Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Sawtooth Range, Idaho - June 2017

Mt. Mount McGown Peak at sunrise in the Sawtooth Wilderness, Idaho.  Mountain photography by Aaron Spong
McGown Peak at Sunrise - Prints available

For anyone considering a trip to the Sawtooths in Idaho, I have a few observations from our recent hikes that could be helpful.

First, early June is too early for backpacking to the higher lakes.  The continuous snow began at about 7,500 ft. covering the trails which made route finding difficult without a GPS.  Many of the rivers do not have bridges built to cross them and were too high and strong to safely cross (especially with a dog).

Second, if you want to stick to lower elevation areas, then June is an excellent time to go.  The entire area was empty.  I didn't once encounter another person on any of the trails other than Fishhook Creek.  The dispersed campsites (non-pay campsites) were all empty as well.  The weather was cool and mosquitoes were not too bad compared to the horror stories from other trip reports.  Deer and Elk were all over the place.  I would bet that even in the height of summer this area still sees light crowds compared to what we're used to in the mountains near Denver.

 Third, The Sawtooth Range is stunning.  Hands down one of the prettiest places I've been.  The beauty of the jagged peaks rivals that of the Teton Range or anything in Colorado. 

The original plan was to hike a loop from Pettit Lake to Redfish Lake camping at specific locations along the way including Alice, Toxaway, Cramer, and Baron lakes.  The snow and river crossings made this unrealistic and the new plan was to do day hikes/backpacks to lower elevation areas.

Sunrise at little redfish lake with Heyburn Mountain and Horstmann Peak Stanley Idaho
Heyburn Mountain and Horstmann Peak

Reflection on Pettit Lake in the Sawtooth Mountains, Idaho.
Pettit Lake

It started raining on the first morning and continued for the next 24 hours with a light dusting of snow.  Never fun.  There was a flood warning for Stanley that night. 

The weather was better for the next couple days.

Sunrise on Hell Roaring Lake with the Finger of Fate
Sunrise at Hell Roaring Lake - Prints available

Reflection in Hell Roaring Lake reflection the Sawtooth Mountains of central Idaho
Hell Roaring Reflection

Meadow with river and Horstmann Peak in the Sawtooth Wilderness of Idaho
Fishhook Creek Meadow - Prints Available

Cloudy reflection of McGown Peak in Stanley Lake Idaho.
Stanley Lake  - Yep, this is a real place.

pppp  Sawtooth Range Wilderness mountains from near Stanley, Idaho with wildflowers.
Sawtooth Range Panorama - Prints Available

The Grand Mogul reflected in Little Redfish Lake near Stanley, Idaho
Grand Mogul - Prints Available

Alturas Lake near Stanley Idaho in the Sawtooth Wilderness Area
Alturas Lake - I fell in the water after this shot.

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