Saturday, June 6, 2009

King's Peak

From August 11th to 13th, 1996, my brother, Matt, and I did a trip up Henry's Fork to climb King's Peak, the tallest mountain in Utah at 13,528 feet. It is supposed to be the 7th most difficult of the state high points. I was recently reminded of the trip by an article in the Deseret News .

We drove up to the trailhead on the 11th and slept in the bed of Matt's truck. We got up early on the 12th and started to hike. It is normally about a 28 mile roundtrip, but we took a longer route and probably did about 32 miles. Below, as we hiked in a ways we got a distant view of King's Peak (the pointed mountain at the left).

A waterfall on the east side as we hiked in.

A Uinta chipmunk (King's Peak is in the Uinta Mountains).

Some flowers.

More flowers.

We spotted our first moose not too far off the trail. First we saw the head of the cow, then her calf.

Another cow moose along the trail.

Matt, with the back of Henry Basin behind him, looking a little to the west of King's Peak.

A closer view of King's Peak. We'd read that it was possible to climb the gully up through Anderson Pass, visible in the center below the peak, and decided to do that rather than take the trail (which approaches the peak from the back side of the mountain to the left, through Gunsight Pass).

So we headed toward the west side of Henry Basin and hiked to the backwall and started to circle around to the east. The weather was relatively cool and we had solitude (I believe we only saw one or two other people our whole trip). Up in the rocks of the backwall we saw a fun little pika, a relative of the rabbit.
A view of a portion of the west side of Henry Basin.
A closer view of the gully in Anderson Pass (this picture was taken the next day after we had gone down it).

We camped at the base of the gully in Anderson Pass. The gully is quite steep.

Some small flowers growing in the high elevation moss.

The morning of the 13th, we hiked up the gully through Anderson Pass. At the top, we got a closer view of King's Peak.

From the top of the gully, looking back into Henry Basin.

Matt ahead of me as we get closer to the summit.

Matt on the summit as I view him from the ridgeline below.

Standing at the summit.

Matt next to the summit sign.

From the summit, looking back into Henry Basin. You get a sense for the cliff below the peak on the south side.

On the way back down, Matt ahead, and another view of Henry Basin.

We went back down through the gully. A yellow-bellied marmot spotted once we got back into the basin.

We then encountered two large bull moose above Dollar Lake. The one below, with the smaller rack.

It headed off into the trees to the east.

I was able to get quite close to the larger bull. What a thrill!

Quite a ways further back toward the car, we encountered a calf alone in a meadow. We got close for a picture. All of the sudden, Matt announced that the mother was charging down toward us from the far end of the meadow. We took off running as fast as we could. Mother moose are known to be very dangerous. Fortunately, she did not come after us.
I rate this hike as one of the best I've ever done. The summit was challenging, the area was beautiful, and wildlife was abundant. If you want to see moose, this is the place to go (like Mt. Timpanogas is for mountain goats).