Ascent of Kings Peak on 2016-07-28

Climber: Alan Barber

Others in Party:Mike Duggins
Date:Thursday, July 28, 2016
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
Peak:Kings Peak
    Elevation:13528 ft / 4123 m

Ascent Trip Report

We flew into Salt Lake City on Tuesday July 26, 2016 picked up some last minute essentials at the REI and drove to Evanston, Wyoming where we spent the night. Sleeping at 6700 feet helped us "flatlanders" acclimate to the upcoming altitude change. We ate a hearty dinner at TC's Steakhouse and Seafood where the proprietor introduced us to maple bourbon bacon ice cream. The next morning after our obligatory breakfast stop at the McDonald's, we drove to the Henry's Fork trailhead and prepared for our hike. The trailhead is located very near the Wyoming-Utah state line and was not hard to find. Because we arrived early on Wednesday morning, parking near to the trailhead was available.

After getting organized, we geared up and started up the trail about 8:30 am. The trail is well marked and follows Henry's Fork up the valley. As the trail climbs and the drop to the stream increases. We noted that the Aspen trees became fewer and the forest was predominantly conifers. Small stream crossings along the way were facilitated by short bridges or stepping stones.

At 12:30, after hiking about 5 miles, we arrived at Elkhorn crossing. This large meadow is a major trail intersection. About 200 yards further along the trail is the bridge which takes the trail across the Henry's Fork. The trail continued on the East side of Henry's fork. We met several parties of hikers coming off the mountain as we went up. Perhaps the most interesting was a pair of hikers who had a solar panel attached to one back pack. This solar panel was connected to a portable router. Somehow they were getting an Internet signal and texting and browsing as they hiked out.

As we hiked up toward Dollar Lake (which turned out to be a very unappealing mud hole) the trees significantly thinned out and we approached the tree line. About 2.5 miles after leaving Elkhorn crossing we passed the intersection with the Henry's Fork basin trail and continued toward Gunsight pass. At 3 pm we found an excellent campsite with an easy water source and set up our base camp. After filtering water for the evening we settled in for the night. This camp about one mile below Gunsight pass. We estimated that the campsite was at about 11,000 feet. While we were careful and used bear bags, the only wild animal we saw during the entire trip was a Marmot. The mosquitoes were everywhere but the strong wind kept them at bay for the most part. If the wind was not blowing it was a different matter.

The next morning, Mike and I started up the trail about 7:30 am with a full load of water and food for lunch. Tom and Peter stayed in camp because they were not feeling well. We reached to top of Gunsight pass about 8 am and based upon the advice of some other hikers took the cut to the right at the first large rock cairn. This led us up through a moderately challenging bolder field which was not particularly well marked but did significantly shorten the distance to the base of Kings Peak. As instructed, once we made it on top of the intervening hill we stayed lower on the slope and headed for the grass. Hiking in the grassy areas to intersect Painter's trail was much easier and faster. Another party which had been about 30 minutes ahead of us remained in the bolder field and was making slow progress. We reached Painter's trail and followed it to the top of Anderson pass ahead of them.

At Anderson pass we encountered dozens of scouts hiking the peak. Watching those young kids scramble up the mountain made us appreciate young legs and their energy! The final push up the ridge line of Kings Peak is a boulder climb. No clear trail is present and it was one rock after another. It is just under 1.5 miles from Anderson pass to the summit and was slow going. We reached the summit at 12:30 pm. The views were great but we did not spend a lot of time on top. There was a wooden sign on the summit but we found no USGS marker. After a short rest and some pictures we headed down.

Our descent through the boulders changed our minds about the route back. Instead of retracing our route to the Gunsight pass cut off, we took Painter's trail around through the valley. While longer it was much easier. Following the many large rock cairns we arrived at the trail junction and headed back up to Gunsight pass. Passing through a herd of what had to be 300 sheep we arrived at the base of the pass and climbed to the ridge. Once over the ridge, it was about another mile to our campsite. Tom met us on the trail and together we returned to camp about 6:30pm.

Our preliminary plan to hike out part way that evening was abandoned because of the late hour, our dehydration, and fatigue. The next morning we started back down and made it to the trailhead by 12:30 pm.

Summary Total Data
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Scramble, Exposed Scramble
    Gear Used:
Ski Poles, Tent Camp
    Nights Spent:2 nights away from roads
    Weather:Pleasant, Windy, Clear

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