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Friday, February 14, 2020

Weekly Post, "Late Fall High in the Sawtooths" by Robert Glenn Ketchum

Late Fall High in the Sawtooths
by Robert Glenn Ketchum



My partner, Vicki Golden, and I, have come to love backpacking in late fall. Although we risk getting snowed upon, most of the bugs, and virtually all of the people are gone. This is our last camping trip together, and the last time I ever camped in the Sawtooths. This is a short blog to say goodbye to both.  
~Robert Glenn Ketchum




Friday, February 14, 2020

High in the Sawtooths, #23:
Sawtooths #23:  Not far from our tent, the trail we will follow out tomorrow, provides an overview of several summits and the canyon through which we will pass in retreat. The last sunset we viewed from this perch (posts #7 & #8), turned the rock faces into luminous displays of jigsaw granite, and then there was that full moonrise (post #10), so what might be offered up tonight? We are much later in the evening when we arrive at the viewpoint, because we have been lingering by the lakeshore, staring deeply into a remarkable reflection (last post). As a consequence, there is little illumination left on the the peaks. What does lie before us, however, is a different kind of visual drama. The slowly building weather of our afternoon, has passed us by without going off, but in drifting to the east, it has continued to build up, and it looks like it WILL precipitate a bit on the Salmon River valley, below us. The darkening sky is a nice foil to the glowing summits still basking in the final rays, but the show is the cloud build up that is still being fueled by the warmth of sunlight at higher altitudes than us. This show is still to play out, so we take a seat, and break out the last of our snacks. Normally Belle does not like thunder and lightening, but even she realizes the events that are soon to begin, are far away from us, and we are just here for the show, so she settles in to watch with no anxieties. A good time can be had by all. It has been an extraordinary day, it is NOT over yet, and we are still raging on.

photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2019, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd

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Friday, February 7, 2020

High in the Sawtooths, #22:
Sawtooths #22:  Our last day. Our last night. AND,..now this. The perfect ending to a day-long rage in the rocks. At the highest point of our afternoon (post #17), it seemed some weather was building, and it did, but it has drifted east of us and Twin Lakes basin is enjoying a deep blue twilight sky, with the “Tooth” glowing in late light (last post). Stuffed with trout and carbs, my partner, Vicki Golden, my black lab, Belle Star, and I, have once again positioned ourselves on our favorite rock shelf, lakeside, and we are taking it all in. The dead calm waters offer us a very unique perspective of the illuminated “Tooth,” and we all snuggle in the imagined warmth of the glow. (We are glowing, but the night is quite cold.) Tomorrow we will walk out, and head for my studio in Los Angeles, so this is our last day of camping for the season, and we are drinking it in. (Yes! We are also drinking - LOL!) A little nightcap to toast a day of being toasted, and very high. Looking up at where we rock scrambled, I am again in awe of the Sawtooth walls, and the amazing trees. Now, as the light fades on us, and we are getting stiff from the cold, it is time to stroll to the trailhead we will follow out, and view the summits and canyons below.

photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2019, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd

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Friday, January 31, 2020

High in the Sawtooths, #21:
Sawtooths #21:  My black lab, Belle Star, and I, have an excellent evening of fishing, much to her delight, as well as mine, and by the time we return to camp, the last light is falling on the peaks about our basin at Twin Lakes. My tentmate Vicki has emerged from her rest to start a fire, and is now sitting on her favorite rock at the lakeshore watching the show. I get dinner started, just so Belle will give me some peace, and in a short time we have a last evening meal in the wilderness, before our hike out tomorrow. Dinner is delicious, and Belle shows her approval by racing around wildly in the meadows, and diving on to her back for a good writhe-around. Vicki and I finish cleanup, and then the three of us settle in at the lakeshore for the end-of-the-day display. It looks to be another good one, as the sky above has now cleared, and the truly radiant light has returned. The “tooth” on the opposite shore, is glowing once again, and the west face of what I believe climbers call “The Birthday Cake,” is also defined by the final rays of sunlight. Our amazing day has been a good time had by all, and now Belle just wants A LOT of petting and snuggling. Why not?

photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2019, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd

