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The Sawtooth Redemption

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Offline bjbriggs

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Re: The Sawtooth Redemption
« Reply #15 on: September 03, 2009, 01:49:22 PM »
Jeff, That looked like a neat trip..... :eusa_clap: :eusa_clap:

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Offline jeffblaylock

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Re: The Sawtooth Redemption
« Reply #16 on: September 03, 2009, 02:54:19 PM »
TJ, thanks for collecting and posting all the Spot messages. I didn't include myself on the distribution, so I didn't get any of the messages. Looks like they all went through.
Jeff Blaylock
Austin, Texas

"We'll be back, someday soon. We will return, someday, and when we do the gritty
splendor and the complicated grandeur of Big Bend will still be here. Waiting for us."--Ed Abbey

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Offline jeffblaylock

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Re: The Sawtooth Redemption
« Reply #17 on: September 05, 2009, 11:57:52 AM »
The trails in Idaho’s Sawtooth Mountains are designed to provide access to dozens of beautiful lakes nestled beneath the craggy peaks. I hear the fishing is terrific, though I did not cast a single line. In fact, I got lots of strange looks when I answered “Do you fish?” in the negative, as if their unasked follow-up question were, “Then what are you doing here?”

This post highlights most of the named lakes I visited during the second and third days on the trail, plus the first lake of the fourth day. I add this last one because it was the last lake before the first major mountain pass. There were no lakes seen on the first day, but there are plenty more where these came from.



The first named lake I encountered was Elk Lake, a small, shallow lake along the South Fork Payette River. Located at around 6,700 feet of elevation, the lake is mostly hidden by the trees except for a clearing near its outlet. The meadow behind confirms the swampy nature of the area, and mosquitoes were abundant.



I left the South Fork Payette River trail at a junction with a trail heading upstream roughly along Benedict Creek. Benedict Lake (8,225′) is the first “real” lake along my path into these mountains. The lake dully reflected the bald pate of a shield-like unnamed peak behind it, but clouds were gathering, and a light sprinkle began off and on. I was planning on taking a side trail over a pass to two prettier lakes, but decided I didn’t want to get stuck on the pass if a storm developed. Instead, I continued on my trail toward the aptly named Tenlake Basin.



Rock Slide Lake is probably the single most appropriately named body of water in the Sawtooths. A large rock slide flows into the lake’s southern end, down from an unnamed peak. I camped here for the second night, joined by thousands of mosquitoes but no people. In fact, I hadn’t seen a person all day. The clouds broke up just enough to permit the sun to light the slide softly while cotton balls glided by overhead. I retreated to my hammock before sunset. My pastime was flicking mosquitoes off the taut netting over the hammock. They made a satisfying thud when they hit the canopy.

Shortly after sunset, the clouds returned, and it rained for most of the night. The new canopy — much larger and easier to deploy than the old one — provided plenty of cover, keeping me and my gear dry, even as I packed everything up the next rainy morning. There were well-timed breaks in the bad weather, though.



I’m not sure what contributed most to Lake Ingeborg’s incredible scenic quality. The entire shoreline was covered with blooming, mostly purple wildflowers. The lake was lined by serrated peaks streaked by deep gullies and rock fields. The clouds opened up just enough to let some sun shine through. The mosaic of rocks in the shallows were uniformly white and rectangular, like a sunken library of books. The water reflected the mountains and clouds.

My admiration ended quickly, though, as the rain returned. It would stick around for the next couple of hours, at first just an off-and-on drizzle, eventually as a steady shower.



Similar to, but far less spectacular than, Rock Slide Lake, this unnamed body of water near the Spangle Lakes features a jagged peak and a couple of chutes of rocky debris above water nearly 9,000 feet above sea level. Dark clouds hung over the scene, so I didn’t linger, descending instead to its larger cousins.



By this point, the rain was starting to fall in earnest. I crossed the outlet stream over this logjam, most of which was solid, and picked my way up the divide separating the Spangle Lakes from Tenlake Basin. Along the way, I found shelter under several huge spruce trees, where I had a bite to eat and got to stay dry without my hood and umbrella shielding me. Once over the divide, the rain stopped, but the clouds remained, touching the mountaintops.



I believe that is Glen’s Peak (10,053′) shrouded in clouds across the near shoreline of Ardeth Lake, one of the largest high mountain lakes in the Sawtooths. Popular with horse parties, Ardeth Lake has numerous campsites along its northwest shore, and I stopped here for a long lunch, hoping the rain would stay away. From here, I hiked a fairly short distance to Vernon Lake, pictured at the top of this post, and onward to a high saddle separating it from larger Edna Lake. I hoped the higher, dry land would have fewer mosquitoes, which happily turned out to be the case. A short walk down to Vernon Lake provided a stunning view of Pt. 9105 and Pt. 9941 at sunset.



From my campsite itself, I had tree-obstructed views of both lakes. I spent the time before sunset along Vernon Lake’s short and did not venture over to Edna Lake until the next morning.



