Tag Archives: Sawtooth Valley

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

Roof of Idaho’s Sawtooths: Hiking Thompson Peak

In Hiking   |   Tagged , , , , , ,   |   Leave a comment

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 →

August 4, 2015 Summit of Thompson Peak in Idaho's Sawtooth Mountains.

One Photo, One Story: Hiking Thompson Peak in Idaho’s Sawtooth Mountains

In Hiking   |   Tagged , , , , , ,   |   Leave a comment

By Michael Lanza

We started hiking in a cool, morning fog that hung thickly over the Sawtooth Valley, our destination a very small, very airy block of stone that lay beyond sight about 6.5 miles and 4,200 vertical feet in the distance: the 10,751-foot summit of Thompson Peak, the highest in Idaho’s best-known mountain range, the Sawtooths, where 33 summits exceed 10,000 feet. Four-and-a-half hours later, I snapped this photo of my wife, Penny, in a notch right below the short, third-class scramble to Thompson’s summit. We had the crown of the Sawtooths to ourselves on this July weekday, with a sweeping view of the entire Sawtooth Range, Goat Lake 1,700 feet below us, and the White Cloud Mountains across the valley. Continue reading →

July 12, 2015 Alice Lake, Sawtooth Mountains, Idaho.

Ask Me: Backpacking Idaho’s Sawtooth Mountains

In Ask Me, Backpacking   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   Leave a comment

[Note: I received the following three similar inquiries from readers.]

Hi Michael,

Thank you for your thoughtful, inspiring and informative work! I hike and camp monthly with four girlfriends and once a year we go on a longer backpacking trip and are currently planning our next trip. We are headed to Idaho! I’ve been trying to put together a loop in the Sawtooth Wilderness. I’ve read enough of your posts to know you’re the expert on the Sawtooths. Can you recommend a loop that is about 40 to 50 miles? The one I read about starts at the Grandjean Trailhead clockwise around Sawtooth Lake, south around Cramer lakes, down and around Spangle Lake, then north towards Elk Lake, back to Grandjean. Maybe there’s a shortcut on this loop? Continue reading →

June 20, 2014 Below the Big Boulder Lakes, White Cloud Mountains, Idaho.

Exploring a Wilderness Hopeful: Idaho’s White Cloud Mountains

In Backpacking, Family Adventures   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , ,   |   Leave a comment

By Michael Lanza

In the long dusk that prevails in the shadow of tall mountains, we hike steadily uphill through pine forest broken by an occasional meadow with views of distant, rocky peaks. When dark falls, we don headlamps and continue hiking into the night.

My backpacking partner, my 12-year-old son, Nate, has never hiked late at night. For him, this is a new and mildly thrilling experience—it feels a little like breaking a rule without consequences. After all, there are wild animals out here, including bears and mountain lions that wander nocturnally in search of something to eat—such as a large, slow, two-legged creature with poor night vision and a useless sense of smell. Continue reading →

October 16, 2013 Rock Slide Lake.

Going After Goals: Backpacking In Idaho’s Sawtooth Mountains

In Backpacking   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   Leave a comment

By Michael Lanza

We reach an unnamed pass at 8,450 feet early on a September evening that could hardly be nicer, with temperatures in the low 60s and a soft whisper of breeze in the air. I’m hardly breaking a sweat; I love hiking at this time of day. Below us, the green valley of Johnson Creek falls away into deepening shadows below a skyline of granite spires glowing golden in the low-angle sunshine.

A feeling of anticipation fills me, a low-grade excitement over finally getting to a goal I’ve had on my to-do list for years. My friend Jeff Wilhelm and I are backpacking into the deep interior of central Idaho’s Sawtooth Mountains—into the most remote and probably the least-visited part of Idaho’s best-known mountain range that can be reached by trail. Continue reading →

Like This Story? Join My Email List Now!

Enter your email for updates about new stories, reviews, and gear giveaways.




Grand Canyon Hiker