Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Jennie Lake Backpacking Trip. July 26-27, 2014.

Jennie Lake in the Boise Mountains

We've been talking about getting the boys out for an overnight hike for about a year now, so we made that one of the goals for this summer.  After talking about logistics and possible destinations for a few months, I finally picked Jennie Lake.  This would be new territory for Deez and I and the descriptions I had read sounded good for kids.  So on a one day notice, I managed to borrow a large 3 man tent from Steve Weston (many thanks!), we did some food shopping and sprung the big news to the boys.

Photo: Headed out with the boys on their first overnight backpacking trip! Don't they look excited?

Initially, they were split 50/50 with Denise's son Landen being the excited one, and Ian seeming a little less than that.  One thing they did have in common was that they were both motivated by food and we had plenty of it.  After an hour of driving just to get across town and another two hours to get up north of Idaho City and back on FS RD 384 to 348, both of which are well maintained, we arrived at the trail head.

During the drive, the boys had come up with a name for our team; The Super Mountain Ninja's.  

Hey, I like that!

Deez and I were carrying bigger loads than we're used to, despite the fact that the boys were carrying some of their own gear.  We kept their loads light, after all, we wanted them to enjoy the trip.  I wish I would have weighed my pack, but I estimated 65Lbs.  I usually carry around 30 for a luxurious 3 day trip.

We're not exactly traveling light, now are we!  No, we're not photons...   

The Super Ninja's were on the trail!  As I already mentioned, my research indicated a family friendly hike as the Forest Service description states "Good for children and the elderly", despite the trail gaining 1,900ft to reach the lake.

Well, the Super Ninja's quickly found the trail to be a bit more steep with ups and downs that I would consider moderately strenuous.  We had a little over 4.5 miles to cover to reach the lake and started making good time.  After about 2 miles in, we found the younger Ninja's pulling over for a break about every half mile.

All three of the boys getting a break on a big boulder along the trail.

It was warm and we just wanted to reach camp and relax, so we used food motivation to entice the boys to keep going.

About 1.7 miles from the lake, you walk though a long beautiful meadow and the wild flowers were in full bloom.  This was easy ground, but we were all wearing down.

The last less than half of a mile to the lake is a bit of a climb.  This was about the worst of what the trail had to throw at us.  As we hiked, I was often asked "how much  further?"  I gave my best guess and when I started to think we were close, I'd reply it's just right up there, which was received with sighs of disbelief.

Ten more minutes, its just right there!  These are words that Deez is used to hearing, and while she may not always agree with me, I'm usually right.

Ha, see!  Here we are!

After 4.72 miles and just over 4 hours of hiking, we had made it to Jennie Lake.  I'll honestly say that I wasn't expecting the hike to be as hard as it was, or the lake to be anything too spectacular, and I was wrong on both counts.  This lake is just as beautiful as most I've visited in the Sawtooth's.

As promised, we broke out the snacks for the boys.  They relaxed and we set up camp.  For now, we had the lake to ourselves.

Ian and Landen gathered some firewood while I got dinner going.  Both the boys helped pump water and were actually more than happy to do so.

Ian even helped to pitch in on dinner and dishes.  Although he seemed less than excited when we started, he was now coming around and in a very good mood.  Landen appeared to be getting tired after the long hike and some play time in the dirt.   Deez and I were just a bit worn from the heavy packs.  The Super Mountain Ninja's were hungry team!

Now for an extra hit of Dr. Granola's Italian Trail Dust, and bam!  Dinner is served!

The main course was Chicken Pesto on Shell Pasta for the three older Ninja's, and Shells and Cheese for the youngest.

Good food is even better outdoors and this was some of the best.

After going in for second servings we were quite full and still had leftovers.  As we did the dishes, I made some joke about wishing we had neighbors to offer our tasty pasta to, in stead of putting it in the trash. As luck would have it, another group of three showed up at the lake about two minutes after we scraped it into the trash bag.

Dang!  You would have had some pasta to take to your camp!

Ian enjoying some of the dessert we passed around.

 With the days work behind us, we relaxed and joked around.  

We had brought the Uno cards and kept mentioning that we were going to start a game, but we eventually found ourselves sidetracked with conversation and ghost stories.

The last rays of sun behind the trees. 

As the night wore on, Ian found himself with the iPod in hand.  He did a fair amount of D.J. duty and picked out some good tunes.  It never did get too cold that night and even by the time we all dove in the tent around midnight, it was actually a bit on the warm side.

The next morning we woke up at a leisurely hour to another already warm day.  Once again, the boys were actually excited to pump water and took turns while I enjoyed the lakeside views.

 Ketchum explores some logs near the shore.

 Morning reflection on Jennie Lake.

Breakfast was a bit of a chore.  Three cups of hot coca, one cup of coffee and one bowl of oatmeal.  We also had a batch of breakfast burritos that came courtesy of Denise's cousin who sent us a box of extra freezer bag meals that she had prepared for her hike of the Appalachian Trail.  More cooking meant more cleaning and everyone pitched in.

Many hands make for light work!

The Super Mountain Ninja's were once again well fed and ready for the trail!

We encouraged the boys to make good time on easy ground and it went by quick.  When the trail got steep and legs got tired, all we had to do was mention milkshakes to get the team on the move.

A ways down the trail, we could tell Landen was getting tired.  Since he had hiked Table Rock with us just two days before and we felt this hike was a little much for him, we accepted a certain amount of validity to his claim. Ian also claimed tiredness, but he managed to stay out in front for most of the hike out.

Kids:  How much longer until we get to the car?

Me:  That all depends on how soon you want to get your milkshakes!  The faster you walk, the sooner were there!

That little bit of motivation kept the Super Ninja's spirits up and on the move when the going got tough.

The day was hot and my heavy pack was taking its toll on me.  I haven't been dealing with the heat very well this year and I was really beginning to feel it on the hike out.

As we neared the trail head, we had to hike back over the steep ups and downs.  Not the most fun thing, but at least we knew we were getting close.

I think we were all a bit jealous that Ketchum got to cool off in the shady, cool creek.  Somewhere after this point, I ended up with his pack, as well as Landen's.  

Hey, wait a minute!  What the...!?

Soon we could hear an ATV on the road.  Then we could see the road and that was that -we all ran to the parking lot.  The Super Mountain Ninja's had completed their first overnight hike!  We got some fresh, cold water from the creek and high-tailed it to The Sarsaparilla Ice Cream Parlor in Idaho City to make good on our promise of milk shakes to the boys.  If we weren't already moderately short on time, we would have also stopped for a bite to eat at Trudy's Kitchen before the drive home.  

Backpacking with the boys was a lot of work, but well worth it.  We had worked hard but we were all still smiling.  While it might be easy to say that we'll never take the boys backpacking again, that is not the case. The Super Mountain Ninja's will be at it again, but with some better planning and an easier hike.  Food wise, it was about the best we've ever done!  

We never did get in that Uno game...  

Wolf Mountain does sit behind Jennie Lake and I will likely return to climb that peak someday .    

I gotta say, today was a good day!

-Granola, out. 

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