This was the view along Edna Lake on the fourth morning of my hike. I’d be back to this very spot a few days later, after retrieving my resupply. Turning away from the beautiful reflection of the mountains and the sun-tinged pines, I started the long climb up Sand Mountain Pass, where spectacular views awaited.

Jeff Blaylock
Austin, Texas

"We'll be back, someday soon. We will return, someday, and when we do the gritty
splendor and the complicated grandeur of Big Bend will still be here. Waiting for us."--Ed Abbey

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Offline russco

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Re: The Sawtooth Redemption
« Reply #18 on: September 06, 2009, 05:32:43 PM »
Haven't been chatting on the BBC Boards in a while. Glad I stopped back in...Always enjoy reading your well penned reports! Cheerio! :eusa_clap:
Carved upon my stone: my body lie but still I ROAM

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Offline jeffblaylock

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Re: The Sawtooth Redemption
« Reply #19 on: September 07, 2009, 05:03:03 PM »
A month of sunsets

Couple of pics here, rest in the link above:


Imogene Lake in Idaho


Alpine Lake in Idaho


North Rim of the Grand Canyon
Jeff Blaylock
Austin, Texas

"We'll be back, someday soon. We will return, someday, and when we do the gritty
splendor and the complicated grandeur of Big Bend will still be here. Waiting for us."--Ed Abbey

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Offline mountaindocdanny

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Re: The Sawtooth Redemption
« Reply #20 on: September 09, 2009, 11:38:40 AM »
I love the shot of Imogene. Nice symmetry!

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Offline Undertaker

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Re: The Sawtooth Redemption
« Reply #21 on: September 09, 2009, 01:33:51 PM »
Can't wait for the rest of the photos and trip report, I am damn near retired and can't figure how to take that much time away from the honeydo's.
Visiting BB since 1966, nothing like being lost and finding heaven.

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Offline homerboy2u

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Re: The Sawtooth Redemption
« Reply #22 on: September 09, 2009, 08:31:27 PM »
Can't wait for the rest of the photos and trip report, I am damn near retired and can't figure how to take that much time away from the honeydo's.

  :rolling: :rolling:...well i am a far cry from retirement right now,but i was thinking the same thing. Anyhow,cheers and more power to you,Jeff.. :icon_lol:. Life in the single lane,still has it's perks.

 BTW,i'm running out of pretzels and beers for these people here......
Stay thirsty, my friends.

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chisos_muse

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Re: The Sawtooth Redemption
« Reply #23 on: September 09, 2009, 08:56:24 PM »
Hey now gentlemen, being single and being married both have their good & bad. Ya can't have everything!  :eusa_hand:  Well, maybe Randell, but that's it!  :rolling:

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Offline jeffblaylock

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Re: The Sawtooth Redemption
« Reply #24 on: September 09, 2009, 11:42:08 PM »


Snowyside Peak (left) reflects in the still waters of gorgeous Toxaway Lake, one of the Sawtooths' most breathtaking bodies of water.

This second post highlighting the lakes of the Sawtooth Mountains covers the middle three days of the backpack, roughly following the Pettit-Hellroaring route, but beginning and ending at Sand Mountain Pass. The trail down from the pass provides spectacular views of Toxaway Lake (Photos from the pass will be presented in a future post.). Unfortunately, I was not able to camp at this lake; I had to press on over a second pass, Snowyside, and on to the beautiful lakes beyond.



The trail heading up the flank of Snowyside Peak passes three increasingly larger, unnamed lakes. The last of these, labeled as Lake 8,779 on the USGS quad, sits directly beneath the pyramidal summit of 10,651-foot Snowyside Peak. The pass is between this peak and the unnamed high point (Pt. 10,052) about 600 vertical feet and 0.75 mile from this lake. The trail stays above the lake, but provides a striking view of its blue water beneath the gray mountain.



Once over the pass, the first sight is of the spectacular Twin Lakes backed by a line of unnamed peaks. The further lake is actually 4 feet higher than the nearer lake, and they are separated by a narrow strip of rock lined with pines. The trail switchbacks down a slope of rubble and rocks, a taste of which appears in the lower left of the frame. The trail traverses it in a long arc which stays above the lakes. Once on the canyon floor, another trail backtracks to the lakes, while I stayed on the main trail to my goal for the day, Alice Lake.



This peak has a name: El Capitan. At 9,901 feet in elevation, it looms 1,300 feet above the lake and collects light from the setting sun to grand effect. Alice Lake is one of the more popular lakes in the Sawtooths. I picked a camping spot near the shore without realizing another group had set up their fishing camp less than 50 feet away, but we kept quiet and didn’t disturb each other. A couple of other fishermen arrived before sunrise to cast flies.



The next day was Hiker Christmas. I hiked down the trail to Pettit Lake, retrieved my bear cannister full of provisions and clean socks, and had my daily hot meal at a campsite down by the shore. The photo above was actually taken several days later, when I retrieved the bear cannister now filled with trash and some gear I chose not to carry the rest of the way. Pettit Lake was actually the first lake in the Sawtooths I visited, having come here to drop off the resupply. Pettit is the only lake on the trek which is reachable by car, so personal watercraft were dotting the lake and cabins lined the far shore. Parks Peak is the most prominent mountain in the background.



