Backpacking in Stanley, Idaho – McGown Peak

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This Spring I had a pretty great backpacking trip through the Sawtooth Mountains starting from Stanley Lake in early April. We took a spontaneous trip to Stanley and camped next to Stanley Lake. We decided shortly after we set up camp to try to backpack to McGown Peak, one of the tallest peak in the Sawtooths.

backpacking stanley idaho

We woke up the next morning and began our trek. We walked up the road to the trailhead and began our hike toward the peak. The trail starts out through a beautiful meadow and and pine trees. Because it was so early in the season, the snow melt turned the trail into a bit of a swamp, but as we gained some elevation, it turned into dry trail with patches of snow that we had to cross.

backpacking stanley idahoSoon, however, the trail became nothing but snow. We weren’t fully prepared to be trudging through the snow, and only had gators. We soon came to a river, and stripped down to cross it. In April, you can imagine it’s temperature.

After crossing the river and about 5 miles of stumbling through the snow, the trail opened up into another meadow. We could see the route up a chute to the top of McGown, but we were exhausted from climbing out of waist deep holes in the snow for 3 miles.

We decided that we would set up camp and try a different peak in the morning. After letting our clothing sit by the fire and dry out, and making some food. We discussed our options more and decided to just head back to where we camped at Stanley Lake.

backpacking stanley idahoWe came out too early in the season and expected better conditions for mountain climbing. After accepting this fact, the leisure backpacking trip became less stressed as we stopped trying to continue trudging through waist-deep snow and were able to relax in the meadow and enjoy the sound of the spring snow melt. Beautiful greens and whites of early spring were all around us and snow capped jagged peaks towered above.

The rivers and streams were loud and full as the snow melted of the peaks and ran down to the various lakes. Waterfalls could be seen and heard all around. AS night fell, the sky was clear and the stars were bright and crisp.

The next morning we packed up our gear and hiked the 5 miles back to the lake. The backpacking adventure, even though it was wet and cold, was a lot of fun!

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