Thursday, June 27, 2013

Ride Sun Valley Bike Festival coming up, plus some ideas on how to escape 100-degree blast furnace

Ride Sun Valley! 
Cool off at Lake Cascade State Park! 
Trinity Lakes 
Harriman State Park ... Mesa Falls is nearby! 
Loon Lake would be refreshing this time of year ... 
Hi all,

Well, the 4th of July is coming up next week, and extreme heat is descending on the Boise Valley after a nice respite of cool weather. Five days of 100-plus heat are forecast in the Boise area, beginning Friday. Geez! This week, I'll share some thoughts about where you could go to beat the heat, but first, I'll tout some events coming up.

The Ride Sun Valley Bike Fest kicks off on Friday with an enduro event and opening party at Sawtooth Brewery on Friday night, and then there is a full slate of events going on through next week that promise to please cyclists of all kinds.

The Ketchum-Sun Valley area will be a nice place to cool off as well. One event that looks fun is the SRAM Gold Rusch Tour, a series of mountain bike rides for women led by Sun Valley's own Rebecca Rusch, known as "the queen of pain." She's a three-time world-champion in mountain bike endurance events and four-time winner of the Leadville 100 mountain bike race. Reba's Ride Camp runs from July 2-7. There is no charge. Seems like an awesome opportunity.

On July 1-2, demo bikes are available from Cannondale, GT, Mongoose, Ellsworth and Scott, among others. The bikes are available at no charge to ride on Sun Valley's 400+ miles of singletrack from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day. Another great opportunity.

On Wednesday, July 3rd, there's a criterium race in Ketchum starting at 3 p.m. in the afternoon. That would be fun to watch! And from Monday, July 1 through Friday, July 5th, there are a bunch of "local stoker" rides on the creme de la creme of Sun Valley's singletrack trails. For folks who want to ride the best singletrack that Ketchum-Sun Valley has to offer, here's a chance to explore those rides with local ride leaders.

Next Saturday, July 6th, the USA Cycling Marathon Mountain Bike National Championships will be held at Bald Mountain ... good chance to watch the strongest riders in the nation compete on the 45-mile course featuring over 5,000 feet of climbing and descending. Plus, there's the MASSV Music Fest on July 5 and 6 at the base of Bald Mountain.

I've got to tip my hat to the folks in the Ketchum-Sun Valley area for packing an incredible amount of fun, food and music into a week's worth of quality activities. If you're looking for lodging, check out the Visit Sun Valley web site for the best deals that fit your budget. You also could camp in the Sawooth National Recreation Area nearby.

Cool off in the Payette River and learn about river safety ... On Saturday, June 29, the Idaho Whitewater Association is hosting a safety clinic on the Main Payette River from Banks to Beehive Bend. Put-on the Main Payette between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Participate in clinics on boat-flipping (and flipping back over), first-aid and throw bag safety.

Here are a few recommendations for cool-off trips during the 4th of July week:
  • Head up to Bogus Basin, where it's always 10-15 degrees cooler than it is in the valley, and go hiking or biking on tons of trails at the ski area or nearby in the Eastside, Stack Rock area. 
  • Go camping in the Trinity Mountains near Prairie in the Boise National Forest. It's a high-elevation area with a number of high mountain lakes near the end of the road. 
  • Head for Lake Cascade State Park in Cascade. Ponderosa State Park is likely booked for the whole holiday week, but Lake Cascade State Park will have some openings. The north unit of the park along Lake Cascade west of Donnelly has a number of nice campgrounds right on the shores of Lake Cascade. You can go canoeing or lake kayaking on the lake, bike the Crown Point Trail (great for kids and families), go tubing or kayaking at Kelly's Whitewater Park, or hike/ride the Eagle's Nest Trail (click on free download). 
  • Go camping, hiking and biking in the Payette National Forest, north of McCall. Areas like Upper Payette Lake, Squaw Meadows, Burgdorf Hot Springs, Loon Lake and others will be much cooler than the Treasure Valley. Be sure to bring your bug juice as the mosquitoes will be out in force in the evening.  
  • Go camping in Eastern Idaho, visit Harriman State Park and Mesa Falls or go fishing on the Henrys Fork or the South Fork of the Snake River. 
  • Rent a cabin in the Boise or Payette national forest and dip your toes into a nearby creek. Go to to check on availability. The cabins are inexpensive and make a great base camp, especially with kids. 
  • Go kayaking, rafting or canoeing on the Payette River
  • Float the Boise River
  • Go backpacking to a high mountain lake in the Sawtooths, White Clouds, Boise National Forest, Payette National Forest, Sawtooth NRA or Frank Church-River of Return Wilderness. Go swimming in the high mountain lake ... it'll be refreshing, I guarantee it. 
  • Escape to the Oregon Coast. 
  • Head up to Priest Lake or Lake Pend Oreille in North Idaho. 
  • Go Ice Skating at Idaho Ice World. Ha! That'll keep you cool. 
There you have it!
- SS 

