Notellum Lake, One Family's Odyssey By the Foulgers

We began our love affair with Stanley Basin when my father, Fred Foulger and a close family friend flew over the area and spotted 3 small lakes behind Grand Mogul. That was prior to my birth in 1961. They decided to hike up and try to find the lakes, but at that time there were no trails to that particular area. My dad and his friend finally made it, and nicknamed the beautiful lakes “Notellum”.

Notellum area, intimidating majesty ... First small Saddleback Lake, 1976 ... Second lake, primary camp

The Saddleback Lakes would be visited by the Foulger family, including my mom and my brothers, in ’62 and again in ’67. I was first introduced in ’76, and I would spend a major portion of my life trying to get back to that spot again.

Elephant's Perch ... Two families, 1976... Strenuous hike up

The hike is beyond strenuous, and coupled with the thin air at that altitude, made for a very sound sleep that first night under a phenomenal starry sky. I remember vividly lying on a big semi-flat rock by the waters edge with my 3 older brothers, and counting satellites.

The fishing was unsurpassed, and we fished a great deal, as all of us were used to backpacking with our dad.

The day's catch, 1981 ... Caught in a summer hailstorm, 1981

I would return in ’81 and ’84, and then was honored to introduce my daughter Katie and my son Andrew, who was 9 at the time, in 2006. He was affected by altitude sickness on the hike up, and we ended up having to drop our packs, and I carried him on my back for the last quarter of the trail. I got him into the sack that night and he woke with the same headache from the night before.

He couldn’t eat, but agreed to sit and fish with me in the early morning sunshine. Naturally the fish did not disappoint, and as soon as he reeled in his first fish, his symptoms magically disappeared.

Got another one at Saddleback Lake, 2006 ... River crossing on the way down from Saddleback, 2006 ... Indian's Nose

I have since been graced with another son, Alex, who I plan to introduce this coming July. He’s 16 and has heard all the stories. I am looking forward to sharing with him my magnificent addiction.

Lunchtime on the hike down from Saddleback Lakes, 2006

There is an entire era of pictures & stories that show this obscure triplet of lakes becoming a cherished central memory for 4 growing families. When normal life struggles get tough & one needs a break, the recounting of memories of the hikes to these lakes or the implementation of a returning hike, make those life struggles totally worthwhile!

Hiking party heading up to Saddleback, 2006

Originally, there were 4 families who hiked to this obscure little trio of Saddleback lakes above Redfish Lake and behind Grand Mogul in 1962. During that trip, we affectionately referred to the area as NoTellUm mostly because we wanted to keep such a treasure pristine and there were internal jokes and references to ourselves being Indians on an adventure. Our 99 year young Mother still recounts those cherished stories today.

Wild caught breakfast ... Grand Mogul ... Departing Paradise- 1976

Hiking there, using only landmarks, was not trivial and forced one to plan well, endure the strenuous hiking, eat & drink enough to replenish energy, and laugh at mishaps or stories to keep spirits high. In addition, we learned how to pack out what you pack in, eat what you catch, rely on yourself, rely on your hiking buddy (which changed at different times of the hike), learn from your mistakes, if at first you don't succeed - try try again, but most of all, enjoy the majesty & beauty of this special area of the Sawtooth Mountains and the stars & sky that God created. Great memories!

(Cover photo Notellum Lake; photos by the Foulgers)