Alice Lake backpack


The girls get out for a long hike in the Sawtooths, with a few summits.

Note: click images to see a larger version in a new window

We hadn't done a family trip yet this year, so after some delicate persuasion, we convinced Jazz, 15, that this really was a good idea.

So we were off at 6am on Friday for the Sawtooths, specifically Tin Cup trailhead at Pettit Lake. We were walking by about 10am on a beautiful Idaho day.

Jazz did this same trip back in 2001 (minus the peaks). Mariel did it in about 1987. I did it for the first time in about 1971.


Jazz was actually out-walking her mom, even though both of them were carrying full packs- plus the food (I carry all the other shared equipment: tent, stove, cookware, first aid, repair kit, water pump, etc.). We hit the first of the 'ponds' below Alice at about 12:30, ready for a real lunch break when we hit Alice in about 1/4 mile.

Somehow Julie missed us, and it wasn't for another hour and a half that we finally ate. I had been walking trail looking for Julie, and had neglected my hydration.... more on that to follow.

Upper valley

So I finally took off for Parks Peak at 3, ill-prepared and in a hurry. I had to walk back down the trail about a mile to the bridge that crosses the creek at 8400'. From there, I followed the directions in Tom Lopez's excellent Idaho Climbing Guide. As usual, Tom's descriptions are just ambiguous enough to leave some adventure in it, but still get you to the summit. The red line takes the fun away, but shows you my route quite well.

Looking back at Pioneer cabin

On the way down, I looped back down the short-cut gully. I like doing loops, but I think the right-hand route is probably better?

I also marked the summit here, which isn't very obvious from down below.

Route through the boulders

Tom rates this Class III. But I think with just a bit of work I could do it without using my hands. So easy III.

There are three summits on a 100-yard ridge. I could not find a register, but after getting here from Alice lake in 95 minutes, I was pretty gassed.

Handwwerk Peak

The views, as usual, were amazing. The red arrow shows Snowyside Peak, our goal for tomorrow. That's Alice Lake off on the left, where I had left the girls to do this climb.

I got back to camp in a little under 90 minutes, dehydrated and cramping. The water in the lake felt wonderful, but with the way my muscles were twitching I was afraid my whole body would turn into a knot and I would drown.

Upper basin

So even though I was thrashed, Dad does the camp set-up. Dad does the cooking. Dad washes the dishes., Dad hangs the food and puts up the clothesline. Dad does the Thermarest rolling. Dad takes the pictures. Etc. So I did my job(s) instead of nursing my poor body.

The skeets weren't too bad, so while the girls occupied the tent, I slept out under the brightest full moon I can remember.

This is from right by our camp the next morning. Too bad the weather wasn't better.

False summit

I was feeling a little slow the next morning, but so were the girls. So no one complained that we didn't hit the trail until 10. I felt sorry for them, so I also took the food from their packs. I think I'm going to start hiring myself out for fair rides.

Jazz, on the other hand, has turned into an uber-hiker. If you click on this pic for a larger version, you can see her way out ahead of Mom and Dad.

That's Snowyside in the back. On the bigger version, I have drawn in our route (as discussed here later).

False summit
It took us about 90 minutes to get to the saddle between the Alice and Toxaway drainages. I took this picture specifically to match one I took of Jazz here in 2001. That's Twin Lakes in the background. False summit

Jazz found some shade in which to relax and read while Julie and I headed off for Snowyside Peak. I had climbed this peak several times in the past, but it was way in the past... like about 30 years ago. So I had only dim memories of the Class III route described in the Idaho Climbing Guide.

We started off contouring around to the southeast ridge, encountering some very steep talus (click for a bigger version, where you can see Julie for an example). Once on the ridge, you climb from goat bed to goat bed through trees- really fun. That is Parks Peak poking up at the far end of the ridge.

False summit
As you gain the upper part of the ridge, there is some easy but exciting rock climbing to be done. The rock here is pretty decent, but so broken that there are buckets and ladder steps everywhere. False summit
Then the ridge gets a little narrow, with some decent drops off the side. False summit

And then it gets narrower and the drops bigger.

Julie asked me if this was the right way?

False summit

But she did fine, and we had another incredible view about us. This pic is looking north-east from the summit. The lakes are in the upper Flytrip basin.

Although the downclimbing made Julie a little nervous, she did great and we got back to our packs (and our kid) in a little less than 3 hours round trip. So it was just 2:30- the day was young!

False summit
To put our little scramble in perspectie, here's a picture of Snowyside taken from above Galena summit. Snowyside Peak

So we saddled up and headed down to Toxaway Lake, where we camped for the evening.

There were a few more mosquitoes here, and what seemed like a lot of people. Sadly, it did not seem like that great of a place to camp.

To get to that point, it had been about a 3 1/2 hour hike with a full pack, plus the climb. And I was still dehydrated from yesterday. I was totally fried, and was not interested in spending any more time looking for a better campsite.

Traversing back from the summit
So we made the most of it. We even whipped up an edible (bonus!) batch of chocolate pudding. Here we have the new Olympic sport of Synchronized Eating. Descending on snow in August

Part of the deal to get Jazz to go without too much fuss was for me to agree to Jazz and Julie's plan for a new kitten, with a pick-up at the humane society on Sunday afternoon. So when we got up this morning, Jazz was pretty fired up to get back to the car. We were out of camp before 8... and that's the last we saw of Jazz.

Julie commented that it was like a romantic weekend with just the two of us- except there was that nagging feeling that Jazz might be lost out in the woods somewhere.

But we shook off that doubt and enjoyed another stellar morning. Julie and I took a few scenic breaks, and I took a few more photos. Julie spotted a goat, and almost ran into a deer family on the trail- she says it was less than 15'.

Later that morning, we ran into some hikers that had seen Jazz, so all was not lost. They commented that there was a difficult creek crossing coming up that would stop her and we would catch up. However, they don't know our Jazz; she's an experienced outdoorswoman. She successfully negotiated the creek crossing, then found and navigated the trail intersection. When Julie and I arrived at the trailhead some time later, she was sitting by the car with her book out.


Descending on snow in August
And oh- the new kitty, Nate, is very cute. Descending on snow in August

Mr. Natural Home | 2008 | Back to top of page | Questions :: e-mail to splattski