2016 Day 7 (08/03/16)

We slept in a little bit on Day 7. We had an easy 9.11 miles to campsite 8H4 and it was relatively flat as compared to our previous two days. The overnight temperature only got down to about 41 F. so it also wasn’t as cold when we came out of our tents. We had breakfast, let the dew dry off our tents a bit, packed up, and left camp about 9:00 AM. We processed water from the Snake River before crossing it. The trail crossed at a deep spot so we walked up stream about 150 yards and crossed there instead.

Within about 30 minutes or so we came upon this Golden Eagle sitting on a tree branch along the trail. It just watched us and let us get pretty close before it flew off. This picture is a bit fuzzy because I’ve digitally zoomed it in and cropped it. Still a pretty cool shot. I’ve included the shot as originally framed below as well.

By about 10:00 AM we were crossing the Snake River for the second time. The below rack was along the shore of the Snake River. We turned North shortly after this and headed for Heart Lake, leaving the Snake River behind.

We hiked through several large open grassy areas with great views. Just a few feet off the trail we found another set of racks. This is the South side of Mt. Sheridan in the background. The theme of Day 7 seemed to be the views.

This shot is looking back towards our last campsite. The Canyon from Hell is also in this shot between the two ridges in the distance.

We made four easy crossings of Basin Creek by about Noon. We came across the below fresh bear scat just shortly before stopping for lunch. We kept our heads on a swivel while eating lunch. Lunch was Spam on a tortilla. This combination was one of the better lunch meals while in the backcountry.

We hiked along Lake Sheridan, but there weren’t very many good shots of the lake from the trail.

After lunch we hiked through some beautiful pine forests with small rolling hills. We met an elderly couple, that appeared to be in their early seventies, going the opposite direction. They were traveling lighter than even thru hikers do. The lady only had a fanny pack and the gentleman had a kid’s school size book bag. They must have been camping at Heart Lake and just been doing a day hike down the trail. They certainly didn’t have enough gear on them to spend the night out there.

By about 1:30 PM we were at the South end of Heart Lake seen below. We met a group of about six men and women in their early thirties just as we were approaching Heart Lake. I think they said they were going out for about five days. They were packed about like we were. As we got to the shore of Heart Lake there were two women in lawn chairs just getting some Sun and enjoying the view of the lake. They were camped nearby for a few days.

We had planned on taking a break on the shore of the lake until we saw the two women lounging there. It would have been awkward for us to just plop down next to them so we kept going. Unfortunately, the good spot with some shade was up the hill a bit. It was still a great view. We were only about 1.5 miles from camp so we decided to stop here for about an hour. We both ate a snack and then Zach took a nap while I just chilled out enjoying the view. It was a beautiful day, clear skies, and the temperature only got up to about 72 F.

At about 2:30 PM we were back on the trail heading to camp. The shot below is of the ranger lookout tower on top of Mt. Sheridan. The picture is zoomed in so it is a bit misleading. The top of Mt. Sheridan was about 2,800 feet higher than we were when we took the picture.

We crossed a snow melt stream about 1/2 a mile from our camp so we stopped and processed water. The two ladies sitting on the shore of Heart Lake told us that this was the best place to get water. Our campsite was right on the lake, but it’s usually better to process water from a running stream than from a lake or pond. The water was cold and crystal clear.

Finally, about 3:45 PM we arrived at our campsite. Zach was taking a standing break while I snapped a picture of the campsite marker.

Along the trail we saw a woodpecker of some sort. Zach also had a blast snapping pictures of chipmunks around camp.

Campsite 8H4 is along the shore of the lake, but is nestled in some pines. There were a lot of downed trees in this area which made it a little challenging to find a place to put our tents. The cook area was pretty nice, but there was a wood burning restriction around Heart Lake so we couldn’t have a camp fire. The site had a pit toilet though so that was nice.

Here are some sunset views from our campsite along the shore of Heart Lake.

While in the Heart Lake area we were pretty alert and on the lookout for bears. About nine days earlier, before we went into the backcountry, we stopped at the Heart Lake Trail-head. We would have to park here and get shuttled to the Nine Mile Trail-head for our start so we just wanted to check it out in advance.

While checking out the end of our route, we snapped a few shots of the bear warnings. There had been recent bear issues in the area and a bear that didn’t seem to be shy of people. This certainly made us more alert and we paid particular attention to how we hung our food bags and where we placed our tents.

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