Yep, it is early but 1) I can't stand to wait any longer to start planning and 2) most folks that may want to come are going to need to do some advance planning to make it.
So the planned dated are the same week as last years hang, the Wednesday following Labor day until every one wants or has to go home. That is September 7th on. Last years hang over the same week, had very reduced number of people on the trail than before labor day, we passed less then 15 people over 3 days on the trail.
We will camp and do a hike in the Sawtooth Mountain Range in Central Idaho once again this year. There was some talk about another location for this years hike, but chatting with the guys that came last year everyone agreed that the Sawtooths were perfect and they all wanted to see some more of the range.
Last years weather was a roller coaster the first couple days but leveled out nicely so we could get out and hike. Wednesday was perfect for the drive up, overnight it started to rain, in the morning it was soaking, on the way to get some breakfast it snowed, back to rain in the afternoon, and the following morning fog. After that the mornings were cool and the afternoons warm. Plan for temps to range from the mid 20's to the low to mid 70's. T shirts and thermals. The lowest we confirmed at last years hang was 27, but only days before Stanley had temps in the teens. So come prepared. Keep in mind that we will be around 7000 feet at the trail heads and depending on the route may hit 10,000 feet, easily camping at 8-9000. So weather can be unpredictable at best.
For Reference here is last years planning thread, and trip report 1 and 2
Those threads each have a lot of great info and general information on the area. Skim them for the basics on the Sawtooths.
For reference here is how to get to the Sawtooths.
So Boise is on the far left. The green route is 45 minutes on the free way out of Boise to Mountain Home then hwy 20 for a little over an hour, it goes up some hills then tops out on the Camas prairie for a long drive across the high valley. At the intersection with Hwy 75 you turn north and go through the Sun Valley area, watch out for movie stars and politicians in the crosswalks as they ignore cars. Right after Sun Valley you will head up through winding hills and then go over Galean Summit with a spectacular view out across the sawtooth valley.
The Pink route out of Boise takes you up along the Payett river, turns at Banks to follow the South Fork for all most the entire way. It winds along high river canyons and pine forests.
At Lowman the Pink route and Blue route join. The Blue route leaves Boise on Hwy 21, is in the forest within a few miles of Boise. At about 40 miles you go through Idaho City which at it's peak was the biggest city west of St. Louis, had the biggest gold rush in American history, now it it a small quiet semi tourist town with 1 gas station and a couple small shops. From there you climb up and over a few small summits through forests until you drop down to the South fork of the payette river at Lowman. From this point the Pink and Blue Routes continue to follow the river for a number of miles until they start to climb up the south west flanks of the Sawtooths. The route climbs steeply for a number of miles before topping out on a nearly level valley filled with pine forest. After a good ways heading north in the valley the hwy makes a sudden hook to the south east at cape horn. This will take you into Stanley and the intersection with Hwy 75.
The Yellow route would be the best choice for any one driving in from the east. Follow the freeway out of Wyoming or Utah. At Twin Falls there is a single freeway exit with gas and food at the exit. Head north on Hwy 93, at the small town of Shoshone the Hwy turns into 75 follow it north through lava fields until it tops a small crest and drops into the east end of the camas prairie. In just a couple miles you will go through the intersection with Hwy 20, continue north through Sun Vally. and follow the remainder of the instructions for the green route.
So now for some options of where to hike into.
First choice is to start at Red Fish lake, take the lodges shuttle boat across the lake. There is a hikers parking lot near the lodge that is free parking. And the lodge has a small grocery store for basics at a premium price. The shuttle runs $15 round trip or $8 one way. It leaves the dock on demand for 2 or more passengers and picks up at the other end on a regular schedule 7 days a week. The shuttle boat will take us to the inlett transfer camps where we can hike 7 miles up the canyon to the Crammer lake chain, were we can base camp and day hike to several other lakes in the area for fishing or exploring. (map below hike one) With some creativity or planning for car shuttles we could link this into a loop hike or trail head to trail head rather than out and back. As a out and back the primary mileage would be about 7-8 miles each way depending on which of the three main Crammer lakes is picked as the base camp. If ambition was high and 4-5 days was availabe for hiking then a good looop trail could be completed that would bring us back to the inlet dock, or shortened by a few miles by hiking out at another trail head.
Middle Crammer Lake
Another option would be to hike from GrandJean TH along Trail Creek to the Trail Creek lakes for the first night. Hike over a pass into Sawtooth Lake and then back below tree line to Alpine Lake for the second night. From there we can take a easy hike out the the Iron Creek trail Head or Follow the Aline way trail to Stanley Lake CG. Some of this area (mostly just at the beginning of the hike went though a forest fire a few years ago and from what I have read has exploded back with new growth. Milage would be 15-25 depending on finishing location and would need a shuttle with a car or two at each trail head. Or could be done as a out and back on the same route with several destinations as the far point.
I have done sections of this hike a couple time and it is a beautiful area. The hike to Trail Creek Lakes is 5 miles with several sections with loads of switch backs, in places gaining 1000 feet of elevation in under a mile. But the lakes are amazing. The hike from Iron Creek to Alpine Lake is also great, and I have done it as a day hike with my son. Photos of Alpine in there. Fishing in Alpine can be great.
And as a final what they hey option, also out of the Grandjean area is a trail that would take us along the South fork of the Payette River for several miles until we could turn east and enter the trail less Goat creek Drainage. This rote would be more work but everything I have ever seen of the drainage it looks incredible. The area remains nearly untouched as most folks just don't care to take the effort to get into a trail less area in the wilderness. The fishing is supposed to be amazing and as remote as it is the likely hood of seeing anyone else in the drainage is remote. There are several lakes in short distance from one to the next providing lots of options for fishing. Here is a video of the Goat creek drainage, don't get to overwhelmed, they hiked in from near Crammer lake, over the main ridge of the range and then back over rather than hiking up the creek. Millage for this route would be 10-12 or so each way + day hikes.
Crammer lakes would be the easiest unless we extend it to the loop then it would be the hardest with several high passes to cross, Trail creek would be the next more difficult, and Goat Creek would be the most challenging with the off trail work.
Here are some basic overview maps of the areas.
First the range overview, The red lines are the hikes described above, orange is possible add-ons to the crammer lakes hike, and the light blue in the bottom corner is last years hike.
Next is the basics of the Crammer lake hike, orange being the boat ride across the lake and red the main hike to the lakes.
Next is the hike to Trail Creek lakes and on to alpine lake.
And last the hike into the Goat creek trail less area.
So there are some options. Last years hand was an incredible time. And I hope that this years will be just as much fun. Same basic plan, everyone arrive on Wednesday as early as possible. We will potluck up some chow for dinner and hang around the fire as late as everyone wants, Weather permitting we hike out in the morning for the woods for a few days on the trail, then out as schedules require. Last year Oldgringo and I hung around for a couple extra days to fish and relax in the woods, I would love to do that again if anyone can hang around a bit extra. There are miles and miles of river that are accessible from the Highways in the area that have great fishing. Out of state fishing license run 12.75 for the first day, and 6.00 for each after that, buying once for consecutive days.
Hope that covers the basics, but feel free to ask anything and throw in your 2 cents if which hike sounds like the best. Hope to see everyone in September.