In May we bought a new tent to accommodate our growing family on camping trips. I guess the two-person backpacking tent just won’t do it anymore for thee people and two large dogs. So after we bought it, we took it out for its maiden test at a nearby campground. This summer was dubbed the summer of no fun. I was busy writing and Erin was working an internship. To make the summer a bit more bearable, we thought we’d go camping for a night or two once a month just to get out of the house and have some adventure with Clara. June came and I had planned a trip to the Blue Mountains of southeastern Washington. Then Clara got sick and we didn’t go. July came and I had planned a trip down to McCall. Then Clara got sick. And Erin got sick. And we didn’t go. So when Erin finished her internship the first week of August, I put my foot down and said we were going camping.
I’ve always wanted to explore the mountains behind Brundage. In the summer, the road continues past the Brundage Reservoir, Goose Lake with trailhead access to Granite Mountain, and onto Hazard Lake in the alpine valley at 7000 feet. At that elevation, we could escape the heat and dry vegetation on the Palouse. The Hazard Lake campground is remarkably nice for being 20 miles out of civilization on a gravel forest service road. The tent pads are filled with sand which keeps them flat and soft. Every site has a picnic table and a fire pit. The toilets were some of the cleanest I’ve seen at a forest service campground. And there’s potable water available at a central pump. Though the forest service claims the campground doesn’t get heavy use, we were lucky to find an open campsite when we arrived Saturday evening.
The campground is on the edge of Hazard Lake, which seems bigger than it appears on maps. Some people brought kayaks with them to paddle around the lake, and it does seem like it would be good for some exploration by boat. Big Hazard Lake is just down the road, and as the name suggests, is a larger lake. A trail leaves the campground for Upper Hazard Lake just 2 miles away. Upper Hazard sits at the base of Bruin Mountain and resembles a more traditional alpine tarn. The hike is easy which means we could it with Clara in just a few hours.
We arrived at the campground Saturday afternoon, set up camp and made dinner. We explored the campground, but otherwise just hung out at camp for the evening. On Sunday, we had lazy morning. We heard some thunder off in the distance and decided to wait and see what was going to happen. When the sun came out and it seemed that the storm had passed around us, we head on the trail for Upper Hazard Lake. Half way there, we heard thunder again and almost turned back, but waited to see where it was headed. At first, the storm looked to be heading right for us, but again it passed us by and we continued on to the lake. We had a nice hike and saw more wildflowers than I was expecting for this time of year. We got back and had a late lunch that turned into an early dinner, and then decided to drive back down to New Meadows for a soak at Zim’s hot springs. We stopped at a waterfall and some scenic views along the road and found some geocaches. By the time we got into cell service, we discovered that we’d only have about an hour at most to soak in the springs, so we decided to turn back.
On Monday, we packed up camp and headed for Granite Mountain. Erin took the dogs on the shorter hike to Twin Lakes since Greta can’t hike much with her injured paw. I hiked with Clara on my back to the summit of Granite Mountain with my mom. Granite Mountain rises 8500 feet above sea level for a fantastic 360 degree view. At that height, the summit sits over 4000 feet above New Meadows. But for us, it was only an 1800 foot climb over 2.8 miles. Did I mention the views at the top? Cascade Lake and the Payette Valley to the south, New Meadows, the Wallowas to the west, the Seven Devils and the Salmon River canyon to the north., the Payette Mountains to the east. I look at Granite Mountain every time I’m skiing at Brundage and every time I’m up at the Seven Devils, so it was nice to finally stand on this peak. It’s a tough hike, especially with Clara on my back, but it’s well worth the effort.