Just a quick update to let you know that we haven’t actually forgotten or given up on the goal of bagging some of the Utah high points this Summer, however Mother Nature seems to have gotten better offers for Spring this year and we’re still waiting for Winter to go away.

May 24, 2010

May 24, 2010

We did actually pick up a copy of  the “High in Utah” guidebook.  It’s much better than other guidebooks we’ve seen but it is still a little dated, no GPS coordinates, no GPS tracks available and I’m sure we’ll find out that some of the trailheads suggested have been developed into subdivisions.  It gives us a good baseline for what we want to do with this blog and beyond.

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Or,we were experiencing spring-like conditions. It was getting very exciting, as it looked like we’d be able to start hiking peaks in late April.

But it’s snowed 3 feet in the last 4 or 5 days,  so it looks like hiking will be delayed until sometime in May like it usually is.

I am getting so excited. I sit there doing tax returns and think about which high point we should do first. And about the preparations still needed. We’ve told several friends about our goal, and a couple will probably join us for various peaks when schedules allow.

In order to document our adventures to the level we want, we need a new camera. The book High In Utah is also high on the list.

Other things we’d like include trekking poles, hiking boots, various topo maps, and a water filter kit. I also would like a new CamelBak somewhere in the 1500 – 2000 cubic inches range, but that’s very low on the list.

Tax season is almost over. Preparations for high pointing resume!

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The daunting peaks…

The two highest peaks in our endeavor seem almost impossible at this point. Their height and difficulty are daunting to me, as they are longer hikes than I’ve ever attempted. As we gain experience and get into better and better shape working our way through the other summits, I hope these two peaks seem more attainable to both of us.

Gilbert Peak is the highest peak in Summit County, our home county, at 13,442 feet. While there are several ways to approach the summit, the tentative plan at this point on making it a joint trip with King’s Peak, using a base point mid-way between the two.

Just to the southwest of Gilbert Peak is King’s Peak, the highest summit in Utah and located in Duchesne County. At 13, 528 feet it is just slightly higher than South King’s Peak, which was thought to be the highest point in Utah until the 1960s.

Both summits are in the High Uintas Wilderness Area.

It’s a three hour drive to the trailhead from our house. This is quite nice as it means we can do the drive and the first part of the hike in one day, a luxury those who have a farther drive aren’t afforded. The trailhead is at Henry’s Fork Campground. From there, it’s a seven mile hike to Dollar Lake, one of the most popular camping spots. Dollar Lake or somewhere nearby will be your base for these two peaks.

The round trip from Henry’s Fork Trailhead to King’s Peak is 28 to 32 miles, depending on what math you believe. So after camping near Dollar Lake, you’re looking at a 14-mile or so round trip up King’s Peak and back to camp.

The hike from Dollar Lake to Gilbert Peak isn’t nearly as long, but there is no well-defined trail, so choosing one of three or four suggested routes, you must follow your topo maps, your GPS, and your instincts to safely reach the summit.

Another option includes a loop, leaving the Dollar Lake area, going to Gilbert Peak and circling south to King’s Peak and back to your campsite.  Of course, a couple (crazy) people offer the option of doing each peak as a day-hike, starting before dawn and ending (hopefully!) right at dark, but that’s not an option we’re giving serious credence to at this point.

The whole excursion promises a plethora of wildlife. The possibility of moose and bear are the most obvious, but I’ve also read that from both peaks you can see the most beautiful drainage areas and the amazing wildlife that comes with them. However, as is always an issue in the Uinta’s and all high peaks in the western US, the threat of afternoon thunderstorm and the accompanying lightning loom over these peaks. You don’t want to get caught on one of them in a storm, and so must have the flexibility to either wait a day or re-attempt one or both peaks at another time.

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Three Peaks = Six Counties

There are three summits in Utah that are shared as high point/summits (both in all of them) by two counties each.

Delano Peak is the highpoint of both Beaver and Piute counties. I’m excited about this as a number of people have mentioned they have seen a herd of mountain goats in the area. One also mentioned seeing a bear, which doesn’t leave me quite as excited.  There are several places to begin this hike, all relatively easy to get to and each a 2 or so mile hike from parking. One approach begins at the semi-existent Elk Meadows Ski Resort, which if you live in Utah you know has been up for auction in the last couple of weeks. It’s new ownership may dictate the starting place for Delano Peak.

Eccentric Peak (also called Chepeta Peak) is the high point of Daggett and Uintah Counties. This is another peak I’m excited about. There are two benchmarks on the mountain. A good part of the hike is above the timberline, and so may be cold, but from the top, you also get a good view of King’s Peak, the highest peak in Utah and what will be one of the last county summits we attempt due to it’s intensity (and will be discussed later in greater detail). If the roads are good, you can drive to a decent trailhead on either the north or the south side of the mountain. According to the SummitPost description, the two trailheads are 3.5 miles apart as the crow flies, but driving between them takes 7 to 8 hours because there are no roads going through the Uinta mountains!

