It was just one of those weekends for both Krista and I. We had a bit too much on our plates but were determined to set out on an “Idaho Adventure.” So we firmly decided to just make it work and dedicate Sunday to an adventure filled day in Stanley, Idaho with our friend Abbey. Fun fact, Stanley, Idaho earns the title of being the coldest place in the continental United States during the long Winter months. Other than Stanley’s not-so-inviting Winter temperatures, the town and surrounding wilderness are captivating.
So to take in a final bit of the semi-warm wilderness near Stanley, we ventured to Goat Lake. And when I say ventured, I mean hiked, crawled, scrambled, jumped and slid our way to the lake. Getting to Goat Lake is not for the faint of heart. The three of us consider ourselves fairly adept hikers but we were not quite prepared for what was in store for us. Since we didn’t see any mountain goats, we concluded it’s called “Goat” lake since you have to literally be a goat to make it there.
The first three miles of the hike were like a walk in the park. The trail was nicely maintained and we cruised all the way to where our directions indicated that the trail disappears. And our directions were right. The trail just completely disappeared into a rock wall at the point where you fork off for the waterfall or continue on for the lake. So we left the trail and bushwhacked (and got seriously whacked by bushes) to the breathtaking waterfall where we obviously captured tons of pictures. Waterfalls are not abundant in Idaho.
With the spectacular views of the waterfall as motivation to move on, we scaled a ten foot granite slab to find the “trail” to Goat Lake. Now the term trail should be used lightly as it is incredibly unmaintained. We essentially followed the dogs for the final miles as they seemed to somehow know where they were going. And the final jaunt to the lake consisted of boulder hopping. Thankfully Krista, as the only non-legally blind hiker, was an expert cairn spotter and managed to guide us towards the lake.
But the steep ascent, lack of trail, boulder hopping, getting lost and whacked by bushes/rocks/dogs were all worth it when the lake suddenly appeared behind the boulders flanked by scaling peaks with bases of snow. The lake and views at the top were restorative. We settled on a few flat rocks on the edge of the lake to rejuvenate. The busy weekend full of too many obligations seemed lightyears away as we were sitting at 8,200 feet in the crisp mountain air sunning our sure-to-be sore bodies.
An abundance of pictures are below of our adventure!
FYI, if you are looking to hike to Goat Lake in the Stanley Basin, follow these directions as we found them most helpful!