June 30, 2017

Annual high country backpacking with the Utes


About 5 years ago Mel and I were invited by our good friend Elton Blackhair to help take a group of Ute kids up in the high Uintahs. This area was once part of Ute land and is an important part of their culture. This year our usual spot was closed so at the last minute we were forced to find new country. I am glad we did. Elton scoped out the area of the Reader Lakes which are about 11,000 feet above sea level. It was amazing. We had a great group of kids this year. They all did great.Lonnie with Lower Reader lake in the background. Lonnie has done a lot to help this program.
Larry Blackhair is a large part of why we do this. He and I spent some good time chatting about the old ways over the camp fire. He told me some amazing stories about his grandfather who was a medicine man. Amazing.
Eton braving the cold.
Elton Blackhair has been a good friend of ours for about 12 years. He is one of the most generous people I have ever met and is the reason we do this camp out every year. He works hard to get the funding and get kids out in the sticks so they can have a great adventure they can remember forever. I have learned a lot from him and admire him greatly. 
Mike Johnson’s backside. This is the view I have when I hike with Mike. He kicks my butt.
You have got to be hardy to live up there.

It is easy to get lost on this trail as it doesn’t seem to get visited very often. Without these cairns we would have been toast. Even with them we managed to get lost more than a few times.
Selena and Haven

Elton headed back. Larry telling scary stories.

Lakes at 11,500 feet are generally not very warm. Last year after spending two weeks with my family in Yosemite and Sequoia we spent a lot of time in freezing cold water. We decided as a family that the best policy is to just jump in without thinking about it.  Mel and I at North Pole Pass 11,800 feet just before a big hail storm hit. COLD!! I was sitting by the fire one morning and Larry walks up and throws a couple of his shirts he had worn the day before onto the fire. I had never thought about it but this is a great way to save on weight in your pack and get rid of old shirts. The birth of a new ritual.  I went down to get some water and turned around and bam, there she was.  This is Sami’s (my daughter) second year with us in high country. Fording the crick.

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