Utah questions

Utah questions

Cole Smith
Cole Smith

August 11th, 2003, 2:11 pm #1

My wife and I are planning to attempt Nebraska, Kansas, Colorado, and Utah's highpoints next weekend. Hope to see some of you all out there.

I have some questions for those of you who have done Utah before, or who haven't but have enough experience to offer advice. We will try Utah a week from today (Monday, August 18th). All opinions are much appreciated.

1) We are planning on starting around 1pm (would rather start sooner, but not sure if it's possible). This should give us enough time to get in about 8-9 miles along the trail before darkness. Where is the last good place that we could stop to camp? I was thinking somewhere around Gunsight Pass.

(We're trying to do this in two days, rather than three, because of travel restrictions. We will bring enough supplies for three days just in case.)

2) I have read opinions on whether to shortcut by scrambling boulders on the way up past Gunsight Pass, or whether to use the longer, established trail that goes down 600 feet and regains it later. Opinions on this? Which is easier/faster, or for whatever other reasons preferable (e.g., views & scenery)?

3) On the way down, I understand that there's a big scree slope that we can take to shortcut our path back home (the "toilet bowl", as I've heard it referred to). Is this similar to the scree slope in New Mexico on Wheeler Peak? Is it reasonably safe to take? We could not believe the steepness of the Wheeler Peak slope at first, but once we started descending it, we were very glad that we did.

4) Anything else? Bug problems, wildlife, trail warnings? We know of thunderstorm danger, and will try to summit the next morning pretty early to avoid those troubles, and to get to the car.

Your opinions on any or all of these are much appreciated. We have a website for our highpointing ventures that we'll "launch" very soon; it will give trip reports of this hike and about 24 others. I figured after 25 highpoints (assuming we get these four), we could at least share something with everyone else . We also have highpointing dogs, who should each have 14 soon, but won't join us on top of Utah.

Thanks again!
Cole
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SteveB
SteveB

August 11th, 2003, 4:43 pm #2

Please don't underestimate this mountain, it's tougher than it sounds. We just completed this July 23rd. We spent three days doing it, in retrospec, 4 days would have made it even more enjoyable. It took us about five hours to go about one mile past Dollar Lake with all of our gear the first day. There was plenty of water along the way, but we didn't want to get past tree line because of the exposure. If you're really in shape, you could hike even further over Gunsight pass into Painter's Basin the first day; we noticed some campers there.

There's really three ways to go once you get to Gunsight Pass. (Another way is to go up the screed field, which nobody in their right mind would do.) The first is to follow the faint path and small cairns to the right about 25-yards after you pass the large cairn at the top of gunsight pass. This starts you through the boulder field, the trail disappears and eventually you have to make your way up and over the boulders. This is the way recommended in the Winger book, but it's takes a lot out of you. It saves you the elevation loss, but I don't think it's worth it. A group of four took the Painter Basin route and got to the top at the same time as us. We saved the elevation loss, and a mile or so, but didn't save any time and it definitely took a lot of energy. You also have to bushwack over to the Anderson Pass area. This isn't difficult, but there is no trail to follow.

Two other easier options exist. Once you go over Gunsight Pass and drop into Painter's Basin, the trail splits into two. The way to go is the right, where the trail stays just below the boulder field. You lose some elevation, but you save mileage. The traditional Painter Basin route actually goes off to the left and then right and you lose even more elevation and definitely is a mile or so longer.

Once you get to Anderson Pass, it's a slug to get to the top of King's Peak. Nothing but boulder hopping the entire way up, with no trail to follow. The views at top were spectular, but we also had to get off before noon, as the afternoon thunderstorms were moving in. We had to hike in the rain most of the way back to our camp. The lightning was off in the distance, but still a concern. Two people died by lightning in this mountain range the day before we started! We passed on using the scree slope on the way down. Being wet and tired, we didn't believe the advantages were worth the risk. We opted for the Painter Basin route down. It was long, but easy hiking. We were all pretty spent, including my well-conditioned 19-year old son, by the time we got back to camp.

By the way, the mosquitos were vicious. Make sure you take plenty of repellant! We also found that water was available periodically almost the entire way up to Anderson Pass.
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pj
pj

August 11th, 2003, 6:29 pm #3

My wife and I are planning to attempt Nebraska, Kansas, Colorado, and Utah's highpoints next weekend. Hope to see some of you all out there.

I have some questions for those of you who have done Utah before, or who haven't but have enough experience to offer advice. We will try Utah a week from today (Monday, August 18th). All opinions are much appreciated.

1) We are planning on starting around 1pm (would rather start sooner, but not sure if it's possible). This should give us enough time to get in about 8-9 miles along the trail before darkness. Where is the last good place that we could stop to camp? I was thinking somewhere around Gunsight Pass.

