ID – Sawtooth Botanical Garden and Draper Wood River Preserve

It was time to say goodbye to the Sawtooths.  I spent an incredible few weeks exploring the Sawtooths. There’s no doubt that I’ll be back.

I had several thoughts on the next leg of my journey. My primary goal for the summer was the Colorado Trail which I planned to start in July, but large early season wildfires had me concerned about this option. With intel from the Stanley Ranger Station, I traveled south on Highway 75 planning to hike the Pioneer Mountains. I’d noticed this range while hiking at Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve a few weeks earlier.  My mind and body had other thoughts and decided I needed an R&R day instead.

I found myself in Ketchum where I discovered the Sawtooth Botanical Garden, a place I could wander. 

What did I find while wandering? The Colorado state flower, blue columbine, the one I’ve been dreaming of seeing in bloom while hiking the Colorado Trail. Is it a sign? 

Still feeling restless, I discovered Hailey Greenway and Draper Wood River Preserve. What a fab hidden gem!

Bow Bridge led the way. 

I found a few wildflowers.

But mostly some nice walking trails with open spaces. 

Finding myself nearer the border of Oregon than anywhere else, and feeling the pull by friends who’d been encouraging a visit, I decided to turn my car west. 

It was now June 15th. I’d been away from home for 109 days and had put over 8,000 miles on my car. Goodbye for now Idaho, it’s been fun! 

Links:

ID – Sawtooth Wilderness, Hell Roaring Trailhead

Just like with Yellowbelly Trailhead, you hike for a bit on an old road before reaching the official trailhead. 

It seems June hiking in the Sawtooths means wet trails. 

I’ll say it again, I love bridges! 

Hell Roaring Lake 

Hell Roaring Lake had plentiful skeeters lining the trail. I was glad I hadn’t planned to camp here. It seems more of a lake for those looking to fish. 

Look at that, legitimate hiker bridges. 

Water, water everywhere. 

And then it was time for a little snow hiking and route finding.

Imogene Lake 

Look at that ridge, oh my! That looks like a fun place to explore. 

Pretty sweet campsite. According to my notes, it was light until about 10pm and the overnight low at 8,400′ was only 41F.  That’s 10 degrees warmer than inside my car the previous night.

Look at that clear water. 

First light. The trail continues over the low saddle . 

Lucky me, look at that view, and yes all mine. Once again I scored a full lake to myself. Good morning!

It’s gonna take a while for plentiful wildflowers to pay this area a visit. 

It was time to say goodbye to the Sawtooths for now. What an amazing few weeks. I can’t wait to return a little later in the season when the passes are clear of snow and the waterways are a bit safer to ford. 

Adventure Date(s):

  • June 12-13, 2018
  • Hiking Stats:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tips:

  • Permits are free and self serve at the trailhead. I wish more areas would adopt this practice.
  • It seems campfire rings might be a thing of the past. I like this philosophy. 
  • Public showers and laundry are available near Redfish Lake Lodge. 
  • Visit the Ranger Station in Stanley to determine latest trail conditions and dispersed camping options. They marked a Motor Vehicle Use map with roads appropriate for my vehicle and approved for dispersed camping. After hiking various trails I reported back to the Stanley Ranger Station and the rangers provided more and more options after each visit. Once they know your interests and abilities they are more willing to assist in the process.

Resources:

Links:

 

ID – Sawtooth Wilderness, Yellowbelly Trailhead

I found myself stuck in a few days of bad weather. 

So I spent my time catching up on chores, and picking up trash at dispersed campsites. 

And extinguishing fires abandoned by a group of youth too intoxicated to care.  

Signs like this are everywhere, but alas some just don’t care.

By now I’ve been in the Stanley area about two weeks and was seriously craving fresh fruits and vegetables, which I was grateful to find in Challis. 

I enjoyed playing tourist traveling along Highway 75. 

I visited the ghost towns of Custer and Bonanza. 

I found a great place to watch a storm and the aftermath.

Yep, it’s June in the mountains. The blue represents areas receiving snow, including me! 

On a very cold windy morning, I visited Pettit Lake hoping I’d be inspired to take a walk. 

Finally weather was to my liking and it was time to see if I could find my way to Yellowbelly (aka Yellow Belly), McDonald and Farley Lakes.

Yellowbelly Lake 

The trail started through a forest with plenty of deadfall.

Shortly thereafter it was time to get my feet wet. 

McDonald Lake 

It was definitely a wet feet kind of day. 

Between snow melt and a week of storms, creeks and waterfalls were active. 

This mountain was pulling me toward Farley Lake. 

It’s so nice when mucky trails are protected with walkways. 

Farley Lake, so picturesque! 

I believe this is looking at Pettit Lake or possibly Alturas Lake. 

Looking at one of the many waterfalls. 

My kind of perfect. 

I found a few early blooms. 