Thursday, June 20, 2013

It's not too late! Celebrate Idaho's rivers by planning a "staycation" on our four best rivers

Ah, rafting on the Salmon River! Life is good! 
Kids reading books? No electronics to divert their attention ... 
The historic Jim Moore homestead on the Salmon River near Campbell's Ferry. 
Dutch oven cooking! 
Happy people! 
Hiking! This is Amanda Damon from Rhode Island. She'd never seen so many mountains ...  
The kids love paddling the double ducky. Thanks Mark! 
Hi all,

After posting pictures from our recent trip on the Main Salmon River - River of No Return, I heard some people say things like "jealous!" and "wish I could go" and of course "beautiful!"

We are blessed with a bounty of awesome, wilderness river trips in Idaho, and the Main Salmon is one of the crown jewels. I also heartily recommend doing a trip on the Salmon, the Middle Fork of the Salmon River, the Selway River and Hells Canyon of the Snake.

It's not too late! There's still plenty of time to plan or book a whitewater wilderness vacation with your friends and family. Given how dry it's been this spring, the experts are predicting a big wildfire season in late summer. You'd be smart to plan a river trip in July, if at all possible.

Who go? The Main Salmon is arguably one of the best family wilderness whitewater vacations in America. And it's located right here in our home state in Central Idaho. You camp on spacious beaches with lots of shade afforded by tall stately pine trees. You get to play on the river during the day, and then you can set up the volleyball net on the beach, play bocce ball, hang out and enjoy the scenery, and more. Plus, there's hot springs, history, and Buckskin Bill's and Mackay Bar, where you can buy fresh ice cream for your kids.

River trips are one of the cushiest forms of camping you can imagine. Instead of hauling all of your food and clothes on your back such as in backpacking, the raft carries all the weight. You can bring iced coolers with just about any food items you want, plus you can carry plenty of favorite beverages for the kids and adults.

As you're enjoying the float trip during the week, the members of your floating party bond and get to know each other on a much more personal basis. You will make lifelong friends on the river. And you will fall in love with the river canyon.

The Main Salmon is best suited for families and novice boaters because the rapids are not as hard to navigate as they are on the Middle Fork, Hells Canyon or the Selway. Follow an experienced boater down the river, and you'll learn a ton. My cousin from Rhode Island learned how to row a raft on our Main Salmon trip, and by the time he reached the end of the trip, he had learned a ton, including how to self-rescue in the middle of a rapids! (Chittam).

For the do-it-yourself boating community, the hardest part of getting on the Main Salmon, Middle Fork, Selway or Hells Canyon is drawing a permit. I picked up a cancelation for June 10th in April from, so I had plenty of time to plan a trip and pull together a diverse party of 16 people.

If you still don't have a permit for this summer, watch the web site for last-minute cancelations, and grab a date that works for you. It will likely be easiest to find cancelations on the Main Salmon or Hells Canyon. The Middle Fork will have some cancelations, particularly in later summer, and the Selway is unlikely to have any cancelations, as only 1 launch is allowed per day.

The second way to book a river trip is to go with an outfitter. Idaho is blessed with a multitude of quality outfitters. As longtime businesses operated on Idaho's best rivers, the outfitters receive an allocation of permits for their trips. So you don't need to draw a permit to go with them. You just have to pay the trip fee, which is usually about $1,500 per person. Go to the Idaho Outfitters and Guides Association web site, and shop for an outfitted river trip.

Other options are to float the Lower Salmon River below Whitebird to Hells Canyon. This section of river is a great trip for kids and families, and nothing more than a self-issue permit is needed. This is a 4- or 5-day trip, depending on how fast you want to go.

Other possibilities would be to float the Grand Ronde River or John Day River in Eastern Oregon, or the South Fork of the Snake River in Eastern Idaho.
Reminder: the SWIMBA Trail Rendezvous runs from 3-9 p.m. on Saturday at the Eagle Cycle Park.
This is a fund-raising event for SWIMBA's quest to purchase a singletrack trail-cutting machine. They are only $9,000 short of their goal. Sockeye brewing is donating all proceeds from beer sales to SWIMBA. Sockeye has created a new beer called "Trail Digger Pale Ale." I'm going to head over there to drink some beer and support the addition of more singletrack trails in SW Idaho.

Also, see Roger Phillips rundown in the Statesman of a bunch of must-see, must-do cycling events coming up this summer. Thanks Roger!

