White Cloud Mnts, Idaho (August 3-8, 2013)

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Water
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White Cloud Mnts, Idaho (August 3-8, 2013)

Post by Water » September 18th, 2013, 9:50 pm

20.0 miles, 8000' gained, 5 night(s)

Bucket and I had been jonesing to get to the White Clouds or Sawtooths for a few years now. But one thing or another stepped in the way, backpacking trips to Canada, time on a friend's wonderful ranch in Montana, fires in Idaho... But eventually things came together. We had a solid block of time before getting to a wedding at said wonderful ranch at the end of the week.

In large part this was inspired by awildman -- much thanks should go out to her for her beta and reassurance to somewhat acrophobic Bucket that there would be nothing more involved than some 'challenging' hiking -- aka no cliffs, no mantle-worthy scramble moves, etc. Thank you for those reassurances!

Needless to say this turned into much more of a backpacking/lake-enjoying trip than a mileage jaunt intended to 'cover the most terrain and see as much as possible' -- a common heuristic trap I fall into when exploring new areas.

Day 1: Burgers and good Beer overlooking the Salmon River and the Sawtooths in Stanely, Id. Camped at the 4th of July TH as it was near-dusk and didn't seem to be much gained by doing a few miles when the total to the first night's camp was going to be around 8.

Day 2: 4th of July TH to Antz Basin and Boorn/Born (?) Lakes basin and then off trail to the 4 lakes basin. Scenic. And that is a huge understatement. Lots of big views, beautiful old trees that look like stained teak, flowers, and some ground squirrels. Off trail was easy enough, the high lakes just have such wonderful colors. Ended up at Quiet Lake... which was pretty quiet. Beautiful along the backside of Castle Mountain/Merriman Peak, serrate ridge. Fishing with no bites in the evening..

Day 3: Up, breakfast and beauty. A few casts and the 'one that got away' - Up and more 'off trail' (fairly well trodden) trail to two more lakes. Then more OT into Windy Devil Pass, great views, the Boulder Chain Lakes basin.. to Hummuck Lake.
Great campsite, kind of had our pick. Swimming in the Lake. Dinner, stars.

Day 4: Decision to not do a loop, but instead enjoy what we'd already seen more or less. Explored the rest of Hummuck lake, caught a dark rainbow trout out of a little hole in a meadow, saw Hidden and Headwall Lake, hike up to Lonesome lake at 10,435. There NO fish here, believe me, I tried with great diligence. It is a deep, very clear, very cold lake, but no fish. Swam in the cold waters, watched some youths peak-bag and act the foo, walked around the lake, then decended and went back to Windy Devil Pass. Saw some Mountain Goats. Then went OT to camp at Shallow Lake - our favorite spot. Lots of keeper-sized cut-throat trout. Catch on every cast, spoon, fly, etc. beautiful water. Fantastic camp spot. Halcyon days..

Day 5: Short hike back to Quiet Lake. Get the 'ideal' campsite right next to the inlet stream. More fishing but just a single mediocre catch but evidence abound of larger fish and others who've caught more (worms, better technique?). Dancing sky with signs of instability - a few bits of rain but nothing much. Bucket gets half way into the lake which is progress for her lack of mountain lake swimming, compared to me, who goes in just about anything! More fishing, relaxing, enjoying the abounding beauty surrounding us.

Day 6: Hike to the Boorn/Born lakes--with Bucket doing some fishing in Cornice Lake. The sky is constantly threatening. Shortly thereafter we make it over the final bit of OT back to the Boorn/Born lakes under spitting skies and thunder with a tinge of lightning. Then the wild grey yonder opened up a bit more with the rain, and at 5 or so miles from the TH, along with a slight medical (non-threatening) ailment coming up for me, it was decided to just make it back to the car this day vs hiking out in the AM--after all we had a room booked in the beautiful, lovely, scenic town of Butte Mt. for the following night, no desire to be late for that (ok Butte has a lot of awesome aspects, truth be told).

Loved the peach granitic rock--so sharp, so tacky and grippy--could bop around the lake in tread-bare crocs and have plenty of traction!



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RobinB
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Re: White Cloud Mnts, Idaho (August 3-8, 2013)

Post by RobinB » September 19th, 2013, 1:33 am

Wow, great TR - thanks for posting!

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UTurn
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Re: White Cloud Mnts, Idaho (August 3-8, 2013)

Post by UTurn » September 19th, 2013, 4:55 am

So beautiful!

