Reader Escapes: Kim's Glorious Backpacking Excursion

Reader Escapes: Kim's Glorious Backpacking Excursion

Gregory Han
Aug 22, 2008

Name: Kim
Location: Uinta Mountains in northern Utah
Description: We just returned from our escape to the wilderness of the Uinta mountains in northern Utah. This range includes King's Peak, the highest peak in Utah at 13,500 feet and among the 100 tallest mountains in Noth America.

We'd originally planned to backpack in the company of pack goats who would enable us to carry enough provisions to complete about 70 miles of the a 100-mile back country trail in 7 days. On our first day out, the goats abandoned us on the trail and ran back to the trail head. We re-grouped while dining on a wonderful supper of goat stew* and decided to climb King's Peak instead of traversing all the mountain passes in the range...


On our first day we travelled nine miles south, off trail, towards the pass that would lead us to the western approach King's Peak. On our first night we set up camp with the best view of the drainage and "Red Castle" -- an enormous rock feature perched on the west side of the pass. We watched a "herd" of marmots scamper along the stream that serpentines through the valley (yes, Snow White was hanging there too!), and at sunset we heard grey wolves call and sing to each other across the valley floor.

On our second day, we lunched at pristine Red Castle Lake. The lake is fed by snow melt, and we had the fortune to be at this little oasis during the short four weeks or so a year that the flowers bloom and the snow has all but gone. The first snow of summer is only a few of weeks away now.

On our third day, we climbed into the clouds. The captain turned off the fasten-seat belt sign at 10,000 feet, and we finished our summit with an airplane view of the Western Uinta range.

On our fourth day, we awoke to a looming storm and scrambled to make it out of the basin and across the pass before the clouds broke over us. The storm was faster than us and Lance injured his ankle when we tried to shorten our ascent by crossing a tallis field. We taped him up as best we could, and in good humor but severe pain we decided to finish the 16 mile hike out that night. 12 hours later, wet, hungry, and exhausted we made it back to the trail head.

Our trip was glorious in all its contrasts and wild beauty. Our tiny tent represented safety, warmth, and home -- it was our connection to comfort in a place where amenities mean wet wipes and a fire ring. And I guarantee you that we completely escaped from the trappings and stress of work, debt, deadlines, commutes, and laundry!

*no goats were actually harmed.


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