High Uintas Ibantik Lake Hike ft. Notch
If there isn’t already a rapper named Notch, there really should be.
Went on this fun, short-ish overnighter just so I could say I went on an overnighter and had been in the Uintas. The Uintas are pretty cool, or are at least pretty. I guess also cool. Man it’s been hot here in Cache Valley. Uintas were cool, but also pretty.
Found this hike in the Falcon Guide, turns out everyone online also thinks it’s amazing. Would be a pretty easy out-and-back day hike, but I was using it to practice backpacking and do a safe-distance shakedown of my gear that I haven’t used in a year. The hike is supposedly just under four miles from the Crystal Lake trailhead over The Notch (featured) then down to Ibantik. Just: whatever. Photos, then observations maybe, then go on with lives, etc.
Parking lot was super-crowded with three other groups, a couple of them pretty big, arriving just before me and milling about their respective cars loudly. Despite this, the hike to (and back from) Ibantik wasn’t all that crowded. I met maybe four groups on the way out, then probably a similar number coming back. Apparently the parking lot services enough different trail to keep anything from getting too unwieldy. I’m sure it also helped that I set out on a Wednesday, but still: I”\NiIK L•KF, 4 miles.
This photo wasn’t far from the trailhead, and its purpose in this post is to illustrate that even the scenically un-scenic parts of this trail were not actually all that un-scenic. I mean, there’s not much on that trail that’s uglier than this.
The first real lake you come to is Wall Lake (there was another lake and a couple ponds by the trailhead that don’t count), from which you get your first look at THE NOTCH. Many hikers tremble in its gaze, cowed by the prospect of having to climb its ca., I dunno, 700-800 feet to get up and over it? Anyway. And yes, Wall is a fake lake, it’s just “real” in size. So’s Ibantik. There’s not much I can do about it at this point.
The trail has a lot of views like ^^, with ponds and meadows and peaks. There are also trees and clouds in this photo. Probably bugs also, germs for sure.
This is the view from the top of the Notch, looking north toward Lovenia Lake. Ibantik Lake is almost in the picture — it’s just on the other side of that talus slope on the right.
This is Lovenia Lake. I think. I dunno. Seriously, there are a lot of lakes there and some aren’t named very clearly and sometimes there’s one name on the map, but then you somehow stumble onto three different lakes. Whatever. Good clouds, decent reflection, and pine beetles have had their say in the Uintas.
^^ is about where I ran into members of the Boy Scout troop that would feature so prominently in the outing’s drama. Oh yes, there was drama. Drama! But it involved Boy Scouts, so maybe temper expectations. Temper!
The glory that is Ibantik. There was a sign on the trail that labeled the lake. When I say “on the trail”, I mean it was laying down on the trail. Also, Ibantik is a Ute word the definition of which is unknowable.
So I set up camp (on the shore to the right of that last photo there), ate lunch sort of, fished for about an hour (caught a couple small brookies, but had a bunch of strikes), then decided to go exploring further down the trail. About ten minutes later, I hear someone yelling at me (not by name). I look over and there’s a backpacker who’s gone cross-country a bit. He asks me if I know where the trail is (“yeah, it’s where I am”), then comes over to the trail. He asks whether I’ve seen some scouts at the lake. I tell him I saw some scouts, but it was about three hours ago and they were already heading back to the trailhead. He then explains that he used to be a wilderness adventure guide, so he knows his stuff, but that he got a little too involved trying to help the scouts (?) and that he’s been wandering for 20 miles trying to find them. He says he spent the entire night awake, wandering around looking for them, but the trails have so many loops in them and he never did find them and how far away is it back to the trailhead from here. I told him it was maybe 4.5 miles, tops, which seemed to make him excited. I told him which direction to go, then off he went.
About five minutes later, it occurred to me I should probably go back the way I came and make sure he wasn’t, I dunno, dead or something. Went back, found him right about where I was camped, talked to him a little more, asked him if he needed any food or water or if he maybe didn’t want to just hang out and rest up for a little bit. Nice enough guy. Refused everything, then headed out.
The lake had a bunch of campsites, although this one (that’s my gear) was the first one I came to and the one I ended up using. It was probably my favorite of the ones I took a look at — enough wind breakage from the trees, but no shortage of views of the water, plus you could hear the sound of the creek feeding into the lake a couple hundred yards away. Also had some good branches from which I could hook up my IV drip line.
Went fishing again.
Caught a bunch more eight-inch brookies. I had one stretch where I brought one in on three straight casts. Eventually I started worrying that I was just catching the same fish over and over. This concern started seeming less paranoid and more plausible when I landed my last fish of the evening, a non-fighter that, when it got almost to shore just flipped over onto its back and resigned itself to its fate.
That was also about the time I started hearing a helicopter in the distance. The helicopter got closer and closer until…
…it basically landed at my campsite. It actually did this twice over the span of about an hour. The first time, it didn’t actually land, but some guy from some sort of state rescue service jumped out of it and came over to ask me if I’d seen anyone who looked lost in the woods. Apparently the scout troop had called someone about their missing leader, who by that point probably should have been to the parking lot already. About an hour later, the helicopter came back, landed for real, and the ranger came out and talked to me again, as well as a few other folks with nearby campsites.
I checked online the next day. Didn’t see anything in the news the next day, so >shrug<. I’m sure it worked out. So much drama. It was pretty amazing, though, to see a helicopter land there, reminded me of watching that show about helicopter rescues in the Himalayas, only louder.
It actually got cold enough to wear this stuff, which was refreshing. So tired of mostly sunny and 97 degrees.
That evening I discovered two problems with my gear: (1) my water filter was clogged up (was fine, I’d brought enough water from below to last for two days, plus I could/did boil more) and (2) I forgot to bring bug spray. The bugs weren’t *that* bad, I just couldn’t stand in one place for more than 15 seconds without getting enclouded. Had Mountain House spaghetti for dinner, the first in-wartime use of my new, non-Jetboil stove. The water boiled and what was once dehydrated became hydrated anew.
After sleeping parts of four hours during the night, I woke up bright and early, ate dry granola that tasted somehow drier than usual, then packed everything up and headed toward home.
And then I saw all the same stuff I’d seen the previous day, only the other side of it, which didn’t look all that different, and even though I took more photos, I mean, they’re kind of just the same as the other photos up above.
Then two days later I got hit by an SUV while crossing the street in Logan, but didn’t die. The end.