Lake Imogene

I'm still on one of those natural highs, one that came from spending two nights way up in the Sawtooth mountains with a great group of people.  Wow.  Just wow.  I'm still picking my jaw up from off the floor.  "Is nature really that incredible that it would make me feel this way?" I asked Bron when I got home.  He says he thinks it is.

The bishop of our ward had this grand idea to take the Young Women backpacking.  Ten girls, mostly Beehives (ages 12 and 13), committed to come and so the bishopric got to work planning out all the details.  Let me tell you, those men went above and beyond to make these girls' first backpacking experience as comfortable and as enjoyable as possible.  Though they each carried the equivalent weight of a teenage child on their backs seven miles up into the Sawtooth Wilderness, I think the men's efforts were well worth it.  Each and every girl had a good time and made some lifelong memories.  I imagine they'd be willing to go backpacking again!

^^Our group at the trailhead late Thursday morning: 5 men, 3 women, and 10 girls.^^
^^A phone snapshot of the girls and me eating lunch before heading up the trail.  Proof that I exist!^^

Sister Ahlm's brother, Darren, must have carried half his weight up the mountain... sweating hamburger buns and all!  How do you spell spoiled?  G-I-R-L-S  It wasn't really a laughing matter, but it made me laugh.  That pack looked ridiculously heavy.  But I'm grateful.  

^^Go Kaylene!  She was totally out of her element, but she was a trooper and conquered!^^
^^Pit stop a little less than halfway in to refill our water bottles.^^

Hands-down, the best part for me about this whole trip was getting to know some folks better.  Hiking gave us plenty of time to chat about just about everything.  And then there were no distractions or pressing responsibilities camping at the lake.  We all got to simply relax and enjoy one another's company.  I don't think it gets any better than that!

The second half of the seven mile hike was definitely more challenging for everyone all around; it was just steep and hot.  But the girls didn't complain much!  Every single one of them has some grit.

^^Bringing up the rear of the group: Brea, me, Kaylene, Darren, and Shane.^^
^^Onward!  We made it to Lake Imogene but still needed to hike around to our camping spot.^^

Once we arrived, it didn't take us long to unpack our sleeping gear and get settled.  Everyone was ready to cool off in the freezing cold lake!  But oh, was it breathtakingly clear and beautiful.  Mountains lakes are my jam.  They're one of Idaho's best gems.  

^^The girls look so tiny!  I can't believe they did so well on the hike.  It wasn't easy.^^
^^Brave enough for a quick swim!^^
^^Ava and Lilli trying to warm up afterwards!  Haha.^^
^^Amber was a polar bear and could stay out there in the cold water for hours.  Not exaggerating.^^
^^I love this sweet moment of Dave brushing his daughter Alli's hair.^^

Yum!  The hobo dinners we ate the first night hit the spot.  I could have eaten two I was so hungry.  My fitbit said I'd burned 3,000 calories after all.  Woot!

^^All the girls + Darren.  Haha.  That log made the best place for everyone to sit!^^
^^Dare I say we were the first to pitch a tent this large at this camp spot?^^
^^Amber, Casey, and Lilli.  We had the best set of girls up there.  No drama.  No problems.^^
^^Bishop learning how to fly fish.^^
^^Peaceful mountain pond near our campsite.  AKA Mosquito Haven^^
^^This was the best!  A double decker hammock set-up.^^
^^Lindsay ready to hit the hay in her tent the first night.  It didn't get dark til after 10PM^^

Waterfront property.  There's a silly story behind this orange hammock.  Brea and I wanted to set our hammocks up as near to the water as possible just because it'd be cool, ya know?  Well, it was Brea's first time sleeping in a hammock.  Dave actually tied some rope around her feet and hips the first night to keep her snug and from feeling like she was going to fall out into the water!  Well, it didn't work.  Brea was so scared to roll over--the whole point of sleeping in a hammock--that she felt pretty uncomfortable all night.  Needless to say, she moved to higher ground the next night and slept much better.  As for me, well, I didn't sleep much, but I slept like a rock both nights.

