Sunday, August 2, 2009

King's Peak 7/31/09

I went to the Uinta's with my son, Tyler, my mom and step-dad, Mary Kay and Curt. We got there on Thursday morning and quickly found out how many people were going to be on the mountain. There were cars in every parking space, every camp spot, and cars lining both sides of the road in for a quarter of a mile. I have been in the Uintas on four other occasions and have never seen it like that before. We quickly got our gear together, got ready to go and hit the trail. It was 11am.
Starting off at the trailhead.

I wasn't sure how quickly my mom and Tyler would hike, but I soon found out, FAST. I was very impressed with how quickly they moved and it wasn't long before we were two miles in and taking a couple minute rest. We stopped for lunch at 4.3 and found a nice spot off the trail under a tree. After eating I walked over to a small stream to wash my hands and as I looked down noticed a pair of very normal, very in tact pair of sunglasses just sitting on the bottom. I picked them up, cleaned them off, dried them, and gave them to Tyler. He wore them the rest of the weekend. I would bet they had been there for the entire winter. Amazing.
As we made our way into the Henry's Basin we started to see just how many scout groups there were going to be around Dollar Lake. It took no discussion to decide that we would keep hiking past the lake and look for another spot elsewhere. We hiked about a quarter mile past the lake and started looking off to the left to find a good spot. It wasn't long before we found the perfect spot, a small slope about 150 feet off the trail, surrounded by trees with a view of King's and the entire Henry's Basin. It was absolutely beautiful.
camp at Henry's Basin

Tyler didn't waste any time gathering firewood and getting it ready, regardless of the fact that it was only 4pm. I had a bit of a headache so I went and laid down in the tent for a half hour or so. When I came out the fire was raging and he and Curt had gathered enough wood for what looked like a week. As it turned out, the wood was so dry and rotted that it lasted about 3 hours. We had to gather even more for the night. We played some frisby golf, a bit of Uno, and then cooked a fantastic dinner. We were in bed by 9:30 knowing that we would be up at 5am.
Morning came quickly and with tired eyes we got our things together and boiled some water for a bit of oatmeal and hot chocolate before setting off on the trail. We were hiking before 6am and we thought we were one of only a few groups going that early. It was cold and windy, but the skies were clear and everyone felt really good. As we approached the switchbacks up to Gunsight Pass we noticed a very large group of almost 20 scouts up in front of us. Knowing we would see them on the summit we didn't push very hard to catch them so we wouldn't have to deal with the big group through the summit push past Anderson Pass. At Gunsight Pass we took a short break and then headed to the right to take the shortcut through the steep talus. The trail is well-defined and the route through the small cliffband was easy. We were soon on top of the Anderson Plateau and making our way to Anderson Pass.
King's in the background.

Everyone was still hiking at a good pace, but with about 100m to the pass my mom slowed down a little as the altitude of 12,700 feet started to take its toll on her. We decided to stash the trekking poles, eat a few snacks and then head for the summit. We must have been quicker than we thought because we caught that huge scout group anyway and leap-frogged with them the rest of the way up. Tyler and I kept stopping to take photos and hang off of cliffs while my parents just make their way up slow and steady. We all got to the top under four hours from the time we left camp, pretty impressive considering the group we had. We at lunch, took photos, and just enjoyed being on the top of Utah. It was a very great, emotional experience for all of us. I felt so proud to be up there with my family and know that they had worked so hard to get there.
Awesome picture of the peak with Tyler jumping.

T peak jumping.

The family near the top.

On the way down my mom decided that maybe we should take the longer way around into Painter Basin, hoping that the trail would be smoother and easier than the technical descent down the scree slope onto Gunsight. This turned out to be the wrong decision. The trail was considerably longer, with lots of stones in the trail and uneven ground. We cursed ourselves for making the decision, but pressed through and felt good once we got back to Gunsight Pass. With just 2.5 miles left back to camp we got to the bottom of the pass, stopped to refill our water bottles out of a fresh spring and made a quick pace back to camp. Exhausted, everyone fell into their tents and took a good nap. That night we had a great time burning the rest of the wood and just talking and visiting with neighboring campers. As it turned out, our neighbors knew family members of ours and the elder gentleman was even an assistant distance coach at UVU for Scott Houle. We had a great time conversing and just relaxing by the fire.
The next morning I was up by 6:30am and got the fire going again. We had breakfast and got camp all packed up and were hiking by 8:30. We made our way down the trail with the rest of the hordes of scout groups. As usual, we passed all of them, surprised at how fast everyone hiked. My mom felt the distance of the full 28.5 miles once she had about 2 left, but she still pushed through strong and finished only 10 minutes after Tyler and me. She is such a champ. In all, it was an amazing experience and one I hope to do again next year, but this time Emily gets to go. We capped the trip off with a great lunch at some greasy burger place in Mountain View. It was so much fun.
Hiking out.

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