Headed out to the north Uintah range with Jamen Nelson post Outdoor Retailer. We got in late and camped at the Henry’s Fork Trailhead. We got up around 5am Monday morning to go and attack King’s Peak in as quickly as we possibly could. The route we were shooting to take measures in at just over a marathon. We were looking to run the entire route, with a few hiking sections in there.
Early off we were alone on the trail and were able to witness a couple of moose down by the river just below the trail. Always great to see these creatures from afar, a little spooky when they are right on us. The weather was looking to be a good day. As we approached Dollar Lake we started to run into some traffic along the trail. Until then we were the only ones out there.
As we headed out from the lake and approached Gunsight Pass there were some clouds that were starting to roll in. Not too much that it would be concerning so we kept pushing on. Jamen had gotten ahead of me, but was waiting a top Gunsight Pass when I made the final ascent up the pass. From there I wanted to wrap around on the same line we were on without taking the standard trail down into the valley. Jamen decided to head into the valley. Later I would discover he made the wiser choice. Craig Lloyd had told me that there is no need to descend down. I didn’t find the right trail and ended up doing a lot of boulder hopping along the hillside. This was taking more work than I bargained for so I made my way down to the defined trail. This took time I didn’t want to take.
Once on the final trail I filled my water and kept pushing onward. As I turned buck up towards the saddle I started to feel some moisture in the air and clouds began to gather in greater degrees. The closer I got to Anderson Pass the more clouds would gather. It was appearing that the peak would not be a likely thing today. Then lights would flash in the distance. I was completely exposed, but Jamen was at least 15 minutes ahead of me. I couldn’t see or hear him. We had no contact. I kept moving. I came to The pass and turned up the ridge. As I bounced from boulder to boulder the rain got stronger and the flashes were brighter and the thunder was louder.
Halfway up the ridge line there was a light that filled the sky with an immediate thunder clasp. The Lightning appeared to touchdown near the summit. I knew that Jamen was up there. I immediately went into rescue mode. I huddled below a rock and said a brief prayer then got up and started hollering. I pushed as quickly as I possibly could right into the storm. There was no way I was leaving him up there. This may not have been the smartest decision, but it was the fight instinct that kicked in. After a brief moment of concern and push he appeared climbing over a boulder. We both were okay. A little panicked, but okay. We made the quick descent back down into the field below Anderson Pass and the storm began to clear.
Jamen was able to make it to the summit, but was eerily close to danger. He said he could feel the rocks putting off an electrical current. I did not make a summit on this day. It was a bit of a disappointment, but there will always be other days out on the mountain. It would be more frustrating if I had never before done King’s, but alas I have so it doesn’t sting so much.
As I continue to increase miles and do things in one push that are beyond my previous abilities I start to learn a lot more about limitations. Often I go into something thinking it more doable than I probably ought to.
Coming through the valley below Gunsight Pass I was feeling fairly fatigued. I was unsure how I was going to complete the final 9 or so miles. The climb back up to Gunsight Pass felt like a lot was sucked out of me. Jamen had gotten a bit ahead of me again. I was getting discouraged. This day was seeming to go a bit longer than the anticipation sold it out to be when Jamen asked me at Outdoor Retailer if we wanted to tackle this. The hardest part is not being as capable as the company that I keep. Though I am not as capable it will not stop me from accomplishing big goals.
I thoroughly enjoy this sport. I especially enjoy being able to cover great ground in a short period of time and be exposed to such great beauty. As I passed by the lake I started to find a groove around mile 22. This felt great to start clicking off miles late in a run. The trail was perfect, the conditions ideal and the body was willing and able. A great way to end a 30 mile adventure with a lot of vertical climbing. It is great to enjoy such wonderful back country terrain!