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Kings Peak Wilderness

Following our overland adventure the year before, we decided to embark on a trek in a more popular area…and on an established trail! Imagine that. We would throw in a couple of summits of some 13K peaks as well including the highest peak in Utah, Kings Peak.

We drove the 6+ hours to the trail head with a much bigger group than the year before. On this hike I met Dave Crockett and Dave Kenison. Dave was a strapping man who seemed to take one step for every 4-6 steps of a mere mortal (me). No problem, I would just take my time and hang out in the back of the group. Luckily I had some company….Dave Crockett! He was an older gentleman and liked taking it slow due to his knee issues. Great! I had some company. Little did I know that years later, Dave Crockett would turn into this. But I will save that for later.

The trail began on a wide gently sloping path from the parking lot. We had a light day the first day of just 6 miles or so since we were getting a late start. It was an easy hike and we all took our time. We got to a nice campsite area near the trail around 4pm or so and pitched camp. Bugs were an issue, but we had rain coats and plenty of deet to fend them off.

The next day we set out early after breakfast. I remember the group got together for a short prayer before we left camp. I am not that religous of a guy and wondered if maybe I was getting into something over my head, but I went along and thanked god just the same. I remember thinking after last year, if it can help, why not?

The hike quickly emerged from the trees and we found ourselves hiking in a beautiful high alpine meadow above 10,000 feet. The mountains ahead including Kings Peak were beautiful. The meadow continued on until we were basically in a basin blocked by mountains to the East, South and West…big mountains. We wound our way along the trail until we got to a breaking off point for Dollar Lake. This would be our base camp.

We found many campsite including some folks already staked down for the night. They had riden horses up from the trailhead (which must have been the dung I stepped in all day, oh well). We pitched our tents but were there fairly early. Some of the guys went exploring up the trail towards gunsight pass a bit, but I think I stayed back and relaxed and got washed up in the lake.

We had a nice night after our meals and enjoyed a spectacular sunset which we could view from the other side of the lake overlooking the Kings Peak range.

The next day we headed straight up the hill next to our campsite. This reminded me of the year before…no trail, very steep. But it was not as long. Dollar lake was at 10,800 feet and we reached the top of the hill around 12,000 feet. From there it was a fairly gentle hike on an open grassy meadow to the foot of Gilbert Peak (Utah’s 3rd highest peak at 13,442 feet). I remember the hike was getting harder as the oxygen was running lower. But other than the last 500 feet or so, I was doing fine. But that last 500 feet on those big rocks was a real huff.

Around 2pm or so we reached the top after many false summits. The view was amazing. We really were on top of the world at that point. I remember using the facilities off to the east. I think we even made some calls on our cell phones, but I can’t fully remember how long we stayed.

We left the summit and enjoyed a nice walk down the mountain. By the time we got back to our camp, I was pretty beat up. My legs were tired and my feet hurt. I was glad to be home.

The next day the group left camp to summit Kings Peak. I decided to stay behind and explore instead. I just did not have the energy to do another one of those. Instead I went up Gunsight Pass on the way to Kings Peak and just explored around that area. The guys reached the summit and came down the “scree field” near Anderson Pass instead of returning the same way down Gunsight….at least I think that is what they did. I recall hearing the scree field was quite an adventure and that gloves were a must have for any future hikes in the Uintas!

We returned to the car the following day on a long 10+ mile power hike out of the basin.

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