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Sawtooth Wilderness, ID High Route – 8 Day Solo Hike Aug 2017

clear lake refelction of jagged mountain peaks

Sawtooth Wilderness High Route – 8 Day Solo Hike August 2017


 View All Sawtooth Wilderness Photos | Watch the Sawtooth Wilderness Hike Video On Youtube 

  • Park Administration – National Forest Service
  • Fees & Permits – No fees to access the Sawtooth Wilderness. You need a permit which is FREE. Permits are available via self-registration at the trailheads.
  • Trailhead – Tin Cup Trailhead at Pettit Lake
  • Length Of Time Hiked – 8 Days, 7 NIghts
  • Miles Hiked – 67
  • Route Difficulty – On marked trails, 6. Off trail sections, 9
  • Fires Allowed – Yes, on a fire pan or fire blanket. Campfires are not allowed: Off-trail from July 1st through Labor Day. In the following drainages: Alice/Twin Lakes, Toxaway/Farley Lakes, Goat Creek (tributary of the South Fork of the Payette River), or Alpine Creek. Within 200 yards of Sawtooth Lake, Goat Lake and Alpine Lake near Iron Creek, Alpine and Saddleback Lakes in the Redfish drainage, and Scenic Lakes.
  • Scenic Beauty – 9
  • Solitude – 4 on Trail, 9 Off Trail 

Sawtooth Wilderness Pre-Hike Planning Notes

Actually, the route I set out to hike was much longer, closer to 90 miles and over 25k feet of elevation gain. Averaging 8517′ over 89 miles, I called it “The Ultimate Sawtooths High Route”. Over 50 miles of the 89 mile route was off trail. A route like this would have a lot higher chance for successful completion if one had firsthand knowledge of what to expect in key sections. I didn’t have that luxury though, this will be my first visit to the Sawtooths, and first to the sate of Idaho. I will be sharing more info on the Ultimate Sawtooths High Route later on. 

My goal with the route was to to stay as high as possible, while hitting as many of the places I could that were on my “must see” list. As far as planning a hike goes in the Sawtooths, you’ll find information from scattered sources online but there is no dedicated forum or “go-to” resource for the Sawtooths. I gathered what info I could about my route between trip reports and pictures, google earth, and studying the topo maps to create the route. 

Sawtooth Wilderness Weather Forecasts

For weather in the Sawtooth Wilderness, I was using for Mount Cramer:

Sawtooth Wilderness Backpacking Maps & Route Information 

Here’s my caltopo map I used to plan my route:

[sgpx gpx=”/wp-content/uploads/gpx/Sawtooths_Aug_2017_Route_Hiked1.gpx”]

Download GPX file of this hike


Day 1 – Friday August 18th, 2017

Miles Hiked – 6.35
Elevation Gain – 2090′
Route Hiked – Pettit Lake to Alice Lake

The road to Pettit Lake from ID-75 was well graded and in great shape for a dirt road. I was driving a Chevy Cruze, and wouldn’t hesitate to take the smallest car. High clearance not need whatsoever. I arrived at the Tin Cup Trailhead (located at Pettit Lake) around 6pm, and man was it packed. I was able to find a spot, but there were’t many left if any at all. I changed clothes and did my final packing, and was on the trail at 6:30pm. 

My destination tonight is Alice Lake, hopefully. I have 2.5 hours of daylight max to work with, better get moving. I quickly passed several groups of hikers, walked past the lake and hit the Wilderness Boundary sign. Here is where you self register for your permit. 

The trail is mostly forested for the first few miles. Eventually, it emerges into a couple of open areas where boulders and talus have spilled down the slopes above. Hiking is still easy through these sections because this is such a well traveled trail, and in great shape. Once the first set of switchbacks are encountered, roughly half the way there to Alice, you start to get some nice elevated views. The Sun was already going down fast at this point.

Hiking to Alice Lake

sawtooths wilderness hiking near alice lake

The hike to Alice Lake was pretty nice for a day 1 hike. Normally, the trail taking you to the high country is in a low valley, long and rather uneventful. I would say the trail to Alice Lake is much more interesting, and if nothing else, shorter than many of the approach hikes I’m used to. 

Dusk near Alice Lake

Alice Lake at sundown

Right before I reached Alice Lake is a couple of small ponds, with great views and lots of people already camped there. Farther up the trail, at Alice Lake proper, I was again out of luck finding a campsite in a prime location such as the outlet. With the Sun fading quickly I hurried on farther along the lake. The trail starts to climb above the lake offering no viable campsites.

Towards the center of the lake, at a point where the trail had veered farther from the water, I found a place to hang my hammock. Not the most scenic spot, but who cares, it was already time to bust out the headlamp. Nothin’ to see here tonight. No need to use the tarp over my hammock, skies are looking clear and will remain so for the next couple of days according to the weather forecast.

I arrived at camp around 9pm, and after setting up headed to bed at 10. I’ve got a long week ahead of me!

Day 2 – Saturday August 19th, 2017

Miles Hiked – 6.78
Elevation Gain – 2160′
Route Hiked – Alice Lake to Heart Lake


I woke up at 6:30. Stars were bright and the night was calm. Time to get back into the route of breaking camp, eating & repacking my gear quickly and efficiently in order to get an early start. This is always a bit tougher in the beginning of a long hike, when my pack is so full. 

The plan for today was to… well, it’s rather lengthy and complicated to explain. Here’s a link to a map showing the route I intended to hike before deviating from my plan. 

I started walking at 7:30. There was a small waterfall not far up trail from camp, nothing too wild though. The trail then makes a large U shape as it contours along some gentler slopes as it begins to climb above Alice and now Twin Lakes. 

view of twin lakes from the pass separating alice and toxaway lakes

Twin Lakes From Alice/Toxaway Pass

hiker above twin lakes in the sawtooth wilderness

Me on the pass above Twin lakes, Thank you, tripod

It wasn’t long before the trees were gone and have been replaced with talus. Now the really good views begin. The trail leading up to Alice/Toxaway Pass was easy. Great views from this location with some excellent photo ops of Twin Lakes. 

