idea, but long term, stocking non-native trout has led to loss of amphibian populations in what were once naturally fishless lakes, and to the loss of 95% of the native Colorado River Cutthroat numbers in the Uinta range. 
The Boy Scouts were involved in a signaling project.  Daisy liked watching and drooling for lunch scraps while mirrors flashed in the sun.
If you look closely, you may see the answering signal flash being sent from a few miles below.
We rode to 11,500 feet.  A large rock cairn marks the trail.  We were within sight of the rocky 12,600 ft. pass leading to Painter and Gilbert Basin, jewels of the Hight Uinta Wilderness Area.


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