During the summer vacation, it’s nigh impossible to get a camping spot in popular State Parks unless you book months in advance. Which we never do. So this makes early September the perfect time, as the kids are back at school and the campsites are pleasantly quiet. No reservations required, that’s for sure.
So we headed up to the Indian Creek campsite of Priest Lake State Park in northern Idaho. The weather forecast was excellent, hiking and kayaking opportunities were abundant, and the Xterra was loaded with good BBQ food and tempting wine. The right ingredients for a fun weekend, I’d say.
The campsite at Indian Creek is pretty pleasant, but it’s the beach and lake that are the real attractions. A long, wide sandy beach, warm crystal clear water, and endless views to the south along the turquoise mirror-like lake. It’s the sort of place you could spend a lot of time.
But actually we spent almost no time on the beach, apart from putting in and taking out the kayak each day. Instead, the first day we drove up to the north of the lake, and did an 8-mile hike to Upper Priest lake. It was pretty gentle, but passed through some amazing, dark stands of old-growth cedars, and led to small deserted beach where we had lunch. And we saw a woodpecker. It’s hard not to laugh when you see a bird banging its beak vigorously into a tree. It takes me back to late nights out watching the crowds interacting in Manchester nightclubs!
The second day we drove from the lake level (2440 feet) to over 5000 feet to get to a trailhead to ascend Mt Roothaan. The Xterra was definitely needed for this drive, especially on the last mile or so. It was a Lo-range kinda road, steep, with sizeable rocks and deep ruts to negotiate, and a sandy and dusty surface to add a little more spice to the drive. The hike was worth it though, affording excellent views from the peak across to Chimney Rock, the Selkirks and north up to the Canadian Rockies.
I’m starting to like Priest Lake a lot. It’s an incredibly pristine environment surrounded by some spectacular wilderness. We’ve only been (twice) in early September, but the place is almost deserted – we saw no other people on either hike this weekend. And with deep blue skies and warm late summer weather, it’s a place to relax, explore, and in the evening sit in your camp chair, stare at the Milky Way and let your thoughts wander to wherever the breeze may take them. Definitely my kind of place.