Any time someone visits us, their stay would not be complete without a trip to Elk River and Freezeout Saddle. We were limited in our acitivites because one of our guests were not fit for any major hiking, but luckily, we have options for that. So Sunday, we took an easy morning and headed out mid-afternoon for some local adventure. In Elk River, we stopped at the general store for huckleberry ice cream and then headed out to see the giant cedar, which always amazes anyone who has never seen big trees.*
The allure of Freezeout Saddle is that it’s the closest place to exceed 6000 feet, and it’s also the closest place to find alpine flora. Retta had never been this high up before, so this was certainly a novelty. We also found out the hard way that she has a fear of heights. Since we weren’t going to hike to Grandmother Mountain, we decided to drive past the trailhead out on Freezeout Ridge. Last year at this time, the road was blocked by a patch of snow after leaving the open slopes and reentering the forest. This year it was wide open. Unfortunately, the road is quite bumpy with a steep drop on one side, so I can see how anyone with an issue with heights might be nervous.
Freezeout Ridge is nice. There used to be a fire lookout, but the tower is now gone. The area where it stood is still bald of trees and provides a 360-degree view of the clearwater mountains. We spent some time enjoying the cool air and the awesome views and then I realized that we might as well just stay up there for the sun set, which looked like it may turn the sky a fiery pink. Unfortunately, there were clouds on the horizon that blocked the light, but it was a nice sunset anyway. We headed down in the dark hoping to see an Elk, but no such luck this time.