Sawtooth Mountains hike in Idaho

12:01 a.m. on September 13, 2013 (EDT)
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Didn't do the whole hike as planned. But that's certainly OK, as we had the most wonderful trip anyways! We started at Pettit Lake. Headed on to Farley Lake and spent the night. Day 2 was to go up to Edna Lake, but really could've get past Edith Lake.

I don't known for sure but I highly suspect the elevation just got the best of me. I had a lot of problems with breathing deep breaths and found that I only had to take about 10 steps up and my heart would be racing. And I felt like I was In super shape before the trip. I had to stop VERY frequently to just let my heart rate slow down a bit. Plus I found myself having some "anxiety/almost panic" issues that I have never experienced in my whole entire life. Sort of felt overwhelmed by the whole feeling of being out there in this HUGE vast landscape with these HUGE mountains all around me, I sort of felt like an ant compared to the vastness surrounding me. I found it difficult to express at the time, and certainly right now. I would like to hear other hikers experiences if they have encountered anything similar to this. For the record, I am probably the most layed back person in existence...usually totally calm totally in control. Anxiety is almost never a part of my vocabulary...this was a whole new experience for me. Getting down to lower elevations certainly made it easier for me to breathe, sleep, etc.

Edith Lake was incredible. The first night we got there it was super windy so we chose a spot a bit away from the lake. The next morning it was really calm and the lake was about the most beautiful thing I have ever seen in my life. I will try and post photos. Maybe in a day or so when I have access to better computer situations.

Little brook trout jumping up like popcorn. So amazing. I have never experienced anything like this. For one thing, I am not usually a morning person...so this waking up at 0600 in the morning and being out and about was something different for me. It these little fish were jut going nuts! We did keep a few, had a nice breakfast!

We headed back down the next day, back to Farley Lake. I felt like I wanted to just stay there for a few weeks or months. We had the perfect spot to set our tent, right by the water, yet had a little tree line to block the wind. We woke up in the middle of the night and got up and spent a few hours checking out the amazing star show. Pretty incredible!!!!

What a wonderful experience. I felt like I could just get into the groove of the hike, you know, walk, walking stick in rhythm, walk, walk, walk. And then pecriodically stop and check out the view, which is always AMAZING!!!! Ad just keep on doing it indefinitely.

Who cares about showers, gourmet food, using flush toilets. Just keep on walking and being away from it all.

I think you know what I am talking about...

To quote another forum writer...Sawtooths my friend, Sawtooths...

12:23 a.m. on September 13, 2013 (EDT)
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DLV,

Congratulations on another great trip. You heeded some good advice and stayed away from the Nat parks.

7:14 p.m. on September 13, 2013 (EDT)
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Plus I found myself having some "anxiety/almost panic" issues that I have never experienced in my whole entire life. Sort of felt overwhelmed by the whole feeling of being out there in this HUGE vast landscape with these HUGE mountains all around me, I sort of felt like an ant compared to the vastness surrounding me.

Sounds sorta like “Prairie fever”. Kinda odd. The elevation probably contributed to it, but 7 - odd thousand feet isn’t really all that high, is it?

What elevation do you live at and usually hike at?

I too was once smitten by unusual anxiety on a backpacking trip. This trip, in fact –

 http://www.trailspace.com/forums/trip-reports/topics/119890.html#119890

What got to me was the horrible ford and the heavy snow pack. Because of the ford we felt we dare not turn around and go back, so we just had to keep going forward, and I was worried about a few very steep parts of the trail ahead that I feared was snow covered and could not be safely traversed without an ice ax.

As it turned out my fears were baseless and after the one bad ford the trip was easy as any.

But I do remember the anxiety I felt. Fortunately, my wife was along on that trip, and we helped each other along. She said she could not have handled the ford without me, and she certainly helped me out along the snowy ridgeline.  She was downright having fun up there, so I couldn’t worry too much!

Never had anything like it before or since though, and probably never will. I bet the same thing goes for you, now that you’ve had a taste of the high country.

It certainly is beautiful!

I hope you can post some photos for us by and by!

9:22 p.m. on September 13, 2013 (EDT)
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DLV629 said:

Who cares about showers, gourmet food, using flush toilets. Just keep on walking and being away from it all.

 I could imagine Henry David Thoreau writing something like that were he alive today!

9:49 p.m. on September 13, 2013 (EDT)
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I live in Ohio. Elevation about 1,000. Have done most of my hiking around here and in Virginia. In May we hiked in Washington but stayed at practically sea level. The highest that we hiked and slept on this trip was around 8800. The weird thing about my little anxiety thing is that there were no actual real fears, such as those EtdBob mentioned. You are right, 8800 isn't really super high. I don't know exactly what was going on, but I do know that I started this trip in about the best shape that I have been in for years. I really worked hard, wanted to enjoy the hike and not feel miserable. And that I have never had such difficulty with walking up a steep incline! Or even not that steep! Next hike in the thoughts are the Adirondacks. Something sort of easy. Don't want to plan anything too crazy as the weather gets colder. Any suggestions will be taken! But now that I have experienced the Sawtooths, well, everything else sort of feels limp. Must get my mind back to hiking this side of the Mississippi...

10:04 p.m. on September 13, 2013 (EDT)
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Wow. I just read EtdBob's trip report of a hike in northern Idaho. Sounded way tougher than I could handle. But sounded wonderful. I will post some photos soon. I was away for a week, than came home to three days in a row of 12 hour shifts, so it seems like I haven't even been home yet. Sitting in bed with my ipad. Once I get acclimated to being home I will spend some time at my desktop computer and figure out the photos.

