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Sawtooths 2015 Alice/Toxaway Lake Loop

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Sawtooths 2015 Alice/Toxaway Lake Loop

Postby Eiprahs » Wed Oct 28, 2015 12:09 pm

Sawtooths15--Alice Toxaway Loop—July 16-19, 2015

Day 0—Travel.

Plan, Organize, BE READY!

Our big plan this year was the Teton Crest Trail. As a prelude, altitude adjustment, and warmup, we did the Sawtooth Wilderness Alice/Toxaway Lake loop. This exact hike was featured in Backpacker so we thought this ‘must do’ Sawtooth hike would get us used to the crowds that swarm the Tetons.

Plan 1: If we travel over night, we could meet oldranger and markskor at the trailhead. BUT, when push came to shove, we decided to travel rested and in daylight instead of pulling another on road all-nighter.

Scratch plan 1. Plan 2—leave early, drive in daylight, camp at Pettit Lake Campground (at trailhead), get good early start next day. Plan 2 executed perfectly until we reached Pettit Lake Campground. After passing 5 or 6 campgrounds with zero to little occupancy, we found Pettit Lake Campground totally over flowing

Scratch plan 2. Plan 3-- start right now!! Although ‘right now’ meant unprotected food because our canisters were pre-loaded with Teton Crest food.

So much for the plan. Rummaging thru everything as the sun sank:
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Starting late, 7 PM, was new to us, but after my grump wore off, I kinda liked it. By the time we cleared the end of Pettit Lake it was getting dark, but we pushed on till, after the first real climb, we spied a clearing next to the creek. We lucked out—just behind our bags in the photo the creek dropped over a cliff, making a great waterfall and giving us a good bear hang.

Morning shot of our Home Sweet First Night’s bivy:
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Day 1. Bivy site to Twin Lakes.

We had a headstart, so we could dawdle. First creek crossing:
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Salami Cheese Mayo Mustard Bagel Sandwiches at Alice Lake:
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As you can see from our attire, the weather wasn’t blue sky tropical. More like swirling crud gray. Silver lining, not too sweaty hiking to the lower of the Twin Lakes:
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Where we found lots of fish:
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And an OK camp site:
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We walked around the lower Twin Lake:
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Found some local color:
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And enjoyed the growing alpenglow on the Sawtooth’s El Capitan:
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And a little night cap:
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Day 2. Twin Lakes to Farley Lake.

Alice Lake at dawn:
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Sulfur Paintbrush:
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Another cup o joe—Susan thought I needed to update my avatar photo. Maybe later.
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Enjoying the view from the pass—chairs are great!
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Other side of the pass—notice lack of clouds:

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Over the rocks and to the woods:
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And down to Toxaway Lake—notice abundant clouds (active T storm in progress NE of lake).
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Thanks change quick here. Waiting out T storm:
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Farley Lake, our night’s stop, is a very deep lake alive with fish at dusk. Avalanches have not been kind to the trees around the lake—reducing most to broken rubble.

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The White Clouds in last light:
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Thunderstorms and showers continued after dark.


Day 3. Farley Lake back to Pettit Lake.

The night continued tempestuous even after the storms ended. Chris started running a high fever and we had trouble keeping him comfortable.

Dawn brought a better day. Last stream crossing:
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The trail travels over some rather featureless wooded terrain until you reach the Pettit Lake trail, which climbs over the big moraine separating Pettit Lake from Yellow Belly Lake.

Dropping down to Pettit Lake:
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Both Saturday and Sunday we met a number of horse parties and pack trains on their way in. At the TH we found out that the Idaho Trails Association was having its annual trail maintenance week out of ‘our’ trailhead.

The Alice/Toxaway Lake loop offers high scenic reward for little work. Although the hiker parking lot was full and we were never alone, we never felt crowded. For those so inclined, there were lots of fish in all the lakes. This loop hike is a very worthwhile introduction to the Sawtooth Mountains if you have but 2 or 3 days for sampling.

Parting shot.

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Area map:

http://www.mappingsupport.com/p/gmap4.p ... &z=14&t=t4
Dave



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Re: Sawtooths 2015 Alice/Toxaway Lake Loop

Postby markskor » Thu Oct 29, 2015 12:01 pm

Eiprahs -
Nice report and sorry we missed seeing/meeting you. We did spend time driving through a series of campgrounds looking ...was worth it just seeing Pettit Lake area - checking out the many facilities available.

I was amazed by the similarities in plant life Sawtooths vs Sierra...subtle differences - Sulfur Paintbrush vs our Reds/Violets; Lodge poles starkly skinny - more like cathedral spires up there in the Sawtooths. Granite formations very similar too but a bit more worn down as Idaho mountains years older.

We rode horses in/spot packed, (FYI, not that fun after 12+ long trail miles - ouch), looks like same trail - recognize that ford, past Farley and Toxaway, all the way to Edna. We never stopped but pretty country...never saw Alice either as our 15 day route took us on a slightly longer itinerary.

Mike says we owe you a sincere note of thanks for helping him plan our Sawtooth trip - BTW, one of our best fishing trips ever...valuable insider fishing info given...maybe next time in person?
Nice chairs!
mark
Mountainman who swims with trout
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Re: Sawtooths 2015 Alice/Toxaway Lake Loop

Postby Eiprahs » Thu Oct 29, 2015 8:07 pm

markskor, thanks for the kind words. As we dropped into Toxaway the clouds exploded, especially towards Edna Lake. I wondered how you guys made out.

Passed this sign at Toxaway:

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Yeah, the flora is similar, although the trees are pointier. Now the Tetons, which get more rain and have deeper soils, did seem, well, different, if not down right alien. But that's another TR.

Glad to hear you had a great time. There are really isolated areas in the Sawtooths--like the Sierras 40 years ago before pack packing went all ballistic and main streamy. Darn that Colin Fletcher!
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