Driving into the town of Stanley, nestled between the Sawtooth Range and the White Mountains, a breakfast joint called Stanley Baking Company caught my eye. "Pull over!" I said. A good breakfast had become a staple on this journey. I didn't know what this one would be like but knew that it was a local joint, likely full of good homemade fare. We strolled into the unknown space, and were greeted by the rich smell of a bacon and egg breakfast. We sat down and ordered, one savory dish and one sweet. The hash browns were exquisite, the eggs were a golden color that smacked of free range. I decided it was enough good food to sustain me for a week in the back country.
Next stop was Redfish Lake and a boat ride. We checked out the scene and get tickets then go back to the car to pack up. The plan was to motor across the lake then follow the guide book info we had to find the orange face of Elephant's Perch. The boat ride across was fairly uneventful. We traveled up the trail and my eyes traveled around me. There were trunks to my right and left. Sunlight filtered through evergreen leaves above. I could hear the sound of a river up ahead. From the sound, it was a big river. Shortly after the Bench Lakes split, we veered left along a climber’s trail.
The trail was faint but easy to follow, until we hit the river. It was the length of a school bus across - the big kind, not the short kind. Not possible to jump across. The guidebook mentioned logs that we could use to cross it but searching around didn't produce any results. I suggested we cross by wading through it. Looking down at the bottom, I quickly swallowed my words. As wonderful as the granite above will be to climb on, the granite in the river looks super slick, probably from the water that has been erroding it for who knows how long. Eventually, my climbing partner shouted out that he found the way across. I hoofed it over and saw what he was talking about. There was a big log to cross. I had my doubts about being able to balance on it all the way across with my huge pack. I was sure I would end up floating downstream on a boat of sleeping / climbing gear. That was until I spotted the rope above that would help for balance. I could barely reach it. I made it across without dislodging my arm, straining to keep the rope in my fist.
Getting to the other side, the trail disappeared so we ended up bush-wacking up to Saddleback Lakes. We set up camp right next to the lake. It was idyllic to say the least. The perch rose up in front of camp, promising a ton of rock climbing fun the next day. Waking up to early morning light, I emerged from the tent to check out the scene. The water was like glass. The lakes in the Sawtooth Range see a lot of fisherman. That is the key recreation in the area. Most of the people who frequent the trails in the area carry fishing poles. I had no desire myself but figured if we run into anyone, it would be a pair of fisher folk.
I roused my climbing partner. It was too nice of a day for lying in the tent. After a measly meal of oatmeal with raisins, I got on my gear. It was a quick hop up to the base of the Perch. I stood at the bottom. I looked up to see the shear face above. Who knew how long it would take to top out. I was sure it would have it’s difficult moments. Fred Beckey is known to like the wide stuff and Direct Beckey is rated at 11b. We would soon find out if that was a true statement. I looked at the first moves of the first pitch. Alright, going up. I made it through the crux and continued up from there. The lower portion of the climbing was riddled with wide stuff. Not my favorite, but definitely good to practice. The sun was cooking us. We didn’t bring up a ton of water, but it would have to suffice. I saw a tree ahead and flushed with relief. I knew it wasn’t much and we wouldn’t have long there but it’s the small things.
At the tree I plunked down. Time for eats. Bread and cheese plus water. It ain’t much but it would get us back to camp for some Lipton noodles. What a dissatisfying meal. I thought, "Man, I wish we could have fresh meals out here." I would never want to leave the back country. We topped out. I spun around. There were mountains everywhere as far as I could see. We were really in the heart of the back country. I always have mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, it is remote, so it's nice and peaceful. On the other hand, if anything were to happen, no one would be around to lend aid. That day, we didn't need it, thankfully. The scramble back to camp was less than ideal but doable. Lots of scree and slipping. Back at camp we fixed a meal of Lipton noodles. I didn't finish mine (as usual) so my climbing partner took over and downed the rest. Due to my dislike of this particular meal and all the exercise, I am had been dropping weight like crazy. It's a good thing because I had extra on me when we left Vancouver a month ago.
Next day was an exploration day. We decided it sounded like a fun idea to go try one of the peaks that hadn't seen an ascent yet. This again came with mixed feelings. It is fun to be on a mountain for the first time but not knowing if we could get down (or up) is kinda scary. The view as we went up was spectacular. It was made so because Elephant's Perch was right across, and the orange surface was beautiful to take in. There were a few slings here and there, indicating that we might not be the first to adventure on this mountain. I was comforted and dismayed at this. The comfort was that people being there before meant there is probably a way off the thing. The dismay came from the realization that we are not the first ones up here. My climbing partner was more upset about this than I am. He was always dreaming of climbing something for the first time. That is not something that is necessarily on my bucket list.
After this day on a new wall, and one more climb up the Perch, we had a rest day. On our rest day, we traveled further up the valley and river to see what was up that way. We took our book (we were reading Anne of Green Gables at this moment in time), my knitting, and his personal book. A fun day in the sun was all we required to give us the extra boost we needed to do one more climb on the Perch, before abandoning our solitude for the world of McDonald's and Starbucks. Once we woke up on the last day, rather than going for another climb, we decided to pack up and race for the boat, hoping to catch a breakfast at the restaurant we were at before we came across Redfish Lake. When I say race I mean race as in running down through the bush and down the trail. We got to the dock and the boat was coming our way. I thought, "YES! We've got a chance."
Before the boat arrived, my climbing buddy dunked himself in the lake - a great way to feel a bit fresh after a week in the back country. We hurried back to the car once the boat docked, threw our packs in, and zipped off. We got to the place and our spirits fell when the proprietor told us that breakfast had ended half an hour before. Telling him our story didn't cause a change of circumstance. Ah well. We tried. The rush was fun to relate later on. After that defeat, we left the range. "Thank you for a great adventure," I thought as we drove toward Twin Falls. Arriving, we found a Sizzler. We stuffed ourselves to the breaking point and ended up at the movie theater - something to do after dark in the middle of nowhere. We saw Horrible Bosses, can't say I'd recommend it. Next stop Yellowstone!