King's Peak, UT, day 2

Trip Start Mar 02, 2011
Trip End Oct 14, 2011

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Flag of United States  , Wyoming
Thursday, July 14, 2011

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I got up, packed up my tent and waited for someone to come along who could tell me something about the bridge. After a couple hours I gave up waiting and thought I go exploring. There were two trails near the bridge. One continued south along the stream and the other went off to the west. I took the one along the stream, again, going a bit further this time. I eventually reached a lake and some campsites, some of which were underwater, but still no people. I eventually went back to the bridge.

Eventually, a Boy Scout group came along. I spoke with one of the leaders. It turns out the "new bridge" is the one that has collapsed and there is no way to get across the river. The other trails eventually reach a point to the east of Dollar Lake, which had been my intended destination yesterday, from which it is also possible to reach the start of the trail up to King's Peak. I had put in the register that I would be leaving tomorrow so, unless I could find someone returning to the trailhead who would change the register for me, I would have to hike back out tomorrow.

I headed back down the by now all-too-familiar trail along the stream and continued past the first lake, which I now believe was Sawmill Lake. At the next lake, Bear Lake, there was a group of Boy Scouts but they turned out to be a different group than the people I met earlier. Their trip wasn't going well either; when they were back-flushing their water filter - their only water filter - they had dropped a piece of the filter into the stream and it was swept downstream. Without a way to filter water they were going to have to leave early without attempting to summit. I loaned them my filter and asked about the hike to King's Peak while they filled all of their available containers.

After they were done with the filter, I continued south. My destination was Henry's Lake. I saw some people at the next lake. I stopped to ask them which lake it was. They thought they were at Henry's Lake. I didn't know, and still don't know, the name of the lake but I was certain it wasn't Henry's Lake. What they could tell me is that they had just summitted. They didn't follow the usual route, which starts by going up Gunsight Pass. They had gone up the cliff on the west side of the valley across from Gunsight Pass and then followed that ridge to King's Peak approaching it from the opposite side of the usual route. They said that the route they took was free of snow and from our location on the opposite side of the valley from Dollar Lake, the usual campsite for people climbing King's Peak, it was shorter as well. They also volunteered to change the register for me so I would be able to make a summit attempt tomorrow.

I continued south on the trail. The further into the valley I got, the wetter the conditions of the trail and the more challenging the conditions off-trail became. The valley was full of talus, snow, streams, wet ground and dense stands of willow. I reached a point on the trail where it crosses a talus field that has a stream flowing below it that the Boy Scouts had described to me. Unfortunately, I couldn't find any signs of a trail on the other side. I kept heading south looking for Henry's Lake and the nearby Grass Lake, which has a distinctive island in it, but I never found them. It was getting near dark so I found a suitable campsite (Well, I thought it was suitable but the National Forest Service probably don't agree. I did my best to find the campsite at Henry's Lake but things didn't work out as planned.) at an altitude of around 11,600 feet and settled in for the night.
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