(We're trying to do this in two days, rather than three, because of travel restrictions. We will bring enough supplies for three days just in case.)

2) I have read opinions on whether to shortcut by scrambling boulders on the way up past Gunsight Pass, or whether to use the longer, established trail that goes down 600 feet and regains it later. Opinions on this? Which is easier/faster, or for whatever other reasons preferable (e.g., views & scenery)?

3) On the way down, I understand that there's a big scree slope that we can take to shortcut our path back home (the "toilet bowl", as I've heard it referred to). Is this similar to the scree slope in New Mexico on Wheeler Peak? Is it reasonably safe to take? We could not believe the steepness of the Wheeler Peak slope at first, but once we started descending it, we were very glad that we did.

4) Anything else? Bug problems, wildlife, trail warnings? We know of thunderstorm danger, and will try to summit the next morning pretty early to avoid those troubles, and to get to the car.

Your opinions on any or all of these are much appreciated. We have a website for our highpointing ventures that we'll "launch" very soon; it will give trip reports of this hike and about 24 others. I figured after 25 highpoints (assuming we get these four), we could at least share something with everyone else . We also have highpointing dogs, who should each have 14 soon, but won't join us on top of Utah.

Thanks again!
Cole
I did Utah nine years ago (wow, time flies) so it may be a little different today, but here's a general take on it:

1) Dollar Lake is the obvious place to camp. You gain just a little elevation from the trailhead to Dollar Lake. I'd guess that you can make it there with an early afternoon start with some committed hiking unless you are really out of shape. We got to the trailhead in the evening, hiked in one mile or so and camped. Then went to Dollar Lake the next day, and had a lot of time to hang around the camp. I can't remember the hours with any precision.

2) Don't try to follow the boulders after Gunsight pass -- its one of those short cuts that makes for long delays. Go down to the edge of the boulder field and follow the unofficial trail that skirts its edge.

3) We took the trail down from Anderson Pass. I remember a lot more boulders than scree if you wanted to do a direct descent, plus you have to find the trail again at the bottom. The trail is not only safer and easier on the knees, but sticking with it doesn't tear up the fragile high altitude vegetation.

4) Thunderstorm danger -- to be completely safe, plan on getting back over Gunsight Pass before the weather breaks. We started from Dollar Lake at 4 am, got back to our car by mid to late afternoon.
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Doug B
Doug B

August 11th, 2003, 9:17 pm #4

My wife and I are planning to attempt Nebraska, Kansas, Colorado, and Utah's highpoints next weekend. Hope to see some of you all out there.

I have some questions for those of you who have done Utah before, or who haven't but have enough experience to offer advice. We will try Utah a week from today (Monday, August 18th). All opinions are much appreciated.

1) We are planning on starting around 1pm (would rather start sooner, but not sure if it's possible). This should give us enough time to get in about 8-9 miles along the trail before darkness. Where is the last good place that we could stop to camp? I was thinking somewhere around Gunsight Pass.

(We're trying to do this in two days, rather than three, because of travel restrictions. We will bring enough supplies for three days just in case.)

2) I have read opinions on whether to shortcut by scrambling boulders on the way up past Gunsight Pass, or whether to use the longer, established trail that goes down 600 feet and regains it later. Opinions on this? Which is easier/faster, or for whatever other reasons preferable (e.g., views & scenery)?

3) On the way down, I understand that there's a big scree slope that we can take to shortcut our path back home (the "toilet bowl", as I've heard it referred to). Is this similar to the scree slope in New Mexico on Wheeler Peak? Is it reasonably safe to take? We could not believe the steepness of the Wheeler Peak slope at first, but once we started descending it, we were very glad that we did.

4) Anything else? Bug problems, wildlife, trail warnings? We know of thunderstorm danger, and will try to summit the next morning pretty early to avoid those troubles, and to get to the car.

Your opinions on any or all of these are much appreciated. We have a website for our highpointing ventures that we'll "launch" very soon; it will give trip reports of this hike and about 24 others. I figured after 25 highpoints (assuming we get these four), we could at least share something with everyone else . We also have highpointing dogs, who should each have 14 soon, but won't join us on top of Utah.

Thanks again!
Cole
A friend and I are going up King's this Friday. We're planning a mid-morning trailhead departure, camping in the Dollar Lake area that night. Then a super early departure, maybe 4am, to summit then get off Gunsight before noon. Camping in the same spot as night before, then hike back to trailhead the next morning.

Thanks to other responders for the advice on the various shortcuts.
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James
James

August 11th, 2003, 9:38 pm #5

We hiked Kings last summer and found Dollar lake to be super crowded, instead we opted for a campsite near a small lake w/in 1/4 mile of Gunsight Pass. (200 yds from the trail on the right hand side as you head up to Gunsight)

This campsite has a couple advantages. Shorter summit day, less crowds, and great views down the valley. There is no tree cover, so if the weather doesn't look good I would opt for a Dollar lake site.