Ridge leading to pass

Twin Lakes

Now to head off trail and up the ridgeline NE ridgeline of Snowyside Peak. The first bit is fairly flat and an easy walk. I made my way up to the 9,720′ mark before leaving the ridgeline and heading more south, angling uphill as it got steeper. Still not that steep yet but a lot more talus now. 

hiking up the unnamed pass from alice lake to alpine creek

Top of the pass, looking back the way I came

Looking southeast along the rocky ridgeline

The steepest section is right below the pass, which I am unsure of the name.  The pass I took was the first saddle below Snowyside Peak at 9950′. The rest of the ridgeline to the SE looked pretty jagged.

sawtooth wilderness upper alpine creek basin

First view into the upper Alpine Creek basin

Lake 9167

With my first look over the divide, I could see lake 9167 & lake 9050, with mountains as far as the eye can see behind them. However, the route down looked a lot steeper than the route I took up on the Alice Lake side. 

steep off trail pass in the sawtooth mountains

Looking back up at the pass I just came down

I planned to veer towards the outlet of lake 9167 as I descended, but the terrain was easier to negotiate towards the inlet side of the lake and so I made my way in that direction. It was still steep and loose, but manageable.

sawtooth wilderness lake 9167 in alpine creek basin

Lake 9167

South shore of lake 9167 looking NW

9167 again

Once I reached lake 9167, I noticed a tent setup near the inlet. I headed towards the outlet and on to the strip of land separating lake 9167 from 9050.

lake 9050 in the sawtooth wilderness, upper alpine creek basin

Lake 9050

From here I could see the challenge that lies ahead of me for the rest of the day. In fact, after taking a short break here I opted to change up my route. I had planned to hiked down Alpine Creek from lake 9050 to lake 8980 and then down to the 8400′ mark, contouring around to lake 8522. I would then head up the basin and over a “pass” I conceived at home while planning the route, in the vicinity of peak 9963′. This would take me to Heart Lake. I have no doubts this is all doable, but on my second day this just wasn’t going to happen. 

My new plan, which was my backup all along, is to take the easy pass along Snowyside Peak’s SW ridge. This is the saddle at approx 9550′. From here I would head down a chain of lakes and end at Heart Lake. 

Looking SE from the pass separating Alpine Creek Basin From the Heart Lake area

On the pass looking towards Snowyside Peak

Looking SW towards an unnamed peak from the pass

Going up the pass was pretty easy on the Alpine Creek side. I was looking down on the outlet of lake 9167 and saw the people camping there packing up and heading out. These were the only people I saw all day.

Talus just below the pass to Heart Lake. The peaks on the right are the NW ridges coming down from Snowyside Peak.

On the Heart Lake side, there was a lot more rock and talus to slow you down. It seemed like there was a faint use trail running through the rocks on the way down at times, but often there was nothing. 

Above the highest (4th) lake in the chain above Heart Lake

It took a while to work my way through the talus in the upper basin, but it wasn’t super difficult or dangerous. Eventually I reached the 9200′ counter line where I had an overlook of the highest lake in the chain above Heart Lake. This also meant the worst of the talus was over, and more grassy slopes ahead. 

sawtooth wilderness mountain behind alpine lake with colorful wildflowers

4th lake above Heart Lake

Looking NE from the 4th lake above Heart Lake

Down at the lake, which was the 4th lake above Heart Lake, the views were impressive. Vibrant turquoise water color, mountain peaks all around and colorful wildflowers along the shoreline. All this with no signs of prior use here, not even a foot step. 

3rd lake above Heart Lake

3rd lake above heart lake in the sawtooths

3rd lake above heart lake in the sawtooth wilderness

The lakes were close together, so it was only a short walk downhill along the outlet before I reached the 3rd lake above Heart Lake. Lots of yellow wildflowers and a nice reflection on the water, but not as nice as the 4th lake.

2nd lake above Heart Lake

I hiked past the 2nd lake and 1st lake (lake 8646) above Heart with similar views to the first two. There is no trail along these lakes, but its mostly pretty easy going as far as off trail hiking goes. 

At Heart Lake, I headed over to the outlet. I hadn’t seen many great campsite opportunities along any of the 4 lakes I just hiked past above Heart, and now this was more of the same. At the outlet, I went a bit downstream and found a place to hang my hammock, but it wasn’t a scenic campsite at all. Heart Lake was a short walk away but it was not in view. Oh well, you win some and you lose some. 

I reached camp at 2:15pm today, and had the lake to myself. I was feeling pretty tired and lethargic, no doubt still getting used to the altitude which was roughly 8500′ at Heart Lake. I did feel better after rehydrating and eating some food, but my appetite was not all there. Typical on hikes like this for me.  

Heart Lake

After getting things set up at camp I headed down to the lake to do some fishing. I usually just bring some mepps lures, little cleos, rooster tails etc but this time I brought a bubble to fish with flies too. I hooked into several fish with a floating black ant, but only landed one 11″ cutthroat. I had a nice 15″+ cut on the line and lost it as I got him on shore. The bugs were bad by the lake and at camp, lots of noseeums and mosquitoes. 

a view of heart lake at sunset in the sawtooth wilderness

Heart Lake at sunset

Later, I jumped in the lake to rinse off which always feels great after a long day or two on the trail. After that I sat by the lake and took in the beautiful reflection on the lake as the sun went down. Day 2 in the books.


Day 3 – Sunday August 20th, 2017

Miles Hiked – 11.91
Elevation Gain – 2923′
Route Hiked – Heart Lake to Lower Cramer Lake

It was 37 degrees in my tent this morning when I woke up, much colder than at Alice Lake the night before. At Alice it was probably in the low 50s despite being at roughly the same elevation. 

My off trail route continues today, north over the saddle at 9222′ east of Glens Peak and dropping down into Tenlake Basin. Here I will meet up with the trail between Ardeth Lake and Vernon Lake. 

Going up

Looking back the way I came, towards Heart Lake

I worked my way around Heart Lake and dipped down into the small valley above Camp Lake. From here it was uphill on a grassy slope alongside a slope of boulders and talus. This led to a small and well hidden cirque that contained the pass I will be traversing. 

This little cirque was quiet and appeared to be seldom visited. Nice reflection on the small lake. Only footprints I saw here were from deer. 

Looking back the way I came after gaining some elevation

Section below the pass

Past the lake, I had about 350′ to climb up to the pass, which was obstructed from view. The hike up to the top wasn’t too bad, but still tiring. 

Top of pass between Heart Lake and Tenlake Basin

Upper Tenlake Basin

The top of the pass didn’t have huge sweeping views, but it did provide a great view of the upper Tenlake Basin area. I took a break to eat some more food, trying to eat more as I go. This is great in theory but in practice, I often skip breaks and snacks while I’m moving throughout the day. 

Unnamed lake in upper Tenlake Basin

upper tenlake basin

I headed down into Tenlake Basin, encountering more talus and loose rock on this side. After dropping down about 300′ I reached the uppermost lake, the first of many unnamed lakes in this area. No signs of use up here. 

Ardeth Lake

I hiked around the first lake and then NW along the ridgeline. There were a few other small lakes and ponds but nothing too impressive. Where the ridgeline starts dropping away down to Lake Ardeth, there’s a gentler slop of the west side that I used to work my way up to the top. This was more challenging than I anticipated. It didn’t look bad from the topo maps, but it was steeper than I thought and there were some ledges and things to negotiate. Slower going than I hoped. 

