By Michael Lanza
Early on the third morning of a six-day hike through Utah’s High Uintas Wilderness, I walked to the shore of the Fourth Chain Lake at 10,900 feet, where we had camped. Its waters sat absolutely still, offering up a perfect, inverted reflection of the mountains. By that afternoon, we reached 11,700-foot Trail Rider Pass, our second high pass of the day, with a view that took the edge off our weariness. Behind us, the valley of Lake Atwood, which we had hiked up, stretched for miles; ahead lay our destination, Painter Basin (photo above), an expansive, almost barren plateau at 11,000 feet below the highest peak in Utah, Kings Peak.
In those first three days of hiking, we encountered a grand total of two other people.