Northern Highs

Up Scotchman and Illinois Peaks

Story and Photos by Alice Schenk

The author is nearing completion of her efforts to climb the high point in each of Idaho’s forty-four counties, which she has chronicled in these pages. Here, she takes on two more mountains.

A few years back, my husband Wayne and I traveled to northern Idaho to visit our cousins Mike and Lois Bishop, who live in Sagle. We had a wonderful time and Mike took us to dinner via a boat ride across Lake Pend Oreille. It is a magnificent lake and, at forty-three miles long with 111 miles of shoreline, it’s the state’s largest. It is also the deepest, at 1,158 feet—the fifth-deepest lake in the nation. We were surrounded by mountains, but Mike was quick to point out Scotchman Peak in the distance, which he sees from his window at home. Looking across the lake at it, I thought, “Nope, not on my list.”  It looked too formidable. But when I started chasing the high points in each of Idaho’s forty-four states, I discovered that the Bonner County High Point, located in the Northwest Montana Ranges, is Scotchman Peak at 7,011 feet.

When Mike came to Rupert to celebrate Christmas with Lois’s family, Wayne and I discussed our high- pointing quest and mentioned we would be traveling north to hike Scotchman Peak the following summer. Mike said he had climbed the mountain and would love to do it again.

“Okay, sure,” we said. “Come with us.” 

Mike told us he had hiked to the top when he was twenty. Now he would be tackling the mountain at almost seventy-one. When his hunting buddies heard about the plan, they were dubious.

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Alice Schenk

About Alice Schenk

Alice Schenk is an adventurer who lives in Rupert. A lover of hiking, shed hunting, swimming, biking, and running, she has finished six Ironman contests, many marathons, and twice has climbed all nine peaks above twelve thousand feet in Idaho. Alice holds a Master’s degree in health and teaches at the College of Southern Idaho in Burley.

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