Backpacking the Uintas, Day 1: Highline Trail to Four Lakes Basin #UintasHike16

Backpacking the Uintas Highline Trail, Four Lakes Basin

What can happen when you throw six internet friends on a backpacking trip prior to the biggest outdoor tradeshow of the year? A lot apparently. #UintasHike16 was born as a pre-show gear testing and hang out opportunity to experience the Utah backcountry. 40+ miles through the Wasatch over three days was going to be an adventure.

In this day and age when social media is so prevalent in our lives, there’s always a constant need to do things bigger and better. When everyone’s doing the same thing, how do you make it different? And when you only see a few people once or twice a year in a place you never really go to, how can you turn down the opportunity? I think our group was a little overly ambitious in our trip.

Backpacking the Uintas Highline Trail, Four Lakes Basin

The trip was shortened thrice before I even boarded my plane to Salt Lake City. Everyone was coming from sea level and abilities were all over the board. With the entire hike occurring at above 10k feet, we decided to be more cautious and account for the effects of altitude. I arrived late on Friday night, picked up a rental car and drove to Park City to meet the rest of the #UintasHike16 crew. They were all sleeping peacefully when I got in.

Morning came much earlier than I wanted. I awoke to Jes gently shaking me; I thought she was my mother. We quickly packed up and headed out to the Highline trailhead. Day one was pretty straightforward: we were going to take the Highline trail out to Rocky Sea Pass and then up to Four Lakes Basin. The trail began with 2 miles of easy, but rocky, downhill, my least favorite thing in the world. It meant that we’d have to climb out on day three. The going was pretty slow; the majority of the group was not feeling the 10,000 feet we were at. We stopped frequently to catch our breaths.

Backpacking the Uintas Highline Trail, Four Lakes Basin

I couldn’t catch a groove with all the pausing and opted to forge ahead. Nine miles from the trailhead, I found myself at our campsite at Four Lakes Basin. One by one, our group came into camp, and then we were waiting for two people. The last anyone had seen of them was three miles ago at a small creek crossing. We gave ourselves a 7pm deadline, assuming a hiking pace of a mile an hour; if they weren’t to camp by then, we’d pack up and turn around to find them.

Backpacking the Uintas Highline Trail, Four Lakes Basin

The deadline rolled around with no sign of either person. We packed up camp and hit the trail again to retrace our steps. Luckily the hiking was pretty mellow. Aside from a short climb out of Four Lakes Basin, everything was downhill or flat. As darkness fell, we saw some moving figures and brightly colored jackets on the trail. It was the last two people of our group where they’d last been seen! One person struggled from the effects of altitude and opted to stop to try to recover.

We once again dropped our packs, found a campsite and hit the hay. It’d been a long day. We’d figure out what to do tomorrow.

Gear: Arc’teryx Kea 45 pack (similar), Norrøna bitihorn lightweight pants, Mountain Hardwear Plasmic Jacket, Pivotte touring tank, Woolx Basecamp Hoodie, Merrell Capra Bolt Mid GTX Hiking Boot, Adidas Outdoor Flyloft Jacket, Black Diamond Ultra Distance Trekking Poles, Sunski Dipseas, Chaco Z/Cloud X2 sandals, Cloudline medium cushion hiking socks

Many thanks to our sponsors: Bounce Balls, Catalyst Case, Cloudline, Enerplex, Lawson Hammocks, LifeStraw, Merrell, Mountain House, Opinel, Oxygen Plus, TravelChair, Simple Squares and SoulCare by CCC.

Visit Chronic Climber Chick, Midwest Basecamp, Missouri Howell, Mountain Matron, and Raw Trails for different perspectives on the trip.