Thursday night happened to be a moonless clear night.  I couldn't believe my luck.  I rented a 20mm lens just for the occasion: I wanted to photograph the stars!  I rolled out of my hammock around 11:30PM, drank some water and downed some ibuprofen for a headache, and then carefully and quietly wandered the campsite with my headlamp, tripod, and camera.  The stars were absolutely incredible.  Countless stars.  The only word I can think to describe what I saw was awe-inspiring.  As the night wore on and became darker, the stars actually started reflecting off the lake water!  It was gorgeous.  I have no doubt there is a God.

^^I spy the big dipper!^^

The men were up with the sun to start a fire and make breakfast.  I take it back.  The best part about this whole trip--and probably what contributed to my natural high--was that I didn't have to cook for three days!!!  The guys cooked scrambled eggs, bacon, and pancakes with syrup.  For lunch we ate hamburgers and hot dogs.  And finally, for dinner, we had ourselves a classic freeze dried mountain house meal.  It was outrageous what we ate, but we never went hungry and it tasted delicious!  It was worth carrying the extra weight, guys.

^^Sunshine and bacon smoke.^^
^^Good morning, girls!^^
^^Synchronized toe dipping.^^

There was absolutely nothing on the schedule for Friday but relaxing and enjoying Lake Imogene.  So not too long after breakfast, everyone was jumping into the water.

Also, Tayah and her dad Brek (and their little dog) made it up to join us Friday morning!

^^Not sure if sleeping pads count as flotation devices, but it was fun!^^

I hope this is something the girls will remember for years to come.  So cool.  I mean, not many people in the grand scheme of things get to experience this place.

Those two little dots out on that island are Lindsay and Tayah.  It wasn't long before nearly everyone in our group joined them out there!  Brrr.

After lunch, Nate, Shane, Brea, and I left the rest of the leaders and the girls at the campsite to go on a little exploration hike.  Okay, so it was a little weird being four of us and none of us married, but the hike surprisingly wound up being one of the best highlights of the entire trip!  Our group headed to the top of Lake Imogene where we found a big beautiful waterfall.  When we hiked to the top of the waterfall, we found another smaller mountain lake!  We stopped and talked for a few minutes, looking to the peaks for any movement and sign of mountain goats.  Then we heard another waterfall towards the top of that lake, so we began hiking towards it, making our own trail as we went.  When we found that waterfall it was like being in Hawaii--big beautiful rocks cascading with water.  At the top of that waterfall, there was yet another mountain lake.  Wow!  By then, we were more near the tops of the mountain peaks than I ever expected to be.  It seemed as if there was another waterfall and lake up ahead, but we settled on dipping our toes in the water instead.  It was just a plain awesome afternoon of spontaneous exploration.

Of course, I didn't bring my camera along.  But there's some phone proof!      

^^I totally had to jump in!^^
^^Hiding from the nasty mosquitos.^^
^^Brek and his cute little dog.^^

Friday night after dinner we were visited by a forest ranger.  He was friendly and just doing his job, but the girls were flipping out.  It was really kind of funny.  It didn't help that Brek walked up to Casey and said that her dad was going to lose his job and go to jail and then walked off!  Haha.  I calmly reassured that girls that everything would be okay.  

Apparently, the average group size up there is something like 2.3 people and only 8 bodies are allowed at a campsite; we were way too large.  We were fined $180 and the ranger left us alone.  In my opinion, it really is too bad that the federal government is doing their best to keep people out of places like this--keeping scout groups and church groups from giving kids some once in a lifetime experiences!  After all, it's trips like these that help me appreciate and love nature more.  Don't make the wilderness so difficult to use that it drives people away.      

Anyway, Saturday morning we got up, ate breakfast, packed up, and marched down the trail.  Sydney and Ava were like little mountain goats, bounding down the trail at full speed!      

^^Our fantastic group of girls.^^
^^After picture.  Dirty, sweaty, and eyes tired but sparkling...I think.^^

That concludes our epic backpacking adventure!

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