This sublime photo comes from the Lick Creek Range of the Salmon River Mountains just outside of McCall. This was a day climb that Z&Me went on to climb nearby Sawtooth Peak & mountain lakes are always a place of respite, calm peace, a place to call home when you are up in the mountains. This was a late season climb for us to get one in before the snow hit. I think it may have been late October perhaps and since the mountain was at 8875 feet, that meant snow had already hit the area. We got up there early, maybe 1,5000 feet to get up to the lake. It was simply beautiful that time of day in the morning with the morning light on it and the mountains rising up from the far shore with snow dappled through the rock. Sublime.
Granted Goat Lake was a pass by but I did take some time on this saddle to take it all in. It was during this trail run called Standhope and something about that lake with the mountains in the background circling almost all the way around got pretty emotional for me. Emotional spiritual I’d say. Hard to describe. Granted this was also about mile 30 in this 38 mile beautiful journey but I’ve noticed distance running will have that effect on me. I knew I’d probably not get a chance to see Goat Lake otherwise as it’s a pretty intentional trip to get there so this was it. Man tears, inside where it counts.
This beauty sits at the base of Thompson and Williams Peak in the Sawtooths and it’s a little bit of a bear to get to. You have to go on this “Climber’s Trail,” to get there which means its not an established trail and you have to make some traverses over rock piles and some route finding to get there. That’s tricky with packs. But once you get there, the payoff is phenomenal. Granted it’s all rocky on the lake shore but if you score one of the 2 flat spots on the whole lake…it’s elevating. You can see the far end of the lake where the creek drains out of the lake…that’s were we stayed and I was right on the water with only enough flat ground to hold 3/4 of my tent. It was a beautiful memorable night, waking up every now and then hearing the water run out of the lake and down the mountain, the moon moving through dipping down below jagged peaks far above. These type mountain lake is what every single church should look like. Felt so much closer there to a higher power than I ever have in any building.
And this is Stanley Lake in the Sawtooths. You have to go on a dirt road to get there so it’s not as overrun as the bigger Redfish Lake. Go in winter, I think this was in November with Bro Salty Ben, Miss Salty Kerri, and Ma Sarah Swinn. We pretty much had that lake fairly to ourselves that time of year having to get there on snowy roads. The mountain lake can be what you want it to be, a tough fought destination with everything you need carried on your back and you have that lake and those mountain peaks behind it to yourself and those who make the journey with you. Or it can be a stop off the road that you share a moment with, with those you love and that beauty.
Here’s what I really want to say. I’ve spent a lot of time calling mountain lakes home on backpacking trips. Sometimes you stay a few nights at the same lake and day trip from there. I think I’ve done this on probably up to 10 separate Sawtooth Lakes, Lakes near Tahoe, our first family backpack trip on the lake below Jughead Mountain, Delintment Lake in Oregon… and whether you are in the tent or exploring around the lake or climbing the ridge or peaks above it, that lake is home where you gain a clarity of the soul and mind like the clarity of the water seeing rocks 50 feet below, fish trolling the underwater cliffs. I have re-grounded my soul so many times in places like that. It’s one of my most treasured good things.