We just spent the last week exploring Idaho. For those of you thinking Idaho is not so cool of a state, think again. It is way cool. This state is covered more by national forest and wilderness land than anything else. The state even survived a mysterious volcano and earthquake, so brownie points for that.
In total, we hiked 34.6 miles in Idaho. Doesn’t seem like a lot considering we only covered 1/10th of the state, but it was a good sample for us.
I’m happy to report we hit the highpoint of Idaho! It was a little bit of a redemption for me, in terms of highpointing after my failure on Washington’s Rainier. Idaho’s Borah Peak sits at 12,668 feet, which in itself is one of those higher elevation feats. But the challenge comes in the fact that you hike 4 miles up to the peak and gain 5,000 feet elevation change. The elevation gain was Rainier-esque, without the need for heavy mountaineering boots, crampons, ice axes, helmets, harness and ropes. Still, you are basically going straight uphill for 4 miles. To give some perspective, it normally takes us 30 minutes to hike a normal mile with heavy packs on; this took us 5.5 hours with light day packs on! There is also a .25-mile section called “Chicken Out Ridge and you are rock climbing horizontally, without the harness and rope. Gulp. And lest you think going downhill is any easier, it is not. Parts of the trail are just a rockslide. Rockslides rank right up there for me with avalanches …
Our adventures did not end when we got back down to the parking lot. Borah Peak is very popular. We saw a ton of people going up and thought, geez, they look a little unprepared. On our way down, one lady was really struggling. J took her backpack and gave her his hiking poles. She made it down safe and sound thanks to him. But, we also noticed that another younger woman had not come back down by 9 and J decided a search & rescue mission was in order. So, he packed his bag with extra headlights, insulating layers, food and water and scurried back up the mountain. It was a good thing he did because the girl was severely dehydrated and needed help getting down. He and 2 other hikers carried her down the mountain to safety.
Moving on to happier hiking, J & I also did a 20-mile overnighter in the Sawtooth Wilderness. It was one of those trails lined with pristine lakes and jagged ridges. We camped by one of the lakes and it was just pure beauty. The only downside … no wildlife sightings and it was a little smoky from nearby forest fires. That will NOT be our last time in the Sawtooths!
Our last exploration of Idaho took place in Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve, where the said volcano took place. This was eons ago and with no witnesses, so technically, they think the lava flow came from deep fissures known as the Great Rift. What remains is 750,000 acres of cold lava. There are places you walk over the lava and even under it. We didn’t even realize what this place was until we saw it on the map and looked it up. A very pleasant surprise!
Now we’ve moved onto Oregon and Washington, although we are currently regrouping at the University of Portland. No, we haven’t gone back to school. We are just using our Holy Cross connections for a place to shower, do laundry, use Internet …