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Ascent of Kings Peak on 2017-08-05

Climber: Bradley Reese

Date:Saturday, August 5, 2017
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
Peak:Kings Peak
    Location:USA-Utah
    Elevation:13528 ft / 4123 m

Ascent Trip Report

How I chose this hike: I planned a week long trip to Utah to hike peaks. Kings Peak being the state high point made it a fun goal.

The plan: Head to the airport from work Friday, land in SLC late Friday and drive to the Henry's Fork trailhead. Saturday morning I would hike from the trailhead to peak, back to Dollar Lake where I would camp. Then I would hike out on Sunday. I followed this pretty well.

Getting There: I got off work a little before 5 PM on Friday and drove to the airport in Charlotte, NC. My flight took off as scheduled, a bit before 8 PM (eastern time). I took a sleep aid and slept for about 2-2.5 hours on the flight. The flight landed at around 10:30 PM (mountain time) making for about 4.5 hour flight. I was able to get my rental car just before midnight (which was a good thing as thy closed at midnight). From here I drove to the Henrys Fork Trailhead, which took about 3 hours. Here I slept in the back of my rental, an AWD GMC Acadia, until about 6:15 AM.

As I was trying to find a place to park I felt guilty as my lights were shining into people's tents, but I didn't feel too bad as when I set up camp I try to make sure it's in a place I won't be accidentally bothered.

Parking: I placed "Henrys Fork Trailhead, Evanston, UT" into Google Maps and it took me directly to the trailhead. Even when I arrived at around 2:30 or 3 AM the parking was pretty full.

The hike: I began my hike at 6:45 AM Saturday morning. I hiked about .25 miles on the dirt road to get to the trailhead. I was unable to park closer due to the crowded area. I recognize early on that my pack feels heavy, but I usually feel this way early on and then get use to it. (0.25 miles total)

After reaching the trailhead I begin my trek. The trail follows the Henry Fork River rarely getting much more than 100 yards away. There aren't many views from this section, but it's a nice wooded hike. The elevation gain through this section was rather gradual, about 200 feet per mile. During this run I never got used to the weight in my pack, and accepted that I had packed too much. At the end of this 5.5 mile section I came to my first great view of the area and crossed the river. I saw one Mule Deer in this area with a small rack. I was surprised at how crowded the trail was during this section. Early on I didn't see but a few groups, but later on I was constantly passing people headed back to the trailhead. (5.75 miles total)

For the next ~2.2 miles the trail continue to follow the river to some extent. Nice views are much more common and I believe the first view of Kings Peak comes into view. The trail may get slightly steeper in this section increasing to a gain of roughly 250 feet per mile. I continue to pass people quite frequently. I had planned to camp at Dollar Lake, so when I see a sign that says no campfires withing 1/4 mile of the lake I know I'm close. I continue until I see a 2nd sign. Here I stop and remove the top of my pack and hang the large heavy bottom. Removing the weight immediately makes me feel better, though I was still feeling pretty good anyway. After Dollar Lake I'm certainly not alone, but the trail does become much less crowded. (~7.9 miles total).

The next ~2.3 miles takes me from Dollar Lake to the top of Gunsight Pass. During this section the trail gets steeper as I go (averaging a little under 500 feet per mile) just, the last little bit is a bit of a scramble to the top of the pass. The top of the pass gave me the first nice views of a new valley, as well as good views of the valley I had just climbed from. (~10.25 miles)

Over the next 1.5 miles I drop into the next valley, losing about 330 feet/mile. In they valley there was an impressive view of the mountains towering around me. (11.75 miles)

The final 2.75 miles up become a challenge. I had been feeling pretty good, but a combination of elevation, distance, and now strenuousness my legs become wobbly during this section, especially when I hit the final scramble up. The steepness certainly increases here averaging about 750 feet/mile. The last mile was a tough climb up boulder, gaining 1000 feet. Twice I thought I was reaching the summit only to see higher ground. And this is one of the few times I've been quite close to the top and still was considering turning around. I eventually creep to the top. There are 4 others here, the first thing they ask is if I'd hiked Kings before. I said "no, I've been in Utah for less than 24 hours". Views were beautiful. I was happy I made it (at around 3 PM), but now I needed to get down, and I was running out of energy. (14.5 miles total)

