Tripping with Outdoor Idaho By jim hadley

On my first trip with the Outdoor Idaho crew, I was as high as I’ve ever been. Literally.

The Pahsimeroi base camp, on the back side of the Lost River Range, sits at 8,200 feet. And then the climbing begins: to Merriam Lake, Pass Lake, the lake at the base of Mt. Borah, and a host of other no-name lakes.

Route along West Pashimeroi River to trailhead. Photo by Jim Hadley.

But to get there is a real experience! You turn onto Doublespring Road (NF 116). The sign at the turnoff to NF 117 says “High clearance 4-wheel drive vehicles only. No trailers allowed.” And, boy, do they mean it!

Some of the “trail” obstacles. Photo by Jay Krajic.

The last 20 miles takes nearly four hours, because positioning wheels around and over large boulders and washes in the route slows things to a crawl.

That was the end to our first day.

The next morning the hike into Merriam Lake was a solitary experience, in part because I am not a morning person. The rest of the “team” had already left, eager to greet the punishment ahead. But they did call out a cheery “The trail is pretty well defined, you’ll be OK, won’t you?”

Outlet of Merriam Lake. Photo by Jim Hadley.

As I made my way up the trail, I pondered if they would have to subtitle the show “Land Where We Lost Idaho PTV’s Graphic Designer.” I found I was also hampered by the altitude and accompanying constant panting and frequent stops, being really out of shape. My last serious backpacking trip was 45 years ago, with my dad. And I would have to pick the highest mountain range in Idaho as a reintroduction!

Merriam Lake, elevation 9,583ft. Mt. Idaho, elevation 12,065ft. Photo by Jim Hadley.

Merriam Lake is stunning. The distance is 3.7 miles with exceptional views of the back side of some of the 12ers. Passing through timber and by streams and waterfalls, I would barely put my camera down before I was holding it up again to take a shot. The lake itself sits at 9,583 feet. Mount Idaho behind it is an impressive 12,065’.

Day three involved a challenging but equally beautiful four mile hike into Pass Lake, elevation 10,075 ft. Kay Johnson and I hiked together. Well, Kay stopped a lot to let me catch up. At 78 years young, he certainly qualifies as a mountain goat in my book. The rest of the crew had taken the day to explore other lakes, notably one at the base of Mt. Borah.

Trail to Pass Lake. Mt. Church (l), Leatherman Peak (m) and White Cap Peak (r). Photo by Jim Hadley.

I remember commenting to Kay while going through the upper meadow towards Leatherman Pass that the ground resembled tundra. In fact, arriving at Pass Lake, the entire area was reminiscent of being in Alaska, with the mountains coming right down into the water. The prominent peak behind the lake is White Cap Peak, elevation 11,899.

White Cap Peak, elevation 11,899ft. Photo by Jim Hadley.
Pass Lake, elevation 10,075ft. Photo by Jim Hadley.

All told, I hiked in to six high-mountain lakes the summer of 2018. Oh, and I’ve already made plans to experience the Lost River Range next summer.

One of many meadows near Pass Lake. Photo by Jim Hadley.

(Cover photo by Jim Hadley.)

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