Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Kings Peak via Henrys Fork, July 15-16, 2015

Upper Henry's Fork with Kings Peak on the right (almost hidden by trees) and Gunsight Pass just out of view on the far left (eclipsed by the flanks of Gilbert Peak).
One of the most beautiful places on earth is the high Uintah Mountains of Utah, particularly upper Henry's Fork (as in Henrys Fork of the Green River). We (Varsity Scouts of the Sterling Heights Ward) did a quick hit on Kings Peak by hiking to Dollar Lake (7.7 miles) sleeping the night, then up early for a sprint up Kings (11 miles r.t. from Dollar Lake) before the afternoon thunderstorms blew in. While descending Kings we debated about sleeping another night at Dollar Lake. The weather looked to be serious again, heavy dark clouds filling the sky, and we didn't want another long, tent-bound evening. We got pounded with heavy rain and hail the first night, with temperatures cold enough that we could easily see our breath, and we lay in our wet tents for nearly 12 hours. If we stayed at Dollar Lake another night, and IF the weather was good, we could spend a leisurely afternoon/evening fishing, sleeping, swatting mosquitoes. We ultimately decided there were too many Scouts and we didn't want to sit in our tents all evening if the rains came back. Having already done that, we decided we'd rather hike in the rain than lie in a tent in the rain, so, once back at Dollar Lake we packed up and started down the trail.

I'm told that I'm not the most decisive person, I second guess all my decisions, but in this case I was reluctant to head home to work and to the reality of a bitchy world. While hiking out, I suggested we camp another night at Alligator Lake, which is five miles closer to the car and would allow for a quick morning exit. Upon reaching the turn off to Alligator Lake everyone unanimously pointed for the trail head, which was only another 2 miles down the trail. So out we went. All told, we hiked roughly 18 miles on our summit day and about 27 for the two days, in just over 24 hours. Quick, fast and I wish I could say light, but I carried way too much crap for an overnighter.  
Same place, broader view.

After a cold night (rain, high humidity, bad sleeping bag), we started early for Kings Peak, to avoid lighting and weather.

Painter Basin from Gunsight Pass (view SE). I've been told this is very reminiscent of the Brooks Range of Alaska.

Painter Basin

Summit of Kings Peak (13,528 ft.) with the crew: (l-r) Me, Carter, Con, Eric, Sam, Nate.

Henrys Fork Peak (13,240 ft) from the north ridge of Kings Peak (view north). Depending upon what is considered a peak, rather than just a high point of a ridge, there are 19 peaks in Utah exceeding 13,000 feet. For the list of "19-ers," a peak is defined as a high point with 200 feet of clean prominence. All of Utah's "19-ers" are found within eye shot of Kings Peak. 

Eric descending the north ridge of King's Peak with the clouds are again building.

Wild flowers everywhere, even above timberline in the scree. I'm surprised they find enough soil through the rock to sustain their short life cycle.

Hiking back to the car the clouds never built up and unloaded like they had the previous day. This is the view SW towards upper Henrys Fork Basin, with Kings Peak hidden by the forested hillside on the left. Pic taken from the meadow at Elkhorn Crossing, roughly 5 miles from the trail head. 

A plack at the trail head. The Highpointers I've met up there (and on Rainier, Gannett, Hood, Granite, etc.) are serious about no-trace-conservation and saving wilderness for future generations.  I wish the all Boy Scouts we saw (we passed well over 100 on our approach to Dollar Lake) would show the same commitment to conservation. Dollar Lake is a mess, courtesy of the Scouts, who overrun the place every summer, with piles of turd and blowing, dirty toilet paper under every tree. Their Scout Masters evidently did not require their Scouts to read the classic book "How to Shit in the Woods." I read passages to my Scouts, in the church no less, just so they'd be prepared to poo correctly in the woods. Seriously, the book is a must read for anyone who may need to 'go' without facilities. Doing it incorrectly can spread disease and create a total yuck factor of otherwise pristine wilderness. It doesn't take a 'tree-hugger-hippy' to recognize the smart way to camp at the crowded base of Utah's highest peak. Another thing on Scouts, their group sizes are huge, often exceeding the regulation of 14. One Scout Master told me they had 20 scouts in their group. No wonder the USFS Rangers are so surly. I'm not against Scouting, I've been a Scout leader for over 20 years, and currently a Varsity Coach, but the BSA guidelines of 'No Trace Camping' are mostly ignored by the scout troops of Utah. I believe Scouters in Utah believe it is too "liberal" to backpack in an environmentally correct way and they fear their Tea-Party lifetime-memberships will be revoked if they do anything that could be construed as environmentally friendly. If it were up to me each Boy Scout and Scout Leader should pass 'no trace camping' training before entering wilderness areas, otherwise just stay the hell away. Instead go car-camp at the Hinckley Scout Ranch where scouters torched it. Best to keep the damage in one place.     

