- Date Hiked: July 6, 2002
- Miles Hiked: 12.0
- Elevation Gain: 4,200'
- Hiking Partner(s): Bruce
- I finally got my first serious
hike in of the season. Thompson Peak is the tallest mountain in
the Sawtooth Mountains at 10,751', It is located just southwest of
Stanley, ID and west of Redfish Lake. It can be seen easily from
Highway 21 along side of Williams Peak.
- I picked Bruce up Saturday
morning and we left Boise at 5:30 am. We stopped at the scenic
overlook north of Stanley for a quick breakfast and were on the trail at
9:00 am. We parked at the trailhead parking lot at Redfish Lake
and started west on the Fishhook Creek Trail for about .8 miles.
From here you take a short trail north to the top of a ridge for about
.5 miles and then head back west on the Alpine Way Trail towards the
Sawtooths and Marshall Lake. The elevation gain to this point is
very nominal until you have to jump off the beaten path and bushwack to
a no named lake at 9,000'.
- The off trail hiking is actually
easier than one would first think because of the existence of an
unofficial trail blazed by previous hikers. As mentioned above,
you leave the established trail before passing the east ridge of
Williams Peak around 3.7 miles. From here, you follow the
"game trail" to a hidden oasis where a large grove of trees
stands. After this, it is only about three quarters of a mile to
lake 9,000' where we set up camp.
- The views throughout the first
leg of our hike were incredible. You looked out over thick
forests, lush meadows, and running water falls. After reaching the
lake and finding a camp site, we spent the afternoon and evening
scrambling around the rocks and enjoying the scenery. I had a
rough evening as I spilled my dinner and popped a hole in my Therma-rest,
but for the most part, we couldn't complain.
- As the evening came to a close,
the rain started to fall. We went to bed relatively early in order
to prepare for our ascent of Thompson Peak the next morning. As
the night wore on, our hope of a climb to the summit dwindled. The
rain, wind, and even a bit of hail seemed relentless. My tent held
up well through the night as our sleep was fitful at best. We
listened to the wind howl down the mountains at us with the rain popping
away on the top of the tent. Both of us felt as though the morning
would come to gray skies and wet rocks to climb which would certainly
send us home without an opportunity to make it to the summit.
- We awoke around 5:00, had a bit
of breakfast and decided to try and make it as far as we could. We
hiked around the north side of the lake and back to the west towards a
saddle between Thompson and Williams. The only sketchy section of
this portion of the hike involved crossing a steep snowfield above a
smaller lake right before the saddle. We successfully negotiated
the snow and found ourselves looking to the west at beautiful mountains
and directly up (to the south) at a daunting Thompson Peak.
- The weather was holding, so we
continued south up the north ridge of Thompson. We caught glimpses
of a trail here and there from other hikers, but you basically had to
pick your way through the rock which wasn't always very stable.
After reaching a point where Thompson became a vertical climb, we
circled around the west side and approached the summit from the
south. We climbed up a narrow gulley to a notch in the mountain
where we finally saw the lake to the east and the summit a short
distance to the north.
- We made it to the summit where
we snapped several photos and celebrated our climb. We were the
10th party to summit in 2002. We made a quick entry into the log
book about the Becky's (both of our wives names are Becky) which is
bolted to the top of the peak, and then started our descent as we were
unsure of the weather. The summit was reached at 8:45 am and we
spent approximately 10 minutes on the top enjoying the views before
- We broke camp and left back for
the trailhead at 10:30. We were back by 12:30 on the road for
Boise. This was a very exceptional hike and I would definitely
recommend it to anyone heading into the Sawtooth National Recreation
Area. I may even return to climb Williams Peak or others in the
- Click here to view a 2D map of
the area where this hike is located.