Sunday, February 17, 2008

Henry's Fork

This is a brief report of the trip of Cory and my Dad to Henry's Fork in the Uintah mountains of Utah, August 1992

We owe our family tradition of an annual backpacking trip largely to the Boy Scouts of America. Though neither Cory nor I pursued many scouting awards, we were regular participants in the weekly meetings and the outdoor activities.

Thus, when we became Explorers (at age 16) we attended the annual summer backpacking trip.

The first of these that I am aware of Cory going on (and Dad with him) was in August of 1992. (At which time he was 17. I'm not sure whether the Explorers did or did not have a backpacking trip in the summer of 1991 when Cory would have been 16 and thus an Explorer.) Cory, Dad and I all went with the Explorers in '93. After that, Cory was too old to be a scout. So in '94 and '95 I went with the Explorers (and Dad with me in '95, but not in '94), while we had separate family backpacking adventures in those two years.

In any case on August 12 through 15 Cory and Dad were backpacking in Henry's Fork in the Uintah Mountains of Utah. I told Cory that he or Dad should write this report, but it is just as likely that one will do it as the other and anyway, I probably remember it as well as either of them (although I wasn't there).

I cannot relate the events chronologically, but I will try to remember as much as they told me. Pester them if you would like more details.

The Uintah Mountains are the largest range in North America that runs East and West. All of the other major mountain ranges run North and South. Henry's Fork is one of the North-facing drainages of this unique mountain range. It also provides one of the shortest access routes to King's Peak: the highest point in Utah. Almost paradoxically, even though the range lies entirely inside Utah, one has to drive through Wyoming in order to access the Northern slopes of the range, including Henry's Fork.

The crew of Explorer Scouts that set off for Henry's Fork in August of 1992 was not a set of tight-knit, experienced backpackers; Rather, they were a hodge podge of novices--tough and hardy novices, but novices none the less. Ted, for instance, carried a two liter bottle of water in each hand the entire way. Kirk's, main supply of food was a large bag of buckwheat pancake mix which he lugged in his pack. Alas, Kirk discovered on the trip that he can't stand the taste of buckwheat. Cory and Dad had not brought any water filter and since the Forest Service has long warned against drinking water straight from any open source they had to boil all of their drinking water. Boiling water to drink is an inconvenience to say the least when you've been hiking all day, have exhausted your supply of water, want a cold drink now and not after you've managed to gather wood for a fire (they had no backpacking stove either) and brought a pan of water to a boil. I think that the Bracken family eventually lent them their water filter, but it was a terrible filter: extremely slow.

Some of the group went to the top of King's Peak on one of the days of the trip. Cory and Dad however did not. Instead they busied themselves knocking over cairns that marked the trails of the high country. Of course they did it innocently and not as an act of vandalism: they thought the little towers of stone were designed by some malicious persons as rock-chuck lures. Cory and Dad had seen rock-chucks climbing up on these piles of rocks and thought that someone must have built them to make the rock-chucks easy targets for their rifles.

I believe that Cory and Dad both did some fishing.

They caught and ate quite a few, I think.

One thing--if it had only worked--would have made them legends among the other Explorers. Dad had planned for one of his flying buddies to drop a gourmet meal of hamburgers and corn-on-the-cob (enough for the entire group!) on the camp. However, this friend wasn't able to secure a "kitchen pass" (his term for permission from his wife). So the airplane that Cory and Dad were scouring the skies for never came. Too bad. I'm sure Kirk especially would have liked a break from his buckwheat pancakes.

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