Each time I go to Idaho, I fall in love with it just a bit more. It's the Sawtooth NRA - I won't be happy until I've explored the whole area. That will take a while.
Vacation this year was the last wek of June thru the 4th of July. I stayed with the O'Reillys and did some day hiking up canyons and along ridges, then we took a family hike to, fittingly enough, Fourth of July Lake. This was during that magical time when summer has brought out the heat, the waters are still chilly, the air clear, and wildfires are still only a threat.
One day, I hiked up a draw called Hangman Gulch, up to a saddled overlooking Deadman Gulch, both on the NW side of Hailey. I didn't know I would be walking through a wild-flower choked butterfly garden. The next day I hiked about the Democrat Gulch and Lambs Gulch areas, providing huge views and plenty of lonely - not to mention a billion grass seeds stuck in the socks and boots! The day after that, Hailey and I hiked Carbonate Ridge, which had been on my to-do list for a while. We enjoyed great views, interesting geology, mining ruins, vistas to get lost in, and wildflowers for days.
We wrapped up my visit with a family hike to Fourth of July Lake, which we had all to ourselves (?!?!). That area is stunning, and I can see why it is so popular. On our way out, we encountered the expected conga-line headed in, so you know, our timing was prefect. So many designer shoes and well-coiffed doggos! We spent an afternoon wandering up the trail to Washington Lake, and I ventured even further that day. I'd love to go back in the off season. This little outing proved to be hard on my gear, as the inner bits of my water filter got lost, and my tarp tore off at a re-inforced grommet. Sea-to-Summit made quite good on their warranty, but I've had headache with MSR.
Leaving Hailey for home, I had wanted to cover some new area, wanting to drive Hiway 55 north towards Lewiston, then Hiway 12 home. I only made it a few miles past Ketchum, however, before I found myself pulling off the road and bumping down a dusty gravel track for a trail head on the Harriman Trail. Oh what a fun bike ride I had! The Harriman Trail takes one past Galena Lodge and, via connecting trails, up the pass. I went some miles past Galena, but dusk forced me back.
I drove for hours through the dark that night, in no real hurry, to the Grandjean Road, white-knuckling it through that last few miles of twisty mountain pass. It was all worth it for the early morning extended soak in Sacajawea hot spings, tho.
Then I discovered Kirkham hot springs just east of Lowman. Hot water pouring off cliffs above the river... I lost a lot of hours at Kirkham.
The drive along Hiway 17 afterward, from Lowman thru Garden Valley into Banks was gorgeous, and again, there's a whole area I need to spend more time in. I stopped at the ranger station and picked up some maps of the area. Turning north at Banks to travel up the Payette River to McCall was just like driving at home - the narrow 2-lane hiway choked with traffic. I didn't really enjoy this portion of the drive, but the Payette River is gorgeous. McCall seemed a bit built up. I then followed Hiway 95 up the Salmon River to Lewiston, stopping at Sweetwater for some pics - I'd always wanted to see this place, as my grandmother was born near here. Not much going on, but the sunset was quite dramatic. Finally, I pulled over at the Bear Canyon road just before heading up White Pass for a couple hours of spotty shut-eye.