Surprise Valley and Standhope Peak


After hiking up Surprise Valley in the Pioneers, climbing Standhope Peak is a natural conclusion.

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We left Boise on Thursday afternoon before the three-day 4th of July weekend. We were supposed to meet Art, riding his motorcycle from McCall, at the trailhead. Just after we drove through Mountain Home the cell phone rang- he might show up, but don't wait.

As the sun went down, we lucked onto the last space at Wildhorse campground, which was packed with a curious mix of ATVers and a large group of geology students from Lehigh University in Pennsylvania.

The next morning we drove to a much more pleasant (and quiet) Fall Creek Trailhead.

From the trailhead, it's either 4.5 or 5.5 miles to Surprise Valley. In either event, the trail at first rises gradually as it follows Fall Creek. The snowy summit on the left is Standhope. The picture was taken just after crossing the Left Fork of Fall Creek at about two miles.

After another mile, the junction with the Right Fork of Fall Creek is passed, and after still another half-mile the junction to Surprise Valley appears.

From the Surprise Valley turnoff, the trail becomes quite steep and very rocky. In about half a mile, the trail gains around 700'.

Jasmine is in the foreground, Julie's blue pack is just visible below the rock band.

After gaining the hanging valley, its another mile or mile and a half to the lower lake in Surprise Valley, at about 9400'. This lake has neither inlet nor outlet, but it does have something unusual: Jasmine caught shrimp!

After exploring for a while, we finally set up camp. Since we were still thinking Art might show up, we felt obligated to camp right on the trail (in the trees at the left edge of the lake). We hadn't seen anyone, so we figured it was not a problem.

Unfortunately, at about 8:30 several groups and their dogs came right through our camp. Worse, Art never did. Still, a beautiful camping spot.

The next morning we awoke early and moved the tent a little bit further from the trail.

After moving camp, we walked the 1.5 miles to the upper lake at 10,100'. No one was there.

Our climbing route took us up to the ridge on the right side of the peak, through just a bit of the snow.

After gaining the ridge top for some spectacular views, it became apparent that the Class 3 scramble involved a lot of dangerous, loose rock. Jasmine was relieved when John said she was not going any further. Julie was disappointed to be left behind, but let John continue on his own. This turned out to be a wise decision, as the picture doesn't show how steep it really was!

The view from the summit was stunning.

Fall Creek is on the left, Surprise Valley on the right. The upper lake is visible on the lower right. The lower lake is just to the right of the rocky towers at the end of the center ridge. The trailhead is just past the end of the valley.

On the way out the next day, we spotted three mountain goats high on the ridge at the end of the valley. In the pictures, there is about one pixel of white, so those pictures are not included.

Mr. Natural Home | 2003 | Back to top of page | Questions :: e-mail to splattski