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Friday, January 24, 2020

High in the Sawtooths, #20:
Sawtooths #20:  My campmate, Vicki Golden, and I, are exhausted after our long day, so when we get back to our tent, she ops to lay down for awhile. Unfortunately for me, black lab, Belle Star, will have none of it, and she is making it clear to me, that it is time to do some fishing, so we wander off to mine the Twin Lakes shoreline in hopes of adding some fresh trout to the freeze-dried meal of the evening. As I ply the edges of our lake, the clouds come-and-go, but eventually they seem to be breaking off above us, and once again, a soft light floods into the basin. These are not the radiant beams of our previous evenings (yet), but the highlights and shadows more clearly define the rugged surroundings, of which I have been enamoured all day. Across the lake, above the canyon through which we will retreat tomorrow, west facing spires light up, their steep walls of polished granite, glowing in the hazy sunlight, and again, I am struck by the fang-like spires and summits that define the Sawtooth Range. It is not just the rock, but since the trees have also established themselves all the way to the top of these peaks, the barren branches of the limber pines, add to the ragged appearance of the ridges. How do things so large, and strikingly beautiful, find nourishment enough to grow to that size in such an environment. What a world! I hope we learn to care for it, so that it can be enjoyed like this for generations. Unfortunately, given our heedless behavior, probably not!

photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2019, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd

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Friday, January 17, 2020

High in the Sawtooths, #19:
Sawtooths #19:  My partner, Vicki Golden, doggo, Belle Star, and I, are nearly down from our all day hike-climb in the walls of the basin around Twin Lakes. The meadows below us are glowing with late light, so I suggest we give our knees a break, and stop for awhile to have some last snacks, and survey the domain in which we have been playing. Although there are more clouds above us now, the day has been blessed, considering how late in the fall we are camping here, and it still does not look like we will be stormed upon. As such, and since this our last camping adventure of this season, I just want to take it all in. The more you explore a place, the more deeply you understand and appreciate it, and this is a range called the Sawtooths, which as I gaze about, makes VERY clear to me, why it was so named. It is WILDLY ragged. Every jagged wall is surmounted by a spiked pinnacle, and there are hundreds of them within our line of sight. Throughout the range, there must be thousands. The faces leading up to them are scarred by erratic benches, terraces, and overhangs, and most remarkable of all, trees grow right out of the rock faces ALL the way to the summits. It is a dream-like world, and we are in a dream-like state, exhausted from the day, and swimming in an endless stream of high county visuals, I hope to never forget. Without much sun left, the air grows cold, and Belle, as do we, want trout for dinner, so it is finally time to finish our decent and settle back into camp.

photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2019, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd

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Friday, January 10, 2020

High in the Sawtooths, #18:
Sawtooths #18:  Before we start to pound our knees in the descent from our lunchtime terrace, I cast one last look around in the bright mid-afternoon light. The walls towering above us are sheer, beautiful, etched granite, but amazingly, here-and-there, big limber pines are growing right out of the rock. There is no supportive vegetation or apparent soil, they are just perched there in their magnificent sculptural shapes, right on top of solid granite outcrops, sentinels of this alpine domain. Then our plunge begins. A downclimb is not as breathtaking as an ascent, but it must be done in a methodical, and paced way, or you can easily blow out your knees. Even Belle Star knows this, and she is cautious to make her path a series of small rocks and boulder steps, rather than just jumping from one-to-another. As we wend our way down, Twin Lakes, once again regain their sense of size in this landscape, and the colors in the meadow become more apparent. The afternoon breeze is also causing a fetch on the lakes surface, and so they sparkle like diamonds in the late light. Clouds are still scudding by rapidly, but they are building their cumulus dimension, so it might be possible that we will have some rain in the twilight, or perhaps tonight. It does not matter now, however, as our day of being high, is drawing to a close, and I look forward to walking on some flat, spongey meadow, and doing a little fishing. So does Belle.

photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2019, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd

