|Quinn at the Stargaze Summit|
|Look at all the snow!|
|Hardly a human print anywhere after all that new snow!|
|Beaver Creek Summit is next to the trailhead|
|Almost there ... Stargaze is on top of the mountain directly ahead.|
I went up to Stargaze Yurt last Monday on MLK day with my 18-year-old son Quinn and Wendy. Quinn plays on two hockey teams, Boise High and the Boise Hawks AA U-18 Midget travel team, so it's always challenging to find a free day with that lad when he doesn't have practice, dry-land training, games or tournaments.
Here's my radio segment about this trip on 94.9 The River (9:15 a.m. on Fridays).
The backcountry around Stargaze Yurt, located 1.2 miles from Idaho 21 at Beaver Creek Summit between Idaho City and Lowman, is a perfect place for playing in the snow, whether you want to take your kids sledding, snowshoeing, xc skiing or backcountry skiing. It's got some rolling terrain near the highway, and steeper slopes directly below the yurt and on a north- and east-facing mountain next to the yurt.
The best part about this area is the accessibility. It takes 1.5+ hours to reach the trailhead from Boise. But once you're there, you park next to the highway, and within an hour, you're on top of the mountain, ready to ski down. Or you can take the kids sledding. Or you can cruise around on snowshoes and make your own adventure.
This is why we took all four of our kids up there about 4 years ago over a long weekend, and we had the yurt booked for the duration. That's definitely the optimum way to go, but as everyone knows, the yurt is popular and hard to book. Check the calendar here.
On Monday, we had a bluebird day after finally driving out of the fog in Idaho City. That was half the reason we wanted to go to the mountains -- to get out of the gray foggy crud layer hanging over Boise for much of last week. We were greeted by warm sunshine at Beaver Creek Summit. What a pleasant afternoon of skiing!
There was a ton of new snow at the trailhead -- at least a foot of new had snowed-in the cars in the pull-out. Fortunately, some snowshoers had broken the trail up to the saddle next to the yurt, making our climb much easier than it could have been. We met some folks staying at Stargaze; they said it snowed 8 inches overnight. Plus in the previous week, it had snowed at least several feet. I poked my pole into the snow about 2-2.5 feet before I hit the next layer. It was pretty much bottomless snow. I was excited to take some turns.
We skied up to the yurt and took off directly below. The deep snow was pretty thick ... but it was still great to cruise through virgin snow to the bottom of the slope. My Solomon Guns cruise on the surface nicely. Skinning back uphill for a second run was very taxing because of the thick snow, but we had Quinn to break trail! Perfect!
The people staying at the hut had some extra PBR's when we got back on top. How sweet to hang out at that beautiful perch looking over at the Sawtooths while munching a sandwich and sipping a beer. Our new friends had a big bunch of kids with them who were sledding up and down a slope next to the yurt. Love it!
Anyway, I highly recommend visiting the Stargaze yurt area for a day trip or overnight experience. Once you've been there, I promise you, you'll go back.
Reminder: A couple of big winter events are coming up ...
- The McCall Winter Carnival starts next weekend, Jan. 29 and runs through Feb. 7. I've heard that lodging is filling up fast. Check with InIdaho about getting a cabin or a condo reserved.
- The Boulder Mountain Tour, a 34K event from Galena Lodge to the Sawtooth NRA headquarters, is Feb. 6th.
- The Hagerman Bird Festival is coming up on Feb. 12-14. It's a perfect event to learn how to identify birds or expand your birding knowledge. \