Bench Lakes

Relaxing on the log

On our second day in the mountains we were moving from Sun Valley to Redfish Lake. This time Sandy joined the hikers and we left early to head for the Sawtooths. Lynn and Dan stayed behind to look around Sun Valley and take a more leisurely trip to Redfish Lake. We did make a few quick stops for pictures, at Galena Summit and Little Redfish Lake, but it was still early when we got to Redfish Lake. Since we were staying at the lodge, I picked Bench Lakes for our hike. It starts from the Backpacker Parking Lot, only a quarter of a mile from the lodge. It is an easier hike, about eight miles and twelve hundred feet of elevation gain. Still respectable, but we would be down early enough to enjoy some time at the lodge. The lakes are quite scenic, with a great view of Mt. Heyburn, a classic Sawtooth peak. I thought it would be a good introduction to the Sawtooths for Colleen and Devin, and Sandy had never done the hike before either.

Devin and Colleen at the lake with Mt. Heyburn behind

The hike to the lake was straightforward. The weather was nice and the hike was enjoyable, although the trail is very dusty because it sees a lot of horse traffic. We had to spread out along the trail. About a mile and a half in we met a lady who had stopped by the trail while her daughter went ahead. She wanted to know how far it was to the lake. She wasn't happy when I checked my GPS app and told her, exactly two and a half miles. She decided to stay where she was while we continued.

We kept going when we reached the first lake. It isn't that impressive and the second is only a quarter of a mile further. At the second lake, where the trail went around to the south, we cut north a short distance to a spot on the shore I know where there is a large log. It provides a great place to sit and it has the best view of Mt. Heyburn rising behind the lake. It was a beautiful day without a cloud in the sky. There was a nice breeze by the lake. We had the lake all to ourselves. We stayed for quite a while enjoying the view.

Sandy descends from the lake with a view of the Grand Mogul

On the way back, as we headed down from the lake we had a nice view of the Grand Mogul at the head of Redfish Lake. The trip down went quickly and soon we were back at the lodge. It took us a while but we finally found Lynn and Dan. After cleaning up some of us went into Stanley. The Finley's just wanted to see it. I wanted to check the shops there for tshirts. Yes. Since you asked, I found a nice "Sawtooth Wilderness" tshirt at Riverwear.

We were all hungry so Dan made reservations for an early dinner at the lodge. It wasn't easy. They claimed to be fully booked and said we would have to take an overflow table. But when we got there at 5:30 there was no one else in the restaurant. Even by the time we finished, the place was only a quarter full. It was very weird. I guess they didn't like the looks of us and didn't want us to eat there.

The other disappointing thing for us was that they had really changed the menu. Sandy and I have eaten at the lodge many, many times over the years and are used to giant hamburgers and huge slices of mud pie. Their menu now was more like a gourmet restaurant, with steaks and fish, and nothing for less than $30. The food was good, but somehow after a day in the mountains, eating in an old, rustic, log-cabin lodge built in the 1920's, a big ol' hamburger and fries seems more appropriate than a fancy dinner. The change was not for the better in my opinion.

A deer grazing right outside our cabin at Redfish Lake

After dinner when we went back to our cabins, there was a young deer grazing right outside. She obviously wasn't afraid of humans. She let us get to within ten feet of her to take pictures. A little later some kids, including a very young child that was maybe four or five, started to go after the deer to try to pet it. The deer wasn't that tame. The parents would yell for the kids to leave the deer alone and then walk away. The kids would completely ignore the parents and keep chasing the deer. It was potentially very dangerous. The deer was wild and it could very easily have kicked at one of the kids who was coming after it. They could have been badly hurt. Some parents are just irresponsible. Fortunately, the deer got fed up and wandered off into the woods. We did see it again later in the evening, grazing out behind our cabins. It definitely added to the wilderness feeling of our trip.