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Friday, January 3, 2020

High in the Sawtooths, #17:
Sawtooths #17:  The terrace we have lunch on is more expansive than we first realize, and after sitting, eating, and pondering for a good long spell, I get up to stretch and discover there is more to be explored without any climbing. This bench has a mantle of pine needles so deep that it is soft to walk upon, and the only obstacles are some larger boulders, and dense, impenetrable patches of stunted trees. By hoping from boulder-to-boulder, I set out to explore other views, eventually coming to a point (above) where our lunch-ledge pitches off into a steep boulder field below. For whatever reason, this side of the terrace must have better protection, because there are bigger trees here, as well. There are also many more patches of snow. As the afternoon has worn on, a breeze has begun to rise, and scudding cumulus clouds are trying to form. At the moment,though, they are being blown so briskly, they struggle to form, so I do not worry about dangerous weather approaching. It is mid-afternoon by the time I return to Vicki and Belle Star, and the rising wind precipitates us donning our wind shells for warmth. The heat of the midday sun is now fading quickly, so I suggest we finally begin our downclimb. When we shoulder our daypacks, Belle knows we are on the move once again, so she does a big stretch, gets on a very waggly tail, and prepares for our descent to Twin Lakes with dreams of trout for dinner, clearly in her mind.

photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2019, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd

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Friday, December 27, 2019

High in the Sawtooths, #16:
Sawtooths #16:  When Vicki Golden, my tentmate, Belle Star the wonder dog, and I, final “top-out,” we are REALLY high in the Sawtooths. Green trees are all severely stunted, wind-shaped, and hiding in patches among the rocks. There is also a good deal of tortured limber pine trunks, but what is left of them are weathered, and twisted into remarkable sculptural shapes. This terrace to which we have ascended, is actually a fairly large bench, right beneath some of the last sheer walls that lead to the ragged summits. Anything above this point would take some technical protection, but we are very nearly on top of the range, and the view is endless. Twin Lakes seem very far away now, but they are still radiantly blue, they just seem much smaller. In the direct sun, the temperature is actually hot, so we seek a little shade, take off our packs, and settle in for some lunch. An occasional breeze is welcome, and a few puffy clouds begin to appear, but all is well, and doggo lies in the shadow of a big boulder, happily snoring away. It has been a long climb for her as well. As we enjoy our food, we also take in more of this terrance, and I realize that, as high into the rocks as we are, and as late in the fall as this is, there are still patches of wildflowers blooming around us.This alpine terrain is a wonder of survival. We are not in any hurry to descend, and the weather seems to be slowly building, but without being threatening, so we just sit and ponder for a good long time. As you can see in this picture, the "Saw Tooths” retreat to the horizon, ridgeline after ridgeline.

photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2019, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd

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Friday, December 20, 2019

High in the Sawtooths, #15:
Sawtooths #15:  My partner, Vicki Golden, doggo, Belle Star, and I, have hit the upper limits or our ascending notch above Twin Lakes, but we are trying a traverse between notches that seems to be going well. There are fewer trees here, and these are mostly boulder field scrambles, but they are easy to do, and the new POV’s continue to unfold. Since our position changes the angle of sun on the lakes, and the shimmeresence of sunlight is now gone, the lakes have become an even deeper blue, if that is at all possible. (Maybe it is just us? Who knows at this point. However, my pictures (above) prove it later.) Although you cannot see it in this shot, WE can see our pale blue tent/rainfly, tucked next to some trees at the meadows edge below, and to our continuing amazement, we are having a day like this, and NO ONE else is here,..not even daytrippers! As we continue our boulder field traversing, we round the corner of a rugged granite fin, and it seems there are some trees and terraces above us in this next notch. The day is far from over, the weather is still not threatening, although a few clouds have now arrived, and we have yet to have lunch, so I suggest, “The Higher You Get, The Higher You Get,” to which one and all wildly agree. So, up we go, and with each lung-challenging step in the thin air, the REALLY stunted pines above us get more wiggly, and it is not because there is a breeze - LOL!

photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2019, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd

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Friday, December 13, 2019

High in the Sawtooths, #14:
Sawtooths #14:  OK! Vicki Golden, Belle Starr, and I, have achieved limber pine heaven, and our perspective just gets better and better. The tree terraces are like magical gardens, and the Twin Lakes below are like sapphire jewels. The day is warm. The winds are calm, and no weather has yet to appear. The Sawtooths surround us with their ragged summits, and the view just keeps expanding. What a fall day! We are following a series of boulders-to-terraces notches on the hillside above our camp, much like to ones you can see in the above view, except our route has more trees and gardens. The gardens are dry now, and the wildflowers that would be here in the summer months, have already begun hibernating, by the dry grass that remains is a radiant gold in the warm, morning sun - a prefect contrast to the color of the lakes. At this particular moment, we have encountered a large grass terrace, so Belle is taking the opportunity to roll around on her back, waggling her legs in the air, grunting joyously, and Vicki and I use the moment to water-up, and snack some more. Soon, it appears, we will top-out, as the notch we have been following, is narrowing beneath the steep walls of summits that surround us. We have no intention of doing anything technical (nor should we be allowed to - LOL!), but there does appear that we might be able to do some traverses from our location across similar notches, and change our POV a little, so that is now our game plan for the afternoon.

photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2019, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd

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Friday, December 6, 2019

High in the Sawtooths, #13:
Sawtooths #13:  Up, up, and away! My partner, Vicki Golden, my black lab, Belle Star, and I, have launched ourselves (to say the least). Following our breakfast in a camp surrounded by glowing Twin Lakes meadows, we have traversed the fall spectacle around the lakes, and now we are practicing the DFC&FC motto, “The Higher You Get, The Higher You Get.” Our climb is non-technical, and actually, pretty boulder-to-boulder, terrace-to-terrace, simple. But, it is breathtaking in many ways - the view, and our lungs burn with the gain in altitude. Of course, that is easily addressed by moving slowly, and stopping all the time to take in the view, and have some water and snacks. At this point (above) we are well into the limber pine, garden benches, as you can see, and the lake is like a blue jewel below. However, we are only about 1/4 of how high we will ultimately get, and things are just starting to get real wiggly. The pine terraces are radiant, and the tree trunks seem alive with their twisted, weather-aged wood, so full of texture. This is my favorite alpine environment, and there is much more well above us, so, Excelsior! Onward, and ever upward. Just getting higher in the Sawtooths.

photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2019, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd

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Friday, November 29, 2019

High in the Sawtooths, #12:
Sawtooths #12:  Vicki Golden, my campmate, Belle Star, my black lab, and I, must first traverse the Twin Lakes lakeshore and meadows to get to a point where it seems we will be able to begin a boulder scramble into much higher terrain. The day is clear, so we feel no threat from weather, and we are both excited by what looks to be a GREAT hike and climb ahead of us. Belle is frolicking, racing here and there, and Vicki and I are “adjusting” to the day as the meadow gets more mystical with every step. Shortly before our arrival at what we believe will be our path of ascent, I have an encounter with this (above.) Strange-beautiful, and growing stranger the more I look at it, I make this image, and then hear Vicki say, she thinks we should keep moving so we don’t get “sucked in” to something that might distract us from our guiding mantra, “The Higher You Get, The Higher You Get.” I agree, especially since this remnant of an ancient limber pine is beginning to swirl and flow, seemingly coming alive before my lens. It is definitely time to take this energy, and apply it to deciphering a pathway up through the rocks.

photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2019, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd

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Friday, November 22, 2019

High in the Sawtooths, #11:
Sawtooths #11:  After an astounding afternoon and evening, my partner, Vicki Golden, my black lab, Belle Star, and I, awake to find a similar stunning morning. The meadows literally glow in the morning sunlight, and the sky is crystal clear. Belle gets it immediately, and goes for a “wild dog,” frenzied run about the lake. Vicki and I start breakfast, and the preparation of our daypacks, so that we can get an early start on what we hope will be a climb into the high rock gardens above our campsite. Before our start, however, we have finished our chores, so I talk a brief walk around a portion of the lake with my cameras, and discover this (above). Last night I stood right here, photographing a striking silhouette of this tree, against the sunset aura on the background boulder field (post #6). This morning, it is a TOTALLY different world of color, but easily as dramatic and beautiful. This lake basin just keeps visually raging on, and I determine, so should we. I probably could have just wandered in these meadows all day, but I do believe the DFC&FC motto, “The Higher You Get, The Higher You Get,” and this vision at the lakeshore, has only incited my will to do so, so I return to camp, where Vicki and I shoulder our daypacks for the ensuing climb,..and we are OFF, very off!

photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2019, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd

