Alice - Toxaway Loop | Sawtooth Wilderness


off my rocker
Jun 14, 2016
Alice - Toxaway Loop

It was too snowy. One of the friendly people at the Great Outdoor Shop suggested I give the Sawtooths a try as the altitudes there are lower than the Winds. I found a map over in Jackson and everything was indeed much lower, placing trailheads at ~6500, big passes ~9000 and tallest peaks of ~10,500. The extent of my advance research was looking at the 1/63,000 map for 10 minutes. A route was chosen mostly on the basis of how easy it was for me to drive to the trailhead. It was a canned route off the map and we were heading into 4th of July weekend so I was not expecting alone time. Surprisingly, except for Alice Lk, I saw few people. The weather was ideal with some clouds and nicely warm temps, just a few light showers.

It was almost 6:00p before I started up the trail hoping to make Alice for the night. I ended up camping unintentionally at some unknown location in the bushes. I’ve been backpacking for a long time and it was kind of fun to be reminded, thankfully without real consequence, how a little carelessness can send you off. 1: The map was large scale plus I did not look at it. It’s a trail, easy, right? 2: A little ways in a couple told me about a simple shortcut but I misheard. 3: I was racing darkness. So I raced off into trail less, sloping, rocky, brushy forest on the wrong side of the creek. I scrambled through the dimming light. That lake was definitely right in the next clearing. I hopped up on good sized rock to try to see through the undergrowth better and the darn thing rolled out down the hill sending me into a sideways somersault face plant. Enough! Time to camp. I wandered around looking for a flat spot clear enough to lay down. I found one if I tied a branch back though no room for the shelter. Ok, I’ll figure out where I am in the morning, time for dinner. I like to carry my alcohol fuel outside the main pack in case it leaks. I discovered that in my rushing I had failed to cinch it down for bushwhacking and it was gone, likely in the somersault. I should have had the presence of mind to check for it after the fall. It was cold dinner and no hot chocolate for me. Luckily I had near a liter of water as none was close and it was now dark.

I woke before dawn to light rain on my face and burritoed up in my shelter while waiting for the day. It took a good bit of thinking, mental backtracking and orienting to place myself on the admittedly inadequate map. I had gone surprisingly far up the wrong drainage. Quads for off trail. I know, use a gps, zero skill needed. No way I could find that fuel bottle so I headed back to the truck and started the trip over. That was all the adventure for this hike, the remainder being routine. I walked in beautiful spots, I sat in beautiful spots, I ate in beautiful spots and I slept in beautiful spots, the simple joys of life while backpacking.





































Because I am able.
Dec 31, 2017
Wow stunning! Everything looks so beautiful and...clean? Haha pure? Amazing!


Aug 18, 2018
Wow, just beautiful scenery! Love the snowy mountain reflections in the lake. And a great story too, it reminds me of a very similar situation once while diving. And I’m guessing everyone has a shortcut story, ha! Thanks for sharing. Glad it was much more quiet than you anticipated.

Jon Carbaugh

Jul 8, 2015
Ouch on the faceplant... All is well that ends well... Nice trip! Hope to get into there this year, for the first time.


Mar 13, 2012
Toxaway Alice was my first trip to the Sawtooths - quite a few years ago. Last year we did Redfish to Toxaway thenn around to Alice and out. Not the snow you showed as it was in August. Did try to do it a couple years ago in mid August and there was too much snow for a flat lander from Houston. Nice pictures.
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