Pack Wheeling The Uinta Mountains — Crystal Lake Trailhead to Duck Lake

Dallen fishing on Duck Lake in the Uinta Mountains.

Dallen out fishing on Duck Lake.


The boys hiking in with their Pack Wheel hiking carts.

The boys hiking along the trail with their Pack Wheel hiking carts.


Our Pack Wheel hiking carts at the camp site on Duck Lake in the Uinta Mountains.

Our Pack Wheel hiking carts at the camp site on Duck Lake.


View of camp site at Duck Lake in the Uinta Mountains.

View of our camp after returning from hiking to Beaver Lake.

Chipping Sparrow nest in the Uinta Mountains.

We found this Chipping Sparrow nest on our way to Beaver Lake. We also found three Junco nests with eggs during our trip.


Dallen with a Brook Trout on Duck Lake in the Uinta Mountains.

One of the Brook Trout that Dallen caught on the trip.


Me and the boys at Beaver Lake in the Uinta Mountains.

Stopping for a photo while fishing at Beaver Lake, a lake seriously lacking in fish. Still a beautiful lake and area to hike to.


Me and the boys with our Pack Wheels at Duck Lake in the Uinta Mountains.

One last photo of us and our Pack Wheels before heading back to the trailhead.


Goal Zero 41022 Guide 10 Plus Solar Recharging Kit at Duck Lake in the Uinta Mountains.

Although I could get absolutely no cell reception I still used the GPS and other features on my phone. The Goal Zero 41022 Guide 10 Plus Solar Recharging Kit works really well at keeping my phone charged and makes for a great light in the tent at night.


Here's a sample of what the trail camera caught while watching over camp.


I had been promising my boys for the past two years to take them on a backcountry fishing trip. I finally came through on my promise and what an enjoyable time it was. I wish I had of found the time the previous summer. I'm sure that we will make this at least a yearly tradition for future summers.

For this trip I wanted to hike in from the Crystal Lake trailhead into the Duck Lake area. This is an area I backpacked into a number of times in my youth. It has now been I believe twenty one years since I had been back in this area.

This area of the Uinta Mountains is non-wilderness. For whatever the reason Uncle Sam bans the use of a wheel but allows the use of horses in wilderness areas. Something I just don't understand. How does a wheel on a trail have more impact on the environment that horses? I just don't get it. Anyhow wheels are legal in this non-wilderness area so we used Pack Wheel hiking carts to haul all of our gear.

My leg after knee surgery

I had knee surgery on the 29th of May. Here's what the back of my leg looked like a month before going on this backcountry trip.

A month and a half ago I had a pretty extensive seventh surgery on one of my knees. The doc ground out a lot of arthritis that was growing throughout the joint causing it to lockup and swell non-stop. This surgery caused a lot of bruising, so much so, for such a long time I really backed off my normal exercising to just let it heal. It has healed well but my leg is very weak. Even with my leg being really weak I easily carried way too much gear. Getting the weight off my back and on the Pack Wheel has been so enjoyable for me to continue doing what I love and doing it so comfortably.

The Pack Wheels worked great as usual. This was my eight year old son's first time using a Pack Wheel on a real hike and it didn't take him long to figure out how to operate it well. My ten year old has had a little experience with the Pack Wheel and my seventeen year old has been using them for a couple years on our deer and elk hunting adventures.

The trail into to Duck Lake was a lot rougher than I remembered from my youth. There wasn't a single set of bike tracks on the trail and it was easy to see why, because if you were to attempt to take a bike on this trail it would be a near complete "hike a bike" experience. This trail is very rocky and rough.

Using the Pack Wheel hiking carts we were all able to have a very enjoyable, comfortable hike in and out. The little boys were using a 20 and 24 inch wheel sized Pack Wheels. With the smaller wheels that don't roll over obstacles as well, the rough trail and them being younger I'll admit was a little nervous that the little boys might not have as good of an experience with the hike. My nervousness quickly fleeted. Both of them had a great time hauling in their own gear. Never once was there any complaint of fatigue. With the weight off their backs they just had fun driving their Pack Wheels. It was cute to see them make motorcycle sounds as they would "drive" up and over obstacles in the trail. It became kind of a game to go over the rough terrain.

