The gang caravanned down from Glacier into the beautiful Sawtooth mountain range near Stanley, Idaho. None of us had ever been to this area, making it an even better experience.
The first night, Friday, we slept within a long stones throw (literally) of hot springs just off the highway. The four of us, led by Brandon’s engineering leadership, was able to take a ‘meh’ hot springs and turn it into a pretty nice one. After spending a busy week hiking, it was nice to lounge, chat, and drink some beers in a beautiful place. I also ended up shooting some Milky Way from the parking lot as the skies were SOOO dark.
We arose the next morning, packed up, and drove another 25 minutes to Redfish Lake where we would begin the first overnight trip in Idaho. There, the four of us merged with three other people that Austin knew, plus two more dogs. Yes, we had a heckuva group to do the backpacking trip. As we were preparing, I blew out my back lifting a water jug. It seized up and I looked like I had aged 70 years walking around trying to loosen it up. After stretching and some meds, I was able to make do for the 5-mile lake approach.
The hike up wasn’t too long, but the last mile and a half was a butt burner as we ascended towards the alpine lakes. The views up there were glamorous, though the bugs were not. I quickly donned my bug net and attempted to ignore the never-ending swarm of mosquitoes.
We all took turns getting into the lake and enjoyed the chilly water on our sore muscles. If there was ever a hangout backpacking trip, this was it. Again, I ended up shooting some milky way over the lake, watching climbers on the opposite end descend the elephant perch in the dead of night.
I ended up cowboy camping – no tent – so when the bugs came out, I woke up. This wasn’t ideal, at all, but some coffee moments later helped shake off the cobwebs. We didn’t spend too long at the upper lakes, as we wanted to hit the 12 pm boat ride that would take us back to our car.
Once across the lake, we devoured a large pizza before finding another great hot spring to soak in. We truly do love Idaho’s hot springs.
Alice Lake & Toxaway Lake Loop
With most of the group gone, Austin, Drew, and I camped out and planned our next backpacking trip into the Sawtooths. This time, to Alice and Toxaway Lake, we’d be doing two nights and about 20 miles.
These lakes were so.friggin.beautiful. We snagged a great campsite right off the water and enjoyed a stunning sunset, Milky Way, and sunrise. It was a trifecta for the ages. The hike to Alice Lake was about 6.5 miles, without too much elevation gain. Luckily, the bugs weren’t bad at the first lake.
The three of us took our time packing that morning before we began the 2-mile trek up the pass that would then drop us into the Toxaway Lake drainage area. This wasn’t too hard and the views were magnificent. The pass tops out around 9,400 and we enjoyed some snacks at the top. On the way down, around four miles, we meandered throughout wildflowers, streams, and lakes before hitting our home for the night.
We all jumped in – and woah – was it cold. Definitely colder than Saddleback Lake. Our campsite was really nice, again on the water, but the bugs were much more prevalent and that’s never, ever ideal. The three of us again shot the milky way and it was stunning as the water was glassed over.
We awoke for sunrise (can you tell we didn’t sleep a ton) and this time didn’t go back to sleep. After backpacking three out of four nights, we were ready for some real food (we got it) and a hot spring (also got it). The return hike was about 8 miles, none of it challenging, until we had to traverse a small pass the last mile of the hike. We toughed it out and soon we were back at the car.
Later that afternoon, after food and hot springing, we said goodbye to Drew and headed to Boise, Idaho where a friend generously offered up their spare bedroom and shower for us to use. It was so nice to be able to spend a night on a real mattress. Thank you to Sam and Megan for your hospitality and amazing tacos!
Off to Yakima, Washington!
Until next time adventurers, take care and be safe.
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