It was my birthday weekend, so we headed about 3.5 hours north to Priest Lake
in the Idaho panhandle. It’s only a few miles south of the Canadian border. I’d seen some information on the area and it looked quite beautiful.
Most camping is closed up there now, so we stayed at one of the small resorts on the lake. More on that in next entry.
We spent Saturday mountain biking along the 9 mile Lakeshore trail. This was a single track mountain bike trail north along the western shore of Priest Lake, with some spectacular views and secluded sandy beaches. Sunday we did a 12 mile round trip hike out to near the top of Upper Priest Lake.
At the turn-around point, we decided to have lunch on a beach at a closed campsite – closed we assumed because of a local forest fire or bears – there were warning signs everywhere. How wrong we were. Within 2 minutes or our arrival, a Ranger in a boat came over and told us we should move on. This was because the helicopters were spilling water from the huge buckets they were filling up in the lake to drop on the fire. The campsite was closed because "a gallon of water weighs 8 pounds and hurts when it hits you from 400 feet". We didn’t argue, and went and hid under some big, dense trees to eat our sandwiches!
The whole area is meant to be full of aminals. It’s even grizzly country, which adds to the excitement a little. But amazingly, despite hearing frequent twig breaking and snorting noises from the dense forest, the only unusual animal we saw was a snake. A snake in northern Idaho! Steve Irwin (RIP) would’ve been proud of us.
The whole area was very quiet, but the weather was still quite wonderful, sunny and clear. The lake was a pleasure to swim in too after a decent hike or bike. A dip in cool, minerally, crystal clear water was the perfect preparation for beer-thirty