... if the crick don't rise
On a dramatic August morning, partly cloudy with a storm moving in, we awaken to the beauty of Grand Mogul and Mount Heyburn, two of many peaks in the Sawtooth Range. I’m excited at the prospect of my first overnight backpacking trip, which will include a six-and-a-half-mile hike with a gain in elevation of about 1,826 feet and a stream to cross. Our destination is the three Cramer Lakes, lower, upper, and middle, deep within the Sawtooths.
We awaken to a wet, cold morning. Temperatures dropped when the storm finally rolled in. It not only has rained, but hailed and snowed. During a break in the storm, we quickly take down the camp and stuff the wet gear into our backpacks. Ponchos on, we start our trek back to Redfish as the storm builds again. As we head to base camp, the rain, lightning, and thunder are relentless. I think my feet may become webbed from wading through enormous puddles in the trail. Eventually, I realize that if I straddle the trail on the high side, I can avoid most of the puddles.
We take shelter under a tree, which we discover is home to a grouse, who clearly does not want to share. It won’t stop hissing and snorting, until we’re finally chased down the trail. By the time we reach the stream crossing, we’re drenched from head to toe, which eliminates the need to switch to our flip-flops. We cross in our hiking boots and now have only a few more miles to go, with Steve in the lead, followed by Kody, Wyatt, and me.
Suddenly, we hear a scream. Steve has startled a grouse from the brush, which has flown under his poncho and is trying to escape by flying even higher. Of course, the rest of us find this wildly entertaining, enough to amuse us for another mile down the trail.
Even so, it’s still raining. About a mile from base camp, Steve and I are ditched by the boys, who want to arrive first.