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Hiking the High Sawtooth Trails

Updated: Dec 4, 2018

This is Sawtooth country and home to Lena and Evan, the fictional couple of two of my stories, Comes The Winter and Redeeming Lies. Visits here never fail to inspire me.

Unlike the abbreviated spring of 2017, this year Idaho enjoyed a full season, staying green and cool into mid-June. Our family just returned from a vacation into Idaho's central mountains where we were able to hike without the oppressive heat of earlier excursions.

The picture featured above is taken at one of the Bench Lakes, 1200 feet above Redfish Lake. One of the best ways to reach the trail head is to take the boat shuttle from Redfish Lodge across the length of the lake. Nearly three and a half miles up, a well-traveled trail leads you to the first of a series of high altitude lakes, breathtaking in every sense of the word.

Less than a mile into the hike, this vista captures the awesome Sawtooth range. Those sharp peaks reveal the appropriateness of their name.

But it isn't necessary to take the nearly seven mile hike because this is the view you can enjoy from Redfish Lake. This was the inspiration for the picnic scene in Comes the Winter.


Lena had but a moment to reacquaint herself with solid ground before Jessie was at her side, seizing her hand and tugging her to the shoreline while Bart and Evan unloaded their saddle bags. "Isn't it perfect?"

Lena had to admitted she'd never seen anything quite as lovely and serene. The pristine lake, its mirrored surface reflected blue sky, rimmed with a halo of evergreens. Speechless, she stood at the edge of the lake, looking across to a rising hill of towering green pines and gnarled cedars. Everywhere in this wilderness was that strange juxtaposition of beauty and danger.

Jessie soon bounded away to help Bart with the horses, leaving Lena alone on the shoreline.

Lena turned at the sound of heavy footsteps in gravel.

"Didn't mean to scare you." Evan stopped in his tracks a few feet away.

"I'd heard that there were magnificent mountains out here, sights unlike anything I'd seen, but this—this is beyond my imaginings."

Evan simply nodded, gazing out across the water as she had been, in silent appreciation.

The lake lapped at her boots, enticing and playful. "It's so lonely and yet so wonderful. It makes me feel as if we are the first people to discover this place since the creation of the world, untouched and unspoiled as it is, almost as if we were standing at the edge of another world. Have you ever thought of the tragedy it would have been had you never come here, Mr. Hartmann, if you'd never seen these mountains or this lake as we see it now?"



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