Thursday, July 22, 2010

Easy paddling adventures near Boise

Deadwood Reservoir

Cascade to Cabarton ... nice views of West Mountain

Hi all,
In several presentations that I've given about paddling adventures in Idaho this summer, I've found that lots of folks are looking for easy, flat-water paddling experiences. No scary rapids, thank you very much. Just easy-going gentle conditions in a river or lake setting.
Fortunately, we have many flat-water paddling options to choose from close to Boise and the Treasure Valley. Plus, there also are several paddling groups and clubs that go out on regular outings.

Let's start out with a couple of group outings coming up soon:
On Tuesday, July 27, Denny Mooney from Alpenglow Mountain Sport (Hill and Bogus Basin Road) will lead an outing on the Boise River, a fun section from Glenwood Bridge to Eagle Road. They are meeting at D& B Supply at 5:30 p.m. For more information, call 331-2628.
The Idaho Canoe Club, which is affiliated with Idaho River Sports, is leading an overnight camping and paddling trip to Deadwood Reservoir on Aug. 7-8. Click here for details. Deadwood Reservoir is a scenic location in the Boise National Forest. The trip is detailed in my guide, Paddling the Payette. The reservoir is six miles across. There are multiple places to camp around the lake and hiking trails nearby. You can get there either from the Banks to Lowman Road or via Cascade and the Warm Lake Road.
Here are several other sweet options for flat-water paddling adventures; all are featured in Paddling the Payette:
  • Cascade to Cabarton - 9 miles, 3-5 hours. Beautiful flat-water section of the North Fork of the Payette River. Moving water, but zero rapids. Good fishing. Launch your craft from the south bridge in Cascade on Idaho 55 and take-out at Cabarton Road boat launch (accessible via Cabarton Road).
  • Garden Valley Scenic Tour - 6 miles, 1.5 - 2 hours. Beautiful slow-moving turquoise water on the South Fork of the Payette River. No rapids. Launch at Hot Springs Campground or Alder Creek Bridge and take-out at the Deer Creek boat ramp.
  • Horseshoe Bend to Montour - 10 miles, 3-4 hours. This run is a little more sporting. Longer trip with a couple of Class 2 rapids below Horseshoe Bend. Launch at the south bridge in Horseshoe Bend. Take-out on Montour Road via ID 52. The main Payette River flows more swiftly than the North Fork in Cascade to Cabarton because the main river has more flow, but as the summer goes on, the hydro project in Horseshoe Bend diverts a fair bit of the river's flow for a few miles.

Be sure to pack a lunch and beverages in a small cooler, take your time and enjoy the float. The rivers are flowing at friendly levels now in mid-summer, so it's very user-friendly. All of the above trips are suitable for canoes, touring kayaks and inflatable kayaks.


Thursday, July 15, 2010

ProHelmet promotes helmet safety in high-risk sports

Hi all,

This week's tip focuses on helmet safety. I am working together with a group of five dynamic women to launch a new group called ProHelmet. Our mission is to promote helmet safety for people who engage in high-risk sports such as bicycling, roller blading, horseback riding, skate boarding and skiing/snowboarding.

Our message is that we've only got one brain. That's all we've got for our whole life. One brain. Take care of it.

ProHelmet will be at the Wells Fargo Twilight Criterium on Saturday, giving away our logo stickers to everyone who takes the pledge to wear a helmet. Watch for us at the Team Exergy tent and watch for our banner: "You only get one brain. Always wear a helmet."

No one ever plans on having an accident when enjoying a favorite sport. It just happens in the blink of an eye. And suddenly, if you're not wearing a helmet, you could be knocked unconscious, suffer severe head injuries, or worse. Look at what happened to Poor Jimmy.

I must admit that I was a bit of a problem child :) I rode my bike everywhere, and I rode fast. A bit reckless, too. Occasionally, I hit a pot hole or a mailbox or a station wagon (all true!), and I suffered concussions in two of those instances. One time I was totally knocked out after flying over my handlebars from hitting a pot hole, and the next thing I knew, I was lying in bed with my family gathered around, wondering if I would wake up.

But they didn't have any helmets for kids in those days, so I just tried to be more careful.

Everything went smooth until I started mountain biking in the mid-80's. I rode with a ball cap on because, again, there were only those really goofy and ugly Bell helmets available in those days, and I didn't think I needed it. Then I rode down Bob's Trail, flipped over my handlebars and landed directly on the top of my head. It really hurt, and it knocked some sense into me. Plus, helmet technology and manufacturing was rapidly improving because of the skyrocketing growth of mountain biking. So I've used a bike helmet ever since.

ProHelmet was started by Dr. Jill Beck, a pediatric ear, nose and throat surgeon in Boise, Olympic gold-medalist Kristin Armstrong, Debora Kristensen, an attorney with Givens Pursley, Lynn Johnston, a community activist, and Susie Pouliot, CEO of the Idaho Medical Association. All of them are active women who engage in multiple sports and understand the need for stronger education about helmet safety.

Dr. Beck can tell you stories about seeing patients who fell off their bicycle in a parking lot and lost their hearing because of a head injury. If they had a helmet on, it would have been a scratch. Wouldn't those people like to turn back the clock?

Kristin is so passionate about the issue that she is making time for the ProHelmet cause in between having a portion of Bogus Basin named after her today, being inducted in the Idaho Hall of Fame tonight and signing autographs and leading a kids lap at the Twilight Criterium on Saturday.

