Wednesday, August 6, 2008

King's in a Day

Yesterday two of my friends and me attempted to hike King's Peak in a one day trip. King's Peak is Utah's tallest mountain, standing 13,528 ft above sea level. Normally it is hiked in three days; one day to approach to Dollar Lake, one day to summit, and the third to hike out. I have done the 3 day version on three other occasions, so this would be an extra special and challenging attempt.

We left the trail head at 3:30am and quickly set a good pace. The first 9 miles is pretty easy going and then the trail steepens as you make your way up to Gunsight Pass. We were at Gunsight by 8:00 am and hoped to be on the summit by 10:00am.

Leaving Gunsight Pass for Anderson Basin

The next major point is Anderson Pass, which sits at approximately 12,600ft elevation. We stopped for snack and a rest before tackling the challenging final push to the summit, which would consist of tricky boulder hopping and 3rd class climbing; nothing to challenging, but risky in that you encounter a lot of unstable boulders.

We made it on top, me first, by 10:06 am, only 6.5 hours since we left the car. Unlike other trips, this time we had the whole summit to ourselves for more than an hour. We ate lunch, took pictures, and just enjoyed the perfect weather and scenery.

The three of us on top.

Peak Jumping - looks scary, huh?

On the way down we found a really cool rock that overhung a cliff by 25 feet or so. It looked much higher when you weren't sitting on top of it.

Feels like flying

We continued to make our way down, slowly at times. We stopped for water below Gunsight Pass at a perfect spring and then stopped often to talk to ascending hikers and giving them key instructions to making the climb a little easier.

Leaving the Henry's Fork basin.

As we continued down the fatigue set in more and more. The last three miles were an absolute killer. I'm not sure if I've ever put that much continuous effort into a single day of hiking. Ok, I take that back. There was one day when I put in even more - I climbed Utah's three tallest peaks (including King's) in a day. That was really hard, but it was from Dollar Lake, not from the car.

What a great trip. I hiked with the perfect team; Steve and Scott. We made great time, had tons of fun, and enjoyed some of Utah's best hiking, all in one day.

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