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Friday, November 15, 2019

High in the Sawtooths, #10:
Sawtooths #10:  Vicki Golden, my backpacking partner, and I, have been enjoying a very pleasant twilight in the Twin Lakes basin where we are doing a last, late fall, camp-and-hike. After an afternoon of radiant light across our surrounding meadows, thanks to clearing weather opening to the setting sun, we have a great dinner, after which we walk back down the trail a bit, for an overview of the valley, and surrounding summits, all of them glowing from the warm low light at the horizon. When the cool of the evening finally descends, we amble back to camp to find our site aligned with the dramatic rock spire across the lake, still shining in the last rays of sunlight (last post). It provides quite a view from our tent flap, and in fact, suggests to us that we should not retire too early, as there might be more to come. The day, so far, has been nothing but rich,..why stop now? With that thought in mind, we don our parka’s and shells, and take my black lab, Belle Star, for romp in the meadow. After chasing her around for awhile, I feel we should give the valley overview one last look, and what a good idea that is. Upon our arrival, we initially see the last of the departing clouds off to our east, still bathed in the pink hues of the sunset. As we stand silently there, however, to our surprise a full moon pops up through the pinkness. Good night, moon! It does seem tomorrow will be a great day, and very likely clear, so we are going up, because, “The Higher You Get, The Higher You Get."

photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2019, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd

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Friday, November 8, 2019

High in the Sawtooths, #9:
Sawtooths #9:  My partner, Vicki Golden, my black lab, Belle Star, and I are watching the late light spectacle on the spires and summits around the Twin Lakes basin where we are camped in the Sawtooth Mtns. of Idaho. It has been an amazing, bug-free evening of fine viewing and dining (the trout are biting), and a good time is being had by all. It is not especially cold for being this late in the fall, but when we walked to our overlook spot to view the alpenglow on the peaks, we did not bring our ensolite pads to sit on, so eventually, we both have cold derrieres, and decide to rise, stretch, and amble back toward our tent and the lakes. As we pass through the trees and our tent comes into view, quite a view it is! I do not know if this spire has been named, and Google does not offer one, but Vicki and I decided to call it the Twin Lakes Tooth, and the Tooth is looking pretty “toothy” looming above our campsite. What a world!

photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2019, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd

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Friday, November 1, 2019

High in the Sawtooths, #8:
Sawtooths #8:  Sitting on a nice boulder overlook at the edge of the Twin Lakes basin where the trail brought us in, Vicki Golden, my black lab, Belle Star, and I, are watching the late light show on the surrounding peaks, as the evening shadows slowly creep up the walls. El Capitan, 9,901ft. is radiant, and very ragged (last post). The summit is fang-like, but the adjoining ridges make clear why this range is called the Sawtooths. The skyline is defined by jagged pinnacles and spires, and that is true, regardless of which direction we look. Our basin is surrounded by a kind of granite picket fence. To borrow a line from The Small Faces’ song, “Itchycoo Park,” “It’s all too beautiful!” Please search this song and listen to the full version. It gives greater meaning to our fabulous night. It is not especially cold, and we are in no hurry to retire, so we linger to let this autumnal display play out.

photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2019, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd

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Friday, October 25, 2019

High in the Sawtooths, #7:
Sawtooths #7:  My partner, Vicki Golden, my black lab, Belle Starr, and I, are having a SPECTACULAR evening at our late fall camp in the Twin Lakes basin of the Sawtooth Mtns. of Idaho. The fish are biting, but the bugs are not. The weather is breaking off, and the last evening light just keeps on going, and going,..and going. We are worn out, not from the hike in, but from having WAY too much fun,..and it is only the first night. As shadows creep up the surrounding walls and pinnacles, our lake lightshow gives way to the shade, but the glow is still blazing on the summits around us. Belle is on her back in the meadow grass, wiggling around like a worm, having arfed down some trout, and enjoying not being attacked by mosquitoes. To better view the surrounding alpenglow, I suggest to Vicki that we walk back to the rocky outcrop that overlooks the trail upon which we came in, and so, with more snacks in hand, we take a short stroll to the viewpoint. Down below is Alice Lake, and across the valley, the jagged summit of El Capitan, 9,901ft. radiates a stunning red hue, against the backdrop of departing weather. The air feels cool and dry, and I am hoping it stays that way, as we would like to give the DFC&FC mantra, “The Higher You Get, The Higher You Get,” one last shot on tomorrow's hike, and clear skies will make climbing higher more inviting.

photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2019, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd

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Friday, October 18, 2019

High in the Sawtooths, #6:
Sawtooths #6:  Wowser! My partner, Vicki Golden (last post), and I, have established a late fall campsite in the Twin Lakes basin of the Sawtooth Mountains in Idaho. After a nice dinner, we are now agog over a late evening light show that has set the steep granite walls and pinnacles around us on fire with golden light. I have taken a walk around the lake, and now that I am back at camp, we are both sitting on a big rock, snacking and cawing. Caw! Caw! Caw! Unfortunately for me (or maybe not), my drive to be the photographer of the moment, finds me hopping up periodically to run somewhere for another shot. This one above, is a 5-Caw! Clearly this is one of the most beautiful lake systems, and evenings we have ever experienced. As it is our last trip before returning to my home/studio in Los Angeles, the gods have smiled upon us for being willing to try a backpack this late in the season. Not only do the colder nights suppress the bug population, but apparently, they have also driven hikers and campers away, as we are the only ones here. Oh yes, my dog, Belle Star, appreciates that, but she (and we) appreciate that it also makes the trout hungrier, so life is good at 8,800ft., and dinner is delicious. What will tomorrow bring? Another day like this, or perhaps, more expectedly, a fall storm. Stay tuned to find out.

photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2019, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd

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Friday, October 11, 2019

High in the Sawtooths, #5:
Sawtooths #5:  My partner, Vicki Golden, and I have decided to do one last late fall backpack into the Baron Lakes basin of the Sawtooth Mountains in Idaho. Our day began with overcast skies, but by the time we reach the lakes and set up our camp, the skies begin to clear, and the basin is awash with the golden light of late evening. After dinner, the spectacle is too great to resist, so I grab my cameras, and begin to explore the shoreline, taking advantage of both the light, and the remarkable reflections in the nearly ripple-free water. Vicki stays in camp, ostensibly to go fishing, but the light show and reflections are so compelling, she lays down her rod (lower left), not wanting to disturb the water, and just enjoys the view. Periodically, in my circumnavigation of the lakeshore, I can hear her voice drift across the water through the crystal clear air, uttering exclamations of her amazement. Me, too! It is a fantastic late evening in this basin, made even more so, because another blessing of this late fall trip, is that the increasingly colder nights are really suppressing the insect population, and we are both enjoying not having wear headnets, or seek refuge in our tent. When I finally circle back to camp, this is what greets me. Does she look like she is having fun? AND, although we don’t know this yet,..it is only going to get better.

photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2019, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd

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Friday, October 4, 2019

High in the Sawtooths, #4:
Sawtooths #4:  My partner, Vicki Golden, and I, have just struck gold, visually. Before returning to my home/studio in Los Angeles, after a summer of backpacking in the Wind River Range of Wyoming, we drive to Sun Valley, Idaho, to find good weather and peak fall, so we decide to due one last, short, alpine camp adventure in the Sawtooths. We have chosen to come up into the Twin Lakes basin, because on the topographic maps, it looks like the lakes are in a spectacular setting, surrounded by some significant peaks and granite spires. Our hike in has taken a good part of the day, but once we arrive, we realize it is WAY more than we expected. With camp set up, offering a VERY scenic view out the front of our tent, we munch some snacks, watching the basin light up radiantly, as the sun gets beneath the clouds of the overcast day. The golden glow on the granite terrace gardens and surrounding walls is stunning, and Vicki and I are pretty excited about our good fortune. These are good-sized lakes, encircled by meadow-covered peninsulas, and tonight the waters are mirror-like. I was planning on some fishing, but the late light show is not to be missed, so I grab my gear and take a tour. In virtually any direction I look, it just gets better and better. Vicki has chosen to sit on a rock at the lakeshore near our camp, to just watch the light show, and as I move around taking pictures, I periodically hear her say things like, “Oh my God!”, and “Can you f%*#ing believe this? I do,..and we ARE HERE!

photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2019, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd

