Pack Wheeling To Tepee Lakes In The Uinta Mountains


A photo posted by Pack Wheel (@packwheel) on


A photo posted by Pack Wheel (@packwheel) on


A photo posted by Pack Wheel (@packwheel) on


A photo posted by Brady Smith (@diyhntr) on


A photo posted by Brady Smith (@diyhntr) on


A photo posted by Pack Wheel (@packwheel) on


A photo posted by Brady Smith (@diyhntr) on

This year the boys were itching to do another backcountry pack trip. Since my youth I have heard of stories of Mystery Lake(aka Lost Lake) that my parents would pack into to fish pack in their youthful years before I came along. Mystery Lake was also in the area that my Grandfather shot a large bull elk back in 1965 with a Stevens rifle in 250-3000. This are is in and around the Sheep Creek Canal on the Eastern end of the North Slope of the Uinta Mountains.

The area doesn't have nearly as many lakes as some of the Uintas and isn't as popular as the areas closer to the high density of population along the Wasatch front of Utah. I'm always for getting away from the crowds and was excited to explore the are with my three boys. 

To help get in and out of the backcountry we were going to use Pack Wheel hiking carts. With us not knowing how rugged the trails would be we used a Pull Yoke on each of our Pack Wheels. The Pull Yokes came in handy for a couple of 100 yard sections of the trail that were steep and very rocky. My 10 and 12 year old boys only had their gear with them with Pack Wheels carrying around the 25-30 pound amounts. Dallen my 19 year old had somewhere in the 60 pound range of gear and my Pack Wheel was pushing 80 pounds of gear. I hauled in a lot of stuff that just wasn't necessary but did so because it wasn't on my back. Items like a 48 pack of AA batteries. A trail camera full of 8 AA batteries, a second propane tank, a spool of extra fishing line etc.

On one particular steep rocky section the Pull Yokes were a blessing. As we hiked along we would just swing the Pull Yokes up and tuck the pull strap under a bungee cord. On the couple of rough, steep sections Dallen and I would help the young boys up by pulling from the front of their Pack Wheels and then we would go back for our Pack Wheels. And on one section I actually made three trips, one pulling my 10 year old, One pulling my 19 year old and one having the boys help pull my Pack Wheel up through the rough stuff. I could have made it up this section by myself eventually but it was a lot quicker making the trips and having the extra help with my heavy load on this one section.

My 10 year old was using a 24 inch wheel and had the greatest disadvantage of having it roll over the rocks and trees but it still worked really well for him. My 12 year old was using a 26 inch wheel, Dallen a 29er and I had a 27.5+ fat tire on my Pack Wheel. the 26, 29 and 27.5+ tires we all had setup tubeless. The 26 and 29 I was running around 20 lbs of air pressure and in my 27.5+ I was running around 10 lbs of air pressure. Using the lower air pressure helped with having the wheels roll through the rocks on the trail. And if I could say one thing about this trail was that is was rock city. You hardly had any breaks from going through the rocks. The Pack Wheels shined and made the trip much more enjoyable. Although my boys were all tired upon getting in to were we wanted to go and camp they have been a little spoiled in not experiencing what it is like to have all your gear on your back.

The trail is not nearly as refined and taken care of as the trails we Pack Wheeled going into Duck Lake a couple years ago. We had to cross around a dozen fallen trees that were over the trail. And in the four days of being up the trail we only saw two other people, two guys that passed us on the trail as they were hiking out and we were hiking in.

We camped at Tepee Lakes and explored the area from this location. We were interested in finding our way up to Lost Lake but spent the greater part of one day trying to figure out the trail systems or the lack of trails. If your in the area we found that it is just best to stick to the north side of Sheep Creek Canal. We never made it to Lost lake on one of our daily exploring trips because of the delays we had in the trails and the likelihood of getting rained on in the afternoon so we explored some other closer lakes in the area.

We are much better prepared with knowledge of the crazy trails in the area to make it into Lost Lake on another pack trip in the future.

On of the things the boys learned about the Uinta Mountains is the abundance of wild strawberries and raspberries. They were really good treats and the boys would fight over patches of strawberries.

Another reason I'm sure for the lack of people hiking in this area is the lack of fish. We explored a few lakes and only found fish in two lakes. One of the Tepee Lakes and another un-named lake. Both of these lakes had good healthy Brook Trout in them that appeared to be trout that have been reproducing on their own for many years. I don't believe the Division of Wildlife Resources has planted any of the lakes in the area for maybe decades.

