Fishlake Hightop - Day 3 in Utah
When we finished up with Mine Camp Peak and returned to Richfield, we stopped at a gas station to gas up (well yeah) and grabbed some food out of the convenience store part since we had to make tracks for Fishlake Hightop, our next objective. Our intention, since we were getting late in the day was to do the "Backdoor route" up and then do a short hike and get off the mountain before dark. Using a road that hooked into Utah highway 24. From there we watched for the signs for Fish Lake and Utah highway 25. Finding that, we cranked a left heading uphill a bit back to the north and drove 3-1/2 miles on UT 25 to the top of the grade. At this point (just past a radio tower on your right), we found the dirt road we were looking for that went off to the left and then dropped downhill for a bit as we headed for Hancock Flat, about 6 miles away on a decent gravel road. See my map.
Beyond Hancock Flat, the road continues maybe a half mile or so when you see a sign for Fishlake Hightop on a road leading off to the right. I thought, "hey, a sign, the road up there must be pretty good" I didn't know how wrong I was going to be on that point. The road continued for another 2.4 miles (now my odometer read that I was about 9 miles from Utah highway 25) until a road leading off to the left was found. The first 1/2 mile was reasonable but ok for a Subaru type vehicle. Then it starts to get nasty and it would make sense for a low clearance vehicle to park. Of course we had high clearance Toyota trucks and worked our way around a fallen tree and some huge boulders as we continued up and onward. Then it really started getting rocky and nastier. Dennis and I both carefully worked our way up the hill and were concerned about clearance on more than one occasion and rocks that could penetrate the sidewalls. I think it took us 40 minutes to go less than 2+ miles and we were finally stopped a huge snowbank that blocked the road two GPS miles from the highpoint. Well,
we knew we wouldn't make the summit as we didn't want to drive the road in the dark so we decided to just camp for the night, in our trucks. We were at 11200 feet and the wind was blowing so it promised to be an interesting night. Our goal would be to get up at first light and go tag the summit.
Needless to say, it was a longer night than I anticipated as the wind rocked the truck most of the night but it would have been far worse in the tent I had brought. It was a first for me to sleep in a vehicle at over 11000 feet in elevation but I'm happy to say the elevation didn't seem to bother me although I believe Andrew was dealing with a headache from the elevation. We had a nice view down on Fishlake and a great sunrise as the sun came up over eastern Utah. In the morning, we grabbed a snack for breakfast and headed for the highpoint, 2 miles away. We hiked through snow initially but soon dropped out of the snow as the road we were hiking dropped some elevation (which we had to regain later) became clear although a bit on the muddy side (think frozen muddy). We covered the two miles in a bit more than an hour and worked our way through some snowfields to the highpoint. Actually, the highest point was on top of a boulder, a very large boulder that required a little scramble move to get to the top. The most fun of the whole hike was that last little bit.
A tripod wooden structure along with a small cairn marked the highest boulder and we found a deteriorating register nearby along with a benchmark. Views were nice to the south and east but not overly impressive.
All too soon it was time to work our way back to our vehicles and we covered the two miles in about an hour. The real fun began when we started back down the 4WD road as several times I had to have Andrew get out of the truck to make sure I'd clear some of the menacing rocks and boulders I had to make my way through and around. Both Dennis and I breathed easier once we hit the smoother dirt road at the junction.
Now it was time to head for our next objective of the day, Bluebell Knoll.
I'll write it up as soon as I have the time and keep this week in Utah moving along. The best stuff was still to come.
Bluebell KnollBluebell Knoll will be given its own Trip report and I'll elaborate on the remainder of day three as it pertains to that mountain. However, here is the summary of our Utah trip in a day by day listing.
In the month of July, this is what I was able to do and see:
Day 1 - Naomi Peak of Cache County and the aborted Rich County effort.
Day 2 - Mine Camp Peak & camped out at 11K feet 2 miles from Fishlake Hightop.
Day 3 - Fishlake Hightop and Blue Bell Knoll. Drove to within 5 miles of
Mt. Ellen and camped. Went via Boulder & Burr Trail to Capitol
Reef Nat'l Park and then east into the Henry Mtn Range
Day 4 - Mt. Ellen and then drove via Hite, Natural Bridges Nat'l Monument
and up to a spot where we camped close to Mt. Peale
Day 5 - Mt. Peale. Then some time in Moab and drove to a spot where we
were close to Mt. Waas
Day 6 - Mt. Waas. Then spent time in Arches Nat'l Park before we drove to
a spot where we camped close to East Mtn.
Day 7 - East Mtn and a long drive to So. Tent Peak. Then drove to a spot a
few miles from Monument Peak.
Day 8 - Monument Peak and then drove up and did Eccentric Peak in the
eastern Uintas. From there I started my drive home. Left Eccentric TH at 5pm and drove into Kennewick the next morning around noon.
I hope to put up a trip report for each day. In the 8 days, I did 11 peaks, saw two National Parks and a national monument, drove the Burr trail and went over Hell's Backbone into Boulder. Car camped every night and loved every minute of the trip.