To provide extra protection against flats on the trip the 26" wheel on Dallen's Pack Wheel and the 29" wheel on mine we had them Gorilla Tape tubeless setup. The Schwalbe tubeless ready tires are rather easy to setup tubeless and they seal to the Sun Ringle MTX rims very well.

One thing I did notice with the roughness of the trail is that it slowed us down. Instead of just hiking across the rocks of a creek we had to take an extra minute or two to navigate the crossing. So on this particular hike the Pack Wheels didn't help us go any faster they just made the hike pain free and enjoyable. Now from my experience using a Pack Wheel I know you can fly in on a trail with a lot of weight given the right trail. In fact if your body is capable of jogging, you could easily jog along with a Pack Wheel.

The fishing wasn't the greatest in the world in fact my 10 year old Landen never caught a single fish. KB only caught one and I only caught two fish. We fished for many hours over a three day period. Dallen did catch around 16 Brookies and Cutthroats.

I hiked up to Fire Lake one morning to check it out to see if I should bring the boys back up to it. The lake appeared dead. I couldn't see any activity on the surface and nothing hit my Jake lure for the half hour or so I tried it. Fire Lake is a beautiful lake that appears to be very deep. Many, many years ago in this lake my friend Clint caught the largest Cutthroat trout I have ever seen come out of a Uinta lake. I'm not sure if there are any fish in it now. :(

One day we all hiked up to Beaver Lake to check it out. Years ago this lake is where I caught the most fish I have ever caught in a Uinta lake. Back when I was young this lake was loaded with hungry Brook Trout. Well times have changed and this lake did have a few fish in it rising to the surface but we couldn't get anything to hit our lures and flies behind Adjust-a-bubbles. I would guess that there were fewer than a handful of fish in this lake.

It seems as though the smaller off the beaten path lakes just aren't getting stocked like they were many years ago and these lakes just can't sustain a healthy trout population when people are hauling them out to eat. I wonder why the Division of Wildlife Resources doesn't stock them more? I think it is a lot of fun to explore the off the beaten path lakes looking for a gem of fun fishing.

I felt extremely horrible that Landen never caught a single fish and KB only caught one. They both tried so very hard. I know one thing for sure. I will be bring night crawlers and other bait the next time I take them to make sure they catch something. My young boys did learn how to use a spinning reel quite well by the time we left. It is cool and sad at the same time to see them grow up.

After hiking back out to the trailhead and we load up my Montero Dallen noted that the entire back of the Montero was filled with the gear we hauled on our Pack Wheels. We probably could have left home a lot of what we hauled but then it wasn't really any extra difficulty to bring it all along.

We took a Browning Recon Force XR (BTC-2XR) trail camera with us to watch camp. You know how you are always wondering what is lurking around outside your tent at night? After reviewing the footage on the camera nothing came around our tent this time out. The camera did catch my ten year old's pants falling down to his ankles which was pretty funny.

Even with the lack of catching fish all of my boys are excited to pack into the backcountry somewhere next year. We'll have to figure out where to go. There are a lot of non-wilderness areas near Spirit Lake, Browne Lake and Sheep Creek Canal. We may have to try some lakes over on that end of the Uinta Mountains.



Panorama of Duck Lake in the Uinta Mountains

Here's a panorama of Duck Lake.

Panorama of Fire Lake in the Uinta Mountains

Here is a panorama showing most of Fire Lake.

Browning Recon Force XR trail camera watching over our camp site.

The Montero filled with all our gear.

Dallen with his Pack Wheel.

Browning Recon Force XR trail camera watching over our camp site. The entire back of the Montero is filled with the gear we hauled in with Pack Wheel hiking carts. Dallen with his Pack Wheel while hiking back to the trailhead.

KB eating dinner at camp on Duck Lake.

KB catching a Cutthroat Trout at Duck Lake.

KB with his Cutthroat Trout at Duck Lake.

KB eating dinner in camp one evening. KB catching the only fish he caught on the trip. KB with his Cutthroat Trout at Duck Lake.

Striped Ground Squirrel at Duck Lake

Young mule deer buck at Fire Lake

Landen getting a snack at Beaver Lake.

A Striped Ground Squirrel at Duck Lake. Here's a couple of young mule deer bucks that were hanging out at Fire Lake. Where's all the fish you promised dad? Landen getting a snack at Beaver Lake.


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