Lake 8462, Vernon Lake & Edna Lake

View north from the top of the ridge

At the top of the ridge was a pretty nice view of the peaks and lakes to the northeast through the southwest, including Ardeth, Vernon, Edna. I headed downhill to the pass between Ardeth and Vernon Lakes. There were a couple of sections that required a little scrambling to get down but nothing too hard. 

Small lake sitting in the saddle between Ardeth & Vernon

At the Arderth/Vernon Lake Pass, there’s a small lake. Continuing  north around the lake, I finally met up with the trail. From here, I headed downhill to Vernon Lake and was starting to make some good time. There were also a lot of people around now, which I hadn’t seen since I started my hike. 

sawtooth wilderness photo of vernon lake from outlet

Vernon Lake

Vernon Lake was nice, this would have been a decent place to camp if I were staying in the area. I was ready for a break but really wanted to get some more miles under my belt first. I kept hiking past Vernon and onto Edna Lake. 

Edna Lake

The trail doesn’t really wind that close to Edna Lake, except on the northeast shore. Even then you have to leave the trail and walk a little ways to it, so I didn’t get up close to this lake. I feel like this lake would have been a beautiful one to camp alongside, with good photo ops if one takes the time to get closer to its shores. 

Virginia Lake

Past Edna Lake is Virginia Lake. I took my break here along the shore, and man the bugs were awful. I covered up as much skin as possible while I ate to avoid giving the mosquitoes a free meal. I mixed up some Cytomax in a Gatorade bottle for the push up to Cramer Pass later. I didn’t find this lake as scenic as Edna or Vernon. No good campsites along the side of the lake in which the trail is located. 

South Fork Payette River

Approaching Hidden Lake

My next destination is Hidden Lake. From Virginia Lake, the trail is mostly done dropping downhill, and remains relatively flat from here to the junction with Hidden Lake. The trail is well worn here, lots of fine dust. It’s a 200′ climb up switchbacks from here, then another 200′ climb up another section without switchbacks before reaching Hidden Lake. 

Hidden Lake

Hidden Lake. It’s a lot less hidden than the name implies

I only saw maybe 2 or 3 groups of people camping at Hidden Lake, I kind of expected more for some reason. The trail is flatter and quite easy along Hidden Lake, and I pushed on to upper Hidden Lake before taking another short break. I drank some of the Cytomax I mixed earlier to get some electrolytes back. First time using the stuff, just figured I could use something to mix in with my water while I am hiking during the day at the very least since I have such a hard time eating. 

Trail leading up to the Cramer Divide

From Hidden Lake to the pass on the Cramer Divide is about 1000′, and there’s some long switchbacks going up. Better views now as the trail climbs above Hidden Lake. The well maintained trail makes a 1000′ climb about as easy as it can be.

sawtooth wilderness cramer divide

View from the pass over the Cramer Divide

On the pass on the Cramer Divide, there were several people up here from multiple groups. Great views of the Mt. Cramer and the upper Basin. After force-feeding myself some food and some pictures I headed down to Cramer Lakes.

Hiking down the pass from Cramer Divide to Cramer Lakes

The first section below the Cramer Divide features tons of switchbacks through talus. There’s a great trail running through here but the switchbacks add so much extra distance. The first 600′ down are along switchbacks. But, the excellent views are there to keep you entertained while you walk back and forth like the lines at an amusement park or airport security. 

Small lakes in the upper Cramer Lakes basin

Upper Cramer Basin

More upper Cramer Basin

There’s a couple of small lakes at the 8800′ mark that would be a great place to camp if you want to avoid the Cramer Lakes proper. This area was beautiful!

sawtooth wilderness view of upper cramer lake in august

Upper Cramer Lake

Dropping another 400′ below these lakes, I passed Upper Cramer Lake. Again, beautiful lake, especially near the outlet. Didn’t see a lot of places to camp along the east/north shore of the lake where the trail passes. 

Middle Cramer Lake looking west from east shore

Looking east across Middle Cramer Lake from the outlet

At the area between Upper and Middle Cramer Lakes, I started to hunt for a campsite. There were TONS of people tucked away here camping, way too many people. I kept moving downhill along Middle Cramer Lake only to see more and more people. At the outlet of Middle Cramer Lake, there was also no place to camp, already packed with people. Not good. Middle Cramer Lake looks beautiful though. There’s a waterfall on the lake’s inlet, but I didn’t feel like stopping to put on my zoom lens to get a picture of it.

Approaching lower Cramer Lake

Lower Cramer Lake outlet

sawtooth wilderness lower cramer lake

Lower Cramer Lake from my campsite

I planned on camping at Middle Cramer Lake, and I was not anticipating there would be so many people that I couldn’t even find a spot. Tired and ready ready to stop for the day, I threaded on to Lower Cramer Lake. I walked across a braid of streams to reach an area along the inlet that I thought would work, but no place for the hammock and would rather be facing Mt Cramer. I headed over to the outlet of Lower Cramer Lake where I finally found a spot around 4:30pm. By all other measures it was a good spot, just not as impressive as Middle or Upper Cramer Lakes. Also, the shoreline wasn’t good for fishing as it was too shallow here. There was one other guy along Lower Cramer Lake, but he was on the other side of the lake and pretty much out of sight. 

Camp at Lower Cramer Lake

Really tired, GPS said 13 miles. This was supposed to be one of the easy days! Laid in hammock for a while, escaping the relentless mosquitoes. I contemplated how to proceed with the route, as I was having some doubts about my day 8 which was slated to be 15 miles and 5000′ elevation gain, mostly off trail. I didn’t have a lot of alternate route options to replace my day 8 unless I wanted to cover a lot of the same ground twice. 

Although there were fish hitting the top water all evening, I didn’t feel like walking around the lake to find a spot to fish. I laid low tonight and just went to bed when the sun went down, wanting to get some rest for the day ahead tomorrow. Tonight is eclipse eve!


Day 4 – Monday August 21th, 2017

Miles Hiked – 10.14
Elevation Gain – 2425′
Route Hiked – Lower Cramer Lake to Lower Baron Lake

Pre-dawn light over Lower Cramer Lake

Woke up at 6 this morning, a little earlier to try and give myself time to get into position for the eclipse. I planned to view it from Reward Peak and had a difficult off trail route ahead of me in order to get there. 

The route up to Hanging Valley from Lower Cramer Lake

Lots of downed trees in the way

After leaving camp a little after 7, I headed around Lower Cramer Lake and up into the drainage leading to Hanging Valley. I could tell this was going to be tough. There were tons of downed trees and the ground was soggy in many spots, tough going. The slope was getting steeper too, looked like some cliffs above. I have no doubt its doable, but in how much time? I had a feeling this route was not going to allow me to get to Reward Peak in time for the eclipse.

