High Uintas Wilderness – Day 7 – Final Day

November 1, 2014 § Leave a comment


The Hike Out….

Our last morning began with the usual queuing for the cat-hole trowel. I was first (as was getting to be normal) and afterwards I grabbed my fly rod and headed down to the pond for one last native trout fishing experience. Forgotten was it that my one week license was purchased through Friday, and that technically I would be fishing illegally, but as they say, ignorance is in fact bliss. I fished the edge for a while until Larry abandoned The Point and then I took up his former location as this was a prime location. I was still fishing the dry cadis, but the morning felt different and I was pretty sure I had the wrong fly. A few casts, and I was about time to hang it up, when a fish took my fly and I managed to set the hook in time. It would be fair to note here that it took me more than a few tries the previous evening to get the hang of “setting the hook”. I could feel immediately that this was no small fry, so I pulled him in and as it turned out he was just barely legal. I was fishing for fun, so catch and release was the name of the game, and after Larry helped me extract the hook, I placed him back in the water and off it swam.

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The fire ring, my poles, no one else, just me. The sun on the young Aspens, they will not survive, the Beaver will make a snack of them soon one day.

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The beaver pond.

The only challenge that lay ahead was to ascend to a ridge spine before the final descent to the trailhead parking lot. We were as empty and light as we were ever going to be on this trip and having to take care of one final cat-hole moment, left me as the last one out of camp. Larry was waiting for me, and we walked out together, stopping often to take in the Aspens that lined the route. We never did catch up to the other three, who when they left, didn’t bother taking the key to the truck, since they never imagined they would get to it first.

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Last look at our campground beaver pond. The source of decent fishing.

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Larry and The Aspen.

The truck sat in the sun in the parking lot for 7 days and when we opened it and pulled out the cooler, the beers inside it were still cold. Tasty beverages for the task of returning everyone’s shared gear to them, and getting the duffel bags all packed up. Trash taken care of, final pictures taken, vehicle packed we took a final cruise by our pre-hike campsite and then we began the journey out of the wilderness.

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On Fire the Aspens were.

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Spandex man and the Aspens

It did seem longer getting out than it was getting in, but maybe, that was because we were hungry for some food that hadn’t previously had all the water removed from it. Andy was in charge of finding a place, and for some reason Heber City, metropolis that it is, was the target city. Options were presented, menus discussed, potential beers were mentioned, and we locked in. “So, how long before we are there?” was the logical question. “2 hours 10 minutes depend….”, “SHUCK THAT FIT!!! Find something closer. What about Duquesne???”. So Andy started over. The options were limited in Duquesne, but it was a lot closer. Cowens Café was the selection, we had a goal, Duquesne was on our radar, and we were only 20 minutes away.

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So, my lens is a wee bit wide, but this trail really does walk the ridge line.

Since we arrived via Duquesne, it should not be surprising that we returned along the same damn roads, and I honestly had forgotten what they looked like, but as we rode them in reverse, suddenly it was all coming back to me. All the fracking sites, all the resorts, all the farms, all the irrigation, the dump, the school, and then we were in town. A left onto 40 and Cowens was right there on the left. An old sign in an old town that has beautiful hanging flower baskets from every light pole. A very warm feeling.

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The truck is down there somewhere.

We walked down the street and entered the door, where the 50’s era diner décor was exactly what we were looking for. We walked in, and everyone, and I mean everyone, turned their heads and set their gaze upon us. Perhaps they focused on me because I was still in my spandex shorts and at 6’4″, I am sure that didn’t look weird, but it would have been hard not to notice us as a group. We were seated, given our menus, our drinks were ordered (Coca Cola, 2 Iced Teas, Lemonade, Diet Coke), and we were left to ourselves to consider our food options. By no surprise to anyone in our group we all ordered burgers with fries, though technically we did in fact all order different burger meals. Larry had the patty melt, Greg the Hungry man, Andy the classic, Walt the Ranger, and myself? Don’t recall the name, but it came in two halves, and it was one of those burger sandwiches which once you start into a half, you cannot put it down because it would simply fall apart and you would never get it back into your hand again. If you could just persist long enough, there was just enough structural integrity left to complete the consumption task without wolfing down the remaining contents in a giant bite. That was my sandwich. Fries were cut in house and deep fried, then salted with the skins on. Ketchup was simple non-Heinz tomato-based goodness that raised the taste level on each fry a factor of 10. We smelled, we were hungry, we ate, we talked, we made noise, and we left a big tip before returning to the truck.

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Harsh light yes. But the end of a journey is near.

Andy’s next instruction at that point was wrong from the start. “Turn around”. I wasn’t born yesterday. When we approached Duquesne from the North (IE South) and made a left (SE) to get to Cowens, and then did a 180 to park on the same side of the street, and then noted that Duquesne is 3 hours SE of SLC, we were already facing the correct direction (NW), and Andy’s brain fart had to be ignored.

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It is hard to walk along, with the landscape falling off on both sides without stopping to smell the roses.