For the final 6.5 miles of day one I took nearly the same route back to Dollar Lake. I was out of water, so I stopped to filter some a couple of times. People had mentioned a shortcut I cold take to Gunsight Pass, as well as Anderson Pass. Everyone said Anderson Pass was kind of dangerous, and with my now wobbly legs I didn't even consider it. I did want to take the other shortcut, but being low on energy I would have been demoralized if I took time to look for it but couldn't find it. I didn't see any signs of this shortcut, so I continued back down the same path I had came up. The climb back up Gunsight was tough at this point. I finally reached my bag as the sun was setting. I set up camp, and knew I needed to filter and drink water, but was so tired I went to bed, it was dark maybe 10 minutes after I finished setting up camp. I woke up several times that night dreaming of water. (21 miles total)

Camping: I thought I would be nervous camping by myself, but between being as tired as I was and knowing others were set-up within 100 yards I was quite calm. The next morning the first thing I did was filter water. I thought I would be able to chug it, I wasn't. My mouth was happy to get some water, but my stomach acted upset. I packed up camp and was back on the trail at about 7:30 AM.

I hiked the remaining 7.9 miles out. Right after crossing the river a couple of guys on horseback told me a couple of people had lost their horses the day before and they were trying to find them. I had not seen them. I stopped multiple times along the way to filter water. Finally I reached the trailhead, now parking was half empty. I was happy to be back to the car. (almost 29 miles over two days).

Isolation: This peak was well isolated from any town or community, but was a very popular destination. The trails were crowded to Dollar Lake, and far from empty beyond there.

Wildlife: Saw Mule Deer and Chipmunks and a Great Blue Heron.

People: There were two groups I crossed paths with multiple time. The first was a group of two that claimed they were struggling with altitude. They had good attitudes. I beat them to the summit and was coming down as they were approaching. They asked me if I was on the peak, I told them no it was about 150 more yards. I was at the the point I had earlier thought was the peak, and was able to suggest a better route to them.

The 2nd group was of 5-6 guys. My GPS track was a little off so at one point I asked them if I was still on the proper route to the peak and they were able to tell me I was. I hiked with them for about 10 minutes. One of them was the only person so far on my trip to Utah to notice and ask me about my accent. The group had a leader that knew the surrounding mountains well. While returning down I passed two of them, they were starting to become concerned with getting off of the ridge before sunset. I met the others in there group a little further down, they seemed to have given up on reaching the summit and had turned back.

Weather: The weather was practically perfect, never a threat of rain or storms. Blue skies with white puffy clouds. Wind was a little heavy crossing Gunsight Pass, but did not last.

Lesson Learned: I don't know, I pushed myself on the 1st day... would have been smart to filter water a couple more times, but then again if I had of spent much more time anywhere it would've been after dark before I returned.

Because of the length of this hike I figured I would see few people along the way. Wrong! I was quite surprised at how busy this area was.

Suggestion: I think it would be a better hike for three days.
Summary Total Data
    Elevation Gain:5140 ft / 1566 m
    Elevation Loss:5140 ft / 1566 m
    Distance:29 mi / 46.7 km
    Quality:7 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail, Stream Ford, Scramble
    Gear Used:
Ski Poles, Tent Camp
    Nights Spent:1 nights away from roads
    Weather:Pleasant, Breezy, Partly Cloudy
Comfortable in the day cold at night, clear partly cloudy skies. Calm at most points, fairly heavy w
Ascent Statistics
    Elevation Gain:4640 ft / 1414 m
    Extra Loss:500 ft / 152 m
    Distance:14.5 mi / 23.3 km
    Route:Henry's Fork
    Trailhead:Henrys Fork Trailhead  9388 ft / 2861 m
    Time Up:8 Hours 3 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Elevation Loss:4640 ft / 1414 m
    Extra Gain:500 ft / 152 m
    Distance:14.5 mi / 23.3 km
    Route:Henry's Fork
    Trailhead:Henry's Fork Trailhead  9388 ft / 2861 m
    Time Down:9 Hours 6 Minutes
GPS Data for Ascent/Trip


 GPS Waypoints - Hover or click to see name and lat/long
Peaks:  climbed and  unclimbed by Bradley Reese
Click Here for a Full Screen Map
Note: GPS Tracks may not be accurate, and may not show the best route. Do not follow this route blindly. Conditions change frequently. Use of a GPS unit in the outdoors, even with a pre-loaded track, is no substitute for experience and good judgment. Peakbagger.com accepts NO responsibility or liability from use of this data.

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