Off trail, heading back to the trail

Lake 8108

I had to make the tough call to back out of here and try for my back up plan for viewing the eclipse, which was at Baron Pass. I headed downhill to lake 8108 and then uphill briefly to meet the trail. This area was a pain to walk through and I didn’t reach the trail until around 8am. 

I was hoping to make it to Baron Pass by 10:30am to get setup and ready for the eclipse. Lots of trees now as the trail drops in elevation below the Cramer Lakes. The distant views are gone, obstructed by the surrounding forest, and so I was not as easily distracted. This allowed me to cover some miles. 

I didn’t see anyone hiking the trail until near the ford of Redfish Lake Creek, where there were maybe 3 groups of people in the area coming and going. The creek was an easy ford, and in less than 5 minutes I was across and hiking again. 

Looking up at peak 9980′ after fording Redfish Lake Creek

There’s a total solar eclipse coming.

Awesome view down Redfish Lake Creek Valley 2 hours before the eclipse

Done with the downhill part, now time for a 2000’+ climb to Baron Pass. The first 300′ or so are on a series of long switchbacks. Great views from here, now just 2 hours before the eclipse. 

After the switchbacks, the trail starts angling up the steep slope with occasional sections of switchbacks. I was getting pretty tired now but still quite a ways from my destination. No time for anything more than a 30 second rest. 

When I reached Alpine Lake, I realized this was one of those lakes where the trail itself dopes not veer right along side it. You have to leave the trail a ways to get to it, and I didn’t have time for that. So I only saw the lake through some trees, didn’t even snap a picture. 

I continued on to the lakes above Alpine Lake. Here there were quite a few people spread out across the shores of the lake, waiting for he eclipse. Would have been a good place to watch it from for those who didn’t want to climb to a high point. 


View of Baron Lakes as the eclipse approaches behind me

I made it to the top of the pass around 11am, about a half hour before the eclipse. There were quite a few people up here too. I headed uphill along the ridgeline towards peak 9363′ before satisfied with my spot. There were a bunch of people here too, but with the time frame at hand, I just needed to stop wherever now. I was very tired, having pushed all the way from my camp at Lower Cramer Lake to here without taking off my pack for a break, except to ford Redfish Creek Lake.

First thing I did was set up my GoPro to start capturing a time lapse of the eclipse before and after totality. With this running, I put my eclipse viewing glasses on for the first time and saw the sun partially covered by the moon. About 15 minutes to go before totality.

darkness aproaching before the total solar eclipse aug 21 2017 in the sawtooth wilderness, idaho

An eerie fog builds in the distance beyond Baron Lakes prior to totality

Strange lighting as the eclipse approaches

Crappy shot of the partial eclipse. The universal lens filter didn’t work as well as I hoped.

I tried capturing a few pictures of the eclipse in the partial phase using a universal lens filter bought on ebay, but the filter moved around too much and I couldn’t get a clear picture. Instead, I snapped a few pictures of Baron lakes and the surrounding area as the eerie darkness of the eclipse slowly set in. The dark fog in the distance beyond Baron Lakes was strange looking. Then I set the camera up on my second tripod (yes I brought two on this trip just for the eclipse) to take some video of the darkness setting over Baron Lakes as totality sets in. 

the totality phase of the great american eclipse august 21st, 2017 in idaho's sawtooth wilderness

Totality! Total Solar Eclipse August 21st, 2017 viewed from Baron Bass in the Sawtooth Wilderness, Idaho

When totality was reached, it was like someone turning off a light switch on the Earth. It was gradually getting darker beforehand, but not that dark. It was as if the remaining 80% of light from the Sun had been shut off in the second totality occurred. It was noticeably cooler now too. The experience was pretty incredible, more powerful than I thought it would be. I was able to switch over to my zoom lens and get a couple of pretty decent shots of totality. But before you know it, totality has ended and the brightness of the Sun returns. 

Upper Baron Lake

Trail above Upper Baron Lake

sawtooth wilderness mountain photography - upper baron lake

Upper Baron Lake

I let my GoPro run for a while after the eclipse to finish off the time lapse as I tried to eat some food. After a long but well deserved break, I headed down the pass towards Baron Lakes. Excellent views of Upper Baron Lake as I descended approx 600′ down the switchbacks. The lake was calm as glass, blue skies and colorful wildflowers made for some great photos. 

Lower Baron Lake

Lower Baron Lake outlet

Amazing views continue along Lower Baron Lake. By now I was starting to think about where to camp. I had planned on the outlet of Lower Baron, so that’s where I headed. Not many people camped around the lake yet, so I was thinking I’d have no problem. However, when I reached the outlet and everywhere else along the north shore, I realized it was Cramer Lakes all over again. Nowhere to camp, just a ton of people tucked away in all the places I wanted to camp.

Hammock camping along Lower Baron Lake

View from camp at Baron Lake

I circled back to the outlet area and ended up laying claim to an area only suited for a hammock… over a slanted rockface. Really great views from here but right in the sun, no shade. It was only 1:30 when I stopped to camp today.

lower baron lake in august

Lower Baron Lake

With lots of time left today, I headed down to the lake to try some fishing. I passed a guy earlier who hadn’t had any luck fly fishing, so I didn’t expect much either. That was pretty much the case. In fact, I saw few fish at all, and only small ones. The blank ant I was using the other day was not working here, and no luck with mepps lures. I had one bite but that’s it. All I got was a tan.

Looking towards my route to the Warbonnet pass area

I had pretty much decided that I was going to have to cut off the upper portion of the route I intended to hike to avoid the hellacious day 8 I had planned, not to mention all the other off trail hiking I had planned in the rest of the northern section of the route. I really wanted to see Goat Lake, but I also really wanted to visit the Upper Goat Creek area: Packrat Lake and below Warbonnet Peak. This is the best opportunity for fishing that I could find before the trip. So tomorrow, it’s over to the Warbonnet area. 

Back at camp, I washed up in the lake a little and relaxed the rest of the day. Later on in the evening, a group camping nearby had moved to the rockface right above my camp to do their cooking and hanging out. They were quite noisy but thankfully went to bed early, within an hour of myself.


Day 5 – Tuesday August 22nd, 2017

Miles Hiked – 4.15
Elevation Gain – 1841′
Route Hiked – Lower Baron Lake to Lower Bead Lake

Morning reflection on Lower Baron Lake

Another clear and calm night under the stars. My left knee is hurting a bit this morning as it was last night. I started hiking around 7:30. The reflection of Monte Verita in the lake was perfect, still as glass. 

