In lieu of doing more races this fall, we decided instead to do a lot of fun runs that have been on our ‘tick list’. So far, we have had a great late summer of runs with the Ruby Mt Traverse and Highline Trail. Last weekend we both paced friends at Wasatch 100 and had a great time (as usual) taking in the race scene. With a wet week and a grim forecast for the weekend, we had a hard time making the decision if it would be wise to head out into the high Uintas. After numerous emails, Christian Johnson, Tom Diegel, Emily Sullivan, Emily and I were all game for a wet run through the Uintas. We all agreed it would be a ‘social pace’ and to be smart and not get summit fever so that if it looked like lightening, we would turn around. We all packed a few extra cloths ‘just in case’ we ended up with a Uinta Epic (I have had many).
The crew arrived at our house at 4AM Saturday morning and we were on the road with full cups of coffee a few minutes later. We arrived at the trailhead just after 6:30 and quickly got our shoes on in the chilly morning air (41 F according to the car thermometer).
Christian, Tom, Emily B, Emily S, and Chad at the Henry’s Fork Trailhead
We enjoyed the cool, rain free morning as we ran along Henry’s Fork River and to the meadow and past Dollar Lake. My only other summer Kings Peak summit had been as part of the Highline Trail many years ago. After 4 trips to Kings in the winter, it was fun to see the trail in the summer. We kept to our ‘social pace’ with several breaks and good conversation. The clouds were low and we were unsure of what our summit weather would be and even if we would be able to summit.
Low clouds in the meadow before Dollar Lake
Approaching Gunsight Pass (Emily S and Christian)
We passed a few other hikers on our way up to Gunsight Pass. We dropped down from Gunsight Pass into Painter Basin and began the climb up to Anderson Pass. This was the area that Emily and I had completely botched on our Highline Trail run. Actually being on the trail, made this climb significantly easier and much more enjoyable. We topped off water in one of the numerous fast flowing creeks and continued to the pass.
We had discussed the scramble from Anderson Pass to the Summit unsure of how slippery the rocks would be for the ~1mile scramble. Our weather had been good to this point, but as we left the pass, the rain started and eventually turned to snow. We were all excited to be in our first snow of the year (it snows all year in the Uintas, but this was all of our first snow of the season).
Climbing up from Anderson Pass to the Summit
We continued to climb, still unsure of the weather, but we could see a few patches of sun in the distance.
Taking an opportunity to play in the snow
Being one with the clouds
Super Hero or Summit Poser
We were treated to a break in the weather at the summit, enjoyed a little food, then headed down. The photos stopped at the summit because shortly after leaving the summit we were in the rain again which turned to hail. By the time were just below Anderson Pass, it was a torrential down pour. By the time we reached Painter Basin, we were all soaked to the core and getting cold. I commented to Christian that at least it hadn’t gotten cold (yet). We all kept to ourselves just moving at whatever pace we could to keep warm. By the time we reached Gunsight Pass, the temperature had dropped. I think we were all not far from being in a bad place, but we all kept moving and laughing about how it is a little odd when we all considered being cold, soaking wet, tromping through the mud with altitude headaches to be fun. By the time we were across the meadow and back into the trees the rain had pretty much stopped and we were able to start warming up and drying out. We were able to pick up our pace and start to eat and drink again now that we could move our fingers. By the time we reached the trailhead, the sun was out and we were ready to get out of our wet cloths.
We had estimated that it would take 6-7 hours and it had taken 8.5 hours round trip for the ~29 miles and 5,000′ of climbing. Part of the longer time was our socializing, but the wet rocks on the summit scramble (which is 2 miles round trip) and being so cold really slowed us down. In addition to a great run, for the second time, I got to take Tom on his ‘longest run ever’. Four of us had commitments at 7PM and it was after 3:30 and we had a 2.5 hour drive so we quickly enjoyed a post summit beer and some snacks then hit the road again. We were back to summit park by 6:05, almost exactly 14 hours after leaving and all having enjoyed a day of epic Uinta weather.