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Sawtooths on My Mind by Bruce Reichert, Host OUTDOOR IDAHO

It’s a rare place that can simultaneously make you gasp in amazement and also leave you feeling comforted and at home. The Sawtooth range does that for me.

Sunrise on the Sawtooths, above Highway 21

My first real encounter with the Sawtooths involved a 50 mile hike from Grandjean, when I was 11. The week-long trek, sponsored by the city of Boise, included about 15 kids and several adults on horseback. I still remember some of the lakes we visited: Spangle, Ardeth, Ingeborg, and Benedict. The weather held, and almost every cast meant a fish. We were in heaven!

Spangle Lake, one of the lakes on our 50 mile hike. The fishing was great off that rock. We caught grasshoppers in the meadow before hiking up to Spangle. The brookies couldn't resist.
The Rakers as seen from Ingeborg Lake. My high school buddies in front, with little brother, before an adventure into Toxaway and Imogene Lakes, back when the fences were in great shape.

After that, I spent every summer hiking in the Sawtooths. In high school my parents would drop my buddies and me off near the mountains and say, "See you in five days." One of our favorite lakes was Toxaway. I remember we latched logs together with twine an old miner gave us and floated out to the island. We also climbed to the very top of the mountain at the far end of the lake, spotting more than 20 lakes from our 10,000 foot perch. For us teenagers, this “primitive area” was a blast! A few years later, it would become “official” Wilderness.

Getting to this Wilderness lake is tricky in places. But the four mile Goat trail is certainly worth the effort. Along the way, the Old Man of the Mountain watches over you.

Since then I’ve been fortunate to enter the heart of this Wilderness from all sides, from Atlanta, Grandjean, Iron Creek, Redfish Lake, Hell Roaring, Pettit, and Alturas. In fact, we feature some of those awe-inspiring trails in our program.

Lately, psychologists have been zeroing in on the healing power of Awe to lower stress and improve one’s well-being. Luckily, the Awe of the Sawtooths is in full view, for everyone to see. I think of it as the People’s Wilderness, where you can have a latte in the morning, spend several hours hiking to a mountain lake, and be back in Stanley that evening for dinner.

My colleagues and I have thoroughly enjoyed working on "Sawtooths on My Mind." In this show we let other people do the talking. I think of it as an hour-long love letter, written in collaboration with lots of people. It's a letter I'm pretty sure anyone could write.

And even after we've returned to the asphalt jungle of city life, we can easily see with the mind's eye that Sawtooth skyline. It's an image powerful enough to stay with us, and it's a splendid antidote to a troubled world.

Sawtooth Range from above Stanley

(Cover photo is Sawtooth Lake in the Sawtooth Wilderness. Photos by Bruce Reichert)