Today I will be shooting for Packrat Lake or maybe somewhere in between. To get there, I plan on hiking up the basin southwest of Monte Verita to the saddle north of peak 9769′. I know there is a pass running from the Alpine Lake area to this saddle, over to the saddle west of 9769′ and down to Warbonnet Lake. However, I don’t know if there is a trail or what. I wasn’t expecting one. 

Upper Baron Lake

I hiked the trail towards Baron Pass, and then left the trail for the strip of land separating Upper and Lower Baron Lakes. This would be the last I see of any marked trail for 3 full days. There were some steep slopes that needed to be crossed along Upper Baron Lake, but thankfully that section was short. 

The route up

Steep slopes of talus

Above Upper Baron Lake, the route is a still somewhat gentle grassy slope strewn with boulders. This is the obvious route to follow for now, until the grass is completely replaced with boulders. This is also where it starts getting steeper. Excellent views, but hard work and increasingly unstable slopes of talus and boulders. I believe the worst section of boulders persisted until the 9200′ mark or so. These would occasionally move underfoot when stepped on making it slow to move through here.

Closer to the saddle now, on my left

Getting very steep now

The spires are conspiring against my GPS signal

Above the 9200′ mark, my GPS was obstructed by the towering granite spires to the east as I neared the base of them. This section consisted of very loose sand and scree on some steep slopes. I took my time working my way up to the saddle north of peak 9769′, and took a short break here. 

The notch near the bottom of the picture is the point at which I accessed this saddle

Alpine Lake

Looking back at Baron Lakes from the path leading to Warbonnet Pass

I did see a beaten path leading down to Alpine Lake and up to the Pass to Warbonnet Lake from the saddle, which was a pleasant surprise. This made the remaining push to the saddle west of 9769′ a lot easier. To my surprise, there were a few people here on the pass coming up from Warbonnet. I didn’t think this area got as much traffic as it apparently does. 

Warbonnet Lake

I spoke with a few people on the pass before heading down to Feather Lakes. One guy had camped at Bead Lakes and said they did very well fishing there. It seems many of the people who visits this are do so to climb Warbonnet Peak from what I could gather. I mentioned my plan to visit Packrat Lake and do the Packrat Pass route to Lake Katheryn, and nobody I’ve spoken to this entire trip had heard of Packrat Pass or even the lake. This could be a good or bad sign. 

The route leading down from the pass is so steep and sandy that there isn’t much of a defined path to follow. It was occasionally there to help but after the 9200′ mark I completely lost it. Ah well, just head downhill. 

Upper Feather Lakes

feather lakes

Feather Lakes were nice. Pretty much anywhere along them looked nice to camp, and only saw one set of tents along one of the middle lakes. They were probably out climbing Warbonnet. 

Upper Bead Lake

Lowe Bead Lake

Lower Bead Lake from outlet

I would have camped at Feather Lakes but decided to push on to Bead Lakes and see if the fishing was a s good as I was told. I passed Upper Bead Lake which was beautiful, but no good hammock campsites. I headed down to Lower Bead Lake and walked all the way around the lake before settling on a spot on the inlet side, looking towards Warbonnet Peak. Really nice spot, nobody else around. It was 1pm, and I decided to just camp here. I really wanted to get in some fishing and enjoy my surroundings. 

Camp along lower Bead Lake

I rigged up my floating blank ant on a bubble and started fishing, only a few feet from camp. Boom, 4 casts, 4 fish! These were nice size cutthroats, none smaller than 10″ and as large as 15″ or so. I went on to catch 7 in 20 minutes with the fish hitting the ant shortly after the bubble hits the water. However, the fish stopped biting right after the cast and I started to catch them while retrieving my line.

I used a piece of extra guyline for my tarp as a stringer to keep my fish. I spent a few hours fishing this afternoon and soaking up the sun, along with being eaten alive by mosquitoes. I switched over to a snap swivel and started throwing mepps, rooster tails, cleos etc and caught fish on practically everything I used. I caught 28 for the afternoon, a solid day!

I could see lots of smoke in the distance, but I guess forest fire smoke and haze is pretty normal for Idaho. Sometime after 6pm I cleaned my fish and started prepping them for dinner. I brought a small frying pan to cook them on over my stove. I took the fish fillets and put them in a ziploc bag, filled with Zatarains fish seasoning and shook it up. I lined the pan with olive oil and had a nice fish fry. Nothing better than fish cooked this way, and at no time do they taste better! 

Dusk at Warbonnet Peak

Back at camp I watched the sun go down over Lower Bead Lake. More acclimated now and with a belly full of trout, I was feeling pretty good. Today was a good day. I slept another night without the tarp over my hammock, with no apparent threat of rain tonight. 


Day 6 – Tuesday August 22nd, 2017

Miles Hiked – 4.21
Elevation Gain – 1270′
Route Hiked – Lower Bead Lake to Packrat Lake

This morning was cloudy and hazy due to the forest fire smoke. It was kind of hard to tell which I was looking at to be honest. I left camp at 8:30 this morning.

Leaving the Warbonnet Peak are behind

About to dead down the creek leading to Blue Rock Lake

From Lower Bead Lake, I went uphill to the saddle below point 8929′. I could tell there would be some pretty awesome pictures from here if it weren’t for the smoke today. Still impressive! 

From the saddle I headed downhill along the stream leading to Blue Rock Lake. I do NOT recommend taking this route! There were some really steep sections through here along some loose and unstable slopes. I fell a couple of times, but was lucky to only get a minor cut and bruised hand. Progress was slow and hard earned through here. With that said, there were some beautiful scenes, but again, I would recommend taking a different route. Instead, at the 8600′ mark I would rather have tried to contour west and take the gentler SW slope down to Blue Rock Lake. 

Blue Rock Lake looked like it would be a great place to be with the proper weather. Right now, everything is looking grey and less photogenic than I’d like, so I only snapped 1 picture here.

Smoke and haze looking down Goat Creek valley

Talus fields on the way to McWillards Lake

At least I am not moving up this, just across it. Still slow and treacherous

Looking back the way I came

Moving on past Blue Rock Lake, one must climb up and over the ridgeline south of the lake or contour around it. I chose the latter. It’s difficulty became apparent immediately. Lots of boulders and talus here, and progress is slow. Some sections were steep and unstable. 

McWillards Lake

Another shot of McWillards Lake

After slow hiking across the boulder field, I reached a grassy area near McWillards Lake. This was a thick bushwhack to the lake, with soggy ground and a ton of bugs around. Not very pleasant. The lake looked like it would be a beautiful place and a great photo under the right conditions, but the bugs were so bad I couldn’t stick around very long here. There were no obvious good campsites around the lake, for tent or hammock. 

Oreamnos Lake

More thick bushwhacking to Oreamnos Lake. I stopped here to take a break and eat. There were a ton of fish hitting the top water here. I would have liked to fish it, but wanted to move on to Packrat lake. This didn’t look like one of the most scenic lakes I passed but pretty nonetheless. 

