It was a simple trip. Backpack into the Timothy Lakes area in the High Uintas Wilderness for a week filled with relaxation, fishing, and most important of all, peak bagging. I hadn't been able to summit many peaks the past two years, and I was looking forward to getting back on track. My friend John, SP member Trailsloth, has never been on Kings Peak, and I desperately wanted to get him up there. I hatched a plan to get him to the high point of Utah from the south, bagging a few other 13 ers along the way. It would be a long day, but doable. John was also excited, and we looked forward to an awesome week out in the wilderness.
We decided to get a jump on the trail by leaving from work early on thursday, driving to the trailhead, and getting a few miles under our belts before making camp. Then we would continue on to the Timothy Lakes area the next day, set up camp, and return the following Wednesday.
Left work in SLC at 1:30, hit the road and made it to Duchesne by 3:30. Stopped at Subway to pick up dinner, and headed for the trailhead. Reached the Swiftcreek/Yellowstone Trailhead at 5pm. It was a great afternoon, with mild temps and clear skies. We loaded up, and hit the trail by 5:20. It felt great to smell the pines and hear the rushing waters. My 55 lb pack felt like 20 lbs! I couldn't wait!
We climbed the ridge and switchbacks, gaining elevation quickly, but were loving life. Ran into a few hikers coming out from Farmers Lake, who informed us that the fishing was great. Good news! We continued on for two more miles as the trail decends back to Swift Creek. We had wanted to make it to Deer Lake, but decided that it was getting late, and not knowing the trail, and knowing that there would be two stream crossings, we decided to make camp. Found a nice little place about 50 yds off the trail by some beaver ponds. We felt confidant that we would be at our destination by 2 pm at the latest the next day. Yeah right!
Reality has a wicked left!
Up and on the trail by 9:15. We reached the first stream cossing 10 mins later. Neither one of us wanted to get too wet, and it looked sketchy at best. So, we decided to continue up the west side of the creek, knowing that the trail crosses back about a mile or so further. It went well at first, just following game trails, but soon it became thick, rocky, and basically a big pain in the butt with our heavy packs. We finally came to a section where there was a cliff band that came down right to the water. No way around except for up. This really took it out of us. After way too much bushwacking, we decided to cross the stream. Found a decent spot, and we were able to get across easily and get back on the trail. Heaven! 10 minutes later, we crossed the stream again, dropped the packs and took a break. We had bushwacked a little over a mile, and it was now 11 am. Time was ticking. On the trail again by 11:30
The climb up to Deer Lake from the second stream crossing is not a laugher. It isn't a steep climb, but steady, with switchbacks and huge rocks. We labored up this section slowly. John was getting more tired. The earlier bushwacking was starting to take its toll. We finally reached Deer Lake around 1 pm. Didn't stay for long. Just long enough to let a pack of horses by on the dam. Crossed the outlet, and headed up the trail. Reached the split for Farmers Lake at 1:20. John was spent. We stopped there for a good 45 minutes so he could rest. He seemed to be getting weaker and more tired every minute. I was worried. I knew we had to make East Timothy Lake before dark, but I was starting to wonder if we were up to it. Once on the trail, it became apparent after traveling less that a mile in an hour that something had to be done. I asked John if he would be okay if I went ahead to the lake. I would find a campsite, leave my pack and come back and get him. He said that it would be the only way to get him to camp before dark. So, I set off, hoofing the last two miles in about an hour. I spent a few minutes looking for a campsite. Dropped my pack and headed back to help John. It was 4:30 pm. Luckily for me, John had kept going, and was only a mile down the trail. I grabbed his pack, and we finally made it to our campsite around 6 pm. John got his tent up, and commensed to puke his guts out. It wasn't starting off good. We held out hope that he would feel better in the morning.
The next morning, Saturday, was planned for fishing, nothing else. We slept in some. I was up at 9 am, cooking breakfast to the sounds of birds chirping, wind blowing through the pines, and John snoring. Gotta love that. He obviously was extremely tired from the hike in. I went down to the lake and immediately started slayin' them! John came over to the lake about 10 am, and together we fished until about 2. It was crazy! We were getting tired of taking them off our hooks! Took an afternoon nap until 4 or so, then went back to the lake, and fished until 6 pm. At one point, John caught 5 fish in 10 minutes, and I had a string of 4 casts with a fish on the line each cast! Fish nirvana indeed! John was feeling ok throughout the day, but as the evening came on, he started feeling rough again, and he could not stop doing number 2. Not a good sign. We discussed packing out the next day, but in the end decided to wait and see how he felt in the morning. It would probably be just me on the hike up to Kings or any of the surrounding peaks.
We awoke to a cool, breezy morning on Sunday with John feeling ok. But, on returing to camp from "taking care of business", he stated that we needed to pack out. I agreeded. No sense being miserable at 11,000 feet, and it probably wasn't going to get better. We had camp broke by 9:30 am, and hit the trail back down by 10:20. John was feeling pretty rough, so we took it slow. But, we made it to Deer Lake by noon. We took a good rest, ate lunch, and continued down the trail. As we came down, as if the trail wasn't rocky enough, we also had to negotiate cow crap. I guess we were riding herd on a few of them. The last stream crossing (the first one if you're coming the other way)was sketchy. That was because the beaver activity made it an extremely wide crossing. But after a few minutes of searching we found it. We kept a steady pace, eventually reaching the trailhead at 5 pm. John was extremely tired, and I was too. All we wanted at this time was a coke.
All in all, it was a good trip; thanks to the fishing. Yes, I wish we could have stayed longer and bagged a few peaks, and even fish more, but, in hindsight, it was the correct call to get John down. Who knows how bad he would have gotten. As we drove back home, John started to feel better. After a stop in Wanship for dinner, we arrived home at 9 pm. The next day, John said he was eating everything in sight. Back to normal. The next trip to Kings will be through Henry's Fork. That way, I'll be sure to get John on Kings. And, the fishin' is good there too. They'll be another day for summits.