Enos Lake (Day Three), Payette National Forest, Idaho

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I was hoping for a nice clear night for some Milky Way photography, I was not disappointed. That is my kid’s tent in the bottom left corner.

Backcountry Milky Way photography never disappoints, however, I do need to get a better lens. Next year I will be testing a couple different options in an effort to kick it up a notch!

Here is the same image with a different exposure. I do love the star reflections in the lake. Also notice the streak near mid image! Any guesses on what that might be???? (answer at the end of this post)

Back to bed and then up early in the morning to bag the highest peak in the Payette National Forest, North Loon Mountain. Here us a view over towards South Loon Mountain as the sun begins to rise on our basin.

An early morning moment on top of the world! There were some controlled burns happening and the early morning cool temperatures were keeping the smoke low in the valley.

Interesting skies!

We take a brief break on our decent back to camp and look at our next objective, South Loon Mountain which is only about 50 feet lower in elevation than North Loon. Below is one of the Enos Lakes of which there are a total of 5.

Another one of the 5 Enos Lakes on our decent.

Once back to camp, we decided to break up our long trek home. We pack up and began our journey out. Next camp, Hum Lake.

The climb out of the Enos Lake Basin will be our hardest climb of the day. We take it nice and slow and stop halfway up for a break. We need to haul these heavy packs over the saddle above our heads. Elevation there, 8800 feet. South Loon is then up the ridge to the right. We will drop our packs and bag South Loon on our way out!!!

Ruby scans the valley, satisfied that her work here is done and its time to move on to the next adventure!

Nicole enjoying the top of South Loon!

Of course, John having a fresh victim, spends about 15 minutes playing name that peak!

Nicole has a weird tradition of pulling out a can of green beans during her hikes, turns out Ruby also likes green beans! Another bonding moment for those two new best friends! Not shown here for the benefit of my readers is Nicole drinking the bean juice. Of course, John, always being the one to make up names during a hike, dubs Nicole the Bean Queen!

Mikey near the top of Hum Saddle #2 looking down on Haw Lake and the upper Loon Creek Basin. You might be confused thinking he is a floating torso with a backpack, actually it is an optical illusion, he is wearing his new favorite pants, redneck Idaho style, camouflage!

Finally, a look down into the Hum Lake Basin, perhaps the happiest place on earth for Nicole! A quick note here on the dead trees which frequently appear in my blog. Interestingly enough, one of my most asked questions is: “Why all the dead trees” Is this normal?” Thanks Mikey and Nemorino! Dead trees here are part of the natural vegetative cycle for the high country. Life is tough up here. Generally, you see older trees like in this image that simply die of old age, the younger trees are quick to replace them. On steeper slopes, the avalanches wipe out older trees. Perhaps the most common cause is fire. Many of our forests in Idaho are Lodgepole Pines and they have a very rapid burn cycle. In fact, these forests need to burn every few decades to regenerate new trees. The lodge pole fires burn all the limbs and leave…..standing lodge poles. It takes them years for the bases to rot and then fall, which then creates our favorite hiking experience…. Downfall! One other thing, I think dead trees are interesting to photograph so you probably see an abnormally large number on this blog. Thanks for asking!!!!

Stay tuned for the exciting conclusion too our Enos Lake adventure! Streak answer from above: Its an airplane, if you look carefully, you can see the individual light flashes represented by a dotted line. That is how far the plane traveled during the long exposure.

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