Just above Oreamnos Lake going to Packrat

Stream outlet from Packrat Lake

The hike uphill to Packerat Lake had no trail, not even a faint one. It’s a mix of granite slabs , thick forest, open meadow, and boulder hopping along the creek. While not an easy hike, it was actually the easiest of the day’s route. 

Packrat Lake

Packrat Lake west shore

Near the inlet of Packrat Lake

Once up at Packrat Lake, I explored the outlet. I didn’t see any signs of a previously used campsite anywhere. I also didn’t find anywhere I wanted to camp here, so I headed around the lake towards the inlet. I did find a nice spot perched above the lake on the south shore, but it was exposed and windy. There were two trees the right distance apart for my hammock and not much else around. With so few options, I was really lucky to have such a nice spot. There were no signs of previously used campsites at Packrat Lake, no pathways around the lake, no footsteps to be seen. Looks to be very seldom visited.

Packrat Lake

Another day getting to camp early, only 12:30pm now. Setup the hammock, filtered some water, then time to fish! This was the lake I was most looking forward to fishing, and since I spent so much time and effort getting here, time to get to it. However, it was looking very much like rain now, with dark clouds on the horizon and the smoke less of a factor. I am really hoping the weather holds out, but hey, it’s gotta rain at least once in any week long hike no matter where it is. 

I caught 9 fish in my first hour, and put 3 on the stringer. Caught nothing under 10″. I didn’t see fish hitting top water much, and already had my snap swivel on for lures, so I ran with that. Caught fish on almost every lure I used, with the exception of a beetle spin. The larger fish were in the 16″ range. 

hammock camping at packrat lake in the sawtooth wilderness

Campsite at Packrat Lake

I stopped fishing for a while in the afternoon to make sure I was prepared if it rain. I bounced back and forth between setting up the tarp and keeping it off before finally biting the bullet and putting it up. Thankfully I did, because it did rain later in the evening, around 7pm and again around bed time. 

After the 7pm rain let up, I headed away from camp to cook my fish. Before I did that, I thought, hey I could use a few more fish, let me try and catch a few more real quick. In less than 4 minutes, I had caught 5 ore fish on 6 casts, all 14″+. Alright, got myself a fish fry now. I ended up throwing the smallest couple back and cooking a few of the larger ones. 

I cooked 3 pans of fish for dinner, and was full for the first time on the trip. It’s a lot of work to catch the fish, clean them, cook them on this pan and clean the dishes afterwards, but wow you can’t argue with the great taste and the feeling that you get from procuring your own food. Sensing the oncoming rain, I hurried back to camp and got ready for bed. I made it under the tarp just as the rain started. It wasn’t super heavy, and only last about an hour. This was the most rain I would get during the entire hike. 



Day 7 – Wednesday August 23rd, 2017

Miles Hiked – 5.44
Elevation Gain – 2267′
Route Hiked – Packrat Lake to Hanging Valley

Packrat Lake at sunrise

The stars were out at 2am when I got up to pee, and the skies were blue at dawn. However, it clouded right back up again as the sun rose. 

Heading up to Packrat Pass from Packrat Lake

packrat pass idaho

Leaving camp, I had a 1000′ climb up a boulder field to Packrat Pass. Lots of boulders and talus. Looking back at the route I hiked on the topo map now, I can see that I probably should have kept my route more to the east to avoid the worst of the boulders and talus. I think that might have made the approach a bit easier. There were some pretty crappy sections of boulders, but no worse than what I’ve already gone through. 

Nearing the top of Packrat Pass

Once past the worst of the boulders, the slope starts getting steeper. At this point, rocks are less of an issue, as the the ground becomes softer and looser. In this way, the trail is similar to the Warbonnet/Alpine Pass. I had heard this pass was very difficult and required hand over hand climbing, but I did not encounter any of that. It’s steep and loose, but I did not find it to be that scary. I believe those that had a hard time with it took some chutes that were maybe farther north along the divide. 

View of Packrat Lake from high point above Packrat Pass

Reward Peak

Packrat Peak panorama

At the top of Packrat Pass was some of my favorite views of the trip. I climbed up to a high point above the saddle and took as many pictures as I could of the area.  The ridge running north of Reward Peak just looked so imposing to me with all the jagged peaks, so fitting of a place called the Sawtooths. This spot also had a feeling of isolation, with no marked trails anywhere near by. 

backpacker on packrat pass in the sawtooth wilderness

The crest of the basin above Packrat Lake, west of Reward Peak, looked like it would be a cool ridge walk. I had thought about climbing Reward Peak, but it was looking pretty cloudy and I wanted to get off the high ground in case it started to storm. 

Heading down the pass, I couldn’t stop taking pictures of the area. Even step exposed a new angle of opportunity. It took me a while to make some distance from the pass. 

Lake Katheryn

colorful wildflowers above lake katheryn in idaho's sawtooth wilderness

Lake Katheryn

When I got my first glimpse of Lake Katheryn, I could see getting down was going to be a lot tougher than I anticipated. The views sure were great though! Water was trickling down everything here making the rock chutes slippery. It was hard work getting down to the lake.

Small island with trees in Lake Katheryn

I didn’t spend much time alongside the lake, but it seemed to be a nice place to camp. The view from the outlet would have been nice to see. There’s a small island in the middle of the lake with a two large trees on it, pretty cool looking. 

Past the lake and continuing south, the peaks of 10168′, Elk Peak and the rest of the ridgeline can be seen beyond the immediate crest of the hill in front of me. This was a scenic area to hike through, and I get the impression its seldom seen due to its location. 

Unnamed lakes north of Elk Peak

unnamed lake near elk peak

My travels south towards Elk Peak have brought me to a couple of small unnamed lakes. These lakes were very pretty, but no where to camp for a hammock. There looked like a few tent sites possible around the lakes. I stopped here to fuel up before crossing into what I anticipated to be a bad section of boulders. 

View SE

Great view of Redfish Lake Creek Valley

After the last lake, I followed the stream from the lake downhill until it really started to drop off. Pretty sweet view of Redfish Lake Creek Valley. My route has me contouring around the NE slope of Elk Peak at the 9100′ mark, leading to a gully down to the very upper reaches of the Redfish Lake Creek Basin.

Highly treacherous section of boulders

This next section I like to call “The Boulder Field Of Death”. Sections of big boulders with a couple that moved underfoot caused a few scary moments. One boulder, larger then myself, moved on me and caused me to slip off. I fell against another boulder, and the one I fell off had  moved and tilted towards me. Thankfully it stopped moving, because it could have fallen on me or at least my leg in the position I was in. Other times it’s not one big boulder but a whole slope of rocks and boulders overhead I was worried about dislodging. 

