Sawtooth Lake

We had one hike in mind for this trip – Sawtooth Lake. We got up and had pancakes for breakfast before driving over to the Iron Creek Trailhead. The bright morning light illuminated the Sawtooth range and Salmon River as we drove to the trailhead. Even if you can’t/don’t like hiking, a trip to Stanley is worth it just for the stunning scenery. Seriously, it feels unreal even when you’re there.

Salmon River & Sawtooth Mountains

We arrived at the trailhead, filled out the Wilderness permit, and began our trek. We knew Truman couldn’t do an entire 10 mile hike but I guess I was far too optimistic about how much he would do. After the first mile, we crossed into the Sawtooth Wilderness and I put Truman in the pack. He wasn’t quite ready to give up, but Zach didn’t want him to overdo it at the very beginning. A 15 lb. dachshund is not a child, I know this, but it’s still a lot of extra weight I am not accustomed to carrying. He also shifts around from time to time throwing off my balance especially when I’m trying to walk across a log over a stream…

Going strong at the beginning

Getting a drink from Iron Creek

Iron Creek abuts the trail briefly

Crossing into the Wilderness Area

Although the trail is certainly a popular one, we were mostly alone as we hiked, passing people every now and then. They only noticed Truman in my pack if they passed to the right of us, otherwise they were none the wiser. There was a similar refrain each time someone did notice him though – “Lucky dog!” He certainly was.

When we reached the top of the first set of switchbacks and passed the trail to Alpine Lake, I needed a break. I thought Truman might be able to walk the rest of the way to Sawtooth Lake, but after a while, we decided the steep, rocky terrain wasn’t great for his back. So back in he went until we reached our destination.

The lucky dog and I

The aerial view of Alpine Lake is stunning

Still climbing

Still several snow patches at the top

We made it!

At the trailhead, Zach made a spur-of-the-moment decision to throw a couple of cold beers in his backpack, and at the top I was so thankful he did. It was really nice to get Truman off my back and a cold beer in my hand. (We let the beers sit in the icy lake for a bit before indulging.) The first part of the lake hikers come to still had quite a bit of ice floating around. The stream that flows out of the lake is partially dammed up by logs beavers have accumulated, and we relaxed in that vicinity of the lake first. We drank our beers, ate our sandwiches, and snacked on other goodies before packing everything back up and walking over the other side of the lake. To get there, we had to cross another stream Frogger-style, moving from floating log to floating log and finally onto a snow bank – this is more difficult with a dog on your back. But we made it, walked through another large patch of snow, and were at the top of a lovely overlook of Sawtooth Lake.

We made it! Sawtooth Lake and Mt. Regan

Going back over the stream to the main trail was more difficult on the way back. Zach used a better route than I did, and because of it, I ended up in the stream when the snow back collapsed under me. Truman was fine – the water only went thigh-high on me – but my shoes were soaked through. While I took a moment to remove my shoes and socks and wring them out, Zach was photographing an adorable pika who wasn’t even remotely afraid of him. A little more dry, we continued on our way to the last stream crossing where luck would have it, the log rolled on me and my left foot went in the water again – not my day. We stopped again, I repeated my process, and then we truly continued on our way. Somehow, I did not end up with any blisters (!), and I am going to give credit to my amazing Smartwool socks. I will never buy another brand.

Zach’s pika friend

I crossed this stream successfully twice

My left foot went in this stream

Another, much smaller lake, just next to Sawtooth Lake

Once we had descended the steepest parts of the trail and finished all of the switchbacks, I let Truman out to walk as long as he wanted. He went roughly a mile and sat down in the shade – his way of telling me he’s done. I was definitely hoping he’d go farther on the way back, but oh well. In the end, I carried him for 8 of the 10 miles. Hah.

We were all grateful to reach the trailhead. The sun was on our backs most of the return trip, and it drained us. We refilled our water bottles with refreshingly cold water from the pump and then drove off toward Redfish Lake. It was a gorgeous day.


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