Dave Beck, founder of the Idaho Velodrome and Cycle Park and cycling coach for the Boise Byrds, has been a vital supporter from the beginning. I am the group's part-time executive director.

It's an important cause. Each year, bike-related crashes kill approximately 800 people and injure 567,000 others in the United States. Although more people than ever are using bike helmets, only half of the more than 80 million bike riders wear them all the time; approximately 43 percent never use helmets. Wearing a bike helmet reduces the risk of serious head and brain injury by 85 percent. Source: American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons

ProHelmet is working on public education to start with. We gave away more than 200 helmets to a group of foster kids in SW Idaho in May. We co-sponsored an event with St. Luke's Children's Hospital called "Wear Your Helmet to Work Day." There are many other educational opportunities ahead.

For now, if you support the cause, go to and take the pledge to wear a helmet. Or take the pledge Saturday night, and we'll give you a sticker.

Idaho has one of the lowest rates of helmet use in the nation. Let's see if we can turn that situation around and save our collective brain power for a lifetime of productive activity.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Twin Falls singletrack nirvana

Ross Blanchard enjoys the singletrack

Chip Dillman from Twin Falls

Fred's Mountain at the top of the Singletrack Nirvana ride

(Click to enlarge)
Hi all,

It's getting hot, so it's time to head to higher elevations for mountain biking adventures.

One of the most unsung mountain biking destinations in Idaho lies in the South Hills, south of Twin Falls and Kimberly. After my book Mountain Biking Idaho came out in the late 1990s, a lot of people came up to me and said, "I can't believe how nice those trails are in the South Hills. They are so SWEET!"

I definitely felt the same way when I rode them. Some local riders in Twin Falls showed me their favorite rides in the South Hills. I featured two of them in the book:

1. Third Fork - Heart Attack Loop - 13.7 miles, advanced intermediate, 2-3 hours riding time.
2. South Hills Singletrack Nirvana - 26.8 miles, advanced/expert, 5-6 hours riding time.

Google Books digitized Mountain Biking Idaho (don't ask me how they get away with such thievery), so here is a web link to the book. Search for page 120-127 and you'll see maps, detailed directions to the trailhead and photos.

The best way to do the trip is to go camping in the South Hills on a Friday night, ride the first ride on Saturday and the long ride on Sunday. What's way cool about the rides is that they are singletrack the whole way. They course through aspen forests next to beautiful streams. You won't be disappointed.

If you'd like to stay in a hotel, there are several nice places to stay in Twin Falls. Please see the Twin Falls Chamber of Commerce web site for more information.

- SS

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Consider some fun outdoor destinations in Cascade for the 4th of July

Courtesy Kelly's Whitewater Park Facebook page

Crown Point Trailhead

Chinook salmon

Stolle Meadows and S. Fork Salmon River

(Eagle's Nest singletrack)

Hi all,

This might seem counter-intuitive after the big wind storm in Valley County earlier this week, but I'd suggest heading up to the Cascade area for some outdoor fun. I've got a few suggestions for hiking, biking, fishing, skiing, camping, paddling and hot springs.

Cascade is only 90 minutes north of Eagle and Boise on Idaho 55. It's a gateway to the Boise National Forest, Warm Lake and Lake Cascade State Park.

As for camping, I've always found some cool undeveloped (self-support) car-camping areas in Stolle Meadows near the upper South Fork of the Salmon River. I also like to go past Warm Lake on the paved road and drive to Landmark (elevation 7,000 feet), where it's cooler, and there are many places to camp, including Penn Basin Campground. Grab a Boise National Forest map, cruise around and pick your spot.

While you're near the South Fork of the Salmon River, remember that the chinook salmon season is open, and you can catch and keep up to 5 five per day! This is a very good year for salmon fishing, so try to take advantage of that because they are fun to catch and delicious!
Talk to Tackle Tom's in Cascade for tips on what kind of bait or lures to use to catch those ferocious fighters!

The road to Snowbank Mountain is open to the top, and the Forest Service reported that there is still 4 feet of snow there on top! Drive up there with your skis and skins and barbecue and have a party! Skiing on the 4th of July! Hey, how can you beat that!

Some other stuff to do in the Cascade area:

Check out Kelly's Whitewater Park on the North Fork of the Payette River in Cascade. It's got a number of surfing locations that are ideal for hard-shell kayaks and inflatable kayaks. Gear and Grind in Cascade rents equipment. It also has a beautiful visitors center.

Hike, run or bike the Crown Point Trail, a scenic path that runs along the shoreline of Lake Cascade that's great for the whole family. It's three miles out to the end of the trail, and three miles back. You can access the lakeshore and go for a swim or hang out on the beach.

Go mountain biking or hiking on Eagle's Nest Trail. The 13-mile ride is featured in my book Mountain Biking in McCall. Eagle's Nest features over 2,800 vertical feet of climbing on a Forest Service Road, and then you bomb downhill on a smooth singletrack to the start. It's a tough climb but worth the effort. See map above.

Go soaking in one of several natural hot springs in the Warm Lake area. Some of the popular draws are Trail Creek Hot Springs, Molly's Hot Springs, and Vulcan Hot Springs.

These are just a few ideas for the Cascade area. Consult the Boise National Forest map for many other trails and camping destinations. Have fun!
- SS