One of those events is the Blue Cruise, a road ride of 15, 30, 50 and 100 miles, starting in Meridian. The ride this year will benefit low-income kids who need bikes. Donate your old bikes to Blue Cross or the Boise Bicycle Project, and BBP will recycle them for the Bikes for Kids event in late July. More information here.    

Outdoorsy folks in Cascade are getting quite creative with a new event called the Payette River Games. There are all kinds of competitive events going on in Cascade at Kelly's Whitewater Park and other venue, including a kayak competition, beach volleyball, bocce ball, golf, lumberjack, fitness, yoga, you name it! It starts on Friday and runs through Sunday.

Have fun!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Great weather coming up Saturday for 7th annual Weiser River Trail Bike Ride; Go for it!

The old RR trestles have been planked and ride smooth thanks to WRT volunteers 
Upper Weiser River 
Ann Allyn on the trail ... 
Near the Evergreen sawmill 
Downhill grade through the forest. Fun!  
Hi all,

The 7th annual Weiser River Trail Bike Ride is coming up on Saturday, and the weather should be excellent for the ride. If you've ever wanted to explore the Weiser River Trail, this is a perfect opportunity to check out the rail-trail.

The ride on Saturday will cover 28 miles on the upper section of the trail, which is one of the best sections of the 85-mile trail, in my opinion. I like the top end of the trail because you're riding mostly downhill through the headwaters of the Weiser River, and the trail winds along the rushing river and beautiful scenery in the forest before the trail emerges in lower country near Council.

I asked Irene Saphra of New Meadows what she likes about the upper section of the WRT. And she made a Top 10 list!

1)  It's cooler and shadier (for the first 18 miles). Goes through the only real "forested" section of the trail.
2)  Has more awesome wooden trestle crossings than any other portion 85-mile trail.
3)  Goes underneath the "iconic" Highway 95 Bridge, one of the most-photographed landmarks along the trail.
4)  Lots of opportunities to view wildlife, including deer, bear and waterfowl. 
5)  First 18 miles are never far from the clear sparkling head waters of the Weiser River.
6)  In the fall, there are numerous wild apple trees within a hand's reach.
7)  Evergreen campground is a refreshing picnic/rest stop.

8)  Last 10 miles provide open vistas of the Council Valley from ranches to snow-capped peaks.
9)  Mostly downhill.
10)  Ending point in Council has numerous opportunities for ice-cream or other "cold refreshment" after completing your ride on a warm day!

To sign up for the ride, register on this web site. Meeting place on Saturday is at 9 a.m. at the Council Trailhead, on Hornet Creek Road, just west of the Council town center. Riders coming from McCall can meet at the northern trailhead of the WRT just west of New Meadows.

What kind of bike is best? The trail is hard-packed dirt/gravel surface. I'd recommend a mountain bike or a cross bike. Road bikes with super skinny tires would not be the best. Helmets are required to participate in the ride.

The registration fee costs $40, which includes a T-shirt and lunch. Proceeds from the ride will go to support the Friends of the Weiser River Trail. Are you a member yet? It's a good idea to become a member to support the WRT. I've always felt like that volunteers managing the trail do an excellent job!

Another friend, Ann Gauss Allyn just rode the upper 40 miles of the Weiser River Trail several weeks ago. This is what she had to say about her experience: 

"The Weiser River Trail is awesome and has something for everyone," Allyn said. "You can stroll at at an easy pace and enjoy the scenery. I loved the variation in the scenery - canyons along the way, farm land and forest. This is a wonderful ride for all abilities."

For more information, contact Ed Allen, ride coordinator, 

BTW, there is a mile-by-mile guide to the WRT in my guide, Mountain Biking in McCall. It's getting hot, summer is kicking in, and it's time to ride the trails in McCall. My book has all of the key rides in the McCall area, plus the WRT, rides around the city of Cascade, and 40 rides overall. It's available on my web site, many bike shops in Boise, plus Gravity Sports, Hometown Sports, the Hub, and Shore Lodge in McCall, plus Wheeler Drug and Cascade Gear & Grind in Cascade.  
Don't forget about the North Fork Championships this week on the North Fork of the Payette River! There are events going on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. See the event web site for more information. Should be really fun to watch! 
Save the date: On June 22, SWIMBA will be hosting the Trail Rendezvous, a fund-raising event to cross the finish line on their quest to purchase a singletrack trail-cutting machine, the ST 101. Sockeye Brewery has made a special beer, Trail Digger, for the occasion and they've donated 15 kegs for the event! There will be food, beer, fun, trail riding and music! Stay tuned!   

I'm heading off for the Main Salmon River - River of No Return for a week of vacation on Sunday, so there will be no outdoor tip from me next Friday. See you soon! 
- SS