The return trip, from that point, was relatively uneventful, other than our misplaced insult to the size of Strawberry Reservoir which was corrected, the further along we drove. Our first glimpse of Strawberry was a wee side arm, that didn’t look big enough to carry the distinction of reservoir, so we dissed it. We had seen puddles at elevation that were bigger than that! Well, apparently we were a little hasty with our insults. We were just plain stupid.

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Sure the light could be better. What choice do I have? We have places to be, and things to do.

Park City would be bypassed, as we now had three priorities: REI, Hotel, Bar and Park City could only satisfy one of those requirements. The REI experience went fine. Excess food and fuel returned. They even took back the matches I had bought but never used. Try taking long quick strike matches onto an airline and see how fast your plans change. Soon we were on our way to SLC to find our cleansing wash. The Springhill Suites was kind of located in nowheresville, but at least it was close to the Airport. Larry and Greg were the first out in the morning and theirs was an early departure. The manager on hand at the desk took care of us. I hate to say that he seemed gay, but what he seemed to be was a fastidious male with effeminate manerisms. Walt presented him with a set of our requirements, refined, for the evening and asked him to think about it. Food, Bar, Sports on the Tele, and a barmaid to take care of us. “I know just the place for you gentlemen, when you are ready to go, I will share”.

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We are done. Back at the starting point. It is yet, another nice day. No one is here. We are alone. Bliss.

Greg and Larry in one room, Walt, Andy, and I in the other. A sofa bed, and two full sized, and three men. I had slept with Andy the first night, and didn’t really relish the opportunity to repeat that, so we decided to rest the “Who sleeps on the sofa?” decision on a flipped coin. The two with the same side got the beds, the odd man out? The sofa bed. We all flipped, Walt was the only one not to let his coin fall to the floor, and after we figured out what heads and tails even looked like, we were all tails. Flip again. Sorry Andy. Andy can make any jagged rock appear to be more comfortable than a chaise lounge, and each time I noticed him and his bed, it was no different than a mighty Redwood being felled. It was dead before it hit the forest floor.

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One week ago, we were heavier, and a little whiter.

As promised, our hotel manager had the bar for us. Maxwell’s, downtown, Tiffany would be looking after us. Waze had us there in 10 minutes. The University of Utah had won their game against Michigan, the city was happy and hopping with activity. We found the bar, parking was 5 bucks in the garage, and there were stools at the bar with a view of the tele and the West Virginia game was just beginning. Why had our hotel manager sent us here? It was a nice place. They had decent televisions, and the beer selection was good. So we chatted up Tiffany and her recognition of our hotel manager seemed distant, but as it turned out we just didn’t have his name right. Once full identification was verified, she said Jeff (hotel manager) was her manager’s husband (Recall recent Utah anti-same-sex-marriage law struck down). Connection established.

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Getting ready to depart home is just as much a ritual as getting ready to depart the trail.

I don’t know why we were restless. Perhaps it was because we weren’t in a place that brewed its own beer, but we seemed to want to move on. We did devour some plates of wings, which did satisfy a long standing weeklong talk desire that we all had, and Andy led, and Tiff helped us out. She told us that we didn’t really want to go to a place we wanted to go because the food was less than good. We really wanted to go to legends where there would be plenty of good beer, food, and she had a friend who worked there that would take care of us. She made a call, and all was set, and bills were paid, and tips left. We were off again. Andy and I got the truck, and the others walked.

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A sign for the ages.

Salt Lake City, like a lot of western desert cities, is made up of big blocks. So though it didn’t seem like a far walk when the boys set out. Andy and I had to back track a block and a half to get the truck, so that by the time we pulled in and parked, there were the other three arriving after a two-and-half block walk. An interesting plaza our new bar was located in. A sex shop, a movie theater that serves  beer, and a parking lot full of Nebraska Corn Husker stickered trucks and cars.

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Selfie w friends

Inside, our server awaited us. A former stripper, single mom with 3 kids who used to run hunting parties with her former husband for Elk. She was very touchy feely, and she took care of us really well. Andy kept asking “Why does she keep touching me?” As promised, the WVU game was on so that we could watch it no matter which side of our table we sat on. The Corn Husker fans as it turned, occupied another room at this bar and were battling Miami. They were organized and they were loud. Personally I had to make an appearance and chat. I was curious regarding the polka beat to all of their songs. No one I talked to could explain the origins.

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Tiff taking care of our business.

Beer we drank, food we consumed, football coverage we covered, stories we told, lies we believed, egos we stroked. We only had one driver, so most of us could party till we dropped. Larry and Greg were conscious of their early start, but the game was close, so it was tough to make the final decision to leave. Leave we did though it would seem along with all the valiant Corn Husker fans, most of whom filed straight from the bar to the sex shop. Who knew?

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In case you were wondering what a sex shop in SLC looked like.

Our evening, our day, our adventure was over. A week was gone, but the experience was alive in our hearts. Fun was had, grunts were made, shins were scuffed, nights were slept, stories were wrought. Till the next time…

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