Cramer lakes

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A group of best friends backpacks into Cramer lakes in the Sawtooths.

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Harry and Carolyn were flying in from Wisconsin, and we were scheduled to leave that afternoon. So when they missed their connection in Minneapolis, we had to punt. We all (except Julie, who came up Saturday morning) loaded into Jerry and Victoria's Sprinter and left town around 6:30. Too late to catch the Redfish boat. When we reached Pine Flats campground on the South fork of the Payette, we set up our tents in the gathering darkness.

The next morning, we packed back up and drove to Redfish Lake, where we got extremely slow breakfast service at the lodge. Finally, we got the boat and arrived at the trail head at about 11:30.

A little moaning and groaning later, we had our packs on and were heading up the valley. Too bad the scenery wasn't better.

Carolyn hikes up Redfish Creek

At Flat Rock junction, we took the left turn and crossed the creek (are you paying attention, Julie?).

This little log was tricky. Carissa the ex-gymnast danced across. The rest of us did the best we could with the provided sticks.

Crossing Redfish Creek

From Flat Rock, it's a steady trudge up to the Cramer Lakes basin, and the altitude is over 8000'. Despite having won the contest for the most overloaded pack, Harry was smiling.

harry and John head up the hill

Even though a newby backpacker, Victoria quickly figured out what was involved in having an enjoyable time: hike with whoever has the snacks, and try to get your husband to carry as much as possible.

Based on this technique, we arrived at the second lake and possibly the best campsite in the entire world.

Just as it started to sprinkle.

Carolyn hikes up Redfish Creek

We hastily set up our tents, and just as we finished the sky let loose. The ol' 30% strikes again.

John and Jerry rigged a lean-to with a poncho and made dinner, serenaded by thunder and lightning. Then the party began. We all agreed that altitude and enough merlot makes even John's cooking palatable.

Then nature joined the party, bombing us with hail.

Dinner in the fort

The next morning dawned clear and sunny. But cold- thus the steam rising on the lake. Too bad the view from camp wasn't better.

Middle Cramer lake

While we waited for Julie's arrival, we decided to take an excursion up to Cramer Divide (~9000'). Here the group works our way up through the immense talus fields (and still on a trail!)

Heading up to Cramer Divide

Once atop Cramer Divide, John made us hike down the other side a ways to get this great view of Hidden Lake (just a little bit further).

Jerry looks at Hidden Lake

Then we scampered back down to our campsite for lunch. Still no Julie.

A table with a view
Food coma! Jerry has a food coma

John and Jerry went on an explore into a different drainage, while Harry, Carolyn, and Victoria walked around "our" lake to inspect the waterfall.

John and Jerry were late returning, only to find that Julie had made radio contact...to say she was lost. To make a long story short, John went off to do the the knight-in-shining-armor thing, leaving the rest of the crew to figure out the stoves and interpret the food bag. All turned out well in the end, although the red curry was a little hot for most.

harry at the waterfall

The next day, the weather hadn't improved much and we did a forced march back to our 12 o'clock rendezvous with the boat.

We did stop and take a shot of Victoria with another of her favorite rocks.

Vicotria the backpacker

Jerry had run ahead and alerted the boat dudes to our imminent (although slightly late) arrival. Soon, we were whisked back to Redfish Lodge where we all enjoyed cold beverages and clean(ish) clothes.

Since Victoria is now a backpacker, we're already planning our next trip.

Note: I had hiked this trail in June of 2005 as the eighth day of a hike from Boise to Stanley. The trip report for that day shows photos of many of these same places, only with snow.

The gang at Redfish Lodge

Mr. Natural Home | 2006 | Back to top of page | Questions :: e-mail to splattski