Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Kings Peak - Utah highpoint

After Antelope Island, it was time to head east, toward the Uinta Mountains. We are on a long-term Highpoints Quest to reach the top of the highest points of each state. Utah's highpoint, Kings Peak, seemed like it might elude us this time. But when I finally connected the dots of places we wanted to go, it fit right in between Salt Lake City and Flaming Gorge. The timing was such that we wouldn't make it to a race near Salt Lake that weekend, but otherwise it worked out great. Even the weather was perfect, for which we are grateful. The day we drove up to the mountains, many hikers got wet. As it was, Howie got muddy from the drive on dirt roads, but we stayed dry (except for our feet) the next day on the trail.

To get to the trailhead, which is pretty remote, we had to go through Wyoming. A windfarm along the way:

Some cows next to the dirt road on the way to Henrys Fork campground - it's hard to see, but they have something like a "double waddle", or danglies, on their necks which we had never seen before:

We arrived Thursday evening, slept a few hours, got up at 1 a.m., and started hiking at 1:40 a.m. toward Kings Peak. The trail is somewhere between 12-14 miles long (depending on which route you take) and climbs 5000 feet; most people hike in with big packs and tents to set up a base camp before tackling the peak. We decided to do it our way and try to get it all done in one day. We're currently in "monsoon season" in the mountains, meaning it tends to rain and thunderstorm in the afternoons, hence the very-early start. The day actually turned out beautiful, from stars and moonlight for us, to a clear blue sky all morning, to just a few clouds in the afternoon.

I posted a brief write-up on my Utah highpoints webpage with some of the details and photos of our hike, so I won't repeat quite everything here.

Looking back toward Gunsight Pass in early morning light:

John trying to figure out why I was stopping to take pictures, when we could be moving toward the warm sunshine just above...

That's better!

The rocky approach to the top:

One of our funnier selfies that morning:

Looking down into a gorgeous valley, also the small plane that circled a couple of times:

Basking in the glow of the sunshine:

Howdy, y'all!

An alternative to John's "top of the mountain" pose:

Looking back at the peak:

A view toward The Slide, a different way to get to/from the peak:

Looking down the long scree slope. It wasn't too bad, just really long. Lots of rocks at the top, then some dirt in the middle that slid nicely, finally more rocks at the bottom. It would have been quite steep for going uphill, though!

The pretty valley leading back to the trailhead and Howie:

Interesting rock formation (and I should be able to say what the formation is, after all the geology study we have been doing, but sadly I still don't know for sure - except it's probably really old...):

Looking back toward The Slide, with Kings Peak above it:

It was a long last few miles, and we were ready to be done so we could take a nap. Eventually we made it!

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