Thursday, February 25, 2010

Dust-off the road bike, take an early spring ride

On my way to Cartwright Road

Riding on the City to Farm ride ... no cars anywhere

Hi all,
The weather is warming slightly where temperatures are edging into the 50s. Saturday is supposed to be wet, but Sunday should be a beautiful day for a spring road bike ride.

I'll recommend two possibilities from the Boise Road Cycling Guide:

1. Cartwright Road Three Summits Ride (guaranteed great workout)
Difficulty: strenuous
Distance: 17.7 miles
Recreation pace: 1.5-2 hours

Start: Junction of Hill Road and Bogus Basin Road
Go north on Bogus Basin Road to Cartwright Road. Go left.
Take Cartwright over two summits.
Mile 4.4 - Right on Cartwright
Mile 6.4 - Left on Dry Creek Road.
Mile 8.4 - Left on Seaman's Gulch Road.
Mile 12.2 - Left on Hill Road Parkway
Mile 12.6 - Left on Hill Road at Gary Lane
Mile 14.5 - Left on Hill at Castle
Mile 17.7 - Finish

2. City to Farm Loop (Scenic ride on the outskirts of Boise)
Difficulty: Moderate
Distance: 16.2 miles
Recreation pace: 1 hour

Start: Overland & Five Mile Road. Park by Ken's Bicycle Warehouse in the 5-Mile Plaza.
Go south on Five Mile
Mile 3 - Right on Lake Hazel
Mile 4 - Left on Cloverdale
Mile 5 - Right on Columbia
Mile 6 - Left on Eagle Road
Mile 6.5 - Right on Hubbard
Mile 8.1 - Right on Locust Grove
Mile 10.1 - Right on Lake Hazel
Mile 13.1 - Left on Five Mile
Mile 16.2 - Finish

Be sure to dress in layers. The temperature might vary 10 degrees during your ride, depending on where you start. Bring an outer shell, which can be shed in the heat of the afternoon.
If you don't have a road bike, go to the Boise Bike Swap at Cole Village shopping center either today or Saturday. Hours are 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. tonight, and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday. Get there early to get a good bike! Admission is $1. Ages 13 and under get in free.


- SS

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Take a wildlife-watching hot springs tour along the South Fork Payette River

Wendy and Steve after our hot springs soak

Pine Flats Hot Springs

The South Fork Payette River is turquoise-green right now

The best pool at Pine Flats

Lots of deer hang out at Pine Flats

Small group of elk

Big group of elk (click on photo to enlarge)

Hi all,

This is a great time of year to take a drive along Wildlife Canyon Scenic Byway, a.k.a. the Banks to Lowman Highway, view wildlife, maybe go for a walk, take a nice soothing hot springs soak and then cap it off with a hearty meal in Crouch (Wild Bill's Bistro or the Longhorn Saloon are my favorites). All of these things are doable in a six- to eight-hour day trip from Boise.

We had hoped to go skate skiing at Terrace Lakes, but the snow is too thin ... they haven't been able to groom.

Large groups of elk and deer are readily visible along the two-lane seldom-traveled road, east of Garden Valley. Be sure to give the animals a wide berth, and don't spook them or cause them to burn extra energy. It's a vulnerable time of year for them. Deer and elk are drawn to the big, open south-facing slopes because they are snow-free. Tiny shoots of green grass are beginning to sprout.

Wendy and I saw groups of 50+ elk and smaller numbers of deer between Garden Valley and the Danskin takeout/put-in, a distance of about 10 miles. We pulled over and got out of the car to view the elk with our binoculars -- again, being sure that we weren't spooking the critters -- and then we saw golden eagles, red-tailed hawks and some bald eagles flying around as well. In one group of elk, a coyote was hanging out as part of the gang.

We saw quite a few cars at Skinny Dipper Hot Springs, so we decided to soak at Pine Flats Hot Springs, a beautiful spot along the South Fork of the Payette River that serves as a Forest Service campground in the summertime. There was one other soaker who was leaving as we arrived, so we had the place to ourselves. The South Fork is running low and bright turquoise right now.

The weather was a little mushy for a hike, but when things dry out a little more, the Station Creek Trail is a good early-season hike in the neighborhood, and there are several Forest Service primitive two-tracks next to the road that one could explore. The road to Julie Creek is another potential hiking spot near Deadwood Campground. Tall boots are advised.

Other hot springs that one could visit along the way would be at Hot Springs Campground, Kirkham Hot Springs or Bonneville Hot Springs.

Be sure to bring your camera and bino's, water, favorite beverages and maybe your own picnic lunch.

- SS

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Mores Creek Summit a great jump off point for backcountry skiing, snowshoeing

Steve, Randy and Mark on top of the ridge

Mark Anderson, a super human who loves to break trail
(Map courtesy Mores Creek Summit backcountry blog)

Hi all,

This week's tip is for the more adventurous souls who seek to find readily accessible good-quality virgin powder close to Boise. But not at a ski resort.

Your trailhead is Mores Creek Summit, 15 miles northeast of Idaho City. This is the jump-off point for accessing a trio of peaks, Pilot Peak, Freeman Peak or Sunset Mountain -- all peaks in the 8,000-foot range that offer multiple aspects for great powder skiing.

