ROCK CREEK AND LAKE FORK
(Editor's Note: This is the sixth in a series focusing on roadless landscapes contiguous and adjacent to the High Uintas Wilderness.)
The bulk of the High Uintas Wilderness drifts south form the east-west 70 mile long spine. During the wilderness designation debate many south slope boundaries were drawn right at trailheads. Instead of having large tracts of east-west roadless areas adjacent to the wilderness boundary on the North Slope, the South Slope roadless areas tend to be smaller tracts of land (with the exception of the Bollies (see The Lynx, December 1998), often steep slopes rising dramatically from the roaded canyon bottoms south of the wilderness boundary.
Thus a general picture is painted for the Rock Creek and Lake Fork roadless lands adjacent to the High Uintas Wilderness. These are not actual separate roadless areas-- they are all part and parcel of huge land-scape-- some 200,000 acres running contiguous and adjacent to the 460,000 acres High Uintas Wilderness: a cup within a cup!
The Rock Creek country, some 15,000-16,000 acres, consists of Dry Canyon and Miners Gulch and one of the loneliest and most isolated lakes on the Uintas-- Audrey Lake. This is steep, rocky, ledgy, convoluted lodgepole pine country-- not the smooth pine country of the North Slope. This country is hard to move about in, making it some of the most wild country on the Uintas. Elevations run from 8,200 feet to a little over 10,000 feet at Audrey Lake and up to 11,400 feet at Rock Creek Peak right on the wilderness boundary. But, let me assure you, to get to the 11,000 feet will imprint a memory on knees, hips and feet! There are no trails, ledge after ledge, and a few small meadow lands with numerous deep gulches running out on steep rocky ledges. But here golden eagles soar and goshawk, pine marten and black bear add to the mystery of silent timbered slopes.
The Lake Fork country lies east and south of Moon Lake and is dominated by the Fish Creek drainage which has its headwaters tucked into tiny Toquer Lake in the High Uintas Wilderness. Most of this country is dominated by lodgepole pine and aspen forests and steep and wild country rarely seen by anybody but pine marten, goshawk, elk. Fish Creek is the exception. A gentle stream of immense beauty, it slides through patches of wild and ancient forests, an occasional meadow and park lands. Bird life is profuse, moose are seen sporadically, as are beaver. It is a place recognized for towering pine and spruce forests.