Wednesday, August 25, 2010

3 Days in the Uintas, Kings Peak and No Rain

Those of you who have spent time in Utah's Uinta mountains may not believe this, but on July 15, 2010, I drove to Wyoming, hiked into the Henry's Fork basin, camped over and didn't see a single cloud all day or all night long. Impossible, and yet, it happened.

That was day one of a trip to Kings Peak that I took with some friends from work.

Kings Peak is a big rock pile and the highest point in Utah at 13,528 feet (4,123 meters). The most common route to the summit (which we took) begins at the Henry's Fork trailhead, proceeds into the Henry's Fork basin, up over Gunsight Pass, across to Anderson Pass and up the ridge line to Kings Peak.

View King's Peak in a larger map

Here are a few pictures from the trip:

Thursday morning Russell and I drove through the high plains of Wyoming to the trailhead. You can just see the Uintas popping up in the distance here.

Russell heading up the trail. We saw a lot of dead pine trees thanks to the bark beetles, especially at the lower elevations.

As we approached Henry's Fork basin, we came across a nice selection of wild flowers. Only a few types stuck with us as we climbed higher.

Russell enters the basin.

At about Dollar Lake we met up with the other members of our group who got a head start by spending Wednesday night in the Henry's Fork campground. Here we find Shad, Anne, Hondo and Brent at Ye Olde Water Filtering Spot.

After setting up camp, pumping some water and scouting around, it was time for a dip in the lake.

Kings Peak is a very popular destination for boy scouts and we saw our share. Perhaps the only wildlife that could compete with the scouts in terms of numbers and annoyance were the mosquitoes. Actually most of the scouts were very well behaved.

As the evening progressed, the mosquitoes came out in force and Hondo decided that he could do any necessary socializing through the screen door of his tent.

After a day without a single visible wisp of clouds, the sky stayed perfectly clear all night and the stars were amazing. I don't remember the last time I saw the night sky so bright. The morning dawned just as clear, as the first light hit Kings Peak.

We ate some breakfast and headed off to hike to the summit.

The last push to Gunsight Pass.

From Gunsight pass, the main trail dips down into a valley and back up toward Anderson Pass. We decided to take a shortcut that cut straight across for the pass, under this snow patch and up over the ridge.

A view of the valley we didn't drop down into.

Once we got over the ridge we made our way across the rock pile toward Anderson Pass.

The group just below Anderson Pass with Henry's Fork basin in the background.

From Anderson Pass it's just a rock scramble to the top of Kings Peak. Here's Hondo atop the highest point in Utah. I'm not sure, but I think he is trying to summon some clouds.

We took the same route back. Here we are approaching Gunsight Pass along our shortcut.

Just below Gunsight Pass we came across this marmot whistling for a mate.

Heading past a little lake on the way back into the basin.

Once we were back at Dollar Lake, it was time for another swim. I took this movie for Mary who couldn't come, but would have loved it.

The clouds that Hondo summoned, built over night, but were still very friendly the next morning as we took a last look at the lake before heading out.

Russell and I took a little detour on the way back to check out this very noisy waterfall with a great pool below it.

As we got back to the trailhead we caught a glimpse of a bark beetle pheromone packet. I'd read about them in connection with this site, but hadn't seen one in the wild.

Beautiful location, good friends and great weather. What more could you ask for in a quick trip to the top of Utah?

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