Blackmare Lake – Squaretop Lake Loop – Day 3, Payette National Forest, Idaho

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We woke up the next morning to beautiful clear skies, the northwest breeze had pushed the smoke off to the east.

To get out and close our loop back to the car, we needed to climb up and over the saddle on the left.

But first, a little reflective artwork!

A leisurely packup of camp and up the hill we go. Two years ago when John and I visited this area, we did a major bushwhack down to the lake. This year, with full packs, we plotted what we hoped was a much easier route out.

Views looking back down on the lake.

After finding a much easier route out of Squaretop Lake, we soon found ourselves looking back down on Blackmare Lake where we had camped two day’s earlier. On the right edge of the image, the ridge we had climbed to get out.

Ruby!

John and I had camped in this area two years ago and climbed a bunch of peaks, this was one of them, The Castle. See that trip report here. It was close to our route out today so we dropped our packs and tagged it again.

On the route up The Castle, looking northwest is the Needle’s Summit. The saddle across the valley. Our route back to the car takes us over that saddle.

Looking southwest, The Needles. Beyond that, the smoke from the fires in Oregon.

Near the summit, things get a little steep! John makes a few rock moves while Ruby is happy just to watch.

Finally, up and over the Needles Summit and a brief stop at Stump Lake. It was another 6 miles of slightly downhill speed hiking back to the car. An amazing trip with with two amazing dudes and one amazing dog!

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