Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Backpacking in the Sawtooths

Backpacking in the Sawtooth Range, Idaho - Pettit Lake to Redfish Lake

August 8-10, 2014

With 2 weeks between my summer internship and the beginning of my PhD at Northern Arizona University, I gave myself time to spend time with family, friends, and of course, time to climb some mountains.  William (fellow graduate student) and I met in Stanley, Idaho to hike and scramble some peaks in the Sawtooth Range.  Originally, we planned on traversing the entire range from south to north and climb peaks along the way. Unfortunately, my plan may have been a little ambitious and poorly constructed.  I seem to have forgotten that carrying 35 lbs of gear makes hiking harder and slower than I am used to.  Also, the information on summitpost about many of the routes up the peaks is vague and often, plain wrong.  Not to mention my steri pen whacked out on our first night so we were left with chlorine tablets to purify our water, but only enough for 3 days instead of the planned 5 or 6.  So, our plans changed.

Red is on trail.  Yellow is off trail scrambling. Blue stars are camps.  Purple stars are trailheads. 

Day 1:
Friday night at 6:30 pm we hiked in from Pettit Lake at the Tin Cup Trailhead and made our way towards Twin Lakes, 7 miles away.  We were greeted with some of the best and unique lighting as we hiked past Alice Lake.  We set up camp in the dark and went to sleep.  

Pettit Lake
Map check
Big mountains!
Some crazy lighting on a pond near Alice Lake
Day 2:
The following day we awoke to clear skies in a beautiful setting, one of the cooler areas we encountered during our time in the sawtooths.  That morning we climbed up Snowside Peak (class 3) from the east.  We ditched our gear near the pass and scrambled up and down 1,500 ft in about 2 hours. After a nice break and some food, we continued our trek north towards more peaks.  We hiked down to Toxaway Lake and up over another high pass towards Hidden Lake.  Some afternoon storms blew in but we avoided getting rained on too much.  We camped at Hidden Lake all by ourselves (on a saturday night) in a beautiful setting.  We backpacked about 13 miles that day, climbed up two passes, and a peak.  We were pooped.  
Panorama from camp at Twin Lakes.  Snowside Peak is on the right - 5th highest in the range
Looking down on Twin Lakes
Will on the summit ridge of Snowyside
Scrambling down Snowyside
Summit photo from Snowyside Peak - I'm upset with Will for farting on the summit
Looking down on Toxaway Lake as storms begin to bow in. Snowyside is the peak on the left in the distance. 
Creek crossing
HIdden Lake, Cramer Peak on the left
Day 3:
The following morning, we attempted to climb Mt. Cramer from the west and south, because basically says, "you can approach this mountain from any direction."  Not quite true buddy.  The western ridge is a knife-edge ridge with impassable towers.  The only way up from western side of the mountain would be from the southwest up a really crappy scree slope about 1,000 ft high.  No thanks.  Of course, we didn't realize this until we did.  Which meant we spent a significant amount of time and energy route-finding and exploring impassable terrain.  

After our detour, we hit the trail and hiked all the way out to Redfish Lake, reboot, and hit some peaks in a day trip.  We hiked past the picturesque Cramer Lakes and down the Redfish valley towards the lake.  We took a boat shuttle across the lake and cut off 5 miles.  We probably hiked around 12 miles that day, including our route searching.  

3 days, ~32 miles, 1 (and a half) peaks.

The following day we scrambled up Williams Peak, Thompson Peak, and Mickey's Spire.  See the next post for details.  
Looking down on Hidden Lake 
Mt Cramer west ridge
Mt. Cramer west face
Scrambling along the west ridge in an attempt to get to the summit of Mt. Cramer
Looking down the ridge, Hidden Lake on the far right
Upper Cramer Lake
Upper Cramer Lake and Cramer Peaks
Lower Cramer Lake 
Redfish Creek crossing
Big granite walls!
Jagged peaks above Redfish Creek valley
Wet hike out
Redfish Creek empties into Redfish Lake