Summit County High Point Trip Report

Date: October 26, 2003
Author: Ben Knorr

I woke, packed, and headed up to Mountain View, WY. Just as during a trip to Kings Peak in September, the road to Henry's Fork trailhead (the last 3 miles of it) are in pretty shoddy condition, with serious potholes all over the place. I was a little intimidated at first upon reaching the trailhead and seeing no cars or signs of human life, but eventually was able to talk myself into starting out in the dark anyway.

Soon after leaving the trailhead at 6:15 a.m. MDT (I kept on MDT since my body was used to it, and it would buy me an extra hour on the return driving trip), I encountered a big fat porcupine scurrying across the trail. At this point I was glad I hadn't brought the dog. A quick 2.5 hours later, I was at Dollar Lake refilling the water bottles, and trying to warm up some food before the ascent. The weather forecast called for cooler partly cloudy conditions, which was dead on for the area around Dollar Lake. I recorded approximately 22° F at around 9:00 a.m. MDT, and observed clouds blowing into the Gilbert west cirque, with some clouds also seemingly sucked onto Kings Peak and others surrounding it. I forced myself to press on, knowing that any day later in the year may mean snow.

A stream heading down from the cirque was iced up with some water still flowing underneath. Luckily, I could pass over some boggy terrain because of the ice. High in Utah described the first part of the ridge heading south as the most difficult part of this peak. I found it steep, and some parts through thick waist- high brush, but not difficult. Animal trails helped greatly through this. Soon, the terrain switches to tundra and boulder fields. At this point, the sun started showing again and the clouds burned off enough that they were no longer covering the peaks. After an exhausting hike towards the summit of Gilbert, I reached the final section underneath the peak. Unfortunately, the rocks were covered in thick frost from the clouds that just passed over. Some rocks were already defrosting in the sunlight, but most were not. Great care was taken picking each foot placement and handhold (very slippery- handholds were a must!).

I reached the top and hunkered down in the wind shelter to get some food at about 11:15 MDT. There were no signatures after September this year. Woohoo! I froze my butt off, finally got up to walk around and admire the fantastic views (well worth the cold) of the Kings Peak area, and the rest of the Uintas to the north and south. My thermometer showed 18° F, but the wind was still howling, so I'd guess with wind chill it was closer to -20°F or so.

After getting down to about 12,600 feet, the winds subsided - which helped immensely. Back at Dollar Lake, it was very warm, close to 50 degrees. The water filter blew, resulting in iodine usage for the roughly 8 mile trip to the car.

Including breaks and some swift hiking on the way back, the complete trip was about 8 hours in length.

Webmaster's comment: This is an exceptionally fast time. If considering Gilbert Peak as a dayhike, please do not assume that you can match it unless you are equally fit!