I then came to a steep ridge in the middle of the boulder field, with a much sandier soil. Along it’s steep edge anyway. This stuff was so steep and loose, you’re basically just sliding downhill in a hopefully controlled manner. 

I fought through some tough boulder fields before, and this is one of my least favorites. There’s one on every trip though. The terrain is still steep and full of talus, but much more manageable now. The gully down to upper Redfish Lake Creek is now in sight.

Looking up the way I came

Upper Redfish Lake Creek area

The route down the gully was steep, but still nicer than what I just went through. Things are looking up. The map shows just a wetland below, but it looks like a couple of small lakes. Looks nice from here.

Upper Redfish Lake Creek basin

It was a relief to get out of the boulders and scree and onto the grassy valley floor. There was a rather large logjam below one of the lake outlets that I used to cross to the other side. Pretty area. 

I hiked a little farther past the lakes before stopping for a break. The bugs were bad here too as they have been everywhere on the entire trip. This kept my break short.

Heading uphill to Hanging Valley

Now I am heading up the drainage leading to Hanging Valley. It’s a 500’+ climb up over varying slope angles. At first, the terrain is relatively flat and forested. Then a section of low shrubs and scattered boulders. There was a bit of a path to follow for a very short ways, and then it disappeared. Nothing you can count on here, but the route is up fairly obvious. I saw a deer on my way up, one of two this trip. 

Entering Hanging Valley

At the top of the drainage is a saddle that allows access into Hanging Valley. Here, you get a view of the surrounding peaks in the distance obscure by trees in the immediate foreground. Nothing picture worthy. Time to head down into the valley, with the steepest section at the top.

I wish I had explored more of the area, but it was looking like it could rain and I was just thinking of finding and setting up camp ASAP. I headed to upper Hanging Valley and found a spot that would work with the hammock. There are a lot of dead trees in this area so working around that was an issue. 

Hanging Valley

View towards the pass I will take tomorrow

The view from my campsite was nice. The water below camp was trickling out from the earth at the base of the unnamed peak at the top of this basin. Therefore, it was ice cold. You think the water in the Lakes like Baron and Cramer are cold, but they are significantly warmer than this. This water must have been just a few degrees above freezing, not the kind of water you’d want to fully immerse yourself in. 

I didn’t do much today after reaching camp. There didn’t look to be any fish in the water and I didn’t feel like walking around to explore the rest of the area. I used the available sunlight to charge my solar panel, so I could recharge my GoPro batteries, washed my socks, etc. Lazy evening. 

Camp in Hanging Valley

The bugs were very bad here, maybe worse than any other place this trip. I couldn’t wait for the sun to go down today so I could get in my hammock and be done with the bugs. Right as the Sun went down, dark clouds moved in and the wind picked up, maybe 35 MPH gusts. Fortunately all this died down after 30 minutes and I was able to sleep under the stars once again. 



Day 8 – Thursday August 24th, 2017

Miles Hiked – 16.86
Elevation Gain – 2677′
Route Hiked – Hanging Valley to Pettit Lake

There was some ice on the water this morning in Hanging Valley. I was camped about 30ft above the water below, and it was noticeably colder down there by the water. Good campsite selection. 

After packing up camp, I was already in a good position to tackle the unnamed pass above camp leading over to Hidden Lake. I planned to take a ridge leading up to the obvious snow covered saddle between peak 9703′ and the unnamed peak to the west. I planned on hiking to Edith Lake today, above Toxaway Lake. This would put me pretty close to the trailhead for my last day tomorrow.

The ridge I came up

Going up the ridge wasn’t too hard. I saw another deer, and lots of tracks. Near the top, I found a pair of aviator sunglasses, some really gaudy ones…  gold frame with red lens. I just imagine the person wearing those out here, made me chuckle.

As I climbed higher up the ridge it became apparent the best route doesn’t actually go to the saddle I intended to reach. Instead, I continued uphill on the western face of peak 9703′ to approx 9525′. This seemed to be the most obvious route to the top, and it didn’t let me down. There was a  clearing up here that would fit a tent, if one was brave enough to take on the potential winds of a place like this. 

View towards Hanging Valley from pass

Decent views from the top of this pass. Looking down at the lake to my south, I saw an animal running around that I couldn’t identify from here. Could have been a marmot, but it didn’t really move like one. Not sure what it was, but later I found lots of tracks in snow.

What do you suppose these are?

The route down from the pass was simple. Not too steep or rocky, rather easy as far as off trail passes go. Down at the lake, I could see all sorts of animal tracks in the snow and mud, but still not sure what they are. 

Hiking around the unnamed lake wasn’t too bad either, despite being littered with boulders and talus. I took the west side of the lake. Even though the topo map makes the east side look easier, a visual confirmed the west side was the best route. The boulders were laying fairly flat and so walking across them was not much of a problem. The east side had a few small cliffs and more snow. 

Past the lake, a small stream trickles through the talus. I followed the stream downhill, where the landscape opens up again to the the valley containing Hidden lake. 

Farther downstream, there was an area of heavy snow that still remained alongside the stream. The stream had cut through the snow, leaving a little “cave”. The snow bridge above had collapsed in spots. I found this area interesting to photograph even if the lighting wasn’t the best at the moment. 

Hidden Lake, again

Just past the snow bridge area I met up with the trail. This was a good feeling after 3 days of some rough off trail hiking. Now I can cover some ground fast. I made good time along Hidden Lake. I stopped to chat with a guy from Washington state and his son for a while before moving on.

Leaving Hidden Lake

I took a break downstream of Hidden lake to get some food. When I started hiking again, the guy and his son from Washington were right behind. We hiked together to the junction of Hidden Lake and the South Fork Payette River, where they split off to head to Grandjean and I headed towards Edna Lake. Just past Edna is the trail leading up to Sand Mountain Pass. 

Since I had already hiked this section of trail before, I didn’t spend much time taking pictures through this section. 

Leaving the treeline. Where grass meets rock

The trail up to Sand MountainPass starts off forested and lacking views. However, as it gains some elevation the trees disappear and you get some great vistas.

Hiking up Sand Mountain Pass

Lake 8861 from the trail up Sand Mountain Pass

sand mountain pass

I liked the trail up to Sand Mountain Pass. It was an easy hike, not too steep, and the landscape here was interesting compared to anything else I’d seen this trip so far. 

At the top of Sand Mountain Pass, there’d a myriad of trails running in and out of here. Kind of confusing actually. The trail I wanted to Edith Lake required me to follow the sign to Lake Imogene. 


I really enjoyed the hike through this next section of trail, down to Edith lake. Excellent views from the top near the ridgeline. It took me a while to make some progress coming down from this pass, as I kept stopping for pictures. Some long switchbacks through this section. The wind has been increasing all day, and it was very windy now. 

