Was hoping to have good weather this weekend and was somewhat concerned due to the weather forecasting freezing temps at night with chance of rain showers throughout the day. The Stanley webcam showed crazy raining for the previous 2-3 days, so concerns were elevated. Thankfully for me, the weather during the weekend ended up being PRIME hiking conditions. Slight 5 mph breeze with upper 60's for the daytime high. SWEET!
Decided on a relatively easy hike regarding terrain due to having the two youngest with us (12 & 13), however the length of the hike really pushed our limits on what could be done in a day. Hell Roaring Lake from the lower trailhead is 5 miles and approximately 60 ft of elevation gain, so somewhat pretty easy. A reminder to all that this is the hike where the name 'Sawtooth Pal' derived from, so both Pal and I were battling demons of a distant past. From Hell Roaring I decided we would keep trekking forward until Imogene Lake since I had never seen it in the Summer. Hiking to Hell Roaring Lake was pretty uneventful, but we were setting a great pace to make it to Hell Roaring Lake before noon. Once at Hell Roaring Lake, we came across a decision. Either go right, which would lead to Clarice Lake below the Finger, or go left which would keep us on the trail to Imogene. I decided I did not want to bushwack much, so we kept on the more 'beaten' trail to Imogene. From this point on to Imogene Lake is roughly a 1,500 ft gain in elevation but the switchbacks are gradual, making the climb rather effortless.
Traversing the creek crossing gave me this dramatic vista of the Finger of Fate and surrounding mountains. YEA BABY! This spot is probably one of the most dramatic views in the region since you are typically walking through forest up until the bridge crossing. If you've been here before, you will probably always remember the feeling you felt after the 1st time seeing this sight! Hiking along Hell Roaring Lake, the switchbacks start after reaching the west end of the lake. While hiking through the forest, we caught a glimpse of what appeared to be a chicken. What?!?! A chicken in the Sawtooth Mountains??? How preposterous! Unfortunately it wasn't a chicken, but a grouse that was attempting to court a couple of female grouse. Pretty awesome! Had we not seen the females, I may have kept writing that I actually did see a chicken in the forest….. Then you all would have reason to believe I truly had gone off my rocker!
From this point you will begin the long ascent past 8,000 ft which offers excellent views of the Finger, the Arrowhead, Mt. Cramer and other surrounding peaks. (Very cool!). Looking back, Hell Roaring Lake starts to become a gem nestled in a valley of trees.
After 30 minutes of switchbacks, the trail then climbs gradually over a low saddle and traverses through a small valley. Following this route will lead you passed several small ponds, one of which is nestled underneath an unnamed peak.
A small while later, the trail leads you passed a pile of gi-normous rocks which appear to be strategically placed by a pair of God hands… who knows eh? Most likely glacial deposits from years passed. I think they are way cool regardless.
We were getting closer! Now we had a creek which was fed by Imogene Lake to follow, meaning we only had a little longer to travel. Ugh, feet getting tired! Soon we came upon a beautiful waterfall, cascading down some giant boulders. The sound of this waterfall could be heard from quite some distance. A nice bridge allowed for crossing right in front of the waterfall, letting anyone have easy access for photo opportunities.
The last leg of the journey gave me a nice, scenic view down the creek and into the valley we had just hiked up. I liked this pic due to the coloring and composition.
And FINALLY, we made it to Imogene Lake. GPS gives an elevation of 8,430ft, but who knows how accurate that is. We hung out for about an hour while exploring the nearby areas. After a nice lunch of Chicken and Rice, we cleaned up and started our LONGGGGGGG trek back to the lower trailhead. It was a truly stellar hike, one of my favorites of the year. We were blessed with perfect weather, allowing us to witness all of these beautiful sites within one day. And the beauty of it is Sawtooth Pal made it back the same day he went up… that's always a good thing, eh?