Good Luck on the trip,

James Wedekind
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Doug B
Doug B

August 11th, 2003, 10:30 pm #6

Anyone know if there are bears common to the Uintas in general, King's Peak approach in particular?
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roger
roger

August 12th, 2003, 1:46 am #7

My wife and I are planning to attempt Nebraska, Kansas, Colorado, and Utah's highpoints next weekend. Hope to see some of you all out there.

I have some questions for those of you who have done Utah before, or who haven't but have enough experience to offer advice. We will try Utah a week from today (Monday, August 18th). All opinions are much appreciated.

1) We are planning on starting around 1pm (would rather start sooner, but not sure if it's possible). This should give us enough time to get in about 8-9 miles along the trail before darkness. Where is the last good place that we could stop to camp? I was thinking somewhere around Gunsight Pass.

(We're trying to do this in two days, rather than three, because of travel restrictions. We will bring enough supplies for three days just in case.)

2) I have read opinions on whether to shortcut by scrambling boulders on the way up past Gunsight Pass, or whether to use the longer, established trail that goes down 600 feet and regains it later. Opinions on this? Which is easier/faster, or for whatever other reasons preferable (e.g., views & scenery)?

3) On the way down, I understand that there's a big scree slope that we can take to shortcut our path back home (the "toilet bowl", as I've heard it referred to). Is this similar to the scree slope in New Mexico on Wheeler Peak? Is it reasonably safe to take? We could not believe the steepness of the Wheeler Peak slope at first, but once we started descending it, we were very glad that we did.

4) Anything else? Bug problems, wildlife, trail warnings? We know of thunderstorm danger, and will try to summit the next morning pretty early to avoid those troubles, and to get to the car.

Your opinions on any or all of these are much appreciated. We have a website for our highpointing ventures that we'll "launch" very soon; it will give trip reports of this hike and about 24 others. I figured after 25 highpoints (assuming we get these four), we could at least share something with everyone else . We also have highpointing dogs, who should each have 14 soon, but won't join us on top of Utah.

Thanks again!
Cole
I know it's not quite a Kings Peak item, but today was this amazing story about moving the Utah capitol to protect it against the "overdue" 7.3+ quake.
Although strong Utah earthquakes are infrequent, separated by hundreds of years, the record shows them to be fairly regular -- and particularly violent. In an instant they can raise the Wasatch mountains 10 feet and drop the valley by five, ripping open the land like a zipper.

The Utah Capitol could be riding the next big earthquake like a ship at sea after engineers hoist the 67,500-ton marble building and drop it on a set of shock absorbers.

The digging will start in December 2004, and the work will last four years.
"If people can walk out alive, that's the objective we're after," says Jerod Johnson, a structural engineer for Salt Lake City's Reaveley firm, among 14 companies that have a piece of the Capitol's $200 million restoration.

Only gravity is holding up Utah's statehouse, which for 89 years has been waiting to crumble like a Roman ruin. The occupants -- Gov. Mike Leavitt and his executive staff, the treasurer and other state officers plus a part-time Legislature -- can only hope to get out in time.
"The Big One is of a lot of interest," said Gary Christenson of the Utah Geological Survey. "We don't like to use the word overdue, but it could occur anytime."

http://www.sltrib.com/2003/Jul/07272003/utah/78876.asp
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pj
pj

August 12th, 2003, 2:18 am #8

We hiked Kings last summer and found Dollar lake to be super crowded, instead we opted for a campsite near a small lake w/in 1/4 mile of Gunsight Pass. (200 yds from the trail on the right hand side as you head up to Gunsight)

This campsite has a couple advantages. Shorter summit day, less crowds, and great views down the valley. There is no tree cover, so if the weather doesn't look good I would opt for a Dollar lake site.

Good Luck on the trip,

James Wedekind
It seems highpoints like Kings Peak, which used to be somewhat obscure, are getting very popular. When we did Kings nine years ago in August, there was only one other party camped at Dollar Lake. It probably arises from the increased popularity of mountain climbing in general, not just highpoints.
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Lynn Arave
Lynn Arave

August 12th, 2003, 3:52 am #9

My wife and I are planning to attempt Nebraska, Kansas, Colorado, and Utah's highpoints next weekend. Hope to see some of you all out there.

I have some questions for those of you who have done Utah before, or who haven't but have enough experience to offer advice. We will try Utah a week from today (Monday, August 18th). All opinions are much appreciated.

1) We are planning on starting around 1pm (would rather start sooner, but not sure if it's possible). This should give us enough time to get in about 8-9 miles along the trail before darkness. Where is the last good place that we could stop to camp? I was thinking somewhere around Gunsight Pass.

