Tag Archives: Redfish Lake

January 30, 2017 Backpacking the Ptarmigan Tunnel Trail, Glacier National Park.

My Top 10 Favorite Backpacking Trips

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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 a mandatory qualification. 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 of my top 10 are in national parks or federal 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 humping a pack on trails all over the country, as a longtime field editor for Backpacker magazine and writing for this blog. Continue reading →

October 11, 2016 Above Baron Lake in Idaho's Sawtooth Mountains.

3-Minute Read: Backpacking With Teens in Idaho’s Sawtooths

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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 →

July 31, 2016 Summit of Thompson Peak, Sawtooth Mountains, Idaho.

Roof of Idaho’s Sawtooths: Hiking Thompson Peak

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By Michael Lanza

A morning fog hangs like a damp, cold blanket over the Sawtooth Valley as my wife, Penny, and I start hiking in early morning from the Redfish Trailhead, minutes from the shores of Redfish Lake. Before long, we catch our first view of our destination—and from here, it looks 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 walking a little while ago, 6.5 circuitous miles and 4,200 vertical feet separate 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 final bit of third-class scrambling.

But Penny’s never stood atop Thompson, and I’ve never grown tired of climbing it, and it’s a bluebird, late-July day. So we fully intend to get there. Continue reading →

June 19, 2016 Imogene Lake, Sawtooth Mountains, Idaho.

Ask Me: What Are the Best Hikes in Idaho’s Sawtooths?

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Hi Michael,

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.

Will
Brighton, MA Continue reading →

March 17, 2016 Horstman Peak, Sawtooth Mountains, Idaho.

One Photo, One Story: Climbing Horstman Peak in Idaho’s Sawtooth Mountains

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By Michael Lanza

Unless you’ve done a fair bit of peak scrambling in Idaho’s Sawtooth Mountains, or have looked up at the seemingly infinite row of granite teeth rising above the Sawtooth Valley, or you are a local in one of the few, scattered little towns in the area, you’ve probably never heard of Horstman Peak. But for my friend Chip Roser and me, Horstman had developed into a mild obsession by the time we set out at first light one morning last September to make another attempt on its 10,470-foot summit, which had eluded us a year before. Continue reading →

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