2011.07.05 – The Sawtooth Wilderness

Since it seemed that summer had finally arrived (it was late-June after all) it was time to do some camping with my folks. We drove their new fifth-wheel trailer to Redfish Lake, ID and called the Sawtooth Wilderness home for almost a week. The week flew by with absolutely gorgeous weather, one gourmet home cooked meal after another, jam sessions, and plenty of soul-refueling trail runs in the mountains.

Mom, Dad and I at Redfish Lake, ID with the Sawtooth Wilderness in the background.

Mom, Dad and I at Redfish Lake, ID with the Sawtooth Wilderness in the background.

This trip might have spoiled me a bit as far as camping goes! From quiche, orange rolls and fresh ground coffee in the mornings to steaks, fresh salads, and Black Butte Porter in the evenings, there wasn’t a package of ramen noodles to be found! We even brought our instruments so several evenings the three of us had outdoor jam sessions with Mom on fiddle, Dad on guitar, and me on keyboard.

Mom and Dad with their "rig", ready for a retirement of land yachting the continent!

Mom and Dad with their "rig", ready for a retirement of land yachting the continent!

Dad the barista grinding the morning's coffee beans with the help of the Honda generator.

Dad the barista grinding the morning's coffee beans with the help of the Honda generator.

One nice thing about Idaho is the abundance of hot springs. Thanks to Zac and Misty’s guidebook we were able to find two very cool hot springs in the area, each with incredible views and very few other people.

Soaking at Kirkham Hot Springs on the South Fork of the Payette River.

Soaking at Kirkham Hot Springs on the South Fork of the Payette River.

Hot potting near Stanley, ID next to the Salmon River, Sawtooths in the background.

Hot potting near Stanley, ID next to the Salmon River, Sawtooths in the background.

Several thousand mosquitoes were happy to get out my view for this shot in exchange for blood.

Several thousand mosquitoes were happy to get out my view for this shot in exchange for blood.

Dusk at Redfish Lake - Composite Image

Dusk at Redfish Lake - Composite Image

The Sawtooth Wilderness is a hikers paradise. The three of us hiked nearly every day and I would then continue on to some destination that had captured my interest from the map. In the five days we were there I hiked and trail-ran 60 miles and climbed over 11,000 vertical feet. I just couldn’t help it, the mountains were so inviting I felt it would have been rude to turn them down!

Hiking up to the ridge west of Redfish Lake.

Hiking up to the ridge west of Redfish Lake.

Lunch break before continuing on solo to the Bench Lakes.

Lunch break before continuing on solo to the Bench Lakes.

The 2nd Bench Lake.

The 2nd Bench Lake.

The 3rd Bench Lake.

The 3rd Bench Lake.

The 4th Bench Lake, still frozen at 8,650'.

The 4th Bench Lake, still frozen at 8,650'.

Little Redfish Lake, Redfish Lake, and the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Bench Lakes viewed from the 4th Bench Lake.

Little Redfish Lake, Redfish Lake, and the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Bench Lakes viewed from the 4th Bench Lake.

The following is dedicated to my dear friend Victor the Malaysian Sensation, who during his tenure in the US made quite a case that he was part polar bear. There was no water too cold for him and if you didn’t eagerly follow him into whatever icy mountain lake he took a fancy to there would be some taunting words headed your direction! Come back to the USA Victor, the water is nice and cold here!

Ever wished 10 seconds could last an eternity? Try swimming in snow water while waiting for the camera's self timer to go off!

Ever wished 10 seconds could last an eternity? Try swimming in snow water while waiting for the camera's self timer to go off!

Evening light on the way home above Redfish Lake with Mount Mogul (9,733') behind.

Evening light on the way home above Redfish Lake with Mount Mogul (9,733') behind.

Evening light on the way home above Redfish Lake with Mount Mogul (9,733') behind. - Composite image

Evening light on the way home above Redfish Lake with Mount Mogul (9,733') behind. - Composite image

Threatening morning rain clouds over Redfish Lake - HDR

Threatening morning rain clouds over Redfish Lake - HDR

Dad taking pictures at Hell Roaring Lake.

Dad taking pictures at Hell Roaring Lake.

Looking up at the Finger of Fate (9,775') above Hell Roaring Lake.

Looking up at the Finger of Fate (9,775') above Hell Roaring Lake.