(We're trying to do this in two days, rather than three, because of travel restrictions. We will bring enough supplies for three days just in case.)

2) I have read opinions on whether to shortcut by scrambling boulders on the way up past Gunsight Pass, or whether to use the longer, established trail that goes down 600 feet and regains it later. Opinions on this? Which is easier/faster, or for whatever other reasons preferable (e.g., views & scenery)?

3) On the way down, I understand that there's a big scree slope that we can take to shortcut our path back home (the "toilet bowl", as I've heard it referred to). Is this similar to the scree slope in New Mexico on Wheeler Peak? Is it reasonably safe to take? We could not believe the steepness of the Wheeler Peak slope at first, but once we started descending it, we were very glad that we did.

4) Anything else? Bug problems, wildlife, trail warnings? We know of thunderstorm danger, and will try to summit the next morning pretty early to avoid those troubles, and to get to the car.

Your opinions on any or all of these are much appreciated. We have a website for our highpointing ventures that we'll "launch" very soon; it will give trip reports of this hike and about 24 others. I figured after 25 highpoints (assuming we get these four), we could at least share something with everyone else . We also have highpointing dogs, who should each have 14 soon, but won't join us on top of Utah.

Thanks again!
Cole
1. I've camped in the last of the brush below Gunsight Pass before, but it was windy and colder than the usual Dollar Lake sites.
A 1 p.m. trailhead start should be enough time to get you to at least Dollar Lake by 5 p.m. or so.
I think Dollar Lake is a much prettier and better area, though admittedly that is where most people camp too.
2. I've done the usual trail way; short cutted off Gunsight pass along the boulder ridge and also shortcutted up the rock slide shortcut you are also asking about.
Rock slide short cut is steep and more risky, but faster; short cutting at the top of Gunsight Pass is also preferable to going by the regular trail into the Painter Basin Valley below (which is ALWAYS swampy and I hate to lose elevation).
3. The Rockslide shortcut works best if for lightning danger, you have to get off the mountain quick. It is very steep and hikers should fan out to avoid knocking loose rock down on others.
4. There are herds of sheep many times during August at the south end of the Henry's Fork Valley, northwest of Kings Peak.
I've seen and heard moose in the lower portions of the trail, but that's about it. Never heard of black bears in the area, but they do inhabit the Uinta Mountains in general.
Most swampy areas by the trail are dried out by mid-August, making for less mosquitoes and better trail conditions.
5. I can't stress the lighting dangers enough. Summit by noon or before if possible. Safer to start your hike at 5 a.m.and go for 90 minutes in the dark than to cope with thunderstorms on top that normally come in by early afternoon, though sometimes not until evening, or not at all.
Yes, dogs have made it to the top of Kings Peak, but I think the slabs of rock for at least the last mile of the hike (a scramble) can be sharp and may hurt the pads on their feet.
-- Also, remember there is no marker on the summit of Kings anymore. The plaque disappeared in late 1999 or early 2000.
-- Also, one last thing, do not miss a trail turnoff across the river about 4-5 miles out. There's a sign up on a pinetree that says footbridge. Take that turn (left). If you actually come to an Elkhorn crossing sign, you've missed the turnoff and will end up on the wrong side of the Henry's Fork Valley if you keep going.


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dave k
dave k

August 12th, 2003, 3:09 pm #10

I know it's not quite a Kings Peak item, but today was this amazing story about moving the Utah capitol to protect it against the "overdue" 7.3+ quake.
Although strong Utah earthquakes are infrequent, separated by hundreds of years, the record shows them to be fairly regular -- and particularly violent. In an instant they can raise the Wasatch mountains 10 feet and drop the valley by five, ripping open the land like a zipper.

The Utah Capitol could be riding the next big earthquake like a ship at sea after engineers hoist the 67,500-ton marble building and drop it on a set of shock absorbers.

The digging will start in December 2004, and the work will last four years.
"If people can walk out alive, that's the objective we're after," says Jerod Johnson, a structural engineer for Salt Lake City's Reaveley firm, among 14 companies that have a piece of the Capitol's $200 million restoration.

Only gravity is holding up Utah's statehouse, which for 89 years has been waiting to crumble like a Roman ruin. The occupants -- Gov. Mike Leavitt and his executive staff, the treasurer and other state officers plus a part-time Legislature -- can only hope to get out in time.
"The Big One is of a lot of interest," said Gary Christenson of the Utah Geological Survey. "We don't like to use the word overdue, but it could occur anytime."

http://www.sltrib.com/2003/Jul/07272003/utah/78876.asp
I plan on going up in two weeks. With regards to starting before sunrise from Gunsight Pass, is it adviseable to take the boulder ridge cutoff while it is still dark? Also since there is no plaque on top do you have any idea if the rock slab on which the plaque was bolted is discernable? (eg. obvious holes or cemented residue)
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