Wasatch County High Point Trip Report

near Murdock Mountain

Date: May 26, 2003
Author: Edward Earl

When I lived in Salt Lake City, UT highway 150, which skirts the western fringes of the Uintas (its highest point, Bald Mountain Pass, reaches to 10687 feet, as high as many of the highway passes in CO) was never plowed and hence did not open until all of the snow on it melted off, which was sometimes not until early July (I recall only one of the six years I lived there in which it was open by Memorial Day). Thus, it was a pleasant surprise to learn that UT-150 is now plowed and opens earlier than it did then, and it was open on this Memorial Day of 2003, providing convenient access to the liner HP of Wasatch county, on the southwest slope of Murdock Mountain.

I parked near the pass, carried my snowshoes into the sparse forest, and soon cached the snowshoes owing to the hard crusty snow. Soon after emerging from the forest onto the snow-covered boulder slope above, I found myself post-holing through multiply-layered snow. It was very slow going. As I contoured around to the county HP area, I noted two cairns. One, about 2 feet tall and consisting of about 15 stones, sat atop a 5-foot high boulder. The other, consisting of two 8-inch rocks leaning against each other atop an 8-inch thick by 3-foot long boulder, was about 200 yards southwest of the first.

The 10,840-foot contour shows two bumps near the county line. The northern bump (barely discernible in the field) is very broad and does not quite cross the county line. The southern bump is a bit sharper and just barely crosses the line; hence this spot is the HP. The second cairn is at the northern bump; for, about 200 yards south of it, the ridge becomes a little better defined and harbors the very sparse stand of trees shown on the topo.

The stand of trees and (relative) sharpening of the ridge pretty much give away the north-south position of the HP. To nail the east-west position one needs only to walk the crest of ridge, making sure along the way that the contours are oriented north-south (Bald Mountain, which lies almost exactly north of the HP, is a good reference for this). The ridge disappears into the mass of Murdock Mountain itself about 150 yards east of the HP, so this helps narrow down a bit the length of ridge necessary to be walked. It is not necessary to crisscross the area as Dave Olson did.

Neither cairn is very close to the HP, if either was intended to mark the HP. The second cairn, while probably at about the right elevation, is 200 yards north of where it should be. The first cairn is still farther north and is also a bit high.