Riddle me this: can one really go to the Sawtooth Mountains and NOT hike to Sawtooth Lake? It feels somewhat unacceptable, doesn’t it? The final adventure from my latest vacation was a trek to Sawtooth Lake – a 10 mile out and back trail, with the option for a detour to Alpine Lake. This detour only adds another mile or so onto the hike, and is a worthy stop.
As per usual, this hike warranted an early start to beat the heat. Or so we thought. Turned out this day was cooler than our previous outdoor endeavors, and when we arrived at the trail head around 0530 the temperature was still in the 30’s (F). What do you do when it’s a cold start?
You move quicker.
The only problem with moving quicker at the tail end of an active vacation is that it might not actually be possible. I had been either running or hiking every day, and Duncan was having knee pain, making for a slow moving morning. This entire hike ended up being quite challenging despite the fact that it was statistically “easier” than Alice Lake.
This goes to show our bodies sometimes call the shots despite what our minds try to tell us.
Fatigue aside, the trail was beautiful. The scenery along the way was similar to the above photo, but the real beauty started at the junction between Alpine Lake and Sawtooth Lake. I couldn’t pass the opportunity to hike down to Alpine Lake, so we took the detour and enjoyed a snack break as the morning started to heat up.
We made it to Alpine Lake at 0730, sat for a few minutes, and pressed on towards Sawtooth Lake. From this junction the trail started to climb a bit more. The path turned to switchbacks, and as we continued to climb we continued to get a better and better aerial view of Alpine Lake.
I loved seeing Alpine Lake up close and personal, but the real beauty was seeing it from above.
We hit some snow patches as the trail leveled out, but nothing worthy of micro spikes or extra traction. Once we reached the peak of our elevation, we stumbled upon a few camping groups waking up for the day. I daydreamed of waking up with these views, enjoying a steaming hot cup of coffee…
If hiking in the Sawtooth’s did anything for my wanderlusting soul, it made me crave a solid camping trip.
About an hour after we left Alpine Lake we arrived at Sawtooth Lake. This lake is stunning, but the weather was still far too cold to warrant a swim. Instead we quietly savored the views, while making friends with the locals. An adorable and bold little critter would not stop heckling me for some of my snacks.
While having a stare off with my new friend Fred, snow began to crumble off of the peaks in front of us. The echo from within the surrounding mountains was incredible.
I could have sat here all day, but after about two hours we decided to head back. The trek back was arduous, as I was already tired when we started, but the end views were well worth the struggle to the top. This vacation was somewhat of a “learn as we go” type of trip, and while not everything went exactly as planned, I now have all the more reason to return to both Glacier and to the Sawtooth Mountains.
My biggest lesson on this vacation (because I am constantly learning about myself) was how to travel better with people who have different goals and priorities. Overall Duncan and I were on the same page, but there were a few times when we weren’t. The reality is that this is not only normal, but expected in most situations.
Sometimes we need to venture off alone, and sometimes we will want to do things our travel partners don’t want to do. Having a healthy balance and minimal expectations can help make or break a vacation. I tend to have a “I want to see and do all the things” type of personality, so pairing me with someone a bit more “cool and collected” seems to serve me well. That’s not to say I wouldn’t enjoy traveling with a fellow energizer bunny, but this would certainly require planning things out in advance to ensure both of us were happy.
At the end of the day having a healthy amount of compromise, and being willing to do certain things alone are what work best for me while traveling with others.
Thankfully this round I chose someone cool and collected to balance me out. Someone I convinced to wake up at 0300 multiple times to go hiking. Someone who didn’t care when I pulled the car over at 0500 to snap this photo in Stanley on the way to Sawtooth Lake. Can you blame me though? What a sunrise.
Q: How do you ensure traveling with others goes smoothly?