The final day of our September 2018 Sawtooth Wilderness backpack (click here for day 1, here for day 2, and here for day 3) and man was it a cold one! We woke up to 26 degrees, our coldest morning of the pack. The sky dawned clear and it was going to be another beautifully sunny Sawtooth day.
We packed up camp and headed out just before 9:00. As we made our way back to the main trail, we discovered that someone else had camped on the spit of land between the two lakes, but we hadn’t seen or heard them during the night (a most excellent neighbor). As we made our way along the shore of Middle Crammer, a man came walking toward us. As we got closer we realized it was Rick, our neighbor from Alpine Lake. We enjoyed another nice chat with him before bidding him farewell and continuing along in the cool morning shade.
Arriving at Flatrock Junction and enjoying a break in the sun, we began to speculate how long we might need to wait for the boat shuttle. We had scheduled our return trip for the following day just in case we wanted to stay longer. We knew they would take us back if they made a trip over with a fresh group of hikers, but how long would that take? Oh well, worst case scenario they always make a last run at the end of the day. It was a beautiful day and there would be worse things than hanging out on the dock for the afternoon.
Soon we came upon an older couple day hiking up the trail. They planned to go to Flatrock Junction and back and had a reservation to be picked up at 3:00. Score—worst case scenario we’d catch the 3:00 back with them.
For the rest of the hike out, we enjoyed blue sky and mild temperatures. As we neared the dock at around 2:00, we ended up behind a couple backpackers who were also headed out. We struck up a conversation with the two brothers from New Jersey. One brother had been in the area before, but it was a first for the other. They had come out specifically to backpack to Saddleback Lakes, another of my bucket list hikes.
After maybe just 15-20 min of chatting, we could hear the hum of the shuttle boat. There was just enough room for us and we were back at the marina by 2:30 feeling very satisfied and contemplating if this had been our best backpack ever. Certainly it had been spectacularly beautiful with near perfect weather and some nice people met.
There was no doubt where we were headed once we returned to the Jeep—Smiley Creek Lodge. We both had their burger and fries. Could there be anything better after eating dehydrated food for four days? As always, the food and service were great. We also chatted quite a bit with a very nice bow hunter from Wisconsin who had been coming to the area every year for something like 15 or 20 years. He was very social and we enjoyed our conversation.
While we were waiting for dinner, I asked the hostess if they had a room available for the night—we really needed a shower and a warm bed sounded nice. She checked and they had room 3 available for the next two nights. This is the second time we’ve stayed at Smiley Creek. Their rooms are very, very basic, but they are clean and we like it there. We both showered and enjoyed a sound (and cozy warm) night’s sleep.
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