The license plate on my rental car reads "Scenic Idaho". I guess the slogan "Famous Potatoes" didn't work out so well as a tourism draw. What led me to Stanley, Idaho was the opportunity to hike some of the best trails without the heat and crowds that summer often brings.
The Sawtooth Mountains, located about 3 hours northeast from Boise offered the perfect environment for serious hiking next to jagged mountain peaks and beyond blue lakes. With July daytime temperatures in the 60 to 70 degree range, the Sawtooth Mountains would provide a good place to get some unusual photos from a seldom seen part of the United States. And help me burn some of my Winter fat.
In this part of Idaho, things are still mostly in a natural state. There's no McDonald's or Starbucks for 60 miles. No stoplights. No noise but the wind and birds. I had the benefit of traveling during a new moon and saw the colors of the milky way. The population of Stanley, Idaho is only 100. That's what the sign says at edge of town. But Stanley manages to provide several good lodging choices and plenty of decent restaurants to satisfy. I chose the Valley Creek Motel for a couple of days and the Meadow Creek Inn. Valley Creek Motel had an outstanding view but more importantly it was clean and comfortable. I never did turn on the television, but did use the refrigerator and internet service and table on the deck.
There are probably 10 to 20 trailheads to the Sawtooth Mountains within a half-hour drive from Stanley. Some are only 10 minutes away. After a warm-up hike to Sawtooth Lake, I was ready for the challenging hike to Alice Lake and Twin Lakes. I had seen photos of El Capitan of the Sawtooths and it looked as impressive as the Yosemite version. El Capitan pierces the sky above Alice Lake like a spear. The mountain is a stark contrast to the tranquil Alice lake with its tiny islands and rainbow water.