Saturday, August 23, 2014

King's Peak

Kirk and I helped the Fallentine's lead a group of 9 older Scouts of Troop into the Uinta's to King's Peak, Utah. We had to drive through Wyoming only to get into Utah again. The plan was to backpack in about 8 miles and camp at Dollar Lake which is at an 11,000 ft elevation. Then we were to day pack 13 miles round trip up King's Peak which topped out at the highest peak in Utah at 13,572 ft. Then backpack out the next day another 8 miles coming back down in elevation around 7,000 ft. 
That was the plan.
 Hiking in was really strenuous with the elevation change. If you felt like you weren't out of shape, you would now feel that you don't exercise a day in your life. Kirk had been in Seattle all week doing 12-14 hour days and then flew in at midnight the night before we set out. He had packed his backpack with the boys checking to see that he had everything. But with only 4 hours sleep and being exhausted to begin with, among other things, he felt like the oldest one there.....even though he was. It was a little scary.
 Everyone hiked at their own pace. Kaleb and Jared were in the front of course with the Fallentine's who have a very fast pace. I could never keep that pace. I am some where in the middle. Kirk took of the rear of the group with a couple others who actually wanted to hike that pace. We all hiked where we were comfortable. No pressure. We had some pretty interesting conversations in the back as we hiked. The boys talked about what their plans were for college, what games they like to play, what type of vehicle they want to drive and ammunition.....It's a boy thing.
 This place is absolutely beautiful. It was hard to take it all in because our goal was to get to Dollar Lake and set up camp, rest and hike up to King's Peak, early, early in the morning. With the elevation change I was very wobbly on this bridge. It was so hard taking secure steps with the water rushing under. Visually it was extremely disturbing. (I met a robust guy who had troubles coming across on our way back down who had the same trouble. So I didn't feel so bad.)
 We must have passed about 100 hikers coming out as we were coming in. Each of the scouts had a topo map of the area so they could see where we were. I didn't want to be a typical "girl" on a Boy Scout High Adventure so I carried my own pun intended. I am fully capable. No worries there until I picked up my 28 lb pack one of the times we rested. I was okay until I went to sling it onto my shoulder. Oops. I pulled a muscle right over my hip. I didn't make a peep about it. It didn't start giving me problems until about an hour later when it began to creep around the front of my leg. I started having trouble bring my leg forward. Oh great! Not quite what you want to happen out on the trail with two days of hiking ahead.
 We finally got to Dollar Lake and set up camp. It had been raining/sprinkling off and on, on the way in. I think almost everyone went to bed before 7 pm, except Jared of course. He was one of the last ones in his sleeping bag. (It is amazing how he is always the last one since he was a newborn!) I guess the best way to wear out a group of Scouts is to hike the daylight out of them. This was definitely a strenuous hike.....but I loved every bit of it.
 Unfortunately, I was the only one who didn't make it the next day up to King's Peak. I stayed behind to rest my pulled muscle, take ibuprofen and watch the peak from the foothills. I was really disappointed and could easily become teary eyed thinking about being left behind until I realized that God had had other plans for me. I needed the break. Really? Out here where there was not another living soul...unless you count the moose. All the other hikers in the area had left for home or were on the peak with Troop 1. I spent 10 hours all by myself. And I wasn't scared being alone in the wilderness. The chipmunks kept me company. They are quite bold. I spent the day lying on flat boulders taking naps. My back was painful but I felt like it was on the mend by the afternoon. I was relaxed until I saw an afternoon storm rolling in with a vengeance. I was hoping that they had made it to the top before it came in. They should considering that they had left at 6am to make it to the peak by 11:30.
 This is proof that they made it up there by the time it started thundering and lightening. I was so nervous. I sat in the rain for an hour watching for signs of life coming off the mountain. My Mom instinct was on high alert. Kaleb said that there was finger lightening all around them as they were coming off the peak. It was really scary for the boys. One of the boys had altitude sickness and was rushed down the trail as fast as they could get him. Remember, the peak was over 13,000 ft. He recovered quickly just being down off the mountain and at 11,000 ft. Whew! Kirk said it was difficult with sore legs to scale the boulder size shale. I am glad that I rested my back.
 I am really proud of this group of Scouts, my Hubby Buddy whom I called "Bubby" everytime we did a buddy check. The Fallentine family is amazing with all their planning. There was never a moment that I didn't trust Mark. He had this trip so well planned out, there was never a moment that I felt like any of the boys were in danger. Maybe except for the lightening. There were a few hikers who didn't make it to the peak. I talked with quite a few as they were coming down while I was waiting for our group in the pouring rain. The other hikers had to turn around just 300 ft from the top because of the lightening. It was just too risky and dangerous. Our group had started out early enough to make it to the top. All because of Mark's planning.

 I was really relieved to hear about their adventure that day when they made it back down. I felt like I could relax a little with everyone back at camp. It was a little stressful with the thunderstorm, knowing that they could easily be zapped by lightening. In spite of it all, I felt like I got the mental rest that was intended for me. There is just something about lying in a tent in pouring rain listening to the sounds of nature or lying on a huge flat boulder, using a jacket as a pillow, watching beetles, inspecting lichen up close, listening to the birds......
I had a great time.
 The next morning was beautiful of course. Bright sunny day. We set out early once again for the hike out.
 This is proof that I was there. I did hike in and out the 16 miles. And I am a new person. I feel rested even though my body feels exhausted. Mentally and emotionally.....God knew exactly what I needed by providing me with 10 hours of solitude. The next morning, I started hiking the trail to the lake to sterilize more water. I looked up just in time to almost run into a mother moose and her baby. Oops. I backed up immediately and waited for them to move on.
 The same moose family was blocking our way out. We had to go around the moose.....way around the moose to get past them. They are amazingly HUGE animals.
We hiked out in quite a bit of mud. It was much easier coming down in elevation than it was going up. That was a no brainer. We made really good time. This time someone helped me with my pack going on and off, which is what I should have done to begin with but then I wouldn't have been able to "restart" myself. I really needed the break from everything and everyone. It was the only way to recover from severe burnout.
Thank you Lord!
One of the incentives that the scouts had is if they hike out before 12 noon then we would stop for pizza in Mountain View, Wyoming. We did it with Kirk and David hitting the trail head at 12 noon on the dot. Noon also brought another thunderstorm. By the time we reached the vehicles it was dropping buckets of water. We were so soaked. We all looked like drenched rats, not to mention the wet dog smell in the van....Ugh!
 We stopped for pizza and this little 4 year old girl was having a birthday party with a zebra cake. The mom didn't have a match to light her four little candles so Jared ran out to the van to find a lighter. He lit the little girl's candles for her while her family sang Happy Birthday. It was cute. Next thing we know, Jared walks out of the restaurant with a zebra cake. They didn't want the rest of it so they gave it to the boys to eat.
David sneaking bites of  leftover pizza from behind the seat.
Time to wash the van!

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