September 1-2, 2019
After spending the first half of Labor Day weekend in the Henry Mountains, Chris and I headed into the Uintas for an easier, more relaxing trip. We left my house on Sunday morning with me in my Jeep and Chris following in his car, since we would be closer to SLC and he would have a much shorter drive home once we finished the trip. We left his car at the mouth of Rhoades Canyon where it joins Wolf Creek and he hopped in with me. Our initial plan was to beeline it up Rhoades Canyon toward Lightning Ridge, but on the way up Rhoades Canyon we began spotting some arborglyphs, or carvings in aspen trees, and spent a lot of time walking around just off the road and searching for interesting tree carvings.
We drove closer to where we’d planned to spend the night but it was too early to set up camp. Instead we drove a loop down into Soapstone Basin where we found more tree carvings, including one that said “Dennis + Traci” (it even had my wife’s name correctly!). After finding a couple of geocaches, we drove back up to the Duchesne River overlook. The views were wonderful, with huge cliffs directly below us and a drop of over 2,700′ to the river below. We set up our chairs right on the edge and watched the sun set, then started a campfire and enjoyed some beer and dinner before going to bed.
Our plan for Labor Day was to drive to Norway Flat and hike to Big Elk Lake. The road across Norway Flat was kind of obnoxious. It was full of rocks and boulders and required 4-low the entire way. The drive was more tedious than driving into the Maze District of Canyonlands! We finally reached the trailhead and I was more than happy to get out of the Jeep and start hiking. The hike was short with little elevation gain except for the last climb up to the lake. The dam was quite impressive when viewed from below–I can’t imagine all the effort that went into moving all those rocks. Chris and I hiked along the dam and found a geocache, then walked around the east side of the lake to the far side and found another. There were raspberries growing all along the dam and we each ate several handfuls.
We debated whether to hike up into Erickson Basin but neither of us was really in the mood for more elevation gain. Instead we reversed course and returned to the trailhead, then drove down Mirror Lake Highway to Kamas and then back to Chris’ car where we parted ways and each headed home. I really enjoyed doing two overnight trips in different parts of the state during the same weekend, and I think I’ll try something similar next Labor Day weekend.
Photo Gallery: Duchesne River Overlook and Big Elk Lake
GPS Track: Google Earth KMZ