See that blue lake with snow and ice still on it? I jumped in and quickly out of it...twice! This previously unnamed lake is now affectionately identified on Google Maps as Double-dip Lake. A spectacular waterfall runs from this lake down to Crimson Lake, which I dubbed "Reeve's Falls" for Mike Reeves who also took the polar bear plunge into Double-dip Lake.
I'm one of the adult leaders for a group of Varsity Scouts based in Eagle, Idaho. Each year we plan an event called "High Adventure" with the goal of doing something challenging in the outdoors for a few days. This year in mid-July we did a backpacking trip to Knapp Lakes, a cluster of several alpine lakes about 20 miles west of Stanley, Idaho in the Challis National Forest. It required an eight-mile hike in, with several more miles of hiking to other area lakes. It was literally a "high" adventure.
Jason Talbot, the president of our youngmen's group, gets all the credit for these photos. I left my camera at home. I'm a big enough guy as it is and couldn't convince myself to pack in the weight of my nice new camera and risk ruining it.
|View of the mountains from the trail. At this point we had to go cross-country as no official trails lead to Knapp Lakes. We just knew from the map that Knapp Lakes were somewhere out there in those trees at the base of those mountains.|
The bird of the trip occurred right at the commencement of our backpacking adventure. After a couple of hours in the truck and few miles of washboardy dirt roads, we pulled into the trailhead. I had to relieve my bladder somthin' fierce. While answering the call of nature, a woodpecker-type flew into the tree in front of me. Still doing my business, I called to Jason, who is a respectable birder, to check the woodpecker out. It had flown a couple trees away, but was still in my optic view...yeah, that's right...I can do number one hands-free while holding my binoculars to observe birds. It was an American Three-toed Woodpecker! A life bird!!! (That makes my 6th life bird obtained while going pee in the wild. "What kind of sick freak keeps track of that kind of stuff?", you ask. Well, I do. Don't you?)
Below is the lake where we set up base camp at about 8000 feet above sea level. Spotted Sandpipers serenaded us from all around the lake's edge. Olive-sided Flycatchers and Swainson's Thrushes joined the evening chorus. After a few hours on the trail, a few of us were reinvigorated by a plunge into the chilly waters (but significantly warmer than the lake I'd jump in the next day). An Osprey kept watch from an old pine snag.
|American Three-toed Woodpecker|
Photo courtesy of Idaho Fish & Game, by Tom Munson
|The fishing at this lake was a lot of fun for the guys. Rainbow Trout and Cut-bows (hybrids with Cuthroat) were caught in large numbers. We ate a lot of delicious fish each day.|
|We awoke to a beautiful morning mist over the still waters. A Clark's Nutcracker called nearby.|
|On the second day we summited the mountains above our camp "to see what we could see". Here is a view from the rocky ridge line overlooking some sister lakes. Traversing that rock on such a steep pitch was one of the scariest things I have ever done.|
|The view from Crimson Lake back at the ridge we had just come over. That was a hard climb; about 1000-1500 ft of altitude change.|
|Here is a view from the top of the ridge down on those sister lakes pictured earlier. You can see a third lake in the back left. We climbed down through the trees here rather than risk life and limb on the rocky face again.|
|Here's me...the caboose...along with X-man, Xavier Powell, hiking through a mountain meadow on the way back. We were the two biggest guys and therefore the slowest of the bunch. Though Jason easily is the best and fastest hiker in our group, he often hung back with us to see the birds with me. We called ourselves the "nature appreciation group". It was fun to unexpectedly run into fellow birders Rob and Karyn Miller as they tandem mountain biked into Knapp Lakes as part of their yearly tradition celebrating their anniversary.|