Idaho Travels with Boomer USA Northwest Travels

Hiking Gold Hill Trail #3, Sandpoint Idaho

Gold Hill Trail, Sandpoint Idaho
Gold Hill Trail, Sandpoint Idaho

Captain Ron is a favorite movie of mine and my family’s – we’ve probably watched it 100 times – or at lease I have! It has one of my most favorite movie lines with Mary Kay Place’s character saying to Martin Short’s character “we’ll be spontaneous when we have time.”

My travel life is obviously planned out down to the second but my home life not so much. Sure I have the every 8 week visit to Costco, yard work that I dread and cleaning the house.  Other than that Boomer and I are free to lounge around and enjoy our weekends as much as we can until I return to work each Monday.

One fall weekend after organizing the garage for the third weekend in a row I spontaneously decided late in the afternoon that Boomer and I were going for a hike. Gold Hill Trail #3 was a short drive and offered dynamite views of Lake Pend Oreille and the Selkirk Mountains, including Schweitzer Mountain Ski Resort.

Boomer and I loaded up into the car and traveled along Bottle Bay Road that snaked it’s way along the shoreline of Lake Pend Oreille. We arrived to the parking lot just after 3pm and took the last parking space. It was clear it was a popular trail with both hikers and mountain bikers.

As we started out there was a couple also with a dog. I usually let people go ahead of me on the hiking trails because I am a slow hiker and if I have someone behind me I feel pressured to walk faster.

I had been on this trail once before with my friend Amy. I sort of knew the trail in the fact that there was a bench located about half way to the top and at the top a wide open view of Lake Pend Oreille and down the Pend Oreille River.

Gold Hill Trail #3, Sandpoint Idaho
Gold Hill Trail #3, Sandpoint Idaho

Boomer and I began hiking up the leaf covered trail following the switchbacks as we zigzagged up the mountainside. We passed several hikers and bicyclists on their way down the mountain along the narrow trail.  We finally reached the bench. The bench was occupied by the couple with the dog so I briefly chatted with them as I took a break to catch my breath. The view was more grown in than I had remembered but you could still see the lake peeking through the trees.

Boomer walking on the leaf covered Gold Hill Trail
Boomer walking on the leaf covered Gold Hill Trail

Boomer and I carried on up the trail as I wanted to make it to the top and back to the car before dark. Starting our hike at 3pm probably was not the best time for an almost 7 mile (11.26 km) round trip hike.

The trail continued on and on and I kept thinking we must be to the end at every switch back. I did however know we had to be near the top of the mountain as the sunlight was shining through the trees. The lower part of the trail is more densely covered in foliage and casts a darkness over the trail. Although the trail was pretty it became a little repetitive. I would have liked to see more of the lake as we were hiking up but perhaps it would spoil the grand finale at the top of the mountain.

The Grand Finale at the top of Gold Hill overlooking Lake Pend Oreille
The Grand Finale at the top of Gold Hill overlooking Lake Pend Oreille

Once we reached the top we took in the views of the lake and the river. Fog had plagued us most of the day but it dissipated around 3pm. It was now around 5pm and it appeared that the fog was rolling back in. We did not stay long, just a quick rest and water break. The couple with the dog had arrived and Boomer shared some of his water with their dog.  He’s a nice boy like that.

Daylight was fading fast and I was not equipped to walk in the dark so I decided we should start our decent. Boomer and I started our way down the trail so we could take advantage of the light while we had it. I had hoped we could reach the car with some light left but I was not confident we could get back that fast.

Things Boomer is afraid of.  Darkness, check.  Leaves, check.  Everything... check!
Things Boomer is afraid of: Darkness, check. Leaves, check. Everything… check!

As we walked down the trail Boomer became increasingly scared with each step he took. The leaves as they dropped from the trees and floated down to the ground seemed to be most scary for him. He also spent a lot of time looking over his shoulder behind us. This behavior of course started to make me freak out a little too – what if there REALLY was something behind us?!?! It’s not good to have two scaredy cats together.

The latter part of the trail had become hard to see and navigate as the thick forest blocked the dim light that was left. We did however make it safely down to the car with very little tripping and slipping on the wet leaves. I hoped the couple with the dog were as lucky as us, or perhaps they had a flashlight. That’s the problem with fall – the changing colors may be beautiful but we are robbed of hours of daylight.

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