When it snows hard at Bogus Basin, smart and experienced backcountry skiers know that the powder skiing and riding at Pilot, Freeman and Sunset is going to be fantastic.
Check out this video from a group of guys who were skiing Freeman Peak last spring (courtesy Ande1717 on YouTube). Yeow!
A group of six of us went up to ski some east-facing shots at Pilot Peak last weekend, and we had a great time. We climbed the mountain three times, and had untracked snow the whole way. By the end of the day, we were tired and chilled to the bone from all of the sweating, but it's nothing that a nice, soothing soak in a hot tub won't fix in a matter of seconds.

Before you go, you need to gear up with backcountry equipment, brush up on your avalanche know-how and study some maps. Ideally, you should go with someone who has been there before. After several trips, you'll get familiar with natural landmarks and learn where the best turns can be had. It's a good idea to dig a snowpit and gauge the avalanche danger before your first run.

Thanks to Chago and a group of guys who have created a great blog about skiing out of the Mores Creek Summit area. Check it out for photos, snowpit information and maps.

From a gear perspective, backcountry folks ski with either telemark gear or alpine touring (randonee) gear. Both have a free heel for climbing. You bring climbing skins to put on your skis for the way up the mountain, and then stow them for the way down. Snowboarders either bring a split board with climbing skins or they climb with snowshoes and stow them for the ride down.

Check with Idaho Mountain Touring, Boise REI or Greenwoods in Boise for obtaining the gear.

Be aware that the Mores Creek Summit area is a mixed-use zone, meaning that snowmobile riders use the area as well as backcountry skiers. Several years ago, we all worked together to delineate some areas that are best for skiing close to the road, and snowmobile riders have agreed to leave those powder slopes for skiers. But the main haul road up to Pilot Peak and Sunset Peak often have snowmobile traffic. Try to be courteous and step off to the side of the trail when snowmobiles approach.

If you want to avoid snowmobiles, Freeman Peak is the best place to get away from them. You'll need to park in the large pullout on Idaho 21 before you get to Mores Creek Summit, and watch for the ski trail heading up the gulch.

Backcountry skiing isn't for everyone. But one of the beauties of the sport is that it's hard enough that you can always find a great powder stache to enjoy. If it were easy, the whole mountain would be carved up in seconds. So get out there and try it sometime.

- SS

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Embrace change - I'm looking forward to my next work adventure

(Image courtesy

When Wendy and I celebrated New Year's eve this year on a snowy night in McCall, I didn't expect that any major changes were coming my way. Everything was stable in our work lives and with our kids, and we were looking forward to a big powder day at Brundage Mountain the next morning.

And then, in the second week of January, my boss called me into his office and closed the door on a Friday morning .... Once the door closed, I thought, oh boy, this isn't going to be good.

Just like any well-run business, Drake Cooper was keeping a close eye on the bottom line, and our Public Relations department was not peforming well financially. The whole department was going to be phased out. I was going to be laid off, but I would have the option of continuing to serve my existing clients as an independent contractor. That option provided a glimmer of hope.

Still, it's a numbing feeling to get furloughed. I had to go for a walk by the river.

Just 2.5 years before, both my immediate supervisor and I got laid off at Tamarack. It also was a cost-cutting move. The public affairs department was being eliminated. I knew that things were getting tight, but I had no idea they were that bad. Both Scott Turlington and I were well-liked in Valley County. We were the face of Tamarack to many policy makers and agency officials. I figured if they were going to eliminate us, they must be in bad shape.

Of course, everyone knows about Tamarack's financial woes and resulting bankruptcy now. What a huge mess! I was lucky to get out of there early on, as it were, so I had a chance to get a new job when the economy was still doing well.

It's been a good ride at Drake Cooper. I feel that working for Idaho's best marketing and communications agencies has improved my skills as a PR practitioner and marketer. I'm happy to continue to be affiliated with the agency and to keep working for my existing clients.

After I got my head wrapped around this latest change, I felt excited about being freed from the 8-to-5 grind and the opportunity to work as an independent consultant, as I had done from 1991 to 2002. Now I've got more freedom to spend time with my kids and more flexibility in my daily routine to go running, biking or skiing in between work tasks.

But in this lousy economy, I've got to be honest -- it's mildly terrifying to be in a position of looking for more client work or other professional opportunities when some people have been out of work for several years, they've drained their retirement funds, they've lost their homes, and some of them have ended up living on the street.

I just have to have confidence that after living in Idaho for 25 years, making friends and building personal and professional relationships, and working as a writer, PR practitioner, nonprofit volunteer and small business owner, the good will that I've tried to develop over the years will open new doors in the future.

So hey... keep me in mind!
  • If you need help with PR or marketing, get in touch.

  • I'm a published author. Do you have a book project in mind that needs to be written? I'd love to take my author hat off the shelf and dig into a new book project.

  • How about web videos? Do you have any video on your web site? You need video today to draw people to your web site and keep them there. I've got my own video camera. I can produce short web videos at low cost.

  • I'm conversant with social media. Have you jumped on board yet? Don't know how or where to start? Get in touch.

Please check out my web site to learn more about my core skill areas.
"Temperatures will rise and fall winds will shift. Leaves will drop and buds will form. And with every new transition, new beginnings will be revealed." -
Thanks and stay tuned. - SS