Archive for the ‘Hiking’ Category

Hell Roaring Hike in the Sawtooths (Part 2)

September 8, 2016

Monday August 22. Up early at Redfish Lake Lodge to check out the mountains. It’s smoky up here due to the Pioneer Fire that’s been burning in the Boise National Forest since July 28.

8/22/16: Mount Heyburn overlooking Redfish Lake

8/22/16: Mount Heyburn overlooking Redfish Lake

The amount of smoke depends on the shifting of the winds. Not too bad today. Breakfast at the lodge, then we’ll hit the trail! Eric has talked the other seven of us into the hike to Hell Roaring Lake. We’re at the trailhead now:

5 miles to Hell Roaring Lake!

5 miles to Hell Roaring Lake!

Yeah, so five miles to the Lake, five miles back … Eric leads the group. The first part of the hike is the most strenuous. The trail climbs more than 300 feet up through a dense lodgepole pine forest.

David and Megan

David and Megan

David, Megan and I bring up the rear and lose the others quickly. You walk along the creek in the beginning,


but then the trail veers away from the creek.


The path is well-worn and dusty. Long, but not strenuous. Question is, are you in good enough shape to hike 10 miles? David, Megan and I trudged along for three miles and then decided to find a place to sit for a picnic. Hey this place looks good, some fallen trees to sit on!

Time for a picnic

Time for a picnic

What the heck. We’ve lost the others. It’s still two miles to the lake. How about we call it good and head back?

We take a selfie

Megan, Jody, David

Megan, Jody, David

Then I capture a photo of the area across the path from us:

Pine beetle devastation?

Pine beetle devastation?

Lodgepole pines have been stressed by consistent dry summers, leaving them vulnerable to pine beetles. No wonder wild fires are raging in Idaho.


Meanwhile, Eric, Paul, Pauline, Adam and Meredith make it to the lake. They shared their photos with me. So now you and I get to experience Hell Roaring Lake vicariously through their photos! Just think, too, it has saved us the stress, time, and wear and tear of getting there.

We’ve arrived at Hell Roaring Lake!

Photo taken by Meredith

Photo taken by Meredith

The lake is pretty, but if you want the good views of the mountains you need to cross the inlet and walk another half mile. Look carefully at the center of the photo and you’ll see: the only way to cross the inlet is to traverse a log. Here I have zoomed the photo so you can see – the log is near the center of the photo:

 you have to cross the log

you have to cross the log

Great. You’re already exhausted, do you really need to put yourself through this?

Of course you do. Eric leads the way across the inlet. Adam and Meredith follow. Pauline and Paul decide not to bother with that last half mile. Me personally, I suspect I would need a bit of coaxing to maneuver my exhausted body across the log and beyond. If you think at this juncture you do want to cross the inlet and walk that last half mile … follow Eric, Adam and Meredith. We’re at the log now. Hmmmmm. Hesitating on this. How to cross it without slipping, scraping your ankle, twisting a knee??? No worry. Meredith will now demonstrate how it’s done:

Ha. Piece of cake – if you’ve had years of gymnastics training. Okay so now we have walked the last half mile along the lake for a close-up view of the Finger of Fate (at 9,775 feet) and other peaks. Here are Eric’s photos

Adam and Meredith

Adam and Meredith

Finger of Fate - still a bit smoky

Finger of Fate – still a bit smoky

We arrive back at the Lodge starving and exhausted. The wind has shifted direction – and it’s smoky again:

Back at the Lodge

Back at the Lodge

We drive to Stanley for dinner

Smoky in Stanley!

Smoky in Stanley!

Sunset view of Sawtooths from Stanley

Sunset view of Sawtooths from Stanley

The smoke clears again on Tuesday. We’re a bit tired so we just hang out at the lodge and on the lake. Meredith and Pauline both rent kayaks:

Meredith kayaking on Redfish Lake

Meredith kayaking on Redfish Lake

The rest of us just hang out. Except for Eric, a.k.a. ‘Mountain goat,’ who was off on another huge hike.