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roadtripmom
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Re: White Cloud Mnts, Idaho (August 3-8, 2013)

Post by roadtripmom » September 20th, 2013, 10:32 am

Oh My Gosh ! That is SO beautiful ! What a fantastic trip :D
Filling my bucket, one hike at a time.
Amanda

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rainrunner
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Re: White Cloud Mnts, Idaho (August 3-8, 2013)

Post by rainrunner » September 20th, 2013, 12:18 pm

Wow! Your opening shot looks like you are flying, but given the 20 miles in many days, that probably isn't the case. How lucky you are to spend time together in such a incredibly scenic area!
The mountains are calling and I must go.
John Muir

totaldla
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Re: White Cloud Mnts, Idaho (August 3-8, 2013)

Post by totaldla » September 20th, 2013, 4:13 pm

I just did part of that same loop. You have a really nice writeup. Question: how did you go over the pass between Born and the four lake basin? I struggled finding a decent approach and ended up going through a nasty chute. It is really hard to tell how to do it when standing at the last Born lake.

raftingdog
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Re: White Cloud Mnts, Idaho (August 3-8, 2013)

Post by raftingdog » September 21st, 2013, 8:42 am

White Clouds area has not been declared Wilderness area....locals like ability to use trail motorcycles and from my experience are respectful of others.....Stanley often is coldest place in lower 48 in summer though I have always found weather fine

totaldla
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Re: White Cloud Mnts, Idaho (August 3-8, 2013)

Post by totaldla » September 23rd, 2013, 7:23 am

raftingdog wrote:White Clouds area has not been declared Wilderness area....locals like ability to use trail motorcycles and from my experience are respectful of others.....Stanley often is coldest place in lower 48 in summer though I have always found weather fine
Yea, I like keeping the area multi-use. There are areas for mountain bikers, areas for two-wheeled motorbikes and areas only for foot traffic. I like the fact that more people can enjoy this area than what would be permissible with a wilderness designation. And, having hiked both the Sawtooths and the White Clouds, the White Clouds is a much prettier area.

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Mariposa Man
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Re: White Cloud Mnts, Idaho (August 3-8, 2013)

Post by Mariposa Man » September 23rd, 2013, 6:59 pm

Wow, beautiful photos! The White Clouds definitely make my backpacking bucket list. I've yet to explore the Sawtooths and mountains of central Idaho but hope to get there relatively soon. Thanks for sharing...

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Water
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Re: White Cloud Mnts, Idaho (August 3-8, 2013)

Post by Water » September 25th, 2013, 10:27 am

rainrunner: Wow! Your opening shot looks like you are flying, but given the 20 miles in many days, that probably isn't the case. How lucky you are to spend time together in such a incredibly scenic area!
I was jumping for joy! :D the 20~ miles and 8k is an estimation. might have been 27 miles or 6k, etc? just a rough estimate that it was not a lot of distance but a decent challenge of elevation gain/being at elevation--that took 2-3 days to get used to.
totaldla: I just did part of that same loop. You have a really nice writeup. Question: how did you go over the pass between Born and the four lake basin? I struggled finding a decent approach and ended up going through a nasty chute. It is really hard to tell how to do it when standing at the last Born lake.
Well there is the old (now decommissioned, I think?) route up through 'devil's staircase' -- looking at the Eastern face of the ridge that separates the Born Lakes from getting over to the boulder chain lakes---i could see an established trail but it looked pretty stout and heady up near the top where it got to the notch--though i did see a tree or two at it, strong buggers.

Anyways my call out of awildman's help was because my wife really has a fear of heights and there was no way I was taking her up the 'devil's staircase' route -- but awildman reassured me this route was hiking and some attention to detail about footplacement--not any kind of scrambling or risky situations (relatively). She gave me this drawn image which is spot on for the way up from Born lakes (very mellow really) but then coming down off the saddle (we ate lunch up there--very beautiful views across the valley to the sawtooths in the distance--we kind of went straight down to Emerald Lake vs her switch back and west side of cornice lake. You can see trails really well in the White Clouds---there is an established one going along the east shore of cornice lake as well. its really a pick-your-own-adventure in a lot of the off trail areas--
I've added our track in pink
born lakes to four lakes.JPG
MariposaMan: Force yourself to get out there! :) If only August was 3 months long and we all got 8 weeks of vacation....
Feel Free to Feel Free

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