The previously un-named Cargo Lake below Decker Peak (10,704').

The previously un-named Cargo Lake below Decker Peak (10,704').

Riding the Redfish Lake shuttle boat, which cuts off 6 miles of hiking back to camp.

Riding the Redfish Lake shuttle boat, which cuts off 6 miles of hiking back to camp.

Someone peacefully anchored on Redfish Lake, a sign of my year to come. (Photo by Dad)

Someone peacefully anchored on Redfish Lake, a sign of my year to come. (Photo by Dad)

Mom and I with the Sawtooths behind. (Photo by Dad)

Mom and I with the Sawtooths behind. (Photo by Dad)

The last day’s adventure was pure sprinkles. I had been eying a few destinations on the trail map, but with only one day left there was no choice but to hit them all in a row. Catching the 9 AM shuttle boat to the trail head, I was soon miles up the trail and switch backing up to Alpine Lake, still completely frozen over. From there it was a slow climb through deep snow and rock up to and along Baron Divide for amazing views of the entire wilderness. Back down below Alpine Lake, the trail’s usual mellow river crossing was instead a raging river of spring runoff, requiring a half mile of bushwhacking upstream to find an acceptable log jam to get across. From there it was only four miles up a different trail to my final destination, the Cramer Lakes. Arriving with just enough time to take a few pictures and refill my water bottles with snow, I turned around with less than two hours to make the seven or eight miles back to the 5 PM shuttle boat. With the help of a little Bush and Static-X in the headphones, my fatigue gave way to the manic euphoria of a runner’s high like never before. I sprinted down the last three miles like a rabid springbok, shrieking with joy and leaping from rock to rock in motions more like flying than running, arriving at the shuttle boat 30 seconds before they left for home.

The day's adventure starts with a step onto the trail.

The day's adventure starts with a step onto the trail.

Does this still count as trail running?

Does this still count as trail running?

Nearing Baron Divide, if only I could have temporarily traded my running shoes for crampons and skis!

Nearing Baron Divide, if only I could have temporarily traded my running shoes for crampons and skis!

High point for the day at about 9,320' somewhere along Baron Divide.

High point for the day at about 9,320' somewhere along Baron Divide.

The view from Baron Divide, with the Baron Lakes, Alpine Lake, lower Cramer Lake, Elephants Perch, and countless peaks visible.

The view from Baron Divide, with the Baron Lakes, Alpine Lake, lower Cramer Lake, Elephants Perch, and countless peaks visible.

The barely thawed lower Cramer Lake.

The barely thawed lower Cramer Lake.

Elephants Perch - 1,000' of sheer granite. Next trip I'll be prepared with a few more carabiners.

Elephants Perch - 1,000' of sheer granite. Next trip I'll be prepared with a few more carabiners.

Meanwhile Mom and Dad had hiked much further than planned as well, putting over seven miles behind them to the Bench Lakes. Quite impressive, especially considering that Mom injured her back several months ago and has only recently been out and about again. I’m proud of you guys, keep it up!

Mom headed to the Bench Lakes. (Photo by Dad)

Mom headed to the Bench Lakes. (Photo by Dad)

On the way home the open road was a sure reminder that in a few days the Camel and I would be headed for our next destination, but not before Dad and I tackled the broken water pump. A thorough inspection found the failed seal and by the end of the day the engine was leak free and (knock on wood) ready for many thousand more miles.

The open road on the way home, with Mount Borah (Idaho's highest peak at 12,662') on the left.

The open road on the way home, with Mount Borah (Idaho's highest peak at 12,662') on the left.

Fixin' the Camel with the guy who taught me how to fix stuff! (Photo by Mom)

Fixin' the Camel with the guy who taught me how to fix stuff! (Photo by Mom)

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3 Responses to 2011.07.05 – The Sawtooth Wilderness

  1. Bailey says:

    Amazing views – so there IS more to Idaho than just potatoes! How in the world did you get the picture of your legs scaling the rockface, though??

    • rcargo says:

      Turns out that despite lacking opposable thumbs, pikas aren’t too bad at taking pictures, but you do have to bribe them with potatoes. :-) Just kidding, there was actually a small ledge there big enough for a miniature tripod.

  2. chris shannon says:

    Would you please contact me at chrisshannon1@yahoo.com? I am heading to Stanley and have a few questions for you. Your photos are amazing. Thanks so much for sharing them! Chris

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