August 22, 2010

Kings Peak: The highest point in Utah

Henry's Fork Basin

August 21, 2010
Distance: ~25 miles
Vertical: ~5000 feet
Time: Long Day
Peaks: Kings Peak (13,528 feet)
Route: Henry's Fork to Gunsight Pass to Anderson Pass

Kings Peak is the highest point in Utah (the state has around twenty 13,000+ foot peaks). It lies within the Uinta Range, the highest East/West running mountain range in the USA. The Uintas are very unique compared to many of the other ranges I've visited, and other than Colorado's San Juans, I don't think there are any other places in the states with so much land over 10,000 feet.

We headed up to Henry's Fork on Friday night after work, arriving around 6:45pm and we hiked in for an hour before setting up camp and calling it a night. The plan for the weekend was to setup a high(er) camp, climb three 13ers on Saturday, and two more on Sunday. So when we woke up on Saturday morning, we carried our camping gear another 4 miles or so up to the Dollar Lake area. At that point we dropped everything but the essentials and set off towards Kings Peak. By the time we got over Gunsight Pass and had made our way to Anderson Pass, it was evident that Andrea's foot was going to give her problems (she has been stricken with a case of plantar fasciitis), so we decided that Kings was going to be the only mountain we climbed that weekend. We hiked and scrambled up the ridge to the summit, where the views of the Uintas and all the basins were limitless. Since we have tentative big plans for Labor Day weekend in two weeks, we decided to just be satisfied with a nice hike up Kings and call it a weekend. That, of course, meant hiking back to where we dropped our camping gear, and then all the way back to the trailhead. We made it back around 6:30pm and drove back to Salt Lake.

Kings is a cool peak... its not a technical challenge by any means, just a walk up, but definitely a long hike. I'd recommend it as a day hike, although I'm sure we'll be back up in that region to do some backpacking and grab some of the other 13,000 foot peaks.

A major highlight of the day was the moose sightings on the hike out. We made a deal with each other that if we saw a moose, we got to buy Moose Tracks ice cream when we got home. Well, sure enough, we came across two BIG moose who were walking right on the trail a few miles from our car. It was the first time either of us had seen moose in the wild.

At camp on Friday night

Morning in the Uintas

Heading up towards Gunsight Pass

This big cairn marked the top of the pass

Andrea with West Gunsight Peak behind her

Looking West from Anderson Pass

East Gunsight Peak just looks like a pile of scree

Heading up the ridge, which was basically just lots of broken rocks


View from the summit of Kings Peak (south to west to north)

Andrea on top of Utah...

...And her view of where I was standing

Looking East into Painter Basin

These mountains reminded me of the Maroon Bells

Bottom of the north side of Gunsight Pass

Looking back at Gunsight Pass (low point in center)

Another shot of East Gunsight Peak and Gunsight Pass

The ridgeline that makes up the southern end of Henry's Fork Basin

Kings Peak is the one furthest back, right of center

Heading home

One of the moose we saw on the way out!

August 15, 2010

Gobblers Knob and Mt Raymond

Mt Raymond (left) and Gobblers Knob (right) as we approached from Butler Fork. Baker Pass is the lowpoint in the saddle.

Date: August 15, 2010
Distance: ~10 miles
Vertical: ~4000 feet
Time: Under 5 hours
Peaks: Gobblers Knob (10,246 feet) and Mt Raymond (10,241 feet)
Route: Butler Fork to Baker Pass saddle, ridgeline to Gobblers, then reversed it back to the saddle and up to Mt Raymond.

The first post-JMT, post-post-JMT depression trip report! After coming home from California 3 weeks ago, Andrea and I were feeling a little lost... after a year of dreaming about the John Muir Trail, and then months of training and planning for it, we didn't really know what to do once it was over. However, a great hike today lifted the spirits. We headed up to Big Cottonwood Canyon and tagged a pair of peaks, and also scouted some awesome areas for backcountry skiing this winter.

The post-JMT depression also made me realize what a goal-oriented person I am... when I don't have something BIG somewhere on the horizon, I feel a bit disoriented and completely lack focus. The solution? Start planning the next adventures... next weekend we're heading up to the high Uintas to climb Kings Peak (the highest point in Utah) and several other 13,000 foot peaks. Over Labor Day we're planning on either heading to Wyoming (Teton Crest Trail) or Colorado (Chicago Basin 14ers). Long term, we're already thinking about a summer 2011 excursion to the Pacific Northwest to climb a bunch of Cascade volcanoes (Rainier, Adams, Hood, Shasta), and doing some backpacking in the Lake Tahoe basin region.

Here's pictures from today's hike... we heard there was a moose on the trail, and that it charged towards another group of hikers, but unfortunately we never saw it! Other than when I dislodged a rather beefy rock and sent it flying towards Andrea (she dodged it and only had a minor hand wound), it was a relatively safe hike... unusual for us, but a lot of fun.

Andrea on top of Gobblers Knob... Dromedary, Sunrise, and Twin Peaks behind her to the right.

Mt Raymond (our next target) on the lower right... the Little Cottonwood ridge to the left.

Dromedary, Sunrise, and Twin Peaks. The last time we were up there, we were climbing in lots of snow!

Some great ski terrain

Upper Big Cottonwood Canyon

Scoping out the terrain... thinking about ski season...

Mt Raymond - check out what it looks like in winter! We'll be back here to ski quite a bit...

On the summit of Mt Raymond... looking back at Gobblers Knob and the ridge

Andrea and I on Mt Raymond

Mt Olympus... Salt Lake City and the Great Salt Lake way down there

Looking towards Mill Creek Canyon

The Little Cottonwood Ridge

We took a "shortcut" down this super steep grassy slope

Wildflowers out in full force

Andrea making her way down

Use your imagination and picture 3 feet of snow of fresh powder on top of this!!