Sawtooths ID Redfish Lake to Cramer Lakes
Due to recent Grizzly activity in the Wind Rivers, and a long held desire to finally hike into the Sawtooths, we decided this time "Idaho here we come!". So my best friend, his college age son( both from NC) and I flew into SLC getting there late on Saturday 082011. The evening we did some shopping at REI, and slept in the next morning, then hit the road towards Stanley, ID.
I could not make the upcoming group hang put together by Paul Gibson of Arrowhead Equip., my friends had to go this week. But I got superb advice from Paul, and it all proved to be spot on. Thanks, Paul! The first advice we took was to hit Smiley Creek Lodge for supper on the way in. The food was great, and we went back there for another meal and milk shake on the way out.
We only had the cheap throw away cameras, so sorry for the quality of the pics. I still have to get my partners pics. After a late start and crossing Redfish Lake (~6550) by boat, we made it to where the trail crosses the Redfish Creek. Trees are endless, but so are widowmakers, which really adds to the challenge of finding a safe place to sleep. So you guys be careful next week! We decided we better take this nice looking camp area - where we were able to pitch 3 hammocks out of reach of the widow makers, before it got dark:
Jagged Peaks rose another 1500-2500 ft straight up above us on all sides. ( N44.07 W115.004 ~ 7420 ) We only had a cheap throw away camera to try and record this truly spectacular area:
At last, taking a load off of my aching feet!
Packing up next morning, ready for another ~ 1000 ft climb to Cramer Lakes!
Good base camp with fishing and lounging and minor day hikes:
Notice the good sized water fall pouring into middle Cramer on the RT:
Fishing at Middle Cramer:
A very cold swim in snow melt at ~ 8360:
A good time was had by all! The Sawtooths- despite these very inadequate pics- are truly spectacular, with cold, crystal clear lakes and streams.
Awsome BB! So glad you had a good time. Smiley creek is the place for a good meal and a place to pit your feet up. Been waiting for your report. Y'all come back soon ya hear. :)
This is like a movie teaser for me. As the days get closer I am getting more excited and this just adds fuel to the fire... Thanks for the info and sorry you couldn't put it off for a couple weeks.
Giving up on the Wind Rivers must have been a tough call. Not many places outside of CA to chase golden trout and in beautiful scenery. (I don't know if I could have changed locations.)
So is it the pine beatles that are causing so many dead trees?
At our car camp, we had no trouble finding trees for 3 with no dangerous trees to worry about. I suspect that the dead trees had been cut down.......there were plenty of dead trees nearby on the ground. But the hanging was good in the designated car camp sites. Up higher, it was a bigger challenge. On the 1st night at about 7400 ft, we actually left the main forest to get out into a meadow with isolated stands of trees. We were able to hang 3 hammocks very close to each other- plus we could see some other tree pairs not far off- all with no threatening trees. Higher up it was much tougher to get out of reach of a seemingly 50-100 ft tall dead tree. But since we decided to just base camp at the Cramer lakes area( lazy hammock laying degenerates that we are ), I don't know that conditions would not have been much improved further up the trail. That is what happened last time in the Winds. At 9400 ft V Lake it was a world of giant- and often dead- trees making finding safe spots tough. Not much better around 9600 ft Big Sandy Lake. But at 10,000 ft Clear lake, the trees were both much smaller(but plenty big enough) and in much better condition, so we had no threats from the widow makers, and great hanging.
Here is the funny part: I talked to a Sawtooth ranger. He said NO Grizz, and NO worries or problems from the rare black bear. Of course, hang your food just to be safe, but the overall impression from him was that the odds of any kind of bear problem was probably lower than just about anywhere except where they just don't have any bears at all. Paul pretty well backed up this opinion. So when we get to Chinook camp ground, first thing we see is a "bear alert" sign! Then the camp ground host comes up and says they have had a "visitor" on some nights, so we better put our food up. He said a car had also been broken into. :confused:
That night, not long after I had fallen asleep, I was awakened by something giving my hammock a stout nudge. I had no light, but the moon was out. I sat up and looked around, and never saw anything. Maybe I dreamed it?
As beautiful as this was, I kind of missed the Winds, for some reason. But other than No Grizz, there was one other advantage. Though the vertical rise from Redfish lake was similar to the Winds, the starting elevation is about 2500 ft lower, and a max sleeping elevation for us still about 2000 ft lower. I still felt the elevation, but I could still tell this was much easier on me. Another big plus for the Sawtooths. And really, it does not come much more spectacular. For one thing, those snowy jagged peaks rising out of the sandy beach at Redfish lake would be hard to match anywhere in the country, IMO. And the wonderful boat ride across the lake to the trailhead is icing on the cake!
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