Saturday, July 17, 2021

Hiking in the Sawtooths: Norton Lakes

Transporting back to exactly a month ago, on the fourth day of Jasmin and I's road trip through Idaho, where we embarked on our first-and only-hike in the Sawtooths. As luck would have it, I broke my toe (?? questions remain, doctors were not consulted) the day before we left. Folks, you can't make this shit up. I iced the blue and purple digit religiously for the first few days of our journey and taped 'er up for a necessary jaunt into the Sawtooth wilderness.
While staying in Ketchum, we chose a moderate hike to nearby Norton Lakes since I wasn't sure how the toe would fair. It proved an excellent choice as the trail wandered through alpine forest, fields of robust sage, and creek crossings that kept the incline interesting. We were baffled to not see a single bear (or three) in what was so clearly bear heaven. Meadows of wildflowers and a fully stocked lake of rainbow trout danced in speckled sunshine below the cliffs of Norton Peak. 

This was one of only two times I've felt the physical affects of altitude. I relaxed and caught my breath at the lake while Jasmin ambled on to check the next ridge. There's opportunity for fairly high elevation views here in Washington, though nothing like the 14'ers of Colorado. Even Sunrise-the highest point accessible to cars in Mt. Rainier National Park-is only 6400 ft up. In comparison, we topped out at 9200ft of elevation on the Norton Lakes trail. 

We were grateful to complete this out and back early in the day before temperatures sizzled their way back into the 100's. While planning our early June road trip to one of the sublime hot spring capitals of the US, we had no idea what was to come weather wise...

Flowers identified: silky lupine, spreading dogbane, heartleaf arnica, manyflower stickseed, dark throat shooting star, wedgeleaf draba, and rydberg's penstemon.

Trail Specs:

4.7 miles

1500 ft. elevation gain

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