UHT Day 3—Kidney Lakes to Henry’s Fork Lake

We were packed up and hiking a little before 7:00 am. We needed to crank out some mileage or figure out an alternate exit point that would allow us to shave some miles off the overall hike. Either way, I wanted us to get to Anderson Pass and King’s Peak as early as possible. We already lost part of the first day to unpredictable afternoon storms around a mountain pass and I didn’t want it to happen again.

We made our way down the mountain to the Unita River. The trail was difficult to follow in the forest, but a careful inspection of the ground usually led to a small cairn or a shoeprint that would point the way. These are several grassy meadows in this area and we passed some grazing pack horses. Not long after that, we popped out of the shade and into the sun just above Painter Basin. The view of the valley was spectacular and only got better as we got closer. Soon we were in the open, windy, grassy fields and we stopped at a small creek crossing to eat lunch. I think this was the most pristine section of the entire Uinta Highline Trail (UHT) and we were fortunate to have it all to ourselves.

We spent the early afternoon simply traversing the basin. If the sun was out, it was very hot. If it suddenly became overcast, it was freezing. We couldn’t layer up and strip down fast enough. The wind was almost as schizophrenic as the sunshine.

We made it to the base of Anderson Pass around 2:00 pm. This is also the second and last intersection with Henry’s Fork Trail—the final bailout point of the Uinta Highline Trail. Past this point, there’s no choice besides backtracking east or continuing to the western trailhead of Hayden Pass.

We were probably around 12,000 feet and my girlfriend was struggling. She put on a brave face, but there was no way she would have made it up and over Anderson Pass—let alone to King’s Peak—before sunset. I made the decision to exit at Henry’s Fork and hitchhike back to Hayden Pass to maintain our vacation schedule. That decision would end up cutting around 15–20 miles off our section hike, saving us a day and a half of walking at our proven pace.

The only thing I regret about my decision to change our exit point is that I got so close to the highest peak in Utah but didn’t get to bag it. I was so close. The best part about my decision was that our timetable was suddenly very clear. We hiked up and over Gunsight Pass and walked a few miles down Henry’s Fork Trail. We camped on a hill above Henry’s Fork Lake and enjoyed watching the sunset.

I’m the C.C. in C.C. Hikes. I’m a strategic marketer by day, a bad guitarist by night, and an avid weekend explorer. I built this site to log my travels to nearby parks, trails, and attractions. You’re welcome to follow along. Use my travelog to discover fun places to visit and then use my interactive map to navigate there.

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