Happy Place to Happy Place: Coeur d’Alene to The Sawtooths

From Libby we headed directly to Coeur d’Alene where we parked next to Steve and Jan at Steve’s sister’s alpaca farm. Neither Tom or I had spent much time near CDA so we all planned on doing some low-key touristy stuff with Steve and Jan in addition to just hanging out at the farm. We did time our arrival to coincide with the Downtown Coeur d’Alene Beer Festival however and made it our mission to get there soon after the gates opened our first day. Located in the McEuen Park along the shore of Lake Couer d’Alene, the festival had a beautiful setting as well as being a total blast. I mostly took pictures of beer though and not the pretty surroundings beyond the beer tents so sorry. And in case you’re wondering my favorites were Jeremiah Johnson Brewing’s Citra IPA and Sockeye’s Pineapple Brut IPA but I think the best beer I sampled was Boise Brewing’s Sternewirth’s Privilege, an amber lager that I quite enjoyed despite not loving malty lagers.

The next couple days were spent mostly at his sister’s place, relaxing under the tall pines, going for morning walks with Jan down to Mica Bay, and cooking and eating. Our last afternoon we headed back to town to take a cruise on Lake Couer d’Alene where we learned much of the local history thanks to the captain’s endless trivia questions while enjoying a fantastic boat ride. It was a neat introduction to the area for Tom and Jan and I but more than anything it was a relaxing cruise with good friends and pretty views of the treed granite shores.

From our happy place spending time with Jan and Steve we headed to one of my absolute favorite geographical happy places – the Sawtooth Mountains. The drive through arid hills, river gorges, forest, and canola fields was beautiful, enough for me to want to share a couple pictures taken as we drove. I was particularly entranced by the luminous yellow of the canola flowers and the folds in the land surrounding the turbulent rivers.

The Sawtooths were just as majestic and incredible and amazing as I’d remembered. Our two boondocking spots were even incredible, the first in the broad, sage green valley that cradles the headwaters of the Salmon River and the second nestled in the trees south of Galena Pass with views of the Boulder Wilderness. Our days were spent hiking mind-blowingly gorgeous trails in the higher elevations but I couldn’t help but think that I wouldn’t have been disappointed if we’d never left camp. Whether I was glimpsing the mountains from the windows while preparing food, smelling the scent of fresh pine as I had a post-hike beer, or reading while listening to the gurgle of the river it was difficult not to appreciate the spectacular setting.