Saturday, October 16, 2010

Sawtooth National Recreation Area – Days 3, 4 and 5

Note: We keep track of day by where we slept that night – sometimes it’s a bit off from what we did that day.

We were antsy to get out of the car for an extended period of time – so we went backcountry camping in the Pioneer Mountains. With very little guidance from the ranger, we headed off towards Alice Lake with backpacks strapped on. 

The first few miles were fairly flat as it meandered along a stream.  At one point, I was crossing the stream over a fallen down tree and had stopped to take a picture.  Graham says – be careful.  There is a snake right by your foot.  Of course, I think he’s kidding and as I turn around to say that’s not funny, I catch a glimpse of a Western Garter Snake.  

Eventually, we did start to climb – and gained a total elevation change of (approx.) 1600 feet.  We started to see glimpses of the White Cloud Peaks as we headed up the mostly White Fir and Aspen forest.  

Our goal for the night was to pass Alice Lake and camp at Toxaway Lake.  We started to pass by little lakes that we just beautiful with the fall colors shinning in the evening sun.  There were two mini-lakes that were connected by this waterfall.  The basin in this area was truly breath taking.

We didn’t make it all the way to Toxaway Lake because it was starting to get dark.  However, we camped in between the two lakes at the Twin Lakes.  Down in a rocky basin, there are two lakes, so calm and still, that were barely separated by a small stretch of earth.  When we were trying to fall asleep, I kept thinking I was hearing something because I could hear my own heart beating. 

In the morning, we woke up the sun reflecting a mirror image of the rocky slopes to the west of us.  We went over to the sunny side for breakfast and a morning stretch before finishing the loop.

We headed up the ridge, which gives you a better view of what the lakes looked like form above.  The little pond in front of the two lakes didn’t have a name – but it rested over these two that were our home for the night.

We hiked 9.5 miles that day back down the other side of the ridgeline.  We heard Pikas for a good majority of the hike, which are relatives of the rabbit that live in rocky high altitude areas.  They sound a bit like a squeak toy that you would give to a dog.

The Sawtooth Wilderness surpassed our expectations of mid-Idaho and I would definitely recommend making a stop if you are in the area.  

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