From Pettit Lake, the poorly designed trail steeply climbs, briefly traverses, and steeply descends into the Yellowbelly drainage, passing swampy McDonald Lake. I put my raingear on as the clouds gathered and drops began to fall. Mosquitoes were especially prevalent here. I did not linger, as I still had miles to go to reach the Hellroaring drainage. Many of those miles were along a maze of jeep roads, but I eventually found my way to Hellroaring Creek. The lakes upstream would make the tedious trek worthwhile.



Hellroaring Lake sits beneath 10,716-foot Mt. Cramer (left), around which I would walk, and the aptly named Finger of Fate, the prominent rock spire on the right.



A long climb gains more than 1,000 feet to the last major lake of this part of the loop, Imogene Lake, which sits beneath Mt. Cramer. This photo was taken from a beautiful rock outcrop near the lake outlet. I shared this spot with three hikers before hiking a short distance along the southern shore to a beautiful campsite. My plan was to summit Mt. Cramer the next day but decided against it, a moment of common sense prevailing over bravado. Instead, I would cover a pair of unnamed mountain passes before once again crossing Sand Mountain Pass and returning to the shore of Lake Edna.
Jeff Blaylock
Austin, Texas

"We'll be back, someday soon. We will return, someday, and when we do the gritty
splendor and the complicated grandeur of Big Bend will still be here. Waiting for us."--Ed Abbey

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Offline jeffblaylock

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Re: The Sawtooth Redemption
« Reply #25 on: September 17, 2009, 11:34:36 PM »


If you find yourself entering Bliss, there are three things you should keep in mind:
  • You'll have little company, as most of the people in this modern world lives outside Bliss
  • The speed limit is 40 miles per hour, and
  • Compression brakes are prohibited by ordinance, as they are most unblissful.

So drive slow, with your vehicle's regular brakes, and be thankful you’ve finally found your way to Bliss.
« Last Edit: September 17, 2009, 11:39:45 PM by jeffblaylock »
Jeff Blaylock
Austin, Texas

"We'll be back, someday soon. We will return, someday, and when we do the gritty
splendor and the complicated grandeur of Big Bend will still be here. Waiting for us."--Ed Abbey

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Offline jeffblaylock

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Re: The Sawtooth Redemption
« Reply #26 on: September 22, 2009, 12:36:04 AM »


Predawn scene from my campsite at Alice Lake, where, about 10 hours earlier, I had my first encounter with a mountain lion.
Jeff Blaylock
Austin, Texas

"We'll be back, someday soon. We will return, someday, and when we do the gritty
splendor and the complicated grandeur of Big Bend will still be here. Waiting for us."--Ed Abbey

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Offline mule ears

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Re: The Sawtooth Redemption
« Reply #27 on: September 22, 2009, 07:54:46 AM »
... where, about 10 hours earlier, I had my first encounter with a mountain lion.


And the rest of the story about that lion?  :eusa_whistle: and a picture of it for Homero  :icon_biggrin:
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no shade, no water
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Offline jeffblaylock

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Re: The Sawtooth Redemption
« Reply #28 on: September 23, 2009, 11:51:12 PM »
Not much to tell about the lion. It was sunning itself on a boulder as I came around a corner. We saw each other, I jumped back, and it jumped down into some brush between me and the boulder. I picked a path up the hillside to avoid going past its new hiding place. I wasn't sure if there were any mountain lions there, so I asked a ranger later about it. He said, "You mean a cougar? Yeah, the mountains are full of them." I replied, "We call them mountain lions in Texas. 'Cougars' mean something altogether different."
Jeff Blaylock
Austin, Texas

"We'll be back, someday soon. We will return, someday, and when we do the gritty
splendor and the complicated grandeur of Big Bend will still be here. Waiting for us."--Ed Abbey

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Offline jeffblaylock

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Re: The Sawtooth Redemption
« Reply #29 on: September 23, 2009, 11:57:28 PM »
The next few pics come from a dayhike I took to Goat Lake the day after my backpacking trek ended. It wasn't originally something I was planning on visiting, but several locals raved about it. One said it got its name because you have to be a goat to reach it.


Pt. 10,084 (left) and Williams Peak, as seen from above Goat Creek

The trail ends about 1/3 mile before, and 600 feet below, the lake outlet. A steep climb up several chutes and then a difficult boulder hop are needed to reach the lake.


This is the view just after hopping the creek, still 100+ feet below the lake.

Goat Lake is breathtaking and very much worth the effort to reach it.







More details on the hike here.
Jeff Blaylock
Austin, Texas

"We'll be back, someday soon. We will return, someday, and when we do the gritty
splendor and the complicated grandeur of Big Bend will still be here. Waiting for us."--Ed Abbey

 


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