8/12/20…..10 miles…..Edna Lake
*Note that I dropped my phone in the ocean since we returned from our honeymoon so I lost a lot of pictures. The ones you see in this post are probably from Sara’s camera or ones I have recovered from text messages. This is why there aren’t as many shots of my beautiful bride as there should be. ￼
I don’t know if this hike has an official name but Sara came up with a 45 mile hike in the Sawtooths and we’re 11 days into our honeymoon so the Sawtooth Honeymoon Loop is what we’re going with. It’s not really a loop though, more of a figure 8 and even more than that the route is shaped like a barbell or a pair of eyeglasses. It’s 2 roughly 20 mile loops connected by a section of trail about 2 miles long that we’ll do twice. If this is how you actually draw the number 8, you’re doing it wrong. I may also refer to it as the ‘honeymoon barbell.’ Ok, I’m getting way off track here.
If you’re still reading let me give you a little background. We’ve been driving west across the U.S. for the past week and half hiking, running, catching up with friends, checking out new places, and sleeping in the back of our Subaru while trying to tip toe delicately through the country in the time of COVID. Today we woke up in our friends Tami and Kasey’s driveway in Boise and drove a few hours to the Sawtooth Mountains in Central Idaho. I’ve been meaning to explore these mountains since I first hitchhiked through the state 5 years ago. Sara’s never been here either so this place is brand new to both of us. From the Tin Cup Trailhead outside the town of Stanley we walked about 10 miles into some amazing scenery. The trail is well graded and the walking was simple. Since the trail wasn’t too strenuous we took our time stopping to drink out of ice cold springs and taking in the views. Right away there were mountain lakes, then waterfalls, and jagged peaks like the teeth of a saw(hence the name). We started the first loop going counter clockwise, climbed up to Sand Mountain Pass then down to the intersection of the second loop. For the second loop we’re going clockwise and camped at the first lake we came to; Edna Lake. We got a sweet spot on a little peninsula and the tent is tucked in between some big rocks and pine trees. The lake is bright blue, clear, and cold. Just the way I like it and perfect for an evening swim. Supposedly there will be a meteor shower tonight, ‘the Perseids,’ so fingers-crossed the sky is clear and we stay awake for a few shooters.
8/13/20…..20 miles…..Edna Lake, again
Last night it was overcast as we went to sleep but when my bladder woke me up at 3am the meteor shower was in full effect. I woke Sara up and we enjoyed a nice middle of the night stargazing session. This morning we slept in and didn’t get moving until after 8am. Walking clockwise around the second loop we passed alpine lake after alpine lake, it was rad. Halfway around the second loop we took a spur trail up a short but steep pass to Everly Lake, a pristine mountain lake and a perfect spot for lunch and a cold swim. From Everly lake we returned down the pass to the loop and walked all the way around and back to Edna Lake. The second half of the day the trail was more forested so it didn’t have quite as many views as this morning, still cool though. When we passed Benedict Creek it provided a short little natural water slide in the rocks, so I slid down that half a dozen times. We liked our campsite from last night so much that when we reached the junction to return to the other loop we kept walking the short distance back to Edna Lake. Our site was already taken but we found another one nearby and I went for my third swim of the day. Sara only had 1.5 swims today because I guess we have different standards for what counts as ‘swimming.’
8/14/20…..15 miles…..Oregon Rest Stop
First thing this morning we backtracked just a little bit from our campsite to the junction that would lead us back to the first loop or other side of the barbell. We climbed up to Sand Mountain Pass then down to the other loop that we followed counter clockwise. After passing Toxaway Lake we climbed another pass(it’s either unnamed or I can’t remember it) then dropped down to Twin Lakes and Alice Lake.
At some point after Alice Lake a pair of hikers stopped us and recognized us from our adventure last year. Mold had picked us up hitchhiking a year ago about 30 minutes outside Hanksville, Utah while we were hiking the Hayduke. He and his wife Mildew(trail names) were up in the Sawtooths from Salt Lake and were on their way to climb a peak. Both thruhikers, they didn’t seem super surprised at this strange coincidence.
We walked another handful of miles and went for a nice swim in Pettit Lake just before reaching our car. From the Tin Cup trailhead we drove through the town of Stanley then stopped for a few hours at Kirkham Hot Springs. Both thumbs all the way up for these springs, lots of pools and some rocks you could jump off and then float down a rapid in the South Fork of the Payette. In a couple days we’re planning to run around Mount St Helen’s in Washington so after leaving the hot springs we drove west out of the mountains and eventually crossed into Oregon. Tonight we’re sleeping in the car at the Weatherby Rest Area on I-84. So far so good for a rest area. I think the Sawtooths are incredible. This small sampling of these mountains provided lots of impressive views, big jagged mountains, cold clear waters, and well maintained trail. I’ll definitely be back. If you’re planning on coming out here keep in mind that the first loop, known as the Alice Lakes Loop, is quite popular and for good reason. The second loop was also incredible but had far less people out there and felt much more secluded, and if you’re out this way don’t skip Everly Lake, it’s well worth a little extra walking. Kirkham Hot Springs
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Awesome!!! What a great place for a honeymoon trip. The Stanley area is one place I’d like to return to, haven’t been that way since 1981.
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Yes! Get back there, place is awesome
Sara & Chris
Awesome honeymoon barbell hike. Hiking in the sawtooth mountains is on my bucket list for sure. Had watched a YouTube video of a person hiking outside of Boise just an hour or so.
Want to get a few tips on boondocking in a vehicle. I’m noodling over doing that. My wife isn’t on board withe the idea (yet). The tiny house at Escalante is ideal but I want a way to stretch the travel budget.
If you get a chance read the book Grandma Gatewood’s Hike. Daughter Meredith know’s my interest in hiking the AT. Emma was definitely someone you teo would get along with I think.
Have been retired just a month now. Anxious to be a bit like you guys sometime soon.
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Thanks Mike! Congratulations on your retirement, and go after it!