David County and Morgan County share Thurston Peak as their highest summit. This should be a relatively uneventful peak. At 9,706 feet, it’s one of the lower county summits in Utah. It’s not very far away, and while 4-wheel drive is suggested, it’s not absolutely mandated. The only question on this peak is that there is not necessarily a defined trail, however it is supposed to be really easy to summit regardless.

Utah has 29 counties – so if you consider the 3 summits shared by two counties each, that is 26 summits, plus the two counties where the high point and summit are not the same, that makes 28 places on our list.

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Goal #2: Utah’s 100 Highest Caches

As if the goal of hitting all of Utah’s highest peaks/high points was not a big enough challenge, we are also keeping an eye on the 100 highest geocaches in the state of Utah.  Fortunately, most of the peaks we’re planning on visiting also include one or more members of the 100 highest caches.

As we go along when we grab one or more of the following caches with or without bagging a peak we’ll try to let you know.  For those not familiar with the information in the table below the first column is the identification code assigned to the caches by geocaching.com the second column is the cache type and the third column is the name of the cache and the final column is the distance and bearing from our home base in Oakley, UT.

Before this project even started and before we even knew it was on the Utah 100 highest caches list we found GCXJVV “Rocky Mountain Bend” on 7/5/09 while caching along Mirror Lake Highway.  If my memory serves me right, the picture below was taken a few hundred feet from the cache.



