A Night at Notch Lake

Another short hike I'd yet to do off of the popular Mirror Lake Highway that cuts through the western end of the Uinta Range is a trail that wraps around Bald Mountain instead of up Bald Mountain.  This trail takes you by a number of other nice lakes, namely Clegg, Notch and Bench Lakes.  I opted to make it another overnight trip.  I had actually intended to hike the full length of this trail the prior year, but was stopped short by a wildfire I was uncertain of out beyond.

- Day 1 -
Monday - August 19, 2019

It was another late start for me, but once again, I had just enough daylight to hike about 2.5 miles in and set up my camp at my lake of choice, Notch Lake.  Along the way, I'd pass by Clegg Lake.  I'd pass by Dean Lake too, but that was barely ever visible from the trail.

The sun descends toward the horizon at a small unnamed lake

Reids Peak stands out above Clegg Lake

Reids Peak (left) and Bald Mountain (right) from Clegg Lake

Once at Notch Lake I got right to work with setting up my camp with what little daylight I had left.  I started to set up in a less than ideal site before roaming around a bit more only to find a much more ideal site nearby.  By the time I moved my camp, it was essentially dark.  I had a brief little fire to keep me company while I prepared and ate my dinner before putting it out and retiring to bed for the night.  There'd be plenty to do and see the next day.

- Day 2 -
Tuesday - August 13, 2019

I awoke to a much more beautiful site than I had actually anticipated.  The eastern side of Notch Mountain appeared much more rugged and cliffy than I had been able to make out of it in the darker shadows the previous evening.  The alpenglow at dawn really made the view from camp and nearby camp a wonderful sight to see.  Out across the lake, I could make out one other camp set up, but other than that, all seemed quiet and desolate.

Morning views of Notch Mountain from my Tarptent Notch

Alpenglow on Notch Mountain reflected on Notch Lake

Looking across southern tip of Notch Lake

Morning panorama of Notch Lake

Notch Lake reflection

After walking around scoping out more of my surroundings around camp and getting my blood flowing a bit, I returned to camp for some breakfast.  I then changed back into my day clothes and got my fishing kit together to go try my luck out on the lake.

It didn't take too long to start getting some action.  Soon I landed my first fish of the day, and to my surprise, it turned out to be an Arctic Grayling.  I had no idea Notch Lake contained grayling.  I knew of other lakes not far from Notch where it was popular to go fishing for these fish, such as Four Lakes Basin, but was completely ignorant of what all Notch Lake had, so it was a pleasant surprise, especially since I'd never caught this type of fish before.

A couple more hours of fishing landed me an assortment of brook trout and more grayling.

First ever Arctic Grayling catch

A brook trout

Satisfied with the action on Notch Lake, I moved on to see what nearby Dean Lake was all about.  A few hundred years of some cross country navigation brought me to the shores of Dean Lake.

A large pond or tarn near Dean Lake

Dean Lake

I tried fishing for about an hour at Dean Lake, but no such luck there as I got skunked.

Hungry, I moved on back down to my camp to have lunch and pack up all my gear.  Then, it was on to another lake further up trail by about a quarter to half mile that I really wanted to see, Bench Lake.

Bench Lake

Bench Lake proved to be beautiful as well, but also had more limited campsites near it, and of the two I could make out, both were occupied, so I was quite happy to have settled in to Notch Lake as I did the night before.  Bench Lake also appeared to be very shallow and devoid of any signs of fish, so I kept my reel strapped on my pack.

After taking in the view for a bit, I began to return back to the trailhead to finish out this little trip.  On the way back, I took one last little side trip and navigated off trail to check out Reids Lake.  It appeared much smaller than what I had on my topo map, but a later look at satellite maps showed that I must have ended up on the northern most tip of it and the bigger body of it had remained hidden behind and peninsula of trees to my right as I had faced Reids Peak.

Reids Peak, approaching Reids Lake

Reids Peak reflecting across Reids Lake

As I returned to the trail, there was a fleeting temptation to try and summit Reids Peak with the weather remaining clear, but ultimately I decided to keep on going to the trailhead and conclude the trip there.  There'd be plenty of high views to be had on my biggest trip of the year that was planned for that weekend, when Jess and I would set out to hike a loop featuring Kings Peak and Red Castle.  Stay tuned for that trip report!

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