Syringa Mountains

Another trip I have long wished to make came to fruition last summer. My family and I spent four days in Idaho’s Seven Devils range. This one for me was less about photography and more about enjoying some real alpine scenery, taking my son on his longest backpack so far and getting him to the summit of He Devil, since he was really hoping to climb something significant this year. All those hopes worked out just fine. The scenery was outstanding even if photography conditions were only so-so, but I still came away with some enjoyable images.

One pleasure of the area was its population of not at all shy mountain goats. This one seemed downright determined to have his picture taken.

We base camped at Sheep Lake, a quite large jewel of water surrounded by most of the highest peaks of the range: He Devil, She Devil, Mount Baal and the Tower of Babel.

Tower of Babel on the hike in

We did manage to summit He Devil on our second day and enjoy absolutely massive from the Wallowas to the Salmon River and Clearwater Mountains and into the depths of Saqanma (Hells Canyon) 8,000 feet below. What I wouldn’t give to be up there for a sunrise! Future plans definitely include trips to spend time around that rim between the peaks and the canyon.

As I wrote in regard to Hells Canyon, I’m not really thrilled about the Paradise Lost cum witches sabbath names imposed on these mountains, though I have to admit they have something of a grim aspect with their dark, unaccommodating metabasalt cliffs.

The Nez Perce seem to have called the range Siseqiymexs, which apparently translates to Syringa Mountains. Syringa is the Idaho state flower, so that’s a nice thought. But one still has to work with the names of the individual peaks, which as far as I can discover did not have their own indigenous names. Whatever, it’s beautiful country by any name, and it’s a place I’ll definitely be revisiting.

8 thoughts on “Syringa Mountains

  1. That’s awesome Jackson! I am supremely envious. I can remember discovering the existence of Hells Canyon and the 7 Devils while sitting in a basement computer lab while in seminary back in 2004. I have wanted to go ever since and, while coming close, haven’t made it there yet. One of these days! I bet sunrise from He Devil would be magnificent! Thanks for posting these shots.

    • Thanks, Bubba! They’re kind of funny mountains, but there’s a lot to explore up there. I really want to set up a shuttle hike and go from the peaks to the river.

  2. Impressed with your sun on He Devil, wow! Those views are really magnificent. And that mountain goat IS posing for you, totally! :) (and the names… I rolled my eyes in compassion with your suffering;-)

    • Thanks, Alex! There’s also the Ogre, Twin Imps, Devils Throne, Belial…. No Goethe references, though, only Milton. You’d think we could get a Brocken or Mephistopheles.

  3. Wow, such beauty! (I thought your posts were coming to my email but apparently, they aren’t so I’m going to look at more now). It’s great to see your son standing up there – you are doing vitally important things for him with these trips and climbs. The images are certainly beautiful enough, whatever the light conditions were. I’m with you on the names but I see the forbidding aspect of the terrain and I suppose the namers’ imaginations aren’t always up t the task. That goat photo is great – I guess they have not become a problem like they were in the Olympics. You must have heard about the airlift. ;-) This area has to be on our list now, thanks for posting.

    • Thank you! I’m pretty sure the goats are native up there, though they certainly seemed a bit jaded towards people. Yes, it’s great that I can get Eli to such places now – it’s the culmination of years of more modest trips for him, but getting him out a lot definitely paid off this summer.

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