GCPN9C Traditional Cache Rescue Rangers 16.96 E
GCQB89 Traditional Cache Clyde Lake Uinta Cache 17.1 E
GCQB82 Traditional Cache Watson Lake Uinta Cache 17.19 E
GC161BR Unknown Cache High in Utah 17.7 SW
GC14315 Traditional Cache Milicent at sundown 17.8 SW
GC16B04 Traditional Cache The Return of Wolverine 18.25 SW
GC1CK2C Traditional Cache East Notch Peak 18.3 E
GCG96K Traditional Cache Mending My Ways 18.4 SW
GCGYD4 Traditional Cache Devil Sam’s Castle 19.39 SW
GC1FM1C Traditional Cache Flagstaff Mountain 19.8 SW
GCQB3N Traditional Cache One Lump Or Two? 19.89 SW
GC14TYA Traditional Cache We Did It…& So Can You 19.93 E
GCJVR8 Traditional Cache Peak-A-Boo: Mt. Cardwell 20.49 E
GC1FVD1 Traditional Cache Jordan & Kylee’s Cache 20.55 E
GCG9GF Traditional Cache Cardie’s View 20.56 E
GCY8DT Traditional Cache Hidin in The Rain 20.6 E
GCXJVV Traditional Cache Rocky Mountain Bend 20.61 E
GCGKCQ Traditional Cache leo tiger 20.65 E
GC14M5V Traditional Cache Valley of Deception 20.94 E
GC1G7YW Traditional Cache Hayden’s Peak 21.08 E
GC1TFGT Traditional Cache Murdock Mountain Cache 21.28 E
GC7192 Traditional Cache Peak-A-Boo: AF Twin Peaks 21.83 SW
GC170E Letterbox Hybrid Red Top Mountain Cache 22.12 SW
GC936B Traditional Cache View of 4 Lakes 23.43 SW
GC1BF0 Virtual Cache Pfeifferhorn 24.68 SW
GCJPBN Unknown Cache North Thunder 25.53 SW
GCJPCF Unknown Cache South Thunder 26.04 SW
GC1CC9 Virtual Cache Lone Peak 27.21 SW
GC1DRVD Earthcache Lone Peak 27.21 SW
GC6A0C Virtual Cache Cumulo-Granite Clouds 28.18 SW
GC6623 Traditional Cache Cascade Vista 31.81 SW
GCGVRK Traditional Cache Provo Peak 34.99 SW
GC84E4 Traditional Cache Peak-A-Boo: Thurston 38.62 NW
GC19165 Earthcache Kings Peak 48.57 E
GCXMTY Traditional Cache Kings Peak Utah 48.58 E
GCXXY3 Traditional Cache Hardy’s fishin box 48.91 E
GCXNAQ Traditional Cache P.O. Box THINAIR 49.39 E
GC15309 Traditional Cache Floating Tree 49.87 E
GCGQ20 Traditional Cache 2 50.66 E
GC16HYB Traditional Cache Flat Top Mountain 52.28 SW
GC16HY4 Traditional Cache Ray Ault July 1 1939 52.69 SW
GC16HXW Traditional Cache Lewiston Peak 52.93 SW
GC8DF1 Traditional Cache Peak-A-Boo: Willard Peak 58.19 NW
GC1E1PA Traditional Cache Camping Above Queant 62.69 E
GC13D9J Unknown Cache Peak-A-Boo: Mount Nebo 66.09 S
GC843F Traditional Cache Take a Walk cache 66.28 E
GC1E4H1 Traditional Cache Go figure 66.78 E
GC8328 Traditional Cache Tie One On 67.03 E
GCQJPA Traditional Cache Daggett Peak 68.57 E
GCQCJW Traditional Cache Eccentric Peak 69.53 E
GCGP6W Traditional Cache Peak-A-Boo: Deseret Peak 71.75 W
GCY0EG Traditional Cache Deseret Peak Utah 71.82 W
GCKBEZ Traditional Cache Peak-A-Boo: Monument Peak 75.99 S
GC7387 Traditional Cache Leidy’s Secret 76.64 E
GC1FBE0 Traditional Cache Benchmark: KN0375 JORDAN 81.67 S
GC1WG20 Traditional Cache Kaitybug’s Ladybug 82.87 S
GCD6C Traditional Cache Grampa Cache 83.47 S
GC1FBBE Unknown Cache D. O. A. – Sanpete County 84.91 S
GC666E Traditional Cache Peak-A-Boo: Naomi Peak Revisited 85.08 N
GC101B Traditional Cache Junk Cash $2 85.39 S
GCKBDX Traditional Cache Peak-A-Boo: East Mountain Cache 85.48 S
GC1FBEG Traditional Cache Skyline Drive 85.48 S
GC1ECZQ Traditional Cache What a look!! 86.63 S
GC1W68P Traditional Cache I see Potter’s from here… 87.23 S
GC1W68V Traditional Cache Trail to East Mtn, we thought… 87.41 S
GC8896 Traditional Cache Peak-A-Boo: Unnamed (Bridger) 89.41 N
GC15AP9 Traditional Cache Four Wheeln’ Rest Stop 90.1 S
GCKDPJ Traditional Cache South Tent Mountain 91.16 S
GC1VHB5 Traditional Cache TRI-Sign-Age! 104.07 S
GCXB24 Traditional Cache Weezer 107.39 S
GC1X2YA Traditional Cache Petty Peak Cache 107.61 S
GCGTPB Traditional Cache ATV OVERLOOK 108.02 S
GC1VMVF Traditional Cache Down, Way Up There 108.11 S
GCFA6 Traditional Cache Musinia peak 116.59 S
GC907D Traditional Cache Peak-A-Boo: Bull 135.55 NW
GCGB17 Traditional Cache Niotche 137.29 S
GCQMGA Traditional Cache Fish Lake Hightop 147.12 S
GC1ZY5H Traditional Cache Fishlake Hightop trailhead 147.26 S
GC1HCRG Traditional Cache Near Cove Peak 149.38 S
GCGGRV Traditional Cache Carron’s Delight 150.02 S
GCJZ31 Traditional Cache Ibapah 151.05 SW
GC8581 Traditional Cache Rabbit Ears Overlook II 155.36 S
GCGJ2M Traditional Cache Monroe Mountain Cache 155.46 S
GCX2MM Traditional Cache TIMMBBEERR!!! 155.57 S
GCGHTK Traditional Cache Diversion on Paiute Trail 167.93 S
GC6D85 Traditional Cache Little Belknap (wanna be) 169.09 S
GC10D4 Traditional Cache PAIUTE ATV HIGHPOINT (#6) 170.92 S
GCQR1X Traditional Cache Delano Peak-Park Here? 171.09 S
GC1ZY5V Traditional Cache Where Mountain Goats Roam 171.33 S
GC1ZY60 Traditional Cache Delano Peak 171.54 S
GC1ZY65 Traditional Cache Poison Creek 171.81 S
GCGMMW Traditional Cache Skyline 175.33 S
GCQMXF Traditional Cache Peak-A-Boo: Bluebell Knoll 176.54 S
GCKP8P Traditional Cache Sandy’s Birthday Cache 180.69 S
GCQJEP Traditional Cache Peak-A-Boo: Mount Ellen 181.54 S
GCK4W3 Traditional Cache Ledge Lake 181.58 S
GC1Z0RC Traditional Cache Bull Creek Pass 183.23 S
GCGFAD Traditional Cache Peak-A-Boo: Waas 186.03 SE
GC1EQ8J Traditional Cache Tukuhnikivatz 190.69 SE
GC18B7 Traditional Cache BunkerDave’s Cache 191.2 SE
GC1VM24 Traditional Cache Peale 191.68 SE
GC160G9 Traditional Cache Last Ride to the Top 221.18 SE
GCGVM3 Traditional Cache GNR High Anxiety 221.41 S
GC1VJ0T Traditional Cache 11 Grand 222.25 S
GCJXBA Traditional Cache Peak-A-Boo: Brian Head 224.58 S
GC6BE1 Traditional Cache O’ Well 224.72 S
GC1H7XE Traditional Cache 143 E to Life Elevated 226.06 S
GC6BE4 Traditional Cache Cedar Breaks Golf Balls 231.27 S
GCQFZE Traditional Cache Behind The Two Seater 231.45 S
GCJXRE Traditional Cache Top Of Kane County 233.54 S
GCJXQW Traditional Cache Peak-A-Boo: Unnamed (Andrew Andy Nelson Peak) 235.06 S
GCJX87 Traditional Cache Peak-A-Boo: Signal Peak 262.13 SW

