Backcountry Off Trail Hike Idaho Nikon Z9 Photography Rocky Mountains Sawtooths Wilderness

Capturing The Valley: El’ Capitan Encounter

El’ Capitan is one of the Iconic peaks of Rocky Mountains and the state of Idaho.  On this day I am hiking and scrambling off-trail in the backcountry to find new views and perspectives of the mountain.

El’ Capitan from the upper ridgeline of Pettit Creek Drainage.

I decide to get off trail and scramble up to and traverse the northern ridgeline of the Pettit Creek Drainage in the Sawtooth Wilderness.

Dawn winter time. El’ Capitan (lower left center), Snowyside Peak (upper right center) and Packrat Peak (far right) from the summit of Mc Donald Peak.
The Pettit Creek basin with Pettit Lake in the foreground.

Pettit Lake sits in the Sawtooth Recreation Area (SNRA).  The western edge of the lake represents the start of the Sawtooth Wilderness.  The Pettit Creek basin leads up to Alice Lake and Twin Lakes area. On the south side are McDonald Peak (10,068) and El’ Capitan (9,901).  On the north are Parks Peak (10,208) and Peak 10,052.  On the western end of the basin is Snowyside Peak (10,651).  I have the privilege of climbing McDonald and Snowyside.

The Pettit Lake Trailhead represents the start (or finish) of the 19 mile Alice – Toxaway Lakes Loop.  Writer’s for Backpacker and Outside Magazine call it the best loop trail in the United States. The Loop involves 2,985′ of vertical.  I often used the loop when training for ultra-marathon racing.  I would not disagree with the writer’s evaluation.

As I started to drop down from the top of the ridgeline, I capture an image of an interesting wildflower

Wildflower amongst rocks on side-slope.

I decide to wonder up and down the north side of the Pettit Creek Drainage.  The west end of the lake is the border for the Sawtooth National Recreation Area and Sawtooth National Wilderness. I capture a video of Pettit Lake from the Wilderness border.  In the video, across the valley is Horton Peak in the White Cloud Mountain Range.

Click Here: Pettit Lake from Sawtooth Wilderness Border

The Sawtooths from Horton Peak. Left to Right: Alturas Lake, Pettit Lake, and Yellowbelly Lake.

After scrambling up and down the side slopes, I descend to the trail and head back to the trailhead.

The Pettit Lake trail in early spring. Some big timber did not make it through the winter season standing.

*** Jeff’s Thoughts and Other Worthless Trivia ***

The Trail to Alice and Twin Lakes was the first hike in the Sawtooth’s for my Best Girl and Wife 40 years ago (1983) on Memorial day weekend.  Linda hiked in blue shorts with white trim.

Memory Lane!

4 Replies to “Capturing The Valley: El’ Capitan Encounter

    1. Thanks.
      Kyle and I put together plans for upcoming photo-shoots. The plans include photo-graphing as much of this drainage and Alice Lake as possible this year. The plan includes climbing El’ Capitan and Parks Peak.

  1. I, too, proudly own a pair of shorts that fit me in the 1980s.

    (Image withheld to safeguard website patrons′ retinae.

    (You′re welcome.)

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