10:33 a.m. on September 14, 2013 (EDT)
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I wouldn't think that you'd run into a noticeable lack of oxygen at that elevation, but your heart and lungs would certainly be working a bit harder. That might be enough to prompt a physical reaction that you would feel as a panic attack, but taking a few more breaks should have taken care of that. 

Mountain hiking is different than a walk at lower elevations, though. It's more about pacing than speed. If you've heard of 'guide pace' it's about going at a steady speed that you can do for a full 12 hour day, not about seeing how fast you can get up the mountain. Anybody can scale anything if they go slow enough. 

People who race run out of energy early, and they are the ones who usually need help. In the words of the guides on Kilimanjaro, "Polé, Polé!". (Slowly, slowly!) 

Still, it looks like it was a wonderful trip. Looking forward to the photos. 

9:34 p.m. on September 14, 2013 (EDT)
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Sorry to be a dumb blonde here...I thought that if I got onto a regular computer and not my ipad I would be able to figure out the photo thing, but I can't.  Please tell me how to go about posting a few photos!

And yes, Peter1955, we did go pole pole.  Had no choice.  We always sort of hike that way anyway, we never even plan on more than 6 miles in a day.  We like to take our time and enjoy the ride.  We never try and speed up a mountain.  On this trip we really took it slow because I was having some difficulties.   When you only have a few miles to go in a whole day, you can sure take your time!  

10:46 p.m. on September 14, 2013 (EDT)
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beaver dam...the Sawtooths are in the background.
beaver-dam.jpg

11:23 p.m. on September 14, 2013 (EDT)
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Ed fishing at Edith Lake


ed-fishing.jpg

11:28 p.m. on September 14, 2013 (EDT)
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another view of Ed fishing at Edith Lake
ed-fishing-at-Edith-Lake.jpg

8:40 a.m. on September 15, 2013 (EDT)
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I see you figured out how to upload photos! You can actually do more than one at a time, too. 

The pacing is something I try to teach on my 'backpacking prep' hies every year. Never doing more than around 10-12 km per day means that you can go at 2-3 km/hr and still get where you're going with plenty of time to spare. 

And it means you can stop and enjoy the scenery a bit!

11:13 a.m. on September 15, 2013 (EDT)
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Exertion at altitude, getting away from home, the scale of the landscape and predators can all contribute to one's mental state. Do not be alarmed by your bouts of anxiety. When people challenge themselves this is bound to happen sometimes. It is a common theme in historical writings about travelers from the East. I am betting that your life will never be the same after your experience in ID. You are to be congratulated.

So when is your next trip "out West?"

3:05 p.m. on September 15, 2013 (EDT)
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Well, there is no question about the fact that my life will never be the same.  I have seen places like that from short hikes, car rides, etc, but never so up front and personal and IN IT!  It was awe inspiring to say the least.  Makes me wonder if I will ever be happy backpacking somewhere like Ohio or PA.  There are certainly beautiful areas to be seen, but nothing will ever compare to the magnificent Sawtooths!  No idea when I will be out west again.  I assume that this year might be winding down for hikes in the mountains.  

5:44 p.m. on September 15, 2013 (EDT)
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DLV,

I really like your latest post. You are talking about transformative recreation, also known as re-creation. It happened to me in 1969 so I had t move.

Hikes in the desert take place all year. There are lots of great places to backpack outside of Idaho and all are different. Hikes on the Coast can be nearly all year if you are prepared for some rain.

12:14 a.m. on September 16, 2013 (EDT)
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Yes, staying closer to sea level... I actually just read about a hike on some island off the coast of Georgia where there are feral horses! I have an attraction to wild horses/ponies. Specifically hiked outside of Mesa, AZ and DID see some wild horses. Hiked THREE times in the Mt Rogers area of VA before I finally saw two wild ponies. Have also hiked around Assateague and Chincoteage to see their wild ponies.

So staying low is probably the best bet once winter rolls around. My boyfriend has a tee-pee that has a little wood stove. I might give that a try for some winter hiking, but it will have to be a pretty easy hike. I don't enjoy slipping and sliding and worrying about falling off a cliff. I am too old for that. I read about a hike in Backpakers mag about hikes good for "first timers." I.e. easy...and it, I guess, is the trail that you take to go up Mt. Marcy in the Adirondacks. But of course you don't really go that far. We might try that this fall and try and catch some lovely fall colors.

Ah, all I want to do is quit my job, retire, and just walk around EVERYWHERE.

3:07 p.m. on September 16, 2013 (EDT)
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Ah, all I want to do is quit my job, retire, and just walk around EVERYWHERE

Amen to that! I know exactly how you feel!

The hard part is the getting old, having to pay bills, blah, blah, blah... 

I want to try a thru hike of the AT next year but my wife says nothing longer than a month! And her knees ain't the best anyway...

Oh well, I need to learn to be happy with what we can do!

4:02 p.m. on September 16, 2013 (EDT)
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EtdBob said:

Ah, all I want to do is quit my job, retire, and just walk around EVERYWHERE

Amen to that! I know exactly how you feel!

The hard part is the getting old, having to pay bills, blah, blah, blah... 

I want to try a thru hike of the AT next year but my wife says nothing longer than a month! And her knees ain't the best anyway...

Oh well, I need to learn to be happy with what we can do!

 Mrs Stranger and I dream about the day we can send our daughter to camp or her auntie's for a month so we can do the Long Trail.  Enjoy what ever you can get away with!!

October 24, 2014
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