Sawtooth Traverse, ID

Day Three
Since we had scaled back our plans a bit we had the luxury of sleeping in on Tuesday. The sun was late as it had to climb over the peak to the east. We crawled out of the tent a few hours later than the day before. All we needed to do this day was to hike to Upper Cramer Lake. That was only about 9 miles away. After breakfast we took a look at the granite ridge rising up from our campsite. It looked like a mighty fine scramble.

We grabbed our packs and headed up. It was a fun combination of slabs, grassy ramps, and short rock scrambles. There were also wildflowers in pockets of our route. We immediately had a look down to Ardeth Lake and another lake just above it. Glens Peak, at just over 10,000' was across the valley. Gary had scrambled up it in 1980. As we climbed higher we saw a whole string of small lakes below Glens Peak. They started not too far from the trail from Ardeth to the low saddle on Glens' ridge. That would be a great place to spend a day or two exploring. We could also see another lake just barely above Vernon. A short swath of forest separates them.

The ridge was one fine scramble. We stopped at the high point From there it dropped a little then went steeply up Point 9941. We topped out at about 9400'. My map calls the basin below Glens "Ten Lake Basin" and there are at least that many. We could see back to Mt. Cramer from our perch too. This proved to be a very nice replacement for a scramble up Glens Peak. After a long stay we headed back to camp. It was already lunch time by then. We packed up and headed down the trail to Vernon then Edna Lakes.

At Edna we met a couple day hiking from Toxaway Lake. We saw nobody camping at Edna or Vernon. From Edna the trail descends to Virginia Lake. The inlet creek made for a fine spot to cool off. The 70 degree weather of Sunday had now given way to low 80s. Thankfully, most of the elevation gain for the trip was behind us. The crossing of the SF Payette River was still just a rock hop though it was much higher than on my two other trips. Now came the last significant climb of the trip. Up from 8200' to Hidden Lake at 8563' then on to Cramer Divide at about 9500'.

We stopped for a break at Hidden Lake to eat and filter more water. There were flowers at the outlet including a big bunch of elephant head. The last 900'+ up to the divide went better than I expected. The trail is gentle but long and I was glad for the easy grade. Being above 9000' for the fourth day in a row helped. The view from the divide is spectacular. Coming up the terrain is sparse forest and granite. A barren lake fills the end of the Hidden Lake Valley below. Beyond the divide is a completely barren moraine. The spires of the ridge are topped by the Temple. Time and energy negated any attempt on the Temple.

We made good time to the divide and now had time to enjoy a longer stay. One very old tree has a trunk that seems to big to have grown in this barren environment. Below Mt. Cramer is a near vertical wall. At Hell Roaring Lake we saw The Arrowhead. We could now see the backside of it. All to soon we packed up and headed down. We had about 3 1/2 miles to go to reach Upper Cramer Lake. The trail takes an agonizingly gentle grade down the moraine. It is so gentle in places that people have been cutting switchbacks in the rocky terrain. It is understandable but unfortunate. Although there are only small tufts of grasses growing in the moraine there is a big population of pikas. We heard many and saw more than a few. How they can all find food there is a mystery.

The morain ends abruptly at a heart shaped lake. Trees and grass begin here. The trail goes near the shore. At one place the lake is above the trail. It was strange to look up to the shore. we passed by one more small lake on the right and entered forest. This part takes longer than expected. Finally the upper lake came into sight. The trail does not follow along the shore. Instead it is inland and reaches the lake near the northeast corner. The main camping area is on a narrow ismuth between the Upper and Middle Cramer Lakes. We cruised in at about 7:00 pm, nearly the same time as the day before, but after a much easier day.

We set up camp and I went looking for the food hanging rope and pully I accidently left there two years earlier. It would have been fun to find it but alas it was gone. We had a pretty good sunsset over the middle lake and went to bed at 9:30 as it was just about dark.

For the day we hiked 10 miles, including our 1 mile morning scramble, and gained 2000'.

Cloudy Reflection
Ardeth Lake
Lake 8866
Granite Peninsula
Weathered Trees
Edna, Vernon, + 1
Nearby Peaks
Glens Peak
Tarn Under Glens
Ten Lakes Basin
Rocky Ridge Top
Snow Patch
Scrambling Down
Yellow Flowers
Paintbrush & Granite
Gary At Work
Spiral Tree
Scramble Ridge
Virginia Lake
Granite Cascade
Elephant Head
Mt. Cramer
Hidden Lake
Mt. Cramer Summit
Cramer & The Temple
The Temple
The Arrowhead
Sevy Peak From Divide
Cramer Moraine
"Heart" Lake
Old Tree
Cramer Over Tarn
Cramer Lake Reflection
Red Rock
Cramer Falls
Click on thumbnails to get larger pictures.

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Sawtooth Traverse Report