[Note – This is the third of five posts describing my 2010 Road Trip]
Jon and I were heading south out of Jackson, Wyoming, and were anxious to get away from the crowded campgrounds, busy restaurants and roadways. Soon we would be in the less crowded mountains and forests of central Idaho . Yellowstone and Jackson can be pretty busy and hectic in the summer months (unless you’re a few days from any busy trailheads, and humping a heavy pack). We’d had enough of the crowds, and were headed for the backwoods of Idaho!
We departed Grand Teton, NP to the south on Hwy 26, following the Snake River west into the Idaho Falls/Rigby area. We caught Hwy 28N which eventually follows the Lemhi River north to Salmon, ID., where it merges with the Salmon River.
This is near the Lemhi Pass where Lewis and Clark crossed the Continental Divide on their way west from Montana into Idaho, on Aug. 12th, 1805. The Lemhi Historical Museum has good displays of local history, and the Sacajawea Interpretive, Cultural & Educational Center has good information on local Lewis and Clark history, including the history of Sacajawea, the Shoshone woman married to French fur trader Charbonneau, who was part of the Lewis and Clark expedition. Sacajawea was an Agai Dika Lemhi Shoshone, and she served as the translator for Lewis and Clark on their journey west.
From Salmon, we headed south on Hwy 93, following the Salmon River upstream to Challis, where we caught Hwy 75 west to Stanley, ID. Stanley is located in the Sawtooth National Recreation Area. The area is bounded on the west and southwest by the Sawtooth National Forest and the Sawtooth Wilderness. It is remote, wild, and beautiful country.
We checked in with the Forest Service at the Stanley Ranger Station, regarding camping and fire conditions in the area. Jon had camped at Redfish Lake in the past, and conditions were good there, so that became our base camp for the next few days. We camped in the Mt. Heyburn Campground at 6,600′, and explored the surrounding area a bit before calling it a day. We had a clear sky and a very bright moonlit night- you could literally see around the campsite in the middle of the night!
Next morning we had some energy bars and coffee and drove back through Stanley to the Iron Creek turnoff and drove a few miles to a small parking lot. After a short hike we found the Iron Creek Trailhead which would take us into the Sawtooth Wilderness Area and up to Sawtooth Lake. It was a bright sunny day, not too hot, just perfect weather for a good climb to a glacial lake. I think it was about a 10 mile round-trip hike, so a day pack with the regular supplies (water and filter, first-aid kit, rain-gear, compass and map, a few energy bars, a flashlight, a knife and bear spray) was all we needed. It’s difficult to bad-mouth this car-camping and day-hiking… it was most definitely ‘easy-living.’ And it sure beat flying to our main destinations for this road trip (Yosemite and Kings Canyon/Rae Lakes Loop). We were just getting warmed-up, and acclimated to some altitude in the process of getting out there!
It was my understanding that there was a small glacier up here 10-15 years ago, but from our views we could not find any glacier, perhaps it melted. Global warming maybe. But then, back in Minnesota we used to have glaciers over a mile thick, and they too began melting– about 10,000 years ago. It had nothing to do with fossil fuel combustion though. Personally, I’m glad they melted. I like Minnesota just fine without the glaciers. And I probably wouldn’t be writing this blog if the glaciers were still in Minnesota. But I digress.
No glaciers up here either, at least from our viewing positions. Sure is beautiful, though.
I guess the heavy winter snowfalls, combined with the steep slopes and the remaining heavy glacial moraine are adequate to maintain water levels and the ‘glacial look/color’ in these alpine lakes. Simply beautiful!
This cracked boulder is likely the result of freezing and thawing water over many, many years. On the way down, I took many similar pictures to show my grand-kids, a demonstration of the power of nature over time. There were also several examples of burn areas, large trees with fire scars for example, demonstrating the power of nature over a short period of time. The grand-kids are all old enough now to get out on the trails and see such examples for themselves. They don’t stay young for very long! But, I guess none of us do for that matter!
We had dehydrated dinners and fresh-filtered water for an early meal after our hike, and a couple of apples for desert. Jon cut some firewood, and we enjoyed a nice small fire for several hours as night approached. We sipped a little brandy and enjoyed a cigar, as we talked about our hike… and what a great hike it was!
Discussing our schedule and options, we decided that we’d pack up in the morning and drive down to Ketchum and Sun Valley, mail a few things we’d picked up along the way back home, get lunch, then head southwest to Reno or Carson City. We had Yosemite on our minds! It would be a long drive.
Next morning we packed up early and hit the road. We ended up stopping at REI in Reno to get something… more dehydrated food, I think, then kept driving. We ended up in a nice two-story motel in June Lake, CA– ( possibly the June Lake Lodge) just a few miles south of the east entrance to Yosemite.
June Lake is a great little community, and if you’ve never been there, I highly recommend it… even as a get-away destination. In addition, it’s only about 30 miles south of Tioga Pass (9,945′), which is the east entrance to Yosemite!
Life on the road can be a grind… but not this day. We found a great meal with a cold beer about a block from our room, and then hit the sac early. The plan was to spend a couple of days here, day-hiking off Tioga Road in Yosemite, in Tuolumne Meadows, and to visit Yosemite Valley briefly.
We would then drive out the south Park entrance on 41 to Fresno, then into Kings Canyon on 180. We planned to meet two friends, John and Rick for some backpacking in Kings Canyon, the Rae Lakes Loop– and this time we had reservations made and permits ready for pick up at the Trail’s End Ranger Station! John and Rick had flown out and would meet us at Cedar Grove, in Kings Canyon. We would all day-hike for a couple of days, allowing them to acclimate somewhat to the higher elevations. Then we’d strap on the backpacks for nine-ten days.
You can read about my aborted backpacking trip to hike the Rae Lakes Loop in Kings Canyon during late summer, 2007 here— we were snowed out!
Note- Excellent Guided Hike planned for the Superior Hiking Trail in August
August 13 – Guided Hike, Highway 1 to Silver Bay. 11.1 miles, 10:00 AM
I highly recommend this rugged section of the SHT- a great hike! See the Baptism River High Falls and hike through the wilderness of Tettegouche State Park. Climb up Mount Trudee, past Palisade Creek, and take in Bear and Bean Lakes. Meet at Penn Blvd Trailhead in Silver Bay, MN. At Hwy 61 milepost 54.3, turn left at stoplight on Outer Drive and go 1.5 miles to Penn Blvd. Continue straight 0.5 miles on Penn Blvd to parking lot on right. Vehicles will be staged at each end of the hike so folks can get back to their vehicles after completing the hike. This is a good one folks!
Attention HAM Radio Operators!
June 25-26, 2016
ARRL Field Day is the most popular amateur radio ‘on-the-air event’ held annually in the US and Canada. On the fourth weekend of June, more than 35,000 radio amateurs gather with their clubs, groups or simply with friends to operate from remote locations. Check with your local radio clubs for added information. I plan to spend several hours with my club over the weekend- learning how to set things up (antennas, radios, cables, power options, etc.) and gain some operating experience.