Read about my complete Uinta Highline Trail experience, including prep, gear, logistics, and post-hike impressions.
We woke up to beautiful weather on the second day of our hike. The scattered clouds offered a welcome reprieve from the hot sun and dry, thin air. We backtracked to the base of North Pole Pass and started the climb. It was hard to follow the trail at times, but we eventually got up to where cairns pointed the way along the grassy ridge.
I loved this section of the Uinta Highline Trail (UHT). It was equally challenging and rewarding. The hike down the other side of the mountain toward Fox Lake was equally enjoyable. The switchbacks were steep and rocky. It was on this downhill section that I realized my girlfriend and I had very different ideas about what’s fast, what’s reckless, and what’s to be expected.
I was only going about 70% of my normal hiking speed, but it was way too fast for her. Apparently, “compromise” means that I change and she stays the same. This was not my first time to learn this lesson.
I’m able to crank out big miles not just because I walk really fast, but also because I walk from sunrise to sunset and I don’t really take breaks. On this trip, I had to stop very often to let her catch up. I don’t have a problem with that. By the time I learned what her ideal speed was, I was able to adjust my speed to make her feel more comfortable. Even then, we’d hit some rocks and slow down even more.
We stopped by Fox Lake and ate an early lunch. We played around the beachfront and had a great time.
Several miles later, I told her that we were not on track to make it to the rental car in the time we had budgeted. I built in an extra day for our hike, but we already planned to spend that day laying around the pool and hot tub of our AirBnB. We made camp early at Kidney Lakes and took a look at the map.
Before the trip, I figured that if we averaged 1½ miles per hour—a very reasonable rate—we could start walking around 7:00 am and finish by 3:00 pm with plenty of time left to lounge around camp. That would be 12 miles of hiking each day and we wouldn’t feel rushed. I usually average more than twice that speed.
After looking at the map, I realized we were doing less than 1 mile per hour and that screwed with my sense of mileage. I use time and walking speed to measure distance. I can tell when I’m walking 2, 3, or 4 miles per hour. A watch and some simple math tell me how far I’ve gone. When we go so slowly and constantly stop, I have no sense of distance.
We used our time at the lake to do a little fly fishing, sunbathing, and cooking. I told her that we might have to look at taking an alternative exit out of the High Uintas. We simply weren’t meeting the necessary miles each day to get out on time. We either had to speed up drastically or cut some miles off the end. She thought we could simply speed up to close the gap, but I secretly planned to exit at the last bailout point of an eastern UHT hike. We were on vacation after all, and a vacation shouldn’t feel like work.
We climbed into the tent early so we could hit the trail before sunrise the next morning. As soon as our heads hit the pillow, so to speak, we heard something odd outside and found a large doe sniffing our dinner spot.
Watch the video
Follow in our virtual footsteps as we hike a section of the Uinta Highline Trail. Watch the entire video or jump ahead to specific days. You can find more information to help you plan your own UHT hike at cchikes.com/UHT18.