Tag Archives: Redfish Lake
By Michael Lanza
Morning fog hung like a damp, cold blanket over the Sawtooth Valley as my wife, Penny, and I started hiking in early morning from the Redfish Trailhead, minutes from the shores of Redfish Lake. Before long, we caught our first view of our destination—and it looked quite far off: the pinpoint summit of 10,751-foot Thompson Peak, the highest in Idaho’s best-known mountain range, the Sawtooths. From where we started our dayhike, 6.5 circuitous miles and 4,200 vertical feet separated us from that lofty piece of granite, including on- and off-trail hiking through aspens and ponderosa pine forest, up a hanging valley with a steep headwall, over talus and scree, and a bit of third-class scrambling.
But Penny had never stood atop Thompson, and we had a bluebird, late-July day. So we fully intended to get there. Continue reading →
By Michael Lanza
What makes a great backpacking trip? I’ve thought about that more than a mentally stable person probably should, having done many of America’s (and the world’s) most beautiful and beloved multi-day hikes over the years. Certainly top-shelf scenery is mandatory. An element of adventurousness enhances a hike, in my eyes. As I assembled this top 10 list, longer trips seemed to dominate it—there’s something special about a big walk in the wilderness—but two- and three-day hikes also made my list. Another factor that truly matters is a wilderness experience: All 10 are in national parks or wilderness areas.
Some things, though, don’t require explanation; the validation comes in just doing it. So I give you here my admittedly personal and subjective list of the 10 best backpacking trips I’ve taken over more than a quarter-century (and counting) of hauling a pack on trails all over the country, as a longtime field editor for Backpacker magazine and creator of this blog. Continue reading →
We are a group of eight fit and active backpackers (our mountains are the High Sierra) who are interested in heading to Idaho to check out the Sawtooths next summer. I know these are some of your favorite mountains! We’re coming from California to spend a total of 10 days (including travel and a night on front and back side in Stanley). We’d like to spend about six or so days on the trail. We’re usually happy with the eight to 11 miles per day range (depending on difficulty). Of most interest to me is the Grand Sawtooths Loop from the guidebook Backpacking Idaho, by Douglas Lorain. Have you done this particular loop and would you recommend it?
I did take a look at your blog post on the best hikes in the Sawtooths. And I did notice in your post of your Top 10 backpacking trips that there is a different hike you would recommend to someone wanting a multi-day trip in the Sawtooths, so I’m hoping for more info on that trip and if it would be superior to this loop. That one I believe you said was about 50 miles. Continue reading →
I’m an avid reader of your blog and know that you’re very familiar with Idaho’s Sawtooth Mountains, so I was hoping you could give me some advice on either a good 3-day backpacking route or a base camp area where I could take three big day hikes from. I consider myself to be pretty fit and I have a handful of backpacking trips under my belt, so I feel comfortable putting in 10 to 15 miles per day, even over strenuous terrain. Thanks for any suggestions you can provide and for all of your informative and inspirational trip reports.
Brighton, MA Continue reading →
By Michael Lanza
Take three 15-year-old boys backpacking in the mountains and you never quite know what will happen. When my son, Nate, told me that he wanted to take two buddies out on their first backpacking trip, I agreed to it without hesitation. Over the course of three late-August days in Idaho’s Sawtooth Mountains—where we camped at two of the range’s numerous, beautiful mountain lakes—we saw one puncture wound (minor, from walking around barefoot), one case of diarrhea (I recommend against a diet consisting primarily of Slim Jims), and one pair of boots inadvertently dunked in a creek they were being carried across (I still don’t quite understand how that happened).
We also possibly created two new backpackers, and almost certainly forged some memories that three young men will carry perhaps for the rest of their lives, laughing hard whenever they recall this trip together. Continue reading →