Wednesday, April 26, 2017

The Lost Rivers: July 22nd, 2016

West Fork of the Pahsimeroi
This was one of the greatest backpacking trips that I have ever had, it's going to be really hard to beat this one. I'm not sure how many people actually backpack through the Lost Rivers, the only ones that I have ever heard of are a few boy scout groups who do it over 4 to 6 days and get resupplied at a number of sites.

My idea of the trip was to go ultralight and extremely fast to cover a lot of ground. I wanted to stay at a few lakes and do a little bit of fishing along the way, depending on how well I was doing on the trip.

I started at the Southeast side of the Lost Rivers at the Trailhead that's adjacent to the Loristica campground and headed up the Wet Creek drainage to Nolan Lake. All of this hiking was pretty straight forward, the only downside was that there wasn't a trail. Once I reached Nolan Lake I went over the top and into the Long Lost Valley, that's filled with unbelievable waterfalls and pillars.

My original plan was to stay the first night at Swauger Lake but I had made such great time that I continued on down to Dry Creek. After resting and fishing for a bit at Swauger Lake I found a great place to stay the night in Dry Creek, allowing me a great head start on the next day, most likely the hardest day. From Dry Creek basin I dropped down into the East Fork of the Pahsimeroi. Instead of hiking around the mountains that separate the East Fork from the Right Fork I just climbed up and over to get to Pass Lake, where I stayed the final night.

Dry Creek Basin

The first day, from Loristica to Dry Creek basin, I traveled roughly 13 miles with 5,000ft of vertical as well as climbing over two passes at 11,000 feet and 10,000 feet. The second day consisted of the very same thing, going from Dry Creek basin to Pass Lake; 10 miles, 5,000 feet of vertical and two passes topping out at 10,000 feet. The third and final day was a pretty easy 6-mile walk from Pass Lake over Leatherman Pass (10,500ft) and down to Highway 93. The total trip mileage  was roughly 30 miles with 12,000 feet of vertical.

I've thought about this trip many times and I think about why it was so incredible. What it comes down to was a number of miles that I was able to do and the number of things that I was able to see in such a short period of time as well as the great fishing and lack of people that I saw, when it comes down to it I believe I saw more Bighorn Sheep then people.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Alpine Creek Lakes: July 16th, 2016

Alpine Creek Lake #13

Alpine Creek Lake #14

Alpine Creek Lake #14
I have been to quite a few places in the Sawtooths and every time I go I fall even more in love with them. The rugged beauty of the mountains and the abundance of lakes as well as the absence of people depending on where you go.

Arctic Grayling Honey Hole
This was one of those last minute trips that seemed to work out pretty well. I have been wanting to check out the Alpine Creek Lakes drainage since I saw a picture of them in Backpacker Magazine a few years ago. What I have read on them was that not many people go to them since they don't have a well-maintained trail to them, unlike the rest of the Sawtooths.

Alpine Creek Lakes drainage is split into two different drainages, left and right. We decided on the right drainage for the time being. Looking at the right drainage from a distance there are 4 prominent lakes; Alpine Creek Lake #14,  #15, #13 and #11. But as you look closer the whole drainage is peppered with smaller lakes/ponds making the lake count up into the 20s. Idaho Fish and Game have stocked many of these lakes in the past 10-15 years with Golden, Rainbow, Cutthroat and Arctic Grayling. However, we only came across Arctic Grayling and a few Rainbow/Cutthroat Hybrids.

Flytrip Drainage
Left Drainage of Alpine Creek Lakes
We just did an overnight trip since we had to work the following day but we were able to hit 15 lakes, catch numerous Grayling ranging from 10 to 14 inches from the lakes as well as the streams and eventually peaking out to some amazing views of Sawtooths with lakes scattered everywhere. Even with a handful of backpacking and overnight trips into the Sawtooths, I feel like I have only scratched the surface.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Airplane to Arrowhead: July 2nd, 2016

Old Hyndman (Left), Hyndman Peak (Right)
I do a lot of crazy things in life and this is one of those crazy things. When I told my friend that I wanted to hit Airplane and Arrowhead in one day she asked me why would I want to kill myself. In this case, it wasn't anything near that but it just seemed like that on paper.
Old Hyndman Peak

Arrowhead Lake

Getting to Airplane is one of the hardest and most remote places to get to. Many people get lost trying to find it and the same thing with Arrowhead. Both are very hard lakes to navigate because of the steep area, rugged terrain and only about two miles of trail that really only helps you get up the valley. Airplane and Arrowhead lakes probably receive at the most ten people a year. The lake is not really well known and the risks do not outweigh the rewards at this point because the fishing at Airplane is really not that great, you are lucky if you might see any fish. However I'm very determined to catch a really nice Golden Trout, I caught a 16-17 inch fish last year just as the ice was coming off. On this trip, I was probably two weeks too early. When I got to Airplane it was too frozen and there weren't many places to fish. But the place that I did fish I was able to see a couple of Goldens around 12 inches. 
Airplane Lake

Airplane Lake

Instead of waiting at Airplane to catch a fish I headed over the ridge above Airplane to see if Arrowhead was frozen and if that was the case I was going to climb Hyndman Peak (12,009ft). When I got to the ridge I saw that Arrowhead lake was not frozen so the fishing was on. When I got to Arrowhead there were fish everywhere, so I threw on a black ant and slayed the fish. This was a really fun trip and it wasn't as hard as many seem to be so I would definitely do it again hoping to catch fish out of both lakes. Oh, on the way out I finally saw a mountain goat in Wildhorse after many years of looking for them.
Mountain Goat in Wildhorse Creek, Good Luck Finding Him