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Is the summit the high point?

The highest point in any given county is not necessarily a summit. The highest point may be on the side of a mountain that actually summits in another county. This is the case in two Utah Counties.

In Wasatch County, the highest point is 10,840 feet on the side of Murdock Mountain. The summit of Murdock Mountain is in Summit County. The highest summit in Wasatch County is an unnamed peak (designated Mt. Cardwell) at 10,743 feet.

Similarly, the highest point in Kane County is around 10,080 feet on the boundary with Iron County. The highest peak is an unnamed peak designated Andy Nelson Peak, which is 53 feet lower than the highest point.

What’s with the unnamed peaks being given designated names? In the 1990′s a couple wrote the book Hiking Utah’s Summits, and upon discovering three county summits with no names, the Salt Lake Tribune had a naming contest. These ‘winners’ are the designated names. The third of these is Rich County, whose peak has been given the name Bridger Peak at 9,255 feet, although it is officially known as Point 9255 according to SummitPost.

On my big-old map, I have both the county high point and the highest summit marked in both Kane and Wasatch Counties. I kind of feel like maybe we’ll do both. The high point in Wasatch County is pretty easy, and Andy Nelson Peak isn’t exactly difficult. We haven’t really decided, but that’s where I lean.

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What do you want to know?

I have done some reading and Internet searching to try to prepare for these adventures. However, what I’ve found is that the guidebooks for this endeavor are out of date and not necessarily helpful anyway. The last one was published in 1999, and I can’t seem to find a copy at a library anyway (which makes me skeptical about it’s content).

The County Highpointers’ website has a good deal of information about the points, but not necessarily a detailed description of the hikes or areas. Chris and I have decided that while we do this, we should make the information available to others, and an updated guidebook that includes GPS coordinates would be immensely helpful.

On our summits or high point trips, we plan on documenting our adventures in the following ways:

Driving directions
Taking pictures
Making a track or recording numerous waypoints via GPS
Topo map with our trek noted
Journals and notes on the hike or on what the area is like
Water source info as appropriate
Other options for approach to the summit, if there are any

Do you have any other ideas of how we should document the adventures?

We will be geocaching along the way, and will probably make note of it, but won’t include them as part of the ‘official’ record.

Also, this is really a different topic, but as it involves supplies I’m going to include it here. There are a number of these places that will require a high-clearance 4-wheel drive vehicle to avoid an additional 10+ miles of hiking. We’ve got a semi-high-clearance Ford Ranger, and an all-wheel drive Subaru, but we know what we really need is a Jeep Wrangler. We don’t have the funds to just go buy a Jeep, so part of our planning will have to include trying to either convince friends to go with us or letting us borrow their Jeep. For those points around Moab we can rent a Jeep for our excursions. Any ideas on other way to get a Jeep when we need one?

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Commence Planning Procedures

Summit map

Okay, actually I did this weeks ago. But here is a picture of a map of Utah with all the county high points and summits marked with a pushpin. I’m pretty proud of this map. It’s not exactly easy to find all of these spots.

I’m also trying to decide how to fill this blog while waiting for next spring when we believe we will start doing the easier summits.

My next entry will be about how Chris and I are planning to document this adventure. I will be asking for suggestions from you, so start thinking.

Then I’m thinking I’ll start doing a discussion of some of the summits and high-points, including how easy they are to drive to and how easy the actual hike is. This will include discussion of the preparations Chris and I will have to make prior to attempting any particular summit.

Is there anything else you’d like to see or know about this adventure or how we’re preparing for it? Let me know!

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To Be Continued…

The grand idea? Climb to the highest point and/or summit in each of Utah’s counties. Some will be easy. Some will not.
This attempt will commence in the summer of 2010. We expect it will take several years.

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