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Friday, September 27, 2019

High in the Sawtooths, #3:
Sawtooths #3:  My longtime partner and backpacking companion, Vicki Golden, and I, are attempting one last late fall hike/camp, and we have decided to do it in the Sawtooth Mountains of Idaho. Fall colors are at peak, insects have nearly vanished, and there are no other hikers on the trail, or in the Twin Lakes basin, when we arrive. The basin is surrounded by numerous impressive granite spires and summits, all of which are decorated with granite garden terraces, and a profusion of spectacular limber pine. This is one of the most beautiful settings in which we have ever camped. As evening comes on, the late light gets beneath the clouds overhead, and sets our basin aglow. It is also a night without any breeze, so the surface of the lakes are mirror-like. With our tent up, and snacks abounding, my dog, Belle Star, is romping through the meadows, glad to have her pack off, and although I planned to go fishing, the setting is beyond beautiful, so I grab my cameras instead, and go for a very “trippy” walk-about.

photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2019, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd

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Friday, September 20, 2019

High in the Sawtooths, #2:
Sawtooths #2:  My partner and longtime backpacking companion, Vicki Golden, and I have decided to due one last, short, late fall camping trip into the Sawtooth Mountains of Idaho. We have decided to start from the campground at Petit Lake, that leads to Alice Lake, and on beyond to the Twin Lakes basin. At the eastern end of Petit, the trail begins to rise more steeply, finally going rather directly up some switchbacks. We are not in any hurry, as there are a number of bridgeless stream crossings, and a lot of fall color, so after 5-1/2 miles, we arrive at Alice, and stop to have lunch. Alice Lake is 8,600+ ft. in elevation, and this late in the fall, with an overcast sky, it is cool but not uncomfortable. The decreasing insect population is also notable. The Twin Lakes basin is only about 300ft. above us, but the trail meanders quite a bit, so it is late afternoon when we finally arrive there. The lakes are in a dramatic basin, surrounded by Sawtooth spires and summits in every direction. The lakes also have large meadows and lots of trees, many of which are wind-sculpted limber pine, decorating granite ledges. After our years of previous backpacks, we know a great thing when we see it, and this is the place. There is no problem finding a scenically situated tent site, and by the time we establish camp, the late light of evening has crept under the cloud cover, and is radiantly illuminating our basin, drenched with fall color. At the moment, it is also dead-calm, and the lake is a PERFECT mirror, so I am having some fun with that.

photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2019, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd

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Friday, September 13, 2019

High in the Sawtooths, #1:
Sawtooths #1:  My longtime backpacking partner, Vicki Golden, and I, have just completed a late fall trip into the Wind River Range of Wyoming, where we were joined by my DFC&FC friend, Gordon Williams, and his friend Polly. This was a 4-day trip, and we were snowed upon twice, but we had a wonderful time. After this adventure, we all return to Ketchum-Sun Valley, Idaho, where Gordon and Polly reside. When we arrive, it is notable that it has not yet snowed on the mountains around us, and that fall is peaking. Gordon and Polly must return to their working week, and Vicki and I are do to return to my studio/home in Los Angeles, BUT the weather is good, the colors are great, so I suggest she and I do one more short trip before we leave. Over several years I have done numerous trips with the DFC&FC into the Boulder and Pioneer Mountains, nearby, but it has been a long time since I was last in the Sawtooths, thus we decide to head there. In case it does snow, I don’t want my car trapped on a bad dirt road in the backcountry, so we go to Petit Lake, a gateway into the Sawtooths, connected directly to the highway. Our DFC&FC friend, Joe Saviers, has a cabin here, we have visited many times, and used as a winter ski-tour base camp - see posts #52-61 of this linked blog. Joe is not around at this point in the season, as Petit is most popular in the summer. In fact, almost no one is around. However, there is a campground at the eastern end of the lake, and from there several trailheads begin, so it is now time to park, and hoist our backpacks. We are going to follow the trail around Petit Lake, towards Alice Lake, and then beyond (and higher), up into the Twin Lakes basin. Our day starts off cloudy, looking like it might rain, but it does not. From Petit, the trail rises gradually from the west end of the lake, into a canyon with some steep walls on the west side, a section of which we have previously skied.Then, we encounter the much steeper switchbacks, taking us up the first tier of our hike, and into the Alice Lake basin above 8,500ft. The walk to Alice is about 5-1/2-miles, with several bridgeless stream crossings along the way, AND a lot of fall color.

photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2019, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd

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