Friday, July 3, 2015

Mt Wire Sego Lillies, June 29, 2015

Tulip Prickly Pear (Opuntia Phaecantha).

Sego Lily (Calochortus nuttallii). I get a rush each spring when I see Segos.

Hundreds were in bloom today, starting at about 6,300 feet up to the summit of Wire at 7,140 feet. First saw them three days ago and they're already starting to wilt. The 100-degree weather perhaps? 

Bee in flight, too bad the shutter was too slow.

Gobbler's Knob, June 19, 2015

Like hiking through Lothlorian. I'm a fair-weather-fan of 'Lord of the Rings', but if I were a Wood Elf, this is where I'd live.  Along the Bowman Fork trail out of Millcreek Canyon.

Raymond Slabs (as in Mt. Raymond), from the Bowman Fork Trail.

Still a little snow on the Cabin Run on the NW face of Gobbler's Knob.

Mt. Raymond from the upper Bowman Fork Trail, looking towards Baker Pass (view SW).

From Baker Pass, the view south towards the snow-covered BCC/LCC divide: (l-r) Kessler Peak, Mineral Fork (not to be confused with Mineral Basin of Snowbird), Mt. Superior, Monte Cristo and the LCC ridge line. The green basin (r) is Mill A Basin on the NE side of Mt. Raymond. 

View from just above Baker Pass, hiking towards Gobbler's: Mill A Basin just below, the snow-covered peaks on the skyline are (l-r) Dromedary Peak (rounded), Sunrise, O'Sullivan's, and Broad's Fork Twins. 

Zoomed view of Dromedary, Sunrise, O'Sullivan's and Broads Fork Twins (summits blocked by branch).

Mineral Fork (with mining/ATV road visible) and Mt. Superior and Monte Cristo and the LCC ridge line. A popular BC ski run called 'Rampage' (for obvious reason) is visible (and still ski able). It's the leftward slash of white at mid-height, 1/4 from the right.  

Gobbler's Knob summit (10,246 feet) an 1/8 mile ridge hop away, viewed from the lower, SW summit (10,224 feet). Butler Basin is on the right, Alexander Basin is barely seen (the timbered slope) down and right of the summit.

Tough to stop taking pictures in beautiful country. Upper Mill D South (aka Lake Blanche Cyn.) and Broads Fork, snow going fast. 

Butler Basin (foreground) = awesome BC skiing. The peak across the way is Kessler with its huge avalanche paths (and popular BC ski runs), affectionately named God's Lawnmower (l) and Argenta (r).  

Last of the snow - must touch before it's gone.

Long way down. SW face of Gobbler's.

Capital Reef N. P., June 5-6, 2015

Thunderstorm over Boulder Mountain.

My granddaughter, Lydia, with a better beard than I'll ever grow!

Trail to Hickman Bridge, while it's still dry.

Pretty girls. Harper and her Momma.

I think these are Tulip Prickly Pear (Opuntia Phaecantha).

The rain starts, and we hide out in a sandy cave next to a small bridge over the forming stream. My grandson testing the waters. 

Couldn't ask for a better spot to wait out the weather.

Owen still testing the water . . .

Lydia and Harper playing tin the sand.

Harper heaven!

Rain getting heavy, just before a small flash flood blast through at our feet, just big enough for a slight scare . . . scared for the grandkids of course. Soon after taking this pic the stream filla the basin at our feet. We were lucky to have the bridge (left) to cross back to the escape trail.  

When life gives you rain, make sand angels??

Small flash flood sounded like a jet overhead for a few seconds before it crashed though . . . .
 and we scramble to higher ground . . .

 . . . our sandy cave was still dry, but why chance-it?

Not huge but strong enough to knock you off your feet.

Streamers off the cliffs.

Almost back to the car. This was a dry gully when we started up.

Yes, some folks need to be told.   

Next day's hike up Cohab Canyon. Lydia doing her best 'Audrey Hepburn,' and pulling it off pretty dang well I think. 

Watching for more rain.

I love Capital Reef. So much to explore.

Overlooking the orchards of Fruita. 

Lydia wants to climb.

Owen looking for adventure while the ladies shop.

Red rock, fruit trees and the family. "Is this heaven?"