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I’m back from the golden, sunshiny Utah autumn woods, where a buddy (Stanley Barton) and I just returned from climbing Kings Peak, the state’s high point. We hiked and camped and clambered up scree slopes with two Park City friends — Rett Clevenger and Jeff Burford — in a quick ascent.


The peak, which tops out at 13,528 feet, is non-technical, meaning hiking boots and trekking poles — not ropes and ice axes — can get you to the top. But as highpoints go, Kings is one of the more remote, sitting far off any beaten path in northeastern Utah’s Uinta Mountains. We started the 28-mile roundtrip journey at 7pm on Sunday night, following the beam of a headlamp into the woods and toward our goal to camp near Dollar Lake, the halfway point.



For navigation, I employed National Geographic’s Trails Illustrated High Uintas Trail Map (, a 1:75,000 topographic mainly created for hikers. But I found the map’s detail to be more than enough for mountaineering, with precise slope shading making contours and elevation pop from the page. Small ponds and marshes were present on the map and accurate, and we even got water from one tributary.



Our route was more or less the traditional way up the mountain, beginning at the Henry’s Fork trailhead and heading due south to Dollar Lake (which we reached by about 10:30p.m. the first night, and where we camped out under the stars). We deviated from the trade route in one respect, skipping the normal switchbacks through Gunsight Pass on the way up the mountain in favor of a steeper direct route up a scree-field and chute that spit us out nearly on Kings Peak’s spine.


The summit ridge — a jumble of stone with precipitous drops off the west face and turret-like blocks balanced precariously — made for the most rewarding part of the climb. After the loose rock and scree below, hopping uphill from solid block to block was satisfying progress.



On top, the air must have been 50 degrees. The sun was high and hot. No wind. Rett cracked a tin of herring kipper snacks and crackers then passed the vessel around. A picnic on the top of the state.


The hike out was long and jarring, with thousands of vertical feet and more than 15 miles of backtracking to the car. We took Gunsight pass in lieu of the scree chute, then trekked past Dollar Lake (picking up pads and sleeping bags stashed from the night before), then flipped on the headlamps once again on the final 7 mile section out.


We finished around 7:55 p.m., just more than 24 hours after leaving the car. Cranked up the heat. Pulled the rental into drive, and motored away in the dark, headlights beaming into black woods, an empty wilderness where we saw no other soul for our long day climb of Kings Peak.


Stephen Regenold writes The Gear Junkie column for several U.S. newspapers; see for video gear reviews, a daily blog, and an archive of Regenold's work.)


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Signing off for a few days to catch a plane to SLC and head into the mountains. Trip itinerary looks to be: Day 1, warm-up climb on Mount Olympus, a 9,026-foot peak visible from downtown Salt Lake on the front of the Wasatch Range; Day 2, a newspaper assignment in the desert west of the Great Salt Lake (details forthcoming and top secret at this time); Day 3, a drive northeast to the state’s Uinta Mountains for an attempt at Kings Peak, the highest point in the state at 13,528 feet.



If the weather is good — this is a strange time of year to be mountaineering — the plan is to start the trek into Kings, a 28-mile roundtrip, in the late afternoon and then hike with headlamps as need be to make it to Dollar Lake, the halfway point, or even a bit further. We’ll then bivy a few hours sleep, get up with the sunrise, and bust it for the summit.


A long downhill hike then back to Dollar Lake and finally onto the car by late afternoon/early evening the next day will finish the quick climb off.


That’s the ideal scenario, anyway.


Will report on the trip in a few days after I come back out of the mountains. . .

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Boaters take note: These Maori necklaces come with carved symbols purported to help guarantee safe passage over water for kayakers. That’s according to Sean West, a 21-year-old kayaker and whitewater raft guide from Asheville, N.C., who founded Wanderer Imports LLC to bring the charms to the U.S.


Working with a group of independent Balinese artisans, West began importing the necklaces — which come in several designs — this year. They sell for about $20 apiece, which includes shipping.



West has worked his way up from selling necklaces out of his trunk to now providing the jewelry to outdoors outfitters and online.


The necklaces are crafted from cow bone, which is then polished by the Balinese artisans. Over time, when worn extensively, the pendant will turn a golden color as it absorbs “some of the wearer’s essence,” according to West.


See the entire Maori Bone Necklace lineup here:

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Project 7 water

Posted by Stephen Regenold Oct 7, 2008

Not often would I write about bottled water. I'm more of the mind that you should refill a metal (or non-BPA poly) bottle with filtered H20 from the tap. But Project 7, an outfit in Southlake, Texas, has a new twist on the (recyclable) plastic bottle game. Namely, the company ( has pledged to address "the seven most critical areas of need in the world today: Build the Future, Feed the Hungry, Heal the Sick, Help those in Need, Hope for Peace, House the Homeless, and Save the Planet."


To that end, the company says it will take more than 50 percent of profits from its products to create a community piggy-bank. Throughout the year, the company will accept applications from nonprofits that benefit one of the aforementioned seven causes, eventually selecting three finalists for each to award the money.



Regardless of sales during its first year, Project 7 has committed to donating $15,000 to nonprofits supporting each of the seven areas of critical need, totaling a minimum donation of $105,000 in 2009.


The water -- which comes in recyclable polyethylene terephthalate bottles filled with locally-sourced water -- will soon be available at coffee shops, health food stores and grocery chains around the United States. Go here -- -- for more info.

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The Gear Junkie announced today the full launch of "The Gear Junkie’s Choose-Your-Adventure Sweepstakes." The sweepstakes –- sponsored by Lazyman, a lifestyle apparel company, and REI Adventures -– will award a randomly-drawn winner their choice from one of five professionally-guided winter adventure-travel trips in early 2009. 


To sign up, go here:


In addition to airfare and the all-expenses paid trip, the winner will be outfitted head-to-toe with all the essential gear from REI, including backpacks, apparel and hardgoods like snowshoes and ice axes (depending on the adventure).



The winner and a travel companion will pick between one of five REI Adventures trips, including:


  • Mount Washington Winter Climb

  • Sequoia Winter Mountaineering Clinic

  • Yosemite Snowshoe Trip

  • Ice Climbing Basics in New Hampshire

  • White Mountains Hut-to-Hut Snowshoe


Attending the winter adventure with the winner and a guest will be The Gear Junkie, Stephen Regenold, a nationally-syndicated newspaper columnist and founder of


After the adventure, a party sponsored by Lazyman will celebrate the weekend’s accomplishments with music, food and drinks – with participants having “earned their lazy.” Finally, participants will receive additional gear for the chosen adventure from Adventure Medical Kits, Bear Naked Trail Mix and Wigwam, co-sponsors of the sweepstakes.


The sweepstakes will run from October 1 through December 17, 2008.  The trip will be chronicled daily on a blog at and video and online slideshows will be produced.


To sign up, go here:

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