A patio table near the outside bar and concession stand overlooking the lake, serves our purposes just fine

The self-proclaimed Three Wise Men declaring one beer is not enough

The self-proclaimed Three Wise Men declaring one beer is not enough

Megan orders an ice cream. Double scoop, please…

A little top heavy -  what to do with it?

A little top-heavy – what to do with it?

We shop at the General Store:

Yes, they sell apple pie

Yes, they sell apple pie

Matching sweatshirts for Megan and Pauline!


We spot the perfect miniature poodle girlfriend for Rudy:


She could teach him a thing or two about healthy eating habits:

in case you wondered, Rudy is also a miniature poodle

In case you wondered, Rudy is also a miniature poodle

Wednesday morning the winds blow in our favor – the air is clear! But we have to check out and drive home. That figures. I snap one last clear photo of Mt. Heyburn before we hit the road:

Redfish Lake, Wednesday August 24, 2016

Redfish Lake, Wednesday August 24, 2016

I don’t snap any decent photos of the Sawtooths on the drive home. But Eric does:



Well, I take that back. The best views of the Sawtooths are from lower Stanley. Unfortunately, they were behind us as we drove through Stanley.

So I captured a photo of the Sawtooths in our rear view mirror.


Oh, and that’s Paul driving my blue Avalon, with Adam and Meredith.

Redfish Lake

September 3, 2015

Every summer we try to stay a couple of nights at Redfish Lake in the Sawtooth Mountains near Stanley, Idaho. This year we rented a cabin for two nights (August 23-25) while David’s sister, Pauline, was visiting.

Redfish is about a 4-hour drive from Idaho Falls. We usually stop in Sun Valley for lunch on the way. Then we head up Highway 75 – the Sawtooth Scenic byway – to Galena Summit, at 8701 feet. We always pull over to take in the view of the Sawtooths. I captured this photo from the summit – mid-afternoon, August 23.


It is smoky today so you don’t see the far right end of the range where Redfish Lake is nestled at the base of Mount Heyburn. Check out this wiki-link to Galena Summit for a better photo and information…

We’ve checked into our cabin and wander up to the lodge – pose for photos – David and Megan in front of the lodge,

Redfish Lake Lodge

Redfish Lake Lodge

and Megan and I in front of the lake. Mount Heyburn is the craggy granite peak poking up on the far right.


Another view of the lake and Mount Heyburn:

Mount Heyburn

Mount Heyburn

Eric, Pauline, and I hike up to the Bench Lakes. It’s about 8 miles round trip. (David stayed behind with Megan, who didn’t feel well.)

Here is the map at the trailhead that gives you that reassuring ‘you are here’ aerial view of the lake and hiking trials uh, trails.

“No death marches, Eric!”

The trail to the Bench Lakes runs along the left edge of the lake; jogs off, and climbs steeply up to the Lakes when you get about 2/3 the way to the end of the lake. Hard core hikers and climbers can pack in and hike for several days – to Alpine Lake, Cramer Lakes, Hell Roaring Lake – Eric and David both have tales to tell (i.e. death marches) … You can actually hike for fifty miles from various trails leading off from the lake (and take a boat across the lake to save some hiking).

I only took one photo on the four-mile trek up to the Bench Lakes:

Mount Heyburn

Mount Heyburn

We’re at the Lower Bench Lake now. Pauline and I are snacking on nuts, brownies, cheese, and chocolates, while Eric fishes:

Eric, the fish whisperer

Eric, the fish whisperer

He hooks one right away:


A beatiful lake trout. But it’s so fiesty, it’s about beaten itself to death fighting Eric yanking out the hook.

A lake trout and his no good very bad day

A lake trout and his no good very bad day

He catches 8 fish by the end of the day, throws them all back. (Yeah, with big mouth ow-ies, Eric, and occasional gouged eyeballs, and no lunch to boot!)

At the second Bench Lake (five minute walk from the first lake) there’s a nice view of Heyburn.


Pauline and I are pretty beat by the time we make it back to the cabin.

Pauline at the end of our hike

Pauline at the end of our hike

Except, she’s 79 years of age, and no more worn out than I (cashing in now on her years of dedication to yoga, stetching and exercise!)

