After some cereal and tea I set about prepping for my day hike in the mountains and Rose starts her detailed pasta sauce clean up in the van. I feel a little bad that I am not doing more to help her, but it is hard to have two people in that small space. Since we have been staying up late, we have also been getting up late. Its after noon before I leave the campground. I drive back down highway 75 north toward the small town of Stanley. I have not yet seen this countryside directly outside Stanley in the daylight.
Stanely. Stanley, Idaho. Oh, I am... speechless.
There is no way to adequately, accurately describe Stanley. Words, photographs, even film, could never explain this place or give you a sense of it. It is not just a place, it is an experience. To know it, you must be part of it, to be in Stanley, to absorb all of it, occupying all the senses, even those senses beyond the five we know. I can not know how someone can come here and not be awestruck. But since you are not in Stanley and maybe have never been, I will attempt to describe my time there with some photographs and with words I might manage to find.
|The river along Highway 75|
About one mile south of Stanley, on highway 75, the rolling green mountains dotted with pine trees are on my right. The Sawtooth Mountains, tucked behind pine forests are on my left. I stop at a pullout to gaze in awe at a wide, shallow river flowing between the road and a green pasture along the hills.
|View just outside of Stanley, looking south|
|View just outside of Stanley, looking north|
My planned hike is the Iron Creek trail to Sawtooth Lake, a very ambitious day hike, especially for someone getting such a late start, but I am here to do this hike. I drive the three miles outside of Stanley on Highway 21 until I reach the Iron Creek road, a rocky, pot-hold filled gravel and dirt road. It heads up at a slight incline and I drive slow so I don't get a flat tire. As I round a bend a large animal is in the road and it moves into the field and behind a very broken fence. It is an Elk, I think. It almost looks slender and graceful enough to be a deer, not stocky like I would expect for an elk. I stop my car and watch the herd graze and slowly make there way across the pasture. The seem mildly interested in me and look up occasionally from their grazing to check out what I am doing.
|The road to the trailhead|
|Field of cows and the Sawtooth Mountains|
|My car alongside Highway 21|
|A view of Stanley, looking east from Highway 21|
|The marshy area alongside the trail|
The trail seems to end at the creek again, which is wide and shallow and salmon colored. I wonder if this is how it got its name, not from the fish, since it seems impossible that they could exist here, but from the color of the rocks. I am hungry, so I sit right at the water's edge and eat some dried fruit and buffalo jerky that I brought with me. The father and his boys appear and ask me if I found a good place to cross. No I hadn't, maybe I would turn around here and go back, I tell them. Then two men, maybe in their late thirties, appear and also look for a place to cross. There are six of us, a temporary community of hikers, trying to solve the problem on how to cross the creek.
|A mountain meadow along the trail, late in the day|
Stillness and brisk movement. This is how I feel most alive. I like to be still and I like to move quickly and all the places in between are like drinking coffee that is no longer hot, it just resembles what it was supposed to taste like. It drains me, the in-between.
|A view from Stanley, looking north.|