Born Lakes, ID

After three days in the eastern White Clouds at Big Boulder Basin, Kim and I were set for a day hike to Born Lakes. We headed on south on Highway 75 to the Fourth of July Road and headed up the 10 miles of gravel to the trailhead. A mile up the road we came to a problem. Fences on both sides of the road and a few hundred sheep on the road. A cowboy with half a dozen dogs were slowly moving the sheep up the road. What to do? The cowboy saw us but just kept on slowly riding. I got out and walked on over. Seems he was going another mile up the road. He suggested I follow him.

I went back to the car and slowly pulled up to the herd. The cowboy and the dogs maneuvered the sheep to the side and I slid ahead. The sheep then went back onto the road behind me. We were engulfed by sheep. Kim rolled down the window to get some photos. A few minutes later we were by and back on our way. The road travels much of the way through a recent huge burn. Black poles were all that was left after the fire. That and a lot of flowering fireweed. The bright pink against the black background was very beautiful.

The road is well maintained and we made good time. At the trailhead were half a dozen cars. This trailhead is at about 8600' so the air was thin from the start. The route to Fourth of July Lake is on an old road bed. Much of the way was through more of the burn. Lots of flowers were still blooming with plenty of water running in the creeks. We made very slow time while enjoying all the colors. The trailhead says 1 1/4 miles to the lake while different books list it as between 1.50 - 1.80 miles. I think 1.50 about right.

At the lake junction we chose to turn left and head towards the ridge top overlook of Ants Basin. The trail is steep and rocky in places and nicely graded in others. Part way up the climb to the ridge top saddle we came to a small basin with a tarn. Patterson Mountain is high above. The wind began to blow harder which was nice as it cooled us down. On the other hand it was getting stronger near the ridge and I had to put on a jacket. As we crested the saddle the wind actually let up.

Below us was Ants Basin. What a place. A huge green basin with a big tarn and separated clumps of trees. A creek meanders through it. Across in the distance are more White Cloud Peaks including the start white David O Lee Peak. We saw the other side from Big Boulder Basin a few days earlier. Farther to our right the basin bean to climb and turned to forest. Tall peaks formed the end of the basin. We had taken so long to get to the saddle that we had to decide if there was time to go all the way into the basin then up to the far end where Born Lakes sat. We could not see any of the lakes from the saddle.

What the heck, we chose to head down. The slope is bare and rocky with a switchbacking trail dug in. As we descended the wind began to pick up. At the bottom it was a frigid wind blowing a steady 20+ mph and gusting higher. My fingers began to go numb. An hour earlier we were hiking in warm forest. Now it felt like winter. At least it was a tail wind. We headed towards the end of the basin and soon were out of the wind.

The trail dropped farther sometimes steeply before leveling off. We skirted the right edge of the basin before entering the open forest. Many more flowers all along here than I had expected to see in late August. We now headed uphill and soon saw the first lake in a meadow a few hundred feet off the trail. The trail kept going and so did we. A few minutes later we reached the next lake.

At the second lake we met two kids who were completing a loop from Fourth of July Lake to Chamberlain Basin and on around to Born Lakes. The climb over the ridge to here was a loose talus scramble. They did not have the latest and greatest equipment but did not let that stop them from having a great time. They looked to be about 17 or 18 years old.

Two other hikers then reached the lake. It turns out they were spending a month in Ketchum and lived in Seattle. It's a small world. This far off high mountain basin had two hikers from Boise and four from Seattle. We had made very good time from the saddle and took advantage for a longer stay at the lake. A really beautiful setting. The saddle is at 9900' and the second lake is at about 9420'. The ridge around the basin is at 10,000' - 11,000'.

After a very enjoyable break we headed back. The kids were cooking up the last of their food for one more night out. We hiked back down the basin with some 800' to climb back to the saddle. Half way back the kids came by at a furious pace. Seems they chose not to spent another night. Once back at the saddle we took time to savor the views. The White Cloud peaks are all colors from bright white to gray to brown. I really need to visit here again. Down the ridge from the saddle is Blackburn Mountain at 10,300'. It looks to be an easy ridge run and summit scramble. We did not have time this day though.

The hike down was easy as we retraced our steps. From near the junction to the trailhead we passed another 4 or 5 groups heading in. Most were backpacking. With the good road and Fourth of July and Washington Lakes being within 2 1/2 miles of the trailhead I can see why this is so popular. Back at the start there were now a dozen or so cars in the lot. The amazing thing is that this trail is only some 60 miles from Ketchum. That is similar to Snoqualmie Pass from Seattle.

On the way back we could see the plume from a big fire east of Galena Summit. The smoke stayed east until we neared Ketchum/Sun Valley where it turned into the valley. Back at my brothers home the smoke was thick. Visibility was minimal. Just one of the dangers of living near the forest. This was a really fun day with flowers, a creek, views down to lakes and up to 11,000' peaks, a big grassy basin, and visits to two high mountain lakes. Not bad at all for only 8 miles round trip with 2300' of gain.

Fourth Of July Creek
Old Road/Trail
Ants Basin
View Down Basin
View Up Basin
White Clouds Over WCs
Down In The Basin
View To The Northwest
David O Lee Peak
DO Lee - Different Light
Near End Of Basin
Forest At 9400'
Near Born Lakes
Look Back To Ridge
Kim At Born Lake
Yellow Flower
Heading Back
Red Rock
Forest & Flowers
Basin Behind
Shadows On DO Lee
Bare Limbs & Peak
Final Climb
Colorful Peaks
Patterson Peak
Trailhead Sign
Click on thumbnails to get larger pictures.

Trips - 2008