Adventure Date(s):

  • June 11, 2018
  • Hiking Stats:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tips:

  • Permits are free and self serve at the trailhead. I wish more areas would adopt this practice.
  • It seems campfire rings might be a thing of the past. I like this philosophy. 
  • Public showers and laundry are available near Redfish Lake Lodge. 
  • Visit the Ranger Station in Stanley to determine latest trail conditions and dispersed camping options. They marked a Motor Vehicle Use map with roads appropriate for my vehicle and approved for dispersed camping. After hiking various trails I reported back to the Stanley Ranger Station and the rangers provided more and more options after each visit. Once they know your interests and abilities they are more willing to assist in the process.

Resources:

Links:

 

ID – Sawtooth Wilderness, Stanley Lake Trailhead

This day was to be a recovery hike with a goal of reaching Bridal Veil and Lady Face Falls. I was feeling tuckered after snow hiking the past few days first into Sawtooth Lake from the Iron Creek Trailhead and then to Alpine Lake from the Redfish Trailhead.  

McGown Peak 

I found a few wildflowers as I went in search of those waterfalls. 

I knew there wasn’t an official trail to Lady Face Falls. I followed a few social and animal trails in pursuit but each time I was unsuccessful. Would it be a day I’d have to mark my search with a big loss?

Yep, the blue line is me searching for the overlook. My book says, “At 2.3 miles, the trail curves across and up a sharp rise in the canyon floor. Then it turns straight up the canyon again. Here you can walk .2 miles to see Lady Face Falls.” Maybe this doesn’t match up with the sign placement? I searched for views and cairns or social trails on my return trip and didn’t find additional places to explore, although the weather had deteriorated and views would have been dismal.”

Let’s see if the search for Bridal Veil Falls (aka Bridalveil Falls) would prove more successful. The trail first crossed Stanley Lake Creek. 

Definitely a day for wet feet as the trail paralleled Stanley Lake Creek. 

Once again there is no maintained trail to Bridal Veil Falls and Hanson Lakes. 

The top of the falls is barely visible but at least offers hope of reaching my goal. Access to Hansen Lakes is the right of the waterfall.

Taking a lot more risks than I should have, I reached Bridal Veil Falls. 

I had no business climbing up this steep sand and scree slope. I knew it would be near impossible to descend. As it was I spent a fair amount of time on my bum wishing I hadn’t ascended. This was one of my more stupid decisions and could have easily ended in an accident with serious consequences. I still feel quite lucky to have survived. 

Once again the safe distant view. 

Zoomed to Bridal Veil Falls. 

What a relief to return to the world of trail and flowers. 

I liked knowing this was part of the Idaho Centennial Trail. 

Stanley Lake and McGown Peak 

Once again it was my lucky day. The skies waited to dump until I was safely in my car. 

So much for a recovery hike . . . that scramble had my legs wobbly and heart beating. I’m sure a good meal will cure all that ails.

And sometimes you need a good breakfast to help with recovery. 

Adventure Date(s):

  • June 7, 2018
  • Hiking Stats:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tips:

  • Permits are free and self serve at the trailhead. I wish more areas would adopt this practice.
  • It seems campfire rings might be a thing of the past. I like this philosophy. 
  • Public showers and laundry are available near Redfish Lake Lodge. 
  • Visit the Ranger Station in Stanley to determine latest trail conditions and dispersed camping options. They marked a Motor Vehicle Use map with roads appropriate for my vehicle and approved for dispersed camping. After hiking various trails I reported back to the Stanley Ranger Station and the rangers provided more and more options after each visit. Once they know your interests and abilities they are more willing to assist in the process.

Resources:

Links:

ID – Sawtooth Wilderness, Iron Creek Trailhead

It was going to be another day to see just how far I could make it before being turned back by high snow or turbulent creeks. I met a group of guys in Stanley who told me they made it to Sawtooth Lake. It took much longer than they anticipated given the snow conditions, but they were successful. Later I found their instagram post.

The first destination was Alpine Lake. I mentioned in my last post that there are two lakes named Alpine Lake in the Sawtooths, one near Redfish Lake the other near Sawtooth Lake. 

It took a bit of snow hiking and route finding but the first objective was achieved. Hello Alpine Lake!

I met this group on my way to Alpine Lake where I was thankful to avoid their posthole steps. We reunited at Alpine Lake which they mistaken thought was Sawtooth Lake. When I broke the news we decided to team up and make our way to the next destination. I enjoyed sharing my day with them. 

The views were incredible.

We were excited to find the Sawtooth Lake outlet which flows into Iron Creek. 

Sawtooth Lake outlet. 

The approach to Sawtooth Lake.

Success! We made it to Sawtooth Lake. 

The ice break up was underway. 

We didn’t need to be reminded it was a day to stay away from the lake. None of us were interested in a polar swim. 

The trail continues . . . oh how I can’t wait to return for the full loop connecting all these areas I’ve visited. I found a couple early season wildflower blooms. 

Adventure Date(s):

  • June 6, 2018
  • Hiking Stats:

 

 

 

 

Tips:

  • BEWARE: I’ve heard this trail can see 200 hikers per day during peak season.
  • Permits are free and self serve at the trailhead. I wish more areas would adopt this practice.
  • It seems campfire rings might be a thing of the past. I like this philosophy. 
  • Public showers and laundry are available near Redfish Lake Lodge. 
  • Visit the Ranger Station in Stanley to determine latest trail conditions and dispersed camping options. They marked a Motor Vehicle Use map with roads appropriate for my vehicle and approved for dispersed camping. After hiking various trails I reported back to the Stanley Ranger Station and the rangers provided more and more options after each visit. Once they know your interests and abilities they are more willing to assist in the process.

