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Our Trip to Northern Idaho

Our Trip to Northern Idaho

We just recently read a great quote that sums up the whole experience, “Live a life you don’t need a vacation from.” While we definitely are not there yet, it is something to strive for.  It is nice to have these trips with some time away to “recharge,” explore, and experience something new.

We are lucky that our families share our passion for the outdoors and mountains. So these days, when the family gets together it is usually in the mountains! This time our destination was Northern Idaho. We made the flight from Charlotte, NC to Spokane, WA and spent the night with family.

Day 1

Before we made the short drive to Idaho, we visited the Spokane Farmers Market and loaded up on fresh berries, apples, and greens for the week. Breakfast was at a local natural grocery store called Huckleberry’s.  They have delicious omelets and frittata. 

After bumming around Spokane in the morning, we drove the short 1.5hrs to our home base for the week. We stayed just outside of Sandpoint, ID on Lake Pend O’Rielle. The lake has some really interesting history and is worth a read, it is also the 5th deepest in the nation. Read more here.

We arrived to our place around 4pm and got unpacked. The weather forecast was to be slightly cooler each day. So that means today was the best day to… you guessed it, jump in the lake! Now I don’t know what the temperature was, but even with the 76° air temperate the water in Lake Pend O’Rielle is cold! The remainder of the day was dinner and games (Dutch Blitz) with the family.

Day 2

After a dose of strong coffee and taking in the view, we decided to take a hike to a trailhead nearby on Gold Hill North Trail. We hiked up to the first outlook, which was about a mile from the trailhead. The trail actually goes much further but we were just out for a short hike.

We rented a few stand up paddleboards and kayaks for the week and couldn’t wait to go play on the lake.  Later in the day we decided to try stand up paddleboards. These are somewhat of a new thing and we both wanted to give it a try. The conditions were less than optimal with the waves and wind that day. Mike grew up on the lake and got up his first try. I (Kristina) took quite a few tries.  I was able to stand up later in the day after the wind and waves died down.  This was a great core workout! After the paddleboard adventure we went out on the kayaks.

Day 3

Our day started with a healthy and amazingly delicious breakfast from City Beach Organics. Mike got the Sausage Egg Wrap and I got the Reuben Melt. Oh, not to mention we started our breakfast with an “all or nothing shot.” Which is a shot of garlic, turmeric, cayenne, and ginger. This is served with a few slices of apple to chase down the intensity. It was a guarantee… we would be back before our trip ended.  This place is everything we look for when we eat out. They make all of their own wraps, kraut(red-ginger is awesome), salsa, coconut/almond milks… the list goes on.

After breakfast we bummed around town and went to a few local shops.  My favorite was Hippie Chic Cosmetics.  They had a combination of natural cosmetics, jewelry, and secondhand clothing.

That morning we anticipated going on a hike a long Pack River.  After getting to the trailhead we saw that there was no trail but there was a spot to put in the kayaks. We did a little research and found out that this was a kayak route and not an actual hiking trail.See here for description. That afternoon, our awesome aunts helped us load up the kayaks and put them in at Pack River launch. We soon found out that the river during September was very low. It turned in to us getting out to carry our kayaks at least 6 times. But hey, that is a part of the adventure.

The day wrapped up with dinner at The Fat Pig. Dinner was good but it did not make our list of top picks for the week.

Day 4

HIKE DAY!

Breakfast was served up at City Beach Organics (yes, we went again). We needed to load up on calories for the day, and here is what we ate:

  • Sausage Egg Wraps (single and double)
  • Refuel Smoothie
  • 2 All or nothing shots
  • 1 16 oz. Mocha with Almond Milk (they make the milk and chocolate syrup in house)

This was the day we decided to hike Scotchman Peak. The trail is about a 8 mile round trip with 3,730ft to the summit at 7,009ft. The trailhead is located in the Scotchman Peaks Wilderness behind the town of Clark Fork, ID down a few miles of forest service roads.

This hike is a steady climb to the top.  We only met 5 hikers in total along the trail including 2 guys from New Zealand that repurposed a school bus to travel the United States (Check them out on Instagram @thekiwiwaka). 

About two-thirds of the way up the trail, there are signs warning about feeding the mountain goats.  We hoped we would see the mountain goats and were excited to see these beautiful creatures near the summit.

In total, the hike took us 3 hours to go up and 2 hours to come down. Overall, this was a beautiful and challenging hike that we recommend to anyone who travels to Northern Idaho.  However, we would urge everyone that goes on this hike to be wise and don’t feed the goats or let them lick you! Keep em’ wild!

Day 5

We started off the morning with a strong cup of coffee overlooking Pond O’Rielle and bummed around the house taking in the views.  Later in the afternoon we went for an hour and a half kayak paddle on the lake.

Dinner was amazing!  We went to Beet and Basil. There were 9 of us that went and 7 different meals were ordered. Everyone loved there food! This was our top dinner spot for the week. This is a must visit for anyone going to Sandpoint, ID.

Day 6

Another HIKE day!

We met a local on Scotchman Peak trail who recommended that we hike Mickinnick Trail before we leave. The trail has a really neat story, 

Mickinnick Trail, is a 3.5 mile trail (one-way) that “switchbacks” through 160 acres of  huge rock outcroppings, grassy meadows, and old growth timber. It is also graced with spectacular vistas of Lake Pend Oreille, Sandpoint, the Cabinet Mountains and the Pend Oreille River.  The top boasts an elevation of 4300′ for a total elevation gain of 2150′. The land was originally donated by Nicky Pleass in 1997 to the U.S. Forest Service in memory of her late husband Mick Pleass.  Both Mick and Nicky envisioned a scenic trail directly above Sandpoint Idaho.  They wanted to preserve this scenic land for future generations and as a gift to the community.  In 2005 the trail was opened thanks to grants and partnerships between the Idaho Panhandle Resource Advisory Committee, the City of Sandpoint, Bonner County, Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Forest Service and The Friends of Mickinnick Trail.”

The hike was a steady climb with 2,150 ft of elevation gain and 7 miles round trip (in and out). The end of the trail has a nice viewpoint of the town of Sandpoint and Lake Pend O’Rielle from a rock outcropping.

Day 7

This day was our last day in the area.  The morning was spent packing up, eating breakfast at City Beach Organics, and strolling around the city beach in Sandpoint.  We took US Highway 2(more scenic than Highway 95 we came in on) back to Spokane where we had dinner at Clinkerdaggers, a local favorite that overlooks the Spokane River. Our flight home the next day was almost cancelled, as a result of the recent landfall of Hurricane Florence on the North Carolina Coast, but we were able to get back to Charlotte on a mostly empty flight without issue.

Namaste Y’all,

By [email protected], September 20, 2018
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