The end of my second week in Park City, Utah was rapidly approaching, and with it the final days of summer, and the end of another multi-week road trip. 2018 was another banner year for wildfires, and a major blaze was burning to the south of me. Fortunately, about an hour to the east, in the beautiful and scenic High Uintas, the air was free of smoke.
Since I was staying in a time-share in Park City, my previous ventures into the High Uintas had been day hikes. To be sure, the forays were beautiful and fun, but I longed to spend another night under the stars. One of the more important lessons I learned in economics was the concept of sunk cost. My week in Park City was already paid for, and whether I spent a night in a hotel room bed or in my sleeping bag, the cost was the same; it would be foolish to let the price already paid, rob me of the satisfaction of a night on the ground.
But where to go? That decision was the hardest part of the overnight trip. There were so many options. Ultimately, I opened the map and found a route that looked like an upside-down lollipop leading to a high altitude lake in an amphitheater-like setting, a perfect place to set up camp.
With my choice made, I packed my gear and drove out to the Crystal Lake trailhead. I headed west, then north on the Clyde Lake trail, passing several nice lakes, any of which would have been a great place to camp.
My goal though was to head over The Notch and make my way to Ibantik Lake. The afternoon air was crisp; autumn was already here in the High Uintas. I stopped for a break at Clyde Lake, the last water before traversing The Notch.
There is a good trail going over The Notch. Once on top, the view opened to the north. I was so focused on the scenery ahead that I almost failed to see the fauna above and to the left of me. Only the sound of small rocks tumbling down the cliffside alerted me to the presence of a pair of mountain goats.
Heading down the pass, I passed several lovely alpine tarns and lakes before arriving at picturesque Ibantik Lake. There was no one else nearby (I had only seen a couple of other hikers all day), and I had my choice of campsites. I picked a site on a bench above the lake, with an easy path to a small, flowing creek. After pitching camp, I spent the remaining daylight hours exploring the area.
The temperature quickly dropped as the sun set; being above 10,000 feet meant I was in for a chilly evening, and, after dinner, I sought the comfort of a warm sleeping bag.
The following morning was the last full day of summer. I rejoiced as the morning light illuminated the cliffs above the lake, and celebrated, even more, when the warm rays of the sun shone on my tent. After breakfast, I packed up and headed back over The Notch and completed the loop past Wail Lake and on to my waiting car.
If this were California, I would need a permit to camp at such a spectacular location; but being Utah, no permits are required, and there are no quotas. One more reason to add Utah’s High Uintas to your list of adventure destinations.