This overnight camping trip was full of “experiments”. First, was Butterfly Lake campground as awesome as everyone says? Yes! Absolutely! Camping at Butterfly Lake has long been on our bucket list. The weather forecast for the trip was 40% chance of thunderstorms, but given our tent we were totally OK with those odds. We did have a thunderstorm roll through, but we never got rained on. Sad. We were totally hoping for a midnight thunderstorm!
Second, will we freeze if we sleep in separate sleeping bags instead of zipping our bags together? Before Ryan, anytime I would go camping and sleep outdoors, I absolutely froze. My first sleeping bag ever was TNF Snow Leopard (rated 0ºF) and I vividly remember every trip I took, because I remember being uncomfortably cold all night: overnighters with the Newman Center, backpacking trip to Lake Blanche, camping at Mt. Nebo, etc. When Ryan and I started camping, I was adamant about getting sleeping bags that could zip together, just so I had a chance of not being cold all night. His first sleeping bag was TNF Cat’s Meow (rated 20ºF) and together our sleeping bags kept us super warm. Over the years we’ve improved our sleep system and are currently using TNF Lynx (rated 40ºF) with sleeping bag liners to increase the temperature range of our bags. Even up at the Uintas, where temperatures can dip down near the 30s at night during the summer months, we find our sleep system sufficient. You spend enough time outdoors backpacking, you start over-analyzing your gear. There are three factors to consider for any backpacking trip: (1) pack, (2) food, and (3) sleep. If you have an uncomfortable pack that leaves you bruised, you will NOT have a good time. If your food leaves you with an upset stomach and forces you to stop eating, you will NOT have a good time. If your sleep system keeps you up all night, you will NOT have a good time. We’ve been analyzing our sleep system since our packs our perfect and our food is delicious (so long as we don’t bring new foods). Getting comfortable in the backcountry is an art and we are still trying to figure it out.
Our last experiment had to do with fishing! The lakes along Mirror Lake highway are predominantly filled with Rainbow trout and some Tiger trout. All lakes in the Uintas have Brook trout and that’s the main trout in lakes not right off the highway. They say there’s some Cutthroat in the higher lakes, but to date we’ve never seen any Cutthroats. A couple of weeks ago, I randomly caught a butterball Brookie in Teapot Lake, otherwise we catch Rainbow and Tiger trout. Fishing in the Uintas can be very frustrating, because you can spend 8 hours there and only catch one or two fish. Right now, we’ve found the money on how to catch Rainbow trout. Using Joe’s Flies hot-4-trout pack, we are able to get Rainbow trout to slam those lures on first cast. If you place the lure just on the outside of a lily pad, BOOM! When it comes to Tigers, they are the honey badgers of the trout species. At one point, Ryan and I just started “petting” the Tigers with our fishing lines and trying to get them to respond. Tiger trout LOVE to hang out near shore and they’re so enticing because you can see them! It wasn’t until yesterday when we got home and started reading more about Tigers that it all started to make sense, Tigers LOVE to eat little fish, which also hang out near shore in large schools! We’ve been trying to use gold spinner lures, silver spoons, dry flies, terrestrials, even WORMS, and seriously the Tigers won’t even take a second look. With the amount of rising and surface activity coming from the Tigers you’d think they’d eat dry flies, but that’s one big fat NOPE! We need to get ourselves some Rapalas and see if we can finally get ourselves some Tigers. As far as Brookies go, who knows. We have some theories on how to fish, but after our trip to Notch lake and only catching 2 small fish, we clearly have a lot to learn. It’s a fun struggle trying to catch fish, especially when you are having to compete with the millions of bugs that are far more tasty and easier to eat.
All in all a great overnight trip! It is really pleasant to spend 36 hours fishing, thinking about fishing, and dreaming about fishing. Soon the school year will start and we’ll be back to thinking about other deeper topics, but for now it’s nice to have something to distract us.