WasatchWill

Jan 15, 2015

Kings Peak (June 2013)


Ever since I was a scout myself, I always wanted to hike King's Peak.  It seems like a must do for all Utah scouts, all but the troop I grew up in.  Most of the guys in the troop I grew up with would rather have sat down to a movie or video game with a pizza and a 2 liter of pop.  It also didn't help that our scout master at the time, as nice as he was, was some 65+ years old and not really capable of high-endurance activities.
So, when the opportunity arose to hike to the highest point in Utah back in June of 2013 with a youth group from my local church congregation and neighborhood, I jumped all over it.

Here's a run down of the trip...

The route selected was via the Henry's Fork trailhead.  It was selected primarily because it provides the shortest route up to the summit –– 16 miles, one way.  To reach the trailhead, it took a 3+ hour drive through Evanston, Wyoming and onto Fort Bridger, then southward through Mountain View, Wyoming before crossing the state line back into Utah.  

Due to some work and school commitments with one of the leader and one of the fathers of the group,  I offered to travel with them a day later than the main group we would then rendezvous with the main group up in the basin before attempting the summit the next day.

DAY 1

We left Provo at about 4:30 am and arrived at the trailhead about about 8 am.  After some stretching and getting our packs ready, we were on the trail at 8:30.

The trail is fairly gradual for most of the way up into Henry's Fork basin where most hikers set up their base camps and where we would do the same.  It only took us a little over 4 hours (which included a nice rest every hour) to reach the upper basin where we would select a spot to camp. 






The area we selected our campsite for the first night was between Gunsight Pass and the trail junction for Henry's Fork Lake.  After setting up camp, our party of three set off to find the other group at Henry's Fork Lake where the other group had originally planned to camp themselves that night.  While we did not have any success finding them there, the scenery along the way was fantastic.






While we failed to find the other group at Henry's Fork Lake, one of the guys in my group of three, who happened to be the father of one of the boys in the other group and who was an avid hunter, picked up some footprints in which he was sure included the treads of his son's boots.  We did our best to follow them back across to the other side of the basin.  Since they passed near our campsite, the other leader and I set back to start on some dinner while the father continued on the track.

Ultimately he did find the other group, camped out at Dollar Lake.  He let them know where our camp was and plans were made to meet right off the main trail near our camp the next morning to head for the summit of King's Peak.


DAY 2

Unfortunately a cold front was passing through so the night grew quite cold and we actually woke up to some ice that had crusted over the meadow around us.  However, the cold soon dissipated with the arrival of the sun and we were able to get everything staged up for the summit.



Once our two parties had united, we were on our way up and over Gunsight Pass and onward to the ridge that would lead us up to the summit.  The pass actually leads into an area known as Painter's Basin but there is a trail that forks right toward Anderson Pass and King's Peak just after passing over the south side of the saddle of Gunsight as you start to enter Painter's Basin.


After passing over a few snow fields, we rejoined the main trail leading up to Anderson Pass from Painter Basin.  I had wanted to stay the trail all the way up to Anderson and then take the more  gradual ridge to the summit from there, which is the more traditional route, but others in the group wanted to "shortcut" right up the all the boulders and tallus up the east face of Kings and join the ridge about halfway between Anderson Pass and the summit.  To stay with the group, I obliged.  We would use a couple more snow fields up the slow to our advantage, but still, it seemed quite a bit more work on the lungs at that elevation than it probably would have been to stay the trail as I had wanted.  No matter, we still made it up the ridge without any major problems.  Here's a view from the ridge looking south and upward at Kings.


It was only a quick little romp up from there to reach the true summit.





Coming down, we all kept to the ridge down to Anderson and then opted to take the more adventurous way back down into Henry Fork. It is known as the "Chute".  A fairly steep tallus slide.



Upon reaching the bottom, there was a marmot there to greet us and engage in a game of peek-a-boo.


After a long morning, we arrived back at came early in the afternoon to enjoy some lunch.  Fish tacos made with some collard greens fresh out of my garden.


That afternoon we we would pack up our camp and move on down to Dollar Lake to join up with the other group.  However, rather than pulling right into their camp, which was in the fire restricted zone, we perched up on a hill above the shores of the lake and outside of the fire restricted zone, several hundred feet from the others' camp.  This allowed us to all gather around a fire that night.


DAY 3

Upon waking the next morning, we strolled around a bit and I tried my hand a bit at some fishing but was unsuccessful.  Late that morning we packed up and made our way down the trial.  I was a bit nervous the whole time, because halfway hiking up a couple days prior, I had realized I didn't have my car key on me.  All I could do was cross my fingers going back that my key was left in my car or we'd be struggling for a ride home.  The other group was planning on hanging out for one more night, but a leader in that group did give us a key to their car in case we needed to use it for a jump should we find my battery dead from potentially leaving my key in the accessory mode.





We made it back to the trailhead and eagerly looked into my car.  Sure enough, there were my keys, but fortunately, they were sitting on my seat and not in the ignition.  My doors were locked however, so we did a bit of a MacGyver trick to get a door open and home we went.

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About Will

Will Will lives at the footsteps of Utah's famed Wasatch Mountains. He enjoys hiking, camping, backpacking, sports, running, vegetable gardening, nature, food, photography, art, and spending time with his wife and kids.

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