Oh my holy Idaho, where do I begin??? For starters, ‘Glamping’ is Glamour-Camping: camping without any of the equipment-buying, trail-mapping, stuff-carrying, fire-starting, dinner-making, tent-pitching, setting-up or cleaning-up, because someone else does all of these things for you. And, when you do this with Sawtooth Mountain Guides in the middle of the Idaho Rockies wilderness, you’ve got yourself Glamping: Idaho Style.
What you may or may not be able to ascertain from SMG’s website (I was not without emailing them) is that they will create any trip you like, any way you like it. It’s completely customizable for anyone from the novice who’s never done anything like this before to the expert (bring your own equipment if you like and use SMG as expert guides...why spend all day looking for SMG’s secret bridge if high water’s washed out the bridge everyone else has to use?). Hiking, slab or rock climbing, camping, fishing, in any combination, for any length of time you like, it’s a ‘You Name It, You Got It’ type of service. Not sure what you want? They’ll happily make suggestions as well.
So okay, about our trip specifically: Fam of four including two boys, nine & 11. Never been hiking or camping (except my husband and I as kids but that was *many* years ago).
First day: all morning hike with a break for lunch. Drew and Walker, our guides (hereby knows as, The Boys), set up a tablecloth on a big rock and make us an awesome, hearty buffet lunch. We fill our water bottles with fresh mountain stream water – for real. After lunch, we attempt granite slab climbing. (Husband and son went half-way up, other son and I chickened out all-together). The Boys brought all of the rock-climbing equipment including shoes, belts, ropes, helmets, etc. and they obviously know what they’re doing. We then hike up beside the rock on the mountain side, an almost vertical hike to the most breathtaking views (we can see the dot of a tent on the mountain across from us in what appears to be the middle of nowhere). We descend and continue hiking until we arrive at our remote mountain-side campsite in the early evening.
The Boys pitch tents and Walker blows up air mattresses and artfully places sleeping bags and pillows inside. They even have foldable chairs for us to relax in. Everything here is portable; there’s no permanent set-up so you still get the full roughing-it/camping experience, just without any of the work. We settle in as The Boys set up a table with apps and break out a couple of beers that have been chilling in the river. (This is one very cold, very refreshing, very well-earned beer). Walker takes us on a bush-whacking hike so we can go for a quick swim (river next to us has too strong a current for anything more than toe dipping) while Drew makes dinner. After dinner, Drew lights a campfire and we make S’mores for dessert and tell campfire stories (I hope they remember mine). Then it’s off to bed for a wonderful night’s sleep under what looks like the Milky Way. We awake to coffee brewing and breakfast cooking. We sit in yet another of the best al fresco dining spots in the world and breathe. Deeply. The views are spectacular; the sky is a piercing blue – not a cloud in it. We continue on our day with a short hike to a fly-fishing spot and we manage to catch a fish. We can hear the rushing water of the river, the birds chirping and absolutely nothing else. We have not seen a sole since yesterday when we passed three people on the way up on first five minutes of our journey. (Keep in mind, all we brought on this trip was the clothes on our backs, toothbrushes, bathing suits, water bottles, and PJs in a small backpack). We then hike our way back to where we started, listening to Drew’s search and rescue mission story, his six-month ski patrol stint in France, his quest for his international guide certification (he’s in year six of a seven year course). He points out Elephant’s Perch, a vertical mountain climb that he does as often as he can and one that I wouldn’t do if my life depended on it. The mountains are in this Boy’s blood. Both he and Walker are delightful to be around. The journey comes to an almost end as Drew radios the boat to pick us up and take us back to the other side of Redfish Lake, where it all began, on the lawn of Redfish Lake Lodge. We arrive there around 4pm and I get off the boat, reluctantly, oh, so, reluctantly.
I have to disclose here: when I first started looking at SMG and got an estimate it was sticker shock. Now that I’ve done it, I would have paid twice as much.
Hiking in the mountains? Check. Granite slab climbing? Check. Fly fishing in crystal clear water? Check. Camping in the wilderness? Check. Family adventure? Check. Once in a lifetime trip? Check. Glamping: Idaho Style. Check.