For dinner we drive to Stanley, Idaho – just a ten minute drive. You might have heard of Stanley, as throughout the winter it consistently hails as the coldest spot in the mainland USA. But this late August night is warm and exquisite. I capture a view of the sun setting over the Sawtooths.

Uh, might be more impressive during the day?

Uh, might be more impressive during the day?

Then we looked in the opposite direction. What the? …

You're kidding, right? A fire?

You’re kidding, right? A fire?

Oh my goodness. A fire has erupted near Challis! Eric, is this caused by your voodoo or are you just photo bombing my photographic challenge?

You're scaring us, Eric

You’re scaring us, Eric

By the time dinner was over, the fire had grown much larger…


We found out when we got home that the fire had erupted in the Salmon-Challis National Forest – 17 miles west of Challis, Idaho. It has not been contained yet, 10 days later.

Okay, time to put a wrap on this. On our way home we hiked near the White Cloud mountains to the Fourth of July Lake. Here is a great link that describes this hike and several other nice day hikes around Stanley, Idaho.

The area had been charred by a forest fire about six years ago.


The trees are bouncing back though! Many young spruce standing 4 feet tall:

New growth!

New growth!

Walking back now though a burst of fall colors.


But, what I enjoyed most about our hike to Fourth of July Lake? The views as we drove back on the 10-mile dirt road to the main highway….

The Sawtooth Mountain Range coming into view!


I took a photo of the “Alps of Idaho”

'Just can't capture it!'

Just can’t capture it!

And a video, which I tried to post here several times, but it doesn’t work, but it should, and maybe it does on your computer, laptop, i- Pad or i-Phone … but if it doesn’t – oh well, I’ll keep working on it: (?????)

Because I never want to forget how magnificent the Sawtooths are.

Well, we’ve been back home over a week now. Pauline stayed with us 10 days but then she flew home. But not before I cajoled her into posing for a picture in our back yard with my hubby, David, her younger brother.

David, Pauline, and Rudy

David, Pauline, and Rudy

Two Caraher dynamos. Well, three, counting Rudy.

Pauline says she wants to do it all again next year. She’s in such great physical shape, she could probably even survive one of Eric’s hikes, you know, which inevitably turn into death marches.

Palisades Creek – Part 2

June 8, 2014

To continue … it’s a little after 1 PM on Wednesday, May 28. David and I have hiked four miles along Palisades creek (near Swan Valley, Idaho) up to lower Palisades Lake, where we have now parked our tired bodies on a flat rock for a rest and a snack.

We thought we might meet other hikers and even overnight campers up here, but we have the whole area to ourselves.


The last time we were up here we saw three moose – a cow and a bull, and a young calf – grazing on the left bank of the lake. They crossed the lake to the right bank and sauntered away.

We don’t see moose today. We do spot a little chipmunk skittering around, peering up at us from several feet away. “We should throw him some nuts, to tame him, see if we can get him to approach us!” I say. David tosses out an almond. Sure enough, the chipmunk meanders around looking like he’s not the least bit interested, and then, cautiously hops right up to the nut, grabs it and starts munching …


Then another chipmunk shows up –


he too grabs a nut. Runs off with it.


Soon there are three chipmunks. Or maybe four. It’s hard to keep track of them.

These little critters are more tame than we thought. One approaches us from behind. Oh how cute!


Next thing, he’s hopped right between us and helped himself to our stash.


Is he going for the beer next?

“Hey! Outta there! Scat, you little varmint!”

He moons us as he makes his exit.


Should we check our pockets?

Here we have a chipmunk schooling humans on the art of eating a cracker. (No need to endure it to the end. We get the point!)

We’ve rested about half an hour now, our foodstuffs are gone (next time – pack extra in case of unexpected company). I photograph some trees around us …



They look like something out of Grimm’s Fairy Tales.

Heading back to the trailhead now, with David in the lead.


Should take less time getting back than it took climbing up. Two hours to David’s estimation, you know, if we keep the pace…

At least we’re going with the flow (so to speak) this time.


