Day 1- Henry's Fork Campground
We had been looking forward to going on this hike all summer long. We had never been on a backpacking trip before. We weren’t quite sure what to buy to prepare. We went to the local sports stores and found some great deals for hiking gear. We didn’t really pay much attention to the weight of what we were buying. Little did we know that every pound really DOES make a difference. The day finally came when we were to depart our house in Pocatello, and travel to Henry’s Fork Campground in northern Utah. We traveled down to Ogden, then over to Wyoming to a little town called Mountain View. It’s the last town you come to before dropping down into Utah to the campground. We got to the Henry’s Fork Campground about 8:00 on Wednesday. We set up our normal tent, our inflatable mattress, and our thick sleeping bags. We just relaxed the rest of the night in preparation for the next day’s backpack into Dollar Lake. As we looked around the campground, there were tons of cars there, but nobody was around. We were the only ones in the entire campground with about 50 empty cars, most from Utah. There were a couple from California, but we were the only ones from Idaho. We ate something and then went to bed. We heard a Boy Scout troop drive up and camp next to us at about 10:00 pm. They were loud and obnoxious like always.
Day 2- The Hike into Dollar Lake
The next morning we woke up at 5:00 am, ate a quick freeze-dried meal of blueberry granola, took down our tent and stuff, shoved it all into the
back of our white car, and then got ready to go. One of the leaders of the scout troop next to us came over and showed me his map of where Dollar Lake was located. I was stupid and didn’t bring a map. So we talked for a bit, and then took off down the trail with our heavy packs and high hopes. About 1.2 miles into our trip, I had to stop on a log and take off my thermal underwear I was wearing, because I was cold when we started, and then I got really hot. So we rested for a bit and then took off again. Along the way we saw a couple deer, lots of squirrels and chipmunks, and we also saw 2 female moose. They were big and staring straight at us, not 100 yards away from us. Eileen wanted to run away because she was scared that they were going to ram us or something, so we left quickly. We got tired not too long after that, so we sat down again on a log. All of a sudden, a little white bird came and stood right next to us on the log, looking for some snack food we were eating. We gave him a few peanuts, which he loved, then he would fly away, and then come back for more. We fed this bird like a handful of peanuts. I’ve never seen a bird so tame and unafraid of humans in the forest. SO after this we kept plugging along the gently sloping upward path.
The further we hiked, the more and more people were passing us going to the campground where we had slept the night before. One man stopped us and warned us of all the Boy Scouts that were around Dollar Lake. This lake is a popular place to stay, so we were kind of annoyed, but not really. We continued up the rocky terrain, came to a fork in the path and wondered where to go. Some of the scouts hiking were sitting at this junction looking at their maps, and they told us which way to go. So we went left, crossed a bridge over a stream, and then continued on. By this time, my back and neck muscles were KILLING me. I was not prepared to carry such a heavy load on my back. I had to stop and rest my pack on what we called “Resting Rocks” every 100 yards or so. This was the only way I could keep going without killing myself. We came out of the woods and for the first time, we could see Kings Peak way off in the distance. It was this tiny point in the middle of 2 towering mountains. It sure was beautiful all around us.
Eventually we came to the most popular place to say on this trip, known only as Dollar Lake. It is this little lake nestled in some trees of to the left side of the path 7.9 miles from Henry’s Fork Campground. On the internet, I read that Dollar Lake was 10 miles away from the campground, but it was only 7.9 according to my GPS I took with us. We walked around the lake a bit and found this nice, quiet campground area that we set up our tent and all of our stuff. We were excited to put up our tent and our sleeping bags and pads and stuff because this was the first time we really had used them since we had bought them. The rest of the day we just relaxed and took a nap, and watched the scout troop’s jump in this freezing cold lake. It was amusing.
One of the problems we came across was where to use the restroom. Normally you would just pick a tree and drop your drawers and go, but since there were so many people up there that day, this was a problem, especially for Eileen. So we sometimes would hike up and down the hills there trying to find some quiet spot to poop. Well, just as you think you had found a great spot away from somebody, you would drop your pants, and then pull them back up rapidly, because somebody would walk by. I swear there was NO PLACE that was private, except at nighttime. The lake area was also really nasty because of all the people that did try to find their own private pooping hole. There was USED toilet paper all over the place. I really wasn’t too impressed.
Day 3- Summit Day
The next morning we woke up again at 5:00, ate some freeze-dried blueberry cereal, and then got on the trail to head up to the top of Kings Peak by 6:00 am. There are at least 2 different ways to get to the top of Kings Peak. One of the more popular ways was to go up the “Chute”, which looked like a part of the mountain had avalanched and made this very steep rock bed up to the base of the final scrambling part of the mountain, or the saddle. This was a lot faster way to go, but it was scarier, so we
elected to go around Anderson Pass, which was supposedly only a mile longer than going up the chute. Well it turned out that it was quite a bit longer…miles longer…I think anyways. On the way up to the pass we saw a bull moose. It looked like it was following the trail right in front of us and it looked as though we were going to be charged. But then, it suddenly got off the trail and ran up away from us. It was very cool. We hiked up to the top of Anderson Pass which was at an elevation of like 12,600 ft, which was almost exactly the same elevation as the top of Borah Peak in Idaho, which we had climbed the previous year. On the other side of Anderson Pass, you hike down to the valley floor, and lose all that elevation you climbed up. Then we followed the path around a mountain and back up to the base of the final summit hiking where all the people that came up the Chute joined the trail. This is where the trail stopped. I think the elevation was about 12,600 ft again. So we took a break here.
