Aug 22: Calamity Rerun
Snow is off the high passes and the creeks are no longer at flood stage, so Bob wants to cross part of the Sawtooth mountains we weren't able to do in July. I want to stay at the East Fork ranch and read and write but he has no interest and scoffs at the idea. I am the reluctant wife but join him. The Sawtooth Mts are my favorites so it is an easy choice. They are also a popular destination and are full of Eclipse watchers- many have left but the over flow trailhead parking at Pettit Lake is still almost full of vehicles. We expect and do find numerous hikers, mostly in pairs or solo, on the trail or camped at Farley Lake where it is hard to find a camp for us and two llamas. Just as it is getting dark, we locate the stock camp site with plenty of room and adequate graze. Both llamas are hungry and are happy to eat their llama cookies. Bob and I finish our lunch of chicken, potato chips, and cheese. Eating dinner at 10pm doesn't appeal and after milkshakes in Stanley we are not particularly hungry. We go quickly to sleep.
I can't stop worrying about Johnny and Bono. Are they fully rested after their eight days at the ranch? Are they eating enough along the trail? Are they getting along? Then, I realize these are thoughts that I am having about myself....No, I am not rested enough and still have trail burn-out after 40 days and am not getting along with Bob because he seems uncaring about my concerns for the llamas. Bob, as he watches them, thinks they are doing just fine and he's tired hearing my anxiety about the "big boys" .This comes to a head when I tell Bob, and Bob suggests, that I hike out, drive to Ketchum, and meet him at Redfish, because my worrying is ruining his experience of the wilderness. Rather than get defensive, I agree. I will try to stop worrying, and if after today, I am not enjoying the Sawtooth hike, it is still an easy hike out and I will leave.
Of course, clearing of the air shifts everything! I stop fretting and the enjoyment of the wilderness returns. I am still footsore and my knee hurts on the mountain passes but the scenery is spectacular and the trails and mileage doable. Johnny and Bono are eating well, there is plenty of grass for them and they are carrying light packs. The adage relating to the power of positive thinking is true. Helped by honest communication in our relationship, the aches of aging are more than offset by the shared love of the backcountry and the stunning beauty of the Sawtooths.
Llamas are a magnet! We had a family from Detroit visit our camp this morning before we finished packing. The daughter hoped to see horses but they were thrilled with the photo op with Johnny and Bono! Two brothers from the East Coast insisted on a selfie.
Lots of comments and conversation with people leaving the backcountry after the Eclipse. A saleswoman in River Wear in Stanley said that she thought there were more people in the backcountry than in Stanley for the Eclipse. There were 25 people on Alpine Peak above Sawtooth Lake and they could hear people cheering on peaks surrounding them. In Bob's 55 years in the Sawtooth wilderness, he has never seen such crowds but it is great seeing them love our beautiful peaks, lakes and trails.
Aug 24: Edna Lake to Cramer Pass and Temple Lake
This is a much easier ascent to Hidden Lake and Cramer Pass than anticipated. We climb through meadows above the tree line which are full of small creeks, Indian Paint Brush, showy penstemon,
heather, and buttercups. Johnny and Bono love to munch along the way, so we average only 1 mph so they get enough to eat and drink. Plus there are numerous stops to tell folks about them; llama magnets! The vistas of Snowyside peak, Sevy peak and the distant lake basins are pure Sawtooths!
Across Cramer Pass and navigating the tight, steep switchbacks turn serious for our "Big Boys"- fortunately horse packers preceded us and there was an easy detour around a small snowfield. Bob videos while I lead the llamas. We take it slow and reach Temple Lake-2:30 pm, beautiful. No one has camped here since our last visit in 2015. I could stay forever. Afternoon swim and 8:30 pm to sleep. Bob photographs and recalls the wonderful memories of bringing the early Wild Gift members here 15 years ago. It is a favorite place, and then he wonders how many more years he will be able to return with his knees aging.
Bob and I spend some time giving each other appreciations after we reach camp in a small green llama pasture surrounded by green trees with a small spring nearby.
Appreciations of Sarah from Bob
- Rebounds and comes back quickly after a hard day
- Forgives easily
- Never wants to get or think old
- Looking like a cover girl after being on the trail 40 days
- Early bird, up and at 'em
- No laments
Appreciations of Bob from Sarah
- Care for the llamas
- Picking good campsites such as the one we are in with green grass and a cold clear spring
- Forgive and Forget
- No new annoyances have cropped up, only have had to deal with the same ones as 25 yrs ago. (backhanded appreciation - doesn't count)
- Supports my carving my own path, such leaving the trail and the llamas and taking the boat shuttle to Redfish Lake Lodge for the day and having dinner. We both hike and then have dinner together!
- No laments/regrets
- Reads all the time and is smart, very smart.
We both make a bee line for the Lodge so we can have dinner tonight with friends who are camped here. I should have taken the boat across as my knee flared up and I limped most of the 8 miles up and across the bench towards the Lodge. It helps to soak my knee and foot in Fishhook Creek.
The Sawtooth Mountains are stunning. I so happy we were able to do part of our original route. It is a place that we will always call home and return as often as possible. This is truly home country for us.
Beau Baty from Wilderness Ridge Llamas in Idaho Falls is bringing us two fresh llamas for the White Cloud Mts, and another three llamas for Reuben, Charlotte and Louise who will be joining us.
After 7 weeks with Johnny and Bono, it is a tearful goodbye. We have learned their habits, their preferred grasses, how they cross downed timber and manage rough terrain,where they like to be scratched and be petted, the best places for them to roll, dust baths they love, how to brush and saddle them, spray them with bug repellent and cater to their every whims. They have been such faithful pals. No drama llamas. Thank you, Big Boys, we love you.