Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Camping near Stanley

Hubby and I finally got out camping the weekend before last.  It was the same weekend in September that Brenda and I went camping in 2001, the weekend it snowed overnight at Alturas Lake.  We drove up to Stanley and found a campsite at Alturas lake, then drove into the Boulder-White Clouds on 4th of July Creek road for 10 miles to the trailhead.  Nothing like 10 miles of dirt road to make you appreciate asphalt.  How the heck did our ancestors manage it?

Anyway, the hike from 4th of July Creek trailhead started at 8700 feet.  We didn't realize it was quite so high at the time.  I do pretty well in altitude.  I got out of breath faster than I expected, but I didn't feel particularly tired or oppressed with breathing difficulties.  Ken had a little more trouble.  The little canyon the creek runs through appears to get more water than the surrounding area.  It was really green and there were all kinds of wildflowers growing along the trail, and many smaller streams coming down to join the main creek.  It was only about an hour's hike up to 4th of July lake at 9,200-ish feet.  It was partly cloudy, so the colors seemed more intense and green.  There were lots of gentians in flower, as well as some other things I'll have to look up.

We hung out for a while taking pictures, then headed down.  It was about 3pm, so between the walk back and the drive out, it was after 5pm by the time we got to our campsite.  We immediately began heating up dinner, opened our bottle of wine, and watched the sunset dinner show over Alturas lake. :)

We brought 2 wool blankets to throw over our sleeping bags, but I was still cold.  I was glad I hadn't brought the dog along - he would have been pretty cold.  So we probably didn't sleep as well as we could have, but I was just pleased to be out there.  We just didn't get enough camping opportunities this summer.

On Sunday we drove up the dirt access road part-tway to Yellowbelly Lake in the Sawtooths.  It was even worse than the 4th of July road - LOTs more ruts and big rocks.  We had to stop halfway along because it got too rough for our little car.  But then we were stuck with a hot dusty hike along a cobblestone road surrounded by trees with no view until we got to the lake.  Nothing like the day before.  The lake is nice, and there's good hiking beyond it, but if you want to do this hike, bring a 4-wheel drive vehicle so you can reach the lake itself.  There's just a little bit of parking at the end of the road near the lake.

Anyway, it was fun and I was happy just to be out there.  And it didn't snow!

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