Soon we hear some clop-clopping behind us. We step aside to greet two riders on horses


We engage in a friendly chat. They had ridden three miles further to the upper lake but had to turn around because the snow was too deep. We thought we were near the peak of the spring flooding but they allowed that no, there was much more snow to melt off and they thought the peak wouldn’t happen till the beginning of July. As we’re chatting away, the first rider’s horse chomps the end off a branch of a big prickly bush.


We stop our conversation to watch the horse chew on it. We couldn’t keep from laughing at the way the horse’s mouth was curling up around the prickles, as she determinedly chewed away as if she’d pulled a coup snatching that knarly branch in the first place. I lamented to the second rider that “Awwwww, your horse missed out on her extra snack” – he allowed that “Nope, she’s watchin’ her figure.”

We bid a hearty farewell to the friendly riders, David commenting to me, “Shouldn’t they be back at the ranch branding cattle?” He, himself, would be working a full day this coming Saturday to make up for taking off today.

We stop here to take in the view of the canyon behind us that we have just passed through


and to listen to the sound of the roaring creek. Creek? Yeah, it will be a creek again. “See that rock in the center of those rapids?” David points it out to me. “Notice it again later this summer. It will be completely exposed.”

The wildflowers are putting on such a show!



What? Fall colors already?


We bump into the riders again. And their horses.


The riders had dismounted and were waiting for us.


“We wanted to be sure you were aware of what’s up there on that ledge.”

“Mountain goats?” I ask.

“No.” He points up toward the cliff. “Look carefully by that tree up there on the left near the top …”

David and I both saw it at once. “A bear!”

“Yes, a cinnamon bear!” the rider exclaimed.

I snapped a photo.


Can you see the bear up there on the cliff? Look carefully beneath that tallest tree on the left. The sun is shining on his cinnamon colored back – he’s a cinnamon bear all right, albeit, not your quintessential graham or gummy variety cinnamon bear reminiscent of childhood.

The rider pictured in the above photo is a wildlife painter who comes up here quite frequently. He knew a lot about bears. He said the small bear was a young black bear, probably two years old. The baby bears stay with their mothers until their second spring, when, after they come out of hibernation, the mother boots them out to forage for food on their own, and she goes off to have another baby. That bear wasn’t that far away, and it was clearly aware of us. And although undoubtedly hungry, it certainly couldn’t just come after us over that cliff! Thank goodness. Soon it had disappeared.

We motored on – crossed another bridge. I snapped a photo. Just for my brother Eric.


This is the infamous bridge Eric descended toward on his mountain bike a couple of summers ago – Did a 360 flip right off the side, right there, right smack dab into the creek. Luckily it was during late summer when the water was running low. He pulled himself and his bike out of the water and rode on.

Somehow, the four miles back seemed like a much greater distance than it did climbing up.

The blazing sun set the trees aglow.


At some point, a wind kicked up – I captured it in this video:

It’s 3:45 and we’re back at the trailhead. Sure enough, it took about 2 hours to get back from the lower lake. We stop and check out the maps on the bulletin board beside the parking lot. The first map shows the Palisades Creek trail leading to the lower and upper Palisades lakes.

. IMG_8149

You can see from this first topographical map that you gain a great deal of elevation in those three miles from Lower Palisades Lake to the Upper Lake.

The second map is one of those “YOU ARE HERE” maps that I find so comforting. I linger at both maps for a while


– all chatty with David, acting very interested in the information to be gleaned from these two awesome maps. “You can totally see how close our hike is to Palisades Dam!” was one of my brilliant observations.

This sort of thing is interesting, studying maps, you know, if this sort of thing interests you.

Frankly, what I’m most interested in, at this moment, is stopping and resting my body – my feet hurt, my legs ache and my knees feel shot. Can I muster the strength to make those last 20 steps across the parking lot to the truck? I suppose I’ll have to bend my knees at least one more time to fold my body into the front seat for the ride home.

Yeah, well, we weren’t attacked or eaten by a bear, we didn’t get our pockets picked by wily chipmunks, nor get washed away by a raging creek. We saw those crazy, active tent worms, and the wildflowers put on a veritable fashion show. The horses made us laugh and their riders made us wiser. Even though that hike did kick my butt, it was totally worth it. I’ll feel this way tomorrow, too, even if I am too sore to get out of bed.