Our trip took a turn for the unexpected immediately, when we headed out late Thursday night to drive up to the trailhead. We had left the house around dinner time, with a few errands to run. It was dark by the time we made it to Highway 55, only to soon learn that the road was closed due to a massive mudslide near Banks (right where we needed to turn onto ID 21). We were a bit grumpy, as we had wanted to camp at the trailhead that night to be able to start our trek early the next morning, but we decided to just go home and leave early in the morning (instead of drive a different route in the dark). We didn't wake up as early as hoped, though, and didn't roll out of Boise until 8:00 AM. We weren't too upset to have to drive up all the way along Highway 21, it didn't take too much longer than the original route would have. Plus, we would have missed all that prettiness in the dark. The drive is very scenic and it is always nostalgic (for me) driving up around Idaho City. It was a lovely, foggy morning.
We drove up to the Tin Cup campground at Pettit Lake in the Sawtooths to leave the car and start our trip along the Toxaway Loop trail. Our next unexpected turn quickly followed. It wasn't far into the trail (not even a mile) that I noticed my boots were really rubbing on the back of my heels. I immediately took them off and bandaged and wrapped my feet, as I was not going to let it stop me from continuing as planned, and I didn't want it to get any worse. Unfortunately, it didn't help much and walking soon became unbelievably painful. I was so mad, because I was keeping the pace at an unbelievably slow crawl, and because I had worn these boots many times with no issues. My feet swelled considerably and the pain got even worse. I couldn't complain too much, because the walk (though a bit unbearable) was remarkably beautiful.
We had absolutely every intention of completing, in it's entirety, the Toxaway Loop trail. It wasn't too ambitious either, it would only have required us to hike about 6 miles a day. I took me quite awhile to accept the reality of my situation and realize that our trip was going to be a lot different than I imagined. We had been planning this trip for awhile and I had been quite excited for it. But with the condition my feet were in it was evident I could not hike the whole loop. In fact, we stopped at the very next lake we encountered, Farley Lake. It sure took as long enough to get there, too, with my painfully slow crawl. But you have no idea how good that little glimpse of water through the trees was after climbing up and up all day with swollen, raw feet.
We found the perfect little spot on the lake to set up camp. We had to drop quite a ways into it, which meant it was right on the water (on two sides!) and was completely secluded from the rest of the lake and from the trail. I couldn't have dreamed of a better place to camp. We spent the next hour or two cooking, eating, and relaxing.
We ended the night by watching the sunset and drinking tea near the calm, pink water. Pippin and I could watch Will fishing for hours. So peaceful. It was a remarkably clear night and so many stars came out for us. It was so lovely to slowly fall asleep staring up at them.
Be sure to read Part 2 and Part 3!