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

Digging Out The Marshy Spring — Summer Trail Camera Action

 

A photo posted by Brady Smith (@diyhntr) on

 

 

 

Trail cameras are the best! I love capturing the activity of the critters on the mountain. Especially in full HD video with my Browning Recon Force trail cameras. As you can see in the videos on this page I have captured some pretty fun stuff so far this year.

After seeing the 7x8 bull on my trail cam last year I have been hopeful some other "larger" bulls would be on my cameras this summer. So far I have only been getting two spikes and a variety of two year old bulls. I usually get a couple three year old bulls but none so far this year. Well if I did have a large bull on camera do you think I would be showing anyone until after I knew he was dead? ;)

For years I have been slowing digging out a marshy spring area trying to make it into a small pond for the critters to play in. I regularly pack in a shovel to dig from the safety of the solid ground around the muddy, marshy spring. In July I packed in waders for the first time so that I could really get into the mud and water and dig it out. I spent 3 hours in the nasty mud digging it out. I should have brought gloves as my right hand received a nasty blister. What a workout. I still would like to dig it out some more on one side but it will have to wait for another trip.

I have also been hauling in 50 pound mineral and salt blocks with my Pack Wheel to help encourage the critter to hang around to get their picture taken.

On this page are some of my favorite trail cam action from this summer. At the bottom of this page is a YouTube playlist with most of the video action I have posted. 

The elk and moose have really been enjoying the new pond. Seeing the spike I call Thumper (a small spike with a notch in his right ear) splashing around in the pond is so awesome. Excited to see more of this in the future.

To stay up-to-date with my trail cam and blog action follow me on Instagram.

 

Browning Trail Camera with rechargeable batteries

I have gone through many alkaline batteries in trail cams from using them in video mode. To help save on batteries I made some homemade 12v 10 pack Ni-MH external battery packs but found that the bears and elk liked to rip them off the trees and chew the cords in half. This year I have been just using rechargeable batteries inside the trail cameras and they work fairly well. Because they don't start out at 12v with only eight batteries in them I like to replace the batteries every trip up the mountain to maintain enough power to run the cameras. The only downside I have found to using the NiMH rechargeable batteries in the camera is that the night video doesn't have quite as good of distance for critters that are further away from the camera.


Browning Trail Camera with rechargeable batteries

With fully charged Ni-MH rechargeable batteries the screen on my Browning trail cams will show around 53-60%.

 


 

 

 

 

Shooting At Spirit Ridge Rifle Golf Course In 2016

 

 

Had a blast once again shooting at Spirit Ridge Rifle Golf Course. This year I decided to shoot the Master's course with my 243 WSSM Model 1885 with 95 Gr Berger VLD bullets. The little 95ers were a little difficult with the wind at the really long ranges but all in all I shot ok with them.

I had a lot of fun testing bullets and rifles on the driving range in the heat of the afternoon after shooting the course. Here are some of my video highlights from the day.

Magnum Charges With My CVA Accura V2 and Vortex Viper HS LR Rifle Scope

Target bullet groups

The 3 shot 100 yard groups I shot today with my CVA Accura V2, Browning X-Bolt in 270 WSM and my Model 1885 in 243 WSSM. I did shoot a 4th shot on the 150 SST group.

243 WSSM Model 1885 - 95 Gr Berger VLD

The 95 Gr Berger VLD has just been amazing in my 243 WSSM Model 1885 rifle over the years. Today I wanted to try H1000 powder charges instead of the MagPro I had been using. Today I tried two powder charges with this bullet 46.0 and 46.4 grain loads. In the targets above the group on the left has two bullets in one hole.

Since I am wanting to really extend my range out to 300 yards and beyond with my muzzleloader I'm going to need to up the powder charge from the 100 grains of FFG that I have hunted with in the past.

Today I was trying 130 Gr of Triple7 FFG powder behind the 300 Gr Hornady SST, 300 Gr Hornady FPB, and the 300 Gr PowerBelt AeroLite. On my last trip out I learned that having the ramrod attached to the muzzleloader was affecting my group sizes so this time out I kept the ramrod off the muzzleloader for all of my shooting.

I also brought a couple of my rifles to shoot different loads with so I would shoot three shots with one bullet in my muzzleloader then switch to a rifle for three shots. Doing this helped to keep my barrels cool and give me better results.

The 300 Gr PowerBelt AeroLite was clearly the most accurate again on this trip out. With 130 Gr of Triple7 FFG powder this bullet shot a 1 1/8 inch group at 100 yards and was going just a hair shy of 2,000 fps on my chrony. This bullet is designed to open up in game with non-magnum charges. Since I am wanting something that will be able to take deer out past 300 yards, I thinking the AeroLite with magnum loads might be the ticket. But what about those Parker bullets???

Someone might ask why I haven't tried the Barnes muzzy bullets. Given my experience with Barnes' awesomely accurate rifle bullets I have not been pleased with their performance on game in long range applications see this article for some of my thoughts on Barnes Bullets. Maybe their muzzy bullets would perform better than their rifle bullets at longer ranges however I think the AeroLite is probably the best pill for the job right now.

I still need to figure out the scope mount to give me a little more MOA adjustment. Right now I have exactly 28 MOA of available adjustment for long shots left on my Vortex Viper HS LR 4-16x50 scope. With the 300 Gr AeroLite and a velocity of 2,000 fps that would get me to around 500 yards which should be plenty but I would prefer to have a larger window of adjustment and be using more of the middle of the adjustment range.

I am looking at having EGW make a custom rail or go with some Burris Signature Z-Rings that have the MOA adjustment inserts. Hmm...

Varmint Hunting With My Boys

It has been a few years since I took a trip to Wyoming to do a little target practicing. My son Landen will be hunting deer and elk for the first time this year and I have found no better way to get a child familiar with acquiring targets, loading a rifle and generally learning how to use a rifle under some pressure than prairie dog hunting. This provides a little stress to a young hunter and helps them work through this so that they can get a good quality shot off. This pays big dividends when your child is out deer and elk hunting.

The first hour or so Landen was a little stressed trying to find them in the scope and getting on them quick enough. It didn't take too long before he was working the action and blasting away all on his own. This worked great so that I could spend most of my time helping KB, my youngest. KB has a few more years before he will be able to deer and elk hunt. 

I ended up only shooting a handful of times but that was all I needed. My closest shot was a prairie dog at 329 yards. I took one at 470 yards and set a new longest shot on a prairie dog at 900 yards on this trip. Check out the video of this shot.

It was a great day being able to spend it with all three of my boys. They had a blast, literally. What a fun day. Now it's time to apply the aloe vera on my sunburn. Ouch!

Subcategories

  • Big Game Hunting

    Journal entries from hunting mule deer, elk and whitetail deer.  You'll find hunts with 243 WSSM and 270 WSM rifles to muzzleloader and archery hunts.

  • General Hunting and Shooting

    Journal entries covering general information related to hunting and shooting. Many of these journal entries are from shooting on the rifle or archery range. There are also entries related to my experiences with the 243 WSSM, rifles, optics and other equipment and products I use.

  • Varmint Hunting

    Journal entries from hunting coyotes, rock chucks, prairie dogs and the like with 243 WSSM and 223 Rem. rifles.

  • Backpacking and Camping

    Backpacking, Pack Wheel camping and other camping adventures.

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