Resources:

Links:

 

ID – Sawtooth Wilderness, Redfish Trailhead

The day prior to my hike was spent lollygagging around Redfish Lake.

Just like my hikes from the Grandjean Trailhead, I didn’t know how far I’d be able to go before being stopped by either too much snow or unsafe water crossings. The plan was to take the Redfish Lake Creek Trail to Bench Lakes and hopefully Alpine Lake, and if I was really really lucky maybe to Baron Pass. An unlikely last option was reaching Cramer Lakes.

Bridges make me happy. 

With plenty of snow lingering on the shore where the trail continues on to the rest of the lakes, I decided to turnaround here at the first Bench Lake rather than explore further. 

Back on Redfish Lake Creek Trail, I continued to enjoy views of Redfish Lake and Grand Mogul peak. 

You can take a ferry across Redfish Lake, which is a popular option to shave a few miles off this trek. On this date the majority of hikers from the boat were headed to Bench Lake. 

I was now on my way to Alpine Lake.

Redfish Lake Creek was running high and turbulent. I was grateful I wouldn’t be crossing it. 

I found this nice flat rock to camp under the stars. 

But then clouds rolled in and I chickened out and set up my tent, which was good because then the skeeters came for a visit. 

As the moon rose, I questioned my decision but was happy to enjoy the view from the comfort of my tent. 

And then this happened. YES, my decision was the right one. 

It’s a new day and I’m on my way to Alpine Lake. It should be noted there are two lakes named Alpine Lake in the Sawtooths. This one near Redfish Lake and the other near Sawtooth Lake. Very confusing. 

You’d have to cross this to get to Cramer Lakes. 

As it was, the trail to Alpine Lake started to look like a creek. 

Eek I was screaming with joy seeing these mountains. 

Forward progress was slowed by a few obstacles. 

It was obvious some didn’t make it past these obstacles. I didn’t want to join those ranks.

The reward! Yes, this is Alpine Lake. 

Look at that drainage. Oh my! 

So much granite. 

I absolutely love this type of meandering trail that follows the contour and leads to the unknown. Looking one direction.

Looking the opposite direction. 

I can’t wait to come back and cross over that pass. If I remember correctly, that’s Baron Pass which connects to the Baron Creeks trail I hiked for a bit from Grandjean. This would also mean that’s Warbonnet Peak on the left and Braxon Peak on the right, but it also might be Monte Verita Peak on the left with Warbonnet still out of view.

On my return I spent more time noticing details such as this unusual granite feature, much more sand colored than the majority. 

I also investigated more of the smaller waterfalls. 

I took time to be WOW’d by the big water features. 

At this higher elevation, wildflowers were still waiting for spring. I did find a few shooting stars. 

A sure sign spring is on it’s way though is butterflies.

Adventure Date(s):

  • June 3-5, 2018
  • Hiking Stats:

 

 

 

 

 

Tips:

  • Permits are free and self serve at the trailhead. I wish more areas would adopt this practice.
  • It seems campfire rings might be a thing of the past. I like this philosophy. 
  • Public showers and laundry are available near Redfish Lake Lodge. 
  • Visit the Ranger Station in Stanley to determine latest trail conditions and dispersed camping options. They marked a Motor Vehicle Use map with roads appropriate for my vehicle and approved for dispersed camping. After hiking various trails I reported back to the Stanley Ranger Station and the rangers provided more and more options after each visit. Once they know your interests and abilities they are more willing to assist in the process.

Resources:

Links:

 

ID – Boise NF, Kirkham Ridge Trail

I’d awoken to rain. That wasn’t in the plan. I wasn’t ready for a town day. 

After spending a couple days hiking trails from the Grandjean Trailhead, I was heading back to Stanley for more hiking in the Sawtooths. From my previous visit to the Lowman Ranger Station, I knew that Kirkham Ridge Trail #144 was conveniently located off Highway 21. By the time I reached the trailhead the rain had ceased and the skies were clearing. Lucky me! 

As I ascended I had great views of the Payette River. 

The first section of trail was along an ATV track but soon enough it turned into more traditional trail. I could have hiked this ridge all day. Thankfully I had the trail to myself. I wouldn’t have enjoyed hearing ATV’s.

I found more early spring wildflowers. 

Hmmmm, whom was sharing my trail? 

I’d seen these birds while hiking the Grandjean trails but hadn’t been able to photograph so was thankful to find them on this day. Their colors made me think of tropical birds. Anyone have an idea of what they are? 

Adventure Date(s):

  • June 1, 2018 (day 95 of this grand adventure)
  • Hiking Stats:

Tips:

  • Visit the Ranger Station in Lowman to obtain maps and details of nearby trails. You can also learn about trail conditions and dispersed camping options.

Resources:

Links: