Big Boulder Lakes
How the trip came about...
In July I stood at the saddle between D.O. Lee Peak
and WCP-9 peaks and noticed a large chain of lakes in
the basin on the east side of the White Cloud range.
We had just hiked up from Calkens Lake -- which was
spectacular -- but these lakes were bigger, more
interesting, and more numerous. I decided I would like
to visit them on a backpack trip scheduled in late
August. I would later find out that these were the Big
How my partners came about...
My friends from work had a blast with me on Snowyside
Peak last year and all of them happened to be
interested and available on the last weekend of
August. Nobody was disappointed with my selection of
the Big Boulder lakes, so we penciled in the date.
That's about the time a cousin of mine (Brett
Floridia) that I hadn't seen in 20 years contacted me.
He was raised in Connecticut and came to visit Idaho
when he was a teenager. He had recently found out I
was into hiking and backpacking as he was. This was
suprising to him considering the rest of our family
(hunters, motorcyclists, NASCAR-watchers, etc...). He
had also recently moved out to Arizona and wanted to
get together on a outing. I let him know of my plans
for August and he was in.
I picked Brett up at 10:30pm the night before we left
for the hike. Nothing against Brett, but I was anxious
to see if he was in shape to handle the trip, packed
well enough to handle 3 days in the backcountry, and a
lesser concern of whether or not we'd even get along
after 20 years.
After a lengthy drive from Boise, we departed the
Livingston Mill in the White Cloud mountains trailhead
heading for Cove Lake in the Big Boulder Basin. The
drive up had cleared up my concerns about getting
along with my cousin and once the hike got going Brett
quickly put to rest any concerns about being in shape
as he and Ramon set a pace that put Todd, John, and
myself in the dust.
The hike was reasonable until Island Lake, but then we
faced some cross-country travel to Cove Lake. This
last mile or so turned a nice and easy day into a
butt-kicker, as we reached the lake exhausted after
having hiked 2 more miles than expected and endured
some tough terrain between Island and Cove lakes.
Thankfully we found a perfect camp site near Cove Lake
and were able to rest comfortably.
Peak 11272 was just south of Cove Lake and you could
follow the north ridge right to its summit from our
campsite. The route looked tough, but I knew it was
doable based on the instructions in Tom Lopez's
guidebook. 4 of us and Todd's dog would summit the
peak. There were several tough sections near the top,
which were definately class 3, but the exposure
(except for the summit itself) is limited. The summit
is interesting, as it is basically just a rock thrust
into the air with few places to sit comfortably. We
found a register with only 2 names in it (but no pen,
so we realize it would be hard to add names).
We then retreated to camp, ate, and took short naps. I
had dreams of D.O. Lee Peak and exploring the upper
basin in my head, so in the afternoon we headed west
past Sapphire and Cirque Lakes to the D.O. Lee Peak
and WCP-9 saddle. This was a gorgeous hike, with
suprisingly firm footing from Cirque Lake (there was
even a trail across the steep scree at around 10800'
that led to the saddle). Here the team broke off in
seperate directions. Todd and John were just going to
do WCP-9. Ramon and I would just head up D.O. Lee
Peak. Brett was going for both.
The north ridge of D.O. Lee Peak is just walkup until
about 100' below the summit. The last 100' are on
pretty good rock, but the exposure on your left is
nerving. Ramon and I summited, signed the register,
and awaited Brett's arrival. Even though Brett had
climbed a second peak, we didn't have to wait long for
Hiked out via a different route (one that took us past
Hook and Walter lakes) on the way out.
One of my favorite Idaho areas to date. I'm glad it is
tough to get into, otherwise it would be inundated
with hikers. What a great August! Got to hang out in
some great areas of Colorado, Utah, and Idaho; all
while reuniting with my hiking buddy James Just and my
Livingston TH to Cove Lake
Time: 6 hours
Distance: 7 miles
Elevation gain: 2800'
Class (difficulty): 2
Cove Lake to Peak 11272 and back
Time: 3 hours
Distance: 3 miles
Elevation gain: 1450'
Class (difficulty): 3
Cove Lake to D.O. Lee Peak and back
Time: 4 hours
Distance: 4 miles
Elevation gain: 1500'
Class (difficulty): 3
Cove Lake to Livingston TH
Time: 3.5 hours
Distance: 7.5 miles
Elevation gain: 200'
Class (difficulty): 1