Backpacking in the Sawtooth Mountains
I feel like every time we set out for a new “adventure” on the BT that new adventure becomes the “highlight" of the trip! This three day backpacking adventure was no exception! We chose to hike the Alice-Toxaway Loop, an 18.7 mile loop that took us over a mountain pass and through some of the most beautiful alpine scenery I have ever seen. There are many loops, trails, and routes to hike and backpack in the Sawtooths, especially in and around Stanley, ID. However, we chose this route because we knew it was exceptionally beautiful and because it fit the right ratio of challenge, ease, and length for the girls. John's family had also spent time at Alice Lake in 1974 when he was 5 years old. He even lost a GI Joe there and we joked with the girls that we were going there to find it! Although the girls have done some backpacking before, this was certainly their longest and probably hardest trip.
The girls were excited about carrying their packs and when we were organizing and dividing our gear we had to make sure they didn't take too much. When their backpacks were packed, we weighed each of them to make sure they weren't too heavy. In the end, the girls carried their sleeping pads, sleeping bags, clothes, their personal gear and snacks, and one group item! John and I obviously carried the rest, but our packs weren't burdensome.
With excitement and anticipation in our hearts we set out on the trail. The first day was probably the hardest because our packs were full and it involved the most elevation gain of the trip. With clear skies and a relatively early start, we knew we could take our time. Our little foursome naturally divided and John and I enjoyed some one-on-one time with each of the girls. There was never much distance between us and whoever was in front would stop every once in a while so the others could catch up.
We had to cross several creeks along the way which added to the fun. Sometimes the girls would cross with their packs on and sometimes we would have them take them off. But we almost always dipped and drenched our hats in the cool water. When the trail became more strenuous we would sing songs, play games, eat more snacks, and take more breaks. In fact, we spent a lot of our time doing all of the above even when it wasn't strenuous!
We stopped to eat lunch at the lake below and then carried on to Alice Lake to set up camp for the night.
With our packs off at our campsite and a beautiful lake beside us we knew what we had to do next....get in! We all swam and got refreshingly clean! When we got out we settled into camp.
I love the simplicity and the routine of backpacking...wake up, have breakfast, pack up, hike, set up camp, eat, sleep, repeat! The next two days were much like the first. We went over the mountain pass on the second day. Here is Isla throwing a snowball from a leftover patch of snow at the highest point of the trip.
Coming down from the highpoint we passed many beautiful lakes, but the biggest lake on this side was Toxaway Lake. We found a great campsite below the lake with cascading waterfalls and even a swimming hole! We all played and played in the waterfalls and sat for a while in the swimming hole. We got clean and then warmed up and got dry by laying on the warm slabs of granite.
After we hiked out from the backcountry we hopped in Rigdiculous (that's the name of our ridiculously awesome rig - in our humble opinion!!) to find a campsite. We were hoping to find a place to "rest our wings" on a lake. We checked out two different lake areas and at both lakes all the campsites were full. We weren't surprised and we weren't even bummed. We found a nice creek to wash in and get clean and camped with the idea of finding a campsite at Stanley Lake in the morning.
I think I was in heaven for three days! I had forgotten how much I LOVED backpacking and to be able to head out into the wilderness with the entire family was such a treat. John and I continue to be amazed by how tough the girls and what we can do as a family. Our possibilities for adventure, fun, and discovery continue to grow!