I know it has nothing to do with Ruth Lake except the name, but my grandma’s name is Ruth. We never really did anything outdoors (except things on the farm), but the name of the lake made me instantly think of her. How she would love that I’m living life to the fullest (while being safe!). And how she would be so proud of me for spending time with people that I love and doing things that I love.
So now that I got that out of the way, I wanted to share our trip to Ruth Lake. It was short and sweet, but it felt like we got the most out of it despite only being there one night and not even a full day.
First things first. Ruth Lake is a small lake high up in the Uintas. It was a last minute decision to take a trip, but it was fueled by wanting to escape the Salt Lake Valley heat and wanting to climb. Ruth Lake was the best contender, because it was an easy backpack in (less than 1 mile to the lake and a relatively small amount of elevation gain!), and it had easy access to multiple climbing walls with various rated climbs that were perfect for our group. Plus, the lake made it easy to capture water (carrying in water for 24 hours is a lot when we have all our climbing gear on our back).
Ruth Lake is only an hour and a half away from our home of Salt Lake City. Just short enough of a drive where it was easy to jet up there after I got off work around 12:30pm on Friday, and also close enough to where we didn’t have to stay two nights to justify hurrying up there.
Because we were headed up for climbing, we had to really watch what we were bringing. Nic carried all the climbing stuff, while my pack was filled with camping gear, food, and clothes.
One important thing to bring is a water filter. Because Nic’s bag was full to the brim with heavy quick draws and a rope, and mine was stuffed with sleeping gear, we needed to make sure we didn’t add water to that weight. We did bring a full water bladder for drinking, as well as a single water bottle, but we finally invested in a water filter so we didn’t have to bring all the water we needed for drinking and cooking.
Because we were only there for one day, we each just brought extra layers (puffy, long sleeve, and a quarter zip!), but that was about it for clothes.
For cooking, we brought our small stove, as well as backpacking meals, premixed oatmeal, and protein bars. To have a seat, I packed my lightweight Crazy Creek ground chair.
As for camping gear, we brought all our favorite Klymit gear. We had a Static V2, an Insulated Static V Lite, an X Pillow, and a Luxe pillow, and then we shared the double down bag (which packed smaller than my 0 degree sleeping bag!), and then we finally got to try out our Cross Canyon 2 tent as a backpacking tent. This isn’t the lightest weight tent from Klymit, but it worked perfectly for our short trip.
We packed up all our things on Thursday night, so that we would be ready to go when the clock struck 12:30pm (and I got all my work done, of course!). We drove up from Salt Lake City, which was an easy drive that took about an hour and 30 minutes. As we drove higher and higher into the Utah mountains, we watched the temperature dramatically decrease. July weather is in full swing in the hot dry valley of Salt Lake, so this was a huge relief.
There were two different parking lots, as well as a bunch of cars parked on the side of the road. We didn’t want to park our car on the road overnight, so luckily, we snagged a spot in the upper parking lot. In order to park your car (for day use and overnight use), there is fee of $6, which can be paid in cash at any pay station leading up to the parking lot or you can pay for it online, which you can print out at home beforehand.
When we were all ready to go, we swung our backpacks onto our back, and headed up the trail. The trail starts from the lower parking lot, where you can also find a binder to log if you are going to spend the night.
We hiked straight to the climbing wall, which was on the southeast side of the Lake. We met up with our friends, and spent the afternoon climbing on Good Medicine Wall. I personally did 3 different climbs:
Peace Treaty: 5.9
Wounded Knee: 5:10c
Black Elk : 5.10a
All of them were crazy fun climbs. The rock is grippy, and routes are enjoyable. While I only did these three climbs, there’s also routes that are 5.7s to 5.11s, so it has something for everyone.
When the shadows were on the rock, it was honestly a little chilly, and the sun only shone on the wall once it reached around 3:30 ish, so it was the perfect afternoon climbing wall.
Around 5:30 ish after we had our fill of climbing, we headed to the campsite. Earlier in the day, our friends captured the most perfect campsite on the furthest end of the lake from the parking lot. It had a fallen log, which was a perfect seat, and a nice view of the lake with the high peaks of the Uintas in the background and collection of Indian paintbrush and other wildflowers in the foreground.
After getting to our spot, it was hard to resist jumping into the lake, so I took a quick dip before the sun got too low… and it was so worth it. Afterwards, we set up camp, cooked some grub, and watched as the mountains turned from purple to pink to orange to dark during one of the longest golden hours I’ve ever seen. Plus, a small photo shoot with the guys thanks to Marcus.
The stars were blurry due to the light cloud cover, so we headed to bed to rest after watching the coals go out in the fire pit.
Saturday we packed up camp after having an oatmeal breakfast and taking in the morning view of the lake, and we left our packed backpacks behind a log as we headed to the Last Stand climbing area.
The Last Stand wall was quite a bit smaller than Good Medicine, so we were lucky enough to get there early (around 10 am) to have our pick. We all climbed the two easiest routes to get a good warm up:
Crescent Moon 5.8
Peyote Trip 5.9
Again, they were super fun due to the sticky rock. The 5.8 focused on trusting your toes, and it was a lot harder than expected, but the 5.9 had a tall weaving route that made it a good progression to the hardest climb that I did on the wall:
Sweat Lodge 5.10b
I was so stoked on this climb because I flashed it. It had everything. Overhangs. Traverses. Juggy handholds in cracks at the top which made you feel good after climbing up the tall wall. It was the last, but quite possibly my favorite.
After climbing, we wanted to take a quick dip into the cold water before heading out. We all dunked under water to cool off, then Nic and I headed back around the lake to make a loop.
And that was that. It was a quick trip, but it felt like we made the most out of it. We got to climb quite a bit. We got to spend a night in our tent under the stars. We got to hang out with our friends. And we even met some new friends who we kept seeing at all the walls where we were climbing.
All in all, it was one of my favorite trips this season. It had everything I wanted and more, and we will absolutely be back.
Where: Ruth Lake, Uinta Mountains, Utah. USA
Distance from Salt Lake: 73 miles (~1 hr 30 m)
Type of camping: backpacking to primitive campsites
Trail length: 1 mile; 2 mile loop around lake back to parking lot.
Permit required: Parking permit, available at pay stations for $6
Bathrooms at trail head?: Yes
Popularity: Heavily tracked in and out, both backpackers and day hikers
Activities: hiking, climbing, backpacking, paddle boarding, swimming, camping
Climbing nearby: Good Medicine Wall, Last Stand Wall, Chief Wall, Warrior Wall
Your nacforadventurers and backpacking to climbing newbies,
AJ and Nic