Hell Roaring Lake

After some quick planning, Matt Caldwell and I decided that a backpacking trip to Stanley, Idaho was in order.  Snow level was a concern so we settled on hiking into Hell Roaring Lake (7407′ el.) and kept our fingers crossed in regards to snow.  Despite the recent rains that have inundated parts of the state, the weather was nice on Monday, although the trail was swampy in some areas.  Once our destination was reached we were pleased that there was virtually no snow.  A seemingly easy hike around the lake to a waterfall found us maneuvering through many marshy areas and across seasonal streams.  I ended up getting my hiking boots soaked after slipping in knee deep trying to cross on a log.  This put a damper (pun intended) on that night since the conditions were nice for photos but I was concerned more with trying to dry my soaked footwear.

The following morning came early but the scenes were beautiful.  I woke up at 5:15 to head to a spot not far from camp with many rocks for good foreground subjects.  It wasn’t as cold as I expected but there was a thin layer of ice on the lake from overnight freezing.  I took many shots prior to sunrise but the shots at sunrise and afterwards worked out much better.  The brightness of the sunlight on the snow posed a slight problem (heavy contrast with the shadowed forest) despite using my graduated ND filters.  I tended to like the reflection only shots and focused more on the immediate lake area rather than the mountains surrounding the lake.  However, I did take the obligatory full reflection shot.  Here are some captures from the morning:

The day hike destination was Chet’s/Clarice Lake (unofficial names, 8184′ el.).  This was a strenuous hike, especially with the camera gear I was lugging along.  We left camp a little late, giving my shoes and socks more time to dry and reached the lake around 10:30am.  About two-thirds of the way, we stopped at a boulder field giving us a nice view of the surrounding mountains; I shot this video while resting.

There was deep, though patchy snow still around the lake and the lake was mostly frozen over.  We relaxed for a while, ate some snacks and took some pictures.  After the relaxation was over, we continued to hike above the lake.  After I while I got tired of negotiated snow within a boulder field and stopped about 500′ above the lake.  Matt continued on for a short time and then we headed back to camp.  Here are some shots from around Lake 8184′:

The hike back to camp proved tiring despite it all being downhill.  The side and downhill hiking coupled with my perpetually damp feet lead to me getting a blister on my right foot.  This made the five mile hike out from camp to the car less enjoyable.  However, the weather cooperated graciously with us while we were out in the wilderness.  Perhaps the most unique photographic takeaway from the trip was a double halo around the sun.  Around 1:30pm on the hike back to camp, Matt noticed a rainbow encircling the sun.  There was a second fainter rainbow also visible.  After reading through a book of mine, I discovered that we witness a 22 degree and 46 degree halo.  This was a cool phenomenon to cap off the trip!

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2 thoughts on “Hell Roaring Lake

  1. Sounds like a very pleasent trip with maybe the exception of the soaked boots. I do like the sunrise shot of the inlet stream. I am getting a late start into the Owyhees this morning. See you on the trail.
    Albert

  2. Hi! My name is Greg F., and I’m doing a volunteer program here in Boise, ID (working at Terry Reilly Health Services this year). My community wants to backpack to Hell Roaring Lake this weekend, our transportation is pretty crappy (2002 van, not 4-wheel drive). So I’m guessing we park at the lower trail head (is that hard to find?), and then we hike from there to Hell Roaring Lake. Is that what you guys did? Any tips on finding the lower trailhead and not getting lost? How long exactly is the hike, I’ve heard varying reports. Thanks so much for your help, Greg F.

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