A cool find one day was a 1946 nickel that I found lying on the ground near the Tepee Lakes. What are the chances of finding that on the mountain?

On this trip we brought our new Browning four man Greystone tent. This tent was sweet and slept all four us us nicely. I waffled back and forth between this tent and a comparable tent in the Alps Mountaineering line that is lighter with aluminum poles. In the end I liked the idea of having more of a three season tent with stronger heavier fiberglass poles. This tent may see some use during elk and deer season and as Dallen can attest we have been dumped on with the snow in the past. And the fact that all of the times I will be backing this tent it is going to be on the Pack Wheel and not my back so an extra pound isn't that critical.

The boys had a blast catching fish. Although we really didn't catch more than a handful a piece both of the younger boys caught all of their fish on their own and you could tell that made them extra excited. I even conceded to keeping a few of the fish that we cooked up for dinner. Boy where they yummy!

The larger and deeper of the two Tepee Lakes  that looked like it should be loaded with trout we couldn't find a fish in it. I was a little disappointed. It looks awesome but it is only full of really large salamanders. And quite a few of them. It doesn't appear that there is inlet to allow for the Brookies to spawn in this lake. I think the lake is plenty deep enough to not freeze. I can only guess that it got fished out and there where no fish reproducing to replenish there numbers. Hint, hint DWR can you put some fish in the Tepee Lakes and surrounding lakes. ;)

For the most part the hike in was all uphill and that means that the hike out was almost all downhill so we just flew off the mountain in ease. It did take us a little time going in especially because I was trying to find places to take video in this new area. It does require energy to push the gear uphill but in most cases where we are on a trail I far prefer having the weight on the wheel and off my back at all times. If we head up that trail again in the future I've now scouted it out for good video locations. ;)

The chipmunks in camp were a riot. They were getting into everything. We needed our food up in our bear bags just to keep it away from the chipmunks. :)

I like to take a trail camera with me on my pack trips just to see what I can catch on camera. I found a cool location a couple hundred yards from camp and set it up their for three days. I placed a little B&J loose powder in front of it to try and get an elk or other critter to come in and get his picture taken. In the three days I only captured a doe mule deer briefly and she completely ignored the B&J almost like it was a repellent.

Interestingly in the five days we were on the mountain we saw one doe at the parking lot and the one doe that showed up on the trail camera. These are the only big game animals that we saw. There were a lot more elk tracks lower on the mountain near the trailhead at Browne Lake. We even found a bear track within a mile of the trailhead but we didn't see a mammal larger than a Red Squirrel for the whole pack trip. I was hoping we would see some moose or elk but just never found any. It is pretty darn thick with pines so critters aren't the easiest to find.

On thing that the boys will always remember from this trip is that we had a front row seat to watch a huge Chinese rocket of some sort burn up across the sky as it reentered the atmosphere. Wish I had it on video. It was absolutely amazing.

I love my GoalZero solar system to recharge my cell phone. I could just barely get cell reception every once in a while but when I did it chewed up my battery. In a half hour period of time while getting a photo posted to Instagram I chewed through 30% of my battery to do so. I kept my phone on airplane mode most of the time but had it one for the GPS mapping and use with BackCountry Navigator Pro. I like this app because I can preload topos and aerial maps of areas before I leave to head up into the backcountry that has no cell reception.

It was fun to teach the boys about being prepared in the backcountry. One day even though there wasn't any rain in the forecast it clouded up and rained on us quite a bit. We were a mile or so from camp exploring lakes and I pulled out and emergency blanket to wrap around us to stay dry and warm. I talked a lot with the younger boys about being prepared and how to start fires etc.

This was one of the coolest trips of my life. I really enjoyed spend the quality time with my boys. It wish I could just get my wife and daughter to want to come and enjoy the backcountry but I haven't found a way to helicopter in a travel trailer yet. :)


#sunrise #uintamountains #unfiltered #straightfromthecamera

A photo posted by Brady Smith (@diyhntr) on


#uintamountains #brooktrout #outdoorlife #outdoors #getoutdoors #getoutside #troutfishing #fishing #backcountry

A photo posted by Brady Smith (@diyhntr) on

A photo posted by Pack Wheel (@packwheel) on

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