Bighorn Crags, Idaho

I commented to Tuckie as I left the house, that I have never gone a backpack without forgetting something. I have a checklist that I had reviewed, and the pack had been sitting there ready to go for a few days. The pack, an REI Flash 45, weighing in at 15 lbs before food, would be big enough for the 5 days worth of food.

The 7.5 hour drive to the trailhead (from Boise) went by faster than I feared. The last chance for gas and snacks was the tiny town of Challis, set in a beautiful valley of pasture and cows. Cody was good company on the drive, and we solved many if not all the problems of the world.

In campground for the night, around the campfire I mentioned the two things I had realized I had forgotten. My head lamp had dead batteries, and my inflatable pillow had split open on my last hike, to Tuck Lake. Luckily, Josh had a few spare batteries, and Cody actually had a spare pillow! I was set to go.

Our first day’s destination was Wilson Lake, which we joked was named for the volleyball in the movie Castaway. It was a 7.7 mile day, and Cody and I brought up the rear in our 18 person group.


We found that the best campsite for our large group was at the outlet of Wilson Lake, after first visiting the nearby Harbor Lake. We found that Erik had discovered how to walk and float on water, which was pretty impressive. Mileage Bighorn Crags campground to Harbor Lake: 7.28 mi (1498’ gain), and doubling back to Wilson to camp gave us 7.6 miles for the day.


Our next day was to head to Terrace Lake, thus passing by Welcome and Heart Lakes. The trail down to Wilson Creek was steep and rocky, and not much of a trail. However, the lakes were beautiful.


Above, Heart Lake, seen as we ascended the pass to Terrace Lakes.


Terrace Lakes, from the pass above Heart Lake.


We got to Terrace Lakes, and Bob H. set out to catch some fish in the beautiful lake. Mileage for the day had been 7.5 miles, 781’ up, and 1241’ down.


The next day we headed to Birdbill Lake, passing by our former camp at Wilson Lake. The trail above had a lot of exposure, even more than this photo shows. If you tripped on fell on this trail, if you went over the edge you would be dead. Birdsbill Lake, below, was beautiful, as are all the lakes of the Bighorn Crags. Mileage from Terrace Lakes to Birdbill was 8.56 miles, 1482’ gain.


The last day we headed past Mirror Lake, down 2099’, then up 2419’ to Cathedral Ridge. We considered having a dry camp on the ridge, but finally opted to hike out to the trailhead. The day was 12 miles of hiking, with the elevation gain. I had carried 5 liters of water to the Ridge, ready for a dry camp, so I really paid the price. We spent the night at the Crags campground, got washed off and rested, and drove to Boise the next day. Amazingly, I had no blisters for the 46.7 mile hike.