I looked around and told Eileen that I HAVE to get to the top of this mountain. I am not coming all this way only to turn around because of rain or lightning a few hundred feet from the summit. I could see that the clouds were looking iffy, so we headed up the last scrambling part to get to the summit of Kings. It was pretty much boulder hopping. We would jump from one rock to another, rest, go some more, rest, and go some more. It was quite a workout to get to the summit. It was steep and tiring, but finally we made it to the summit of Kings Peak at 10:30 am. We had made it in 4 and a half hours. This is not too bad of a time for us. We stayed on the top eating a bit of food, drinking a bit, taking lots of pictures, and enjoying the moment. We were hiking with a lot of people we recognized on the trail and saw most of them on the summit. So it was pretty fun. Eileen was only 1 of 2 girls on the top. I am so proud of her. She’s a manly woman if there ever was such a thing. So after about 20 minutes, we noticed that the clouds were looking like rain, so we quickly headed down the mountain. About 5 minutes after we left the summit, we were hit by a rainstorm. I heard thunder 3 times, and it rained on us quite a bit. It was cold, miserable, and I was freaked out of my mind because I really didn’t want to be stuck on top of the steepest part of the mountain with wet, steep, slippery rocks to climb down. But we went anyways. By the time we got down to the bottom of the scrambling ridge, the rain had blown over and it was starting to get sunny again. So we rested for a bit, and then took off toward Anderson Pass again.
We had talked about going down the “Chute” to cut off a lot of time and energy, but then someone told us about a young man that was killed climbing down the chute one year…I guess it’s super steep and when you go down it, you unavoidably push rocks down the chute, and people below you really need to watch out or they’ll get a rock in the head. Well this is what happened to the boy and it killed him. This kind of steered us away from “The Chute”, so we went back the long way. We climbed down to the valley floor. The sun came out and it got really hot for a little while. I was so exhausted by this time that I hardly had any energy to keep going. If my wife hadn’t told me to pray to god for strength, I would have quit and said “Forget it” and I would have camped right there. Finally, after struggling and giving everything my body could give, we made it to the top of Anderson Pass. I was so excited to be on top of this pass because it meant that the rest of the trip was downhill, and only gravity could push me now. I ate a bunch of Cheeto's and sat and relaxed for a while. Then we headed down Anderson Pass.
We got to the bottom of the Pass when another rain storm came. We put on our ponchos, and kept walking. We got soaked. It hailed, and rained for like 20 minutes. By the time it was over, our shoes were drenched, and everything was soaked to the bone. We pushed onward till we finally arrived back at Dollar Lake at 3:30 pm. It took us like 9 and a half hours to summit the mountain and get back to our tent. It was the best feeling in the world to know we had accomplished everything we had set out to do. All we had left was to hike out. When we arrived at our tent, I took all of my wet stuff off, got into my long johns, and got in my nice warm mummy bag and slept for a while. I woke up an hour later to a warm sun shining on our tent. I was burning up, so we got out and hung out all of our wet stuff to dry. We made some dinner, and just sat and relaxed as the sun set. We went to bed early and didn’t set the alarm to get up early. We were just going to get up whenever, and take our time hiking out back to Henry’s Fork Campground where our car was.
Day 4- The Trip Out
The next morning we woke up at like 7:00, ate some breakfast, took down our tent, packed all of our gear, and then took off for the car. This day was the best of the 3 days for weather. The sun was shining, and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. I was kind of torked, because the previous day was so miserable, but I regardless took lots of pictures of the mountain we had previously conquered, and hiked out of the valley. It took us only 4 hours to get back to our car. But my back and shoulders were just killing me with all the weight again. I guess I wasn’t ready for all the weight on my back once again. If I ever go again on a backpacking trip, I will definitely prepare physically more. I am going to run around the block several times with my backpack full of heavy rocks, or something like that. With lots of stopping and lots of limping and whining and pain, we made it back to our car safely. We took off our long johns (we were wearing them because this was the only think dry we had), put our shorts and a shirt on, and then left the campground. As we left, I noticed that there were many other cars there than when we had arrived. I also noticed that most people get there during the day, then hike to Dollar Lake in the same day, instead of camping at the campground for a night, then hike. We drove to the little town of Mountain View, Wyoming where we went to eat at some sandwich shop that some person had told us to go eat at on the trail the day before. We had a great meal, and then drove home.