Edith Lake

Nice hike down to Edith Lake. The lake itself couldn’t be seen until I was pretty close to it due to the angle of the surrounding slopes. The trail stays high above the lake, and crosses the lakes outlet. Beautiful lake. However, I decided to keep hiking and make it back to my car at Pettit Lake tonight. The allure of a hot meal, shower and bed were too great.

Edith Lake

I stopped at Edith lake to filter some water. I had done at about 10-11 miles so far today. I figure, the rest is mostly downhill and it’s another 7 miles or so. I snacked on some trail mix, etc and got back to hiking after about 10 minutes. 

Below Edith lake, the trail passes by a few small waterfalls. Otherwise, not much to see as the trail is in the forest for much of the time, only occasionally with open views of the valley. No problem with this though as my mission now was to get back to the car.

Down from Edith lake and on the Yellow Belly Lake trail now. This remaining push was brutal. The trail itself isn’t difficult, but I was tired. I was running on less than 1,000 calories today. I couldn’t eat anything substantial from my bag of food if I tried unless I stopped for a long break, which wasn’t going to happen. 

Waterfall below Farley lake

It seemed like a long time just to get to Farley lake. I didn’t care to stop and take pictures, I just kept moving. I did stop at the nice waterfall below Farley lake though, had to get a picture of that.

I stopped one more time after Farley Lake to mix up my remaining Cytomax and get some electrolytes back. 

Where the trail crosses the creek, it’s a wet ford unless you cross along a downed log a little upstream. I went for this, but ended up losing my balance and jumped in the water. It was only 18″ deep, not really a big deal other than my shoes were completely soaked now. I just kept hiking, I figured I was pretty close to the trailhead anyways. 

Pettit Lake. Almost there!

The terrain really flattened out after the creek crossing. Eventually I hit the junction with the trail leading to Pettit Lake. This required one last uphill climb of 400’+. I was very tired now, running on empty. Reached the top and it was all downhill from here. Pettit Lake in sight, finally!

I reached my car at 5pm, the GPS said I had done 18 miles today. The trailhead was still packed. Never has the seat of a Chevy Cruze felt so comfortable! I left Pettit Lake and headed to Redfish Lake. I stopped and took a shower at the campground first, that was the nicest crappy shower I’ve ever had, haha. Then I ate at the Redfish Lake lodge. This place was pretty cool. They had live music playing and it was like a party by the lake. The lodge had great burgers too. 

After this, I left and tried to find a hotel. I headed south on ID-75. Shortly after leaving Redfish Lake, a black bear ran in front of the truck in front of me. Cool to see! The drive down ID-75 was beautiful, one of my favorites anywhere.

The hotels were way too expensive, and mostly booked, in towns like Ketchum, Sun Valley, and Hailey. I ended up driving 3 hours back to Boise through the night. Got to a hotel in Boise around 11:30pm. What a long day. 



Final Thoughts About Hiking The Sawtooth Wilderness

The Sawtooths are an awesome place. The trailheads on the east start pretty high, around 7000′, so the approach to the high country is shorter than starting from Grandjean at 5000′. This is a tough place to string together a long loop without seeing the same territory twice and/or dropping too low into some of the valleys. 

I was really frustrated by the number of people at Cramer and Baron Lakes, which I am not used to. Some of the people I met on the trail said the eclipse attracted a lot of extra people, and that it’s not normally this crowded. Off trail, I saw practically nobody. You can find solitude here but you have to work for it. Cramer and Baron Lakes were beautiful and I’m glad I saw them, but I would think about camping somewhere else next time to avoid the crowd.

The total solar eclipse was pretty incredible. I was not even aware of the solar eclipse before I stared planning my trip to the Sawtooths. I only later found out that my route was going to be right it the path of totality. Can you believe the odds? I feel really lucky to have been able to see it from such an amazing spot. 

There is good fishing here, but you might not have luck at the popular lakes. 

The Sawtooths are a good place to bring a hammock. You can count of dining a place to hang it just about anywhere in the 8500′ range, where many of the lakes site at or below. 

Be prepared for terrible bugs even in late August. I only had rain one day here, so it was pretty dry the entire time. Night time lows ranged from mid 30s to about 50. Day time temps were comfortable, and even hot in the sun. But once the sun hits or you’re in the shade and not moving, it can be a little chilly. 

I brought 16 pounds of food and came home with 5 pounds, 10 oz. I lost 10 pounds myself, about normal for a weeklong hike for me. Really didn’t want to lose the weight though. There goes all the progress I made this year in the weight room once again this hiking season. Oh well, it comes with the territory. 


3 Responses

  1. iñigo

    nice trip.thanks for sharing your experience it helps for future plans.osasuna from the Basque Country..hopefully i may go next year

    August 17, 2018 at 11:28 am

  2. Howdy.
    I have to commend you. You find and hike all the cool places right near where we live (Phoenix: Superstitions, Sierra Anchas; Hailey ID: Sawtooths trailless basins).
    Question on Sawtooth post. You showed photo of/mentioned social trail on pass between Upper Baron & Warbonnet lakes. Does this trail come in from Alpine Lake? Is there route down to Warbonnet? We came this way earlier in month (9/7/18) & had planned to do trailless lakes you did (Warbonnet-Packret-Kathryn etc). However route above glacial till (above upper Baron) seemed quite skittery & Google Maps view down to Warbonnet looked even more precipitous so turned back at top of till. Maybe slicker this year because of dry no-rain summer. Anyway let me know about routes to Warbonnet for next summer attempt! Thanks! Have you considered White Clouds. Nice loop that is half route, half trails. Look at my website for that visit!

    September 17, 2018 at 1:32 pm

    • SeekingLost

      Hi Cindy,

      Comments need to be approved before appearing on the site, that’s why your comments didn’t show up. You weren’t doing anything wrong. I was out thru-hiking the CDT from april to october and was not checking the site often to approve comments.

      The trail I mentioned does come up from Alpine Lake. How far down it goes, not sure. And yes, it is possible to reach Warbonnet Lake if you go up and over that pass above Upper Baron. It was very loose and sketchy but certainly doable. Going down Warbonnet was steep. It too was loose, but a decent trail was there for guidance. The steepness would be less of an issue if you were hiking up to the pass from Warbonnet Lake instead of down to it.

      The route down to Katheryn Lake from Packrat, and down to Upper Redfish is slow and treacherous, but certainly doable as well. I wouldn’t want to do it again though!

      Good luck on your attempt next year and let me know if there’s any more info I can help with. Also, thanks for the tip on the White Clouds.. Looks amazing!

      October 12, 2018 at 11:31 pm

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