Thursday, March 17, 2016

Spring Break is coming! Over 10 outdoorsy ideas to keep you entertained close to home!

Fresh *pow* should be fab in the backcountry ... 
Be festive and dress up for spring skiing. Pomerelle is offering discounts for
skiers/riders who dress up. Brundage is offering a free ski day on Sunday
for teens 17 and under. 
Camping in Leslie Gulch is on the list! 
What about hiking and camping at Bruneau Dunes? It's on the list. 
Hiking Cervidae and the local Grand Slam are on the list. 
Should be great weather for road biking ... see suggested rides below. 
Join Idaho River Sports on the Main Payette on Sunday. Potluck, too! 
Hi all,

It's been a soggy 10 days or so in Boise, so it's nice to see the sun burst out of the clouds today! And just in time as Spring Break approaches this weekend. If you're thinking of staying close to home, the weather looks favorable for spring skiing; hiking, biking or running in the Boise foothills, or heading out to the Snake River or Owyhee Canyonlands to go camping and exploring.

Here's the audio from Steve's radio segment on 94.9FM The River with Tim and Misty re: Spring Break tips! 

Just so you know, the weather is supposed to get wet next Monday-Tuesday, so you might plan your activities around that, if you wish. If you're base camping in the desert, hell, bring a big tarp! You'll be fine!

For this week's outdoor tip, I'm dishing up 10 outdoorsy ideas to keep you occupied and entertained during the Spring Break:

1. Spring skiing should be great at Bogus, Brundage, Tamarack and Sun Valley after all the fresh snow that fell in the past week. Brundage is offering FREE skiing to teens 17 and under on Sunday to kick off Spring Break! Sweet deal! On Sunday, March 27th, they're having a family day. Dad or Mom buy one lift ticket, and the rest of the family skis free.

2. Pomerelle got 15 inches in the last few days, and it's providing discounted lift tickets for people who dress up along their daily themes Monday-Friday of next week. Get festive! Themes are Manly Monday, Tuesday 2x2, Womanly Wednesday, Throwback Thursday and Freaky Friday. You can find great lodging deals in the Burley/Rupert/Albion area.

3. Get a jump on hiking and bag one of the peaks in the local Grand Slam. Tom Lopez, author of Idaho: A Climbing Guide, came up with the concept, and I wrote it about in my blog last year, after climbing one of the four, Cervidae Peak. I feature Cervidae in Boise Trail Guide: 90 Hiking and Running Routes Close to Home.  It's a tough, steep hike.

4. Go camping in the Snake River Canyon or the Owyhees, close to home. Here's five destinations that are sure to please, including Succor Creek State Park, Leslie Gulch, Bruneau Dunes State Park, and Celebration Park.

5. Try a new loop in the Boise Foothills. One of my favorites is the Five Mile-Orchard Loop or the Five Mile-Watchman-Three Bears Loop. Click on the links to see a description and photos. Good for hiking or biking. The hikes are moderate to strenuous, and the loops are rated advanced for biking. Great for running, too (rated strenuous).

6. Float the Payette River with Idaho River Sports on Sunday.  They're calling it St. Paddler's Day Float and Potluck. Sounds fun! Weather should be fab for floating the Payette on Sunday. Bring your food with you and you can party down on a beach, get the BBQ rockin' and all of that good stuff.

7. Dust off the road bike and go for a ride. Here are seven rides to try in Boise for various ability levels. All of the rides are from my Boise Road Cycling Guide, the only guide to road biking in the Boise area.

8. Head into the mountains and go backcountry skiing or snowshoeing in your Hawaiian shirt. That would work this weekend, especially Sunday. Try Pilot Peak, Sunset Mountain, Stargaze Yurt, Copper Mountain or Bull Trout Point.

9. Take a hike in the Owyhees. One of my favorites is the Wilson-Reynolds Creek Loop, which includes touring the beautiful redrock Reynolds Creek canyon and hiking the China Ditch Trail.

10. Check out a blog I wrote, Seven Days of Spring Break in Southern Idaho, in case one of these ideas tickles your fancy. Tandem BASE jumping anyone? Rafting the Hagerman reach of the Snake? Fishing Crystal Lake? All kinds of cool goodies.

Have a wonderful Spring Break!
- SS

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Relatively warm, wet, "in-between" weekend creates a quandary of choices; Might try trail projects; ski sales or hot springs

My friend Michelle Cooper works on a trail in the Harrison Hollow area
as a board member and volunteer for the Land Trust of the Treasure Valley.
Become a "Boise Foothills Friend" to get more involved in trails.  
A peek at Ricochet Trail at Avimor. You can help build this trail on Saturday. 
Big groups of elk can be seen along the Banks to Lowman Highway.

It's been a long winter for the elk 
The Idaho Trails Association offers up many trail work opportunities for people
to tap into. See below for links to plug into ITA activities. 
Hi all,

The weather this weekend looks pretty warm, wet and mushy ... even in the high country. Maybe skiers can catch some powder early in the day in the mountains before things warm up and rain. But the high temperatures in the mountains in McCall and Stanley are going to be in the mid- to high-40s, so that likely means rain. That isn't good for skiing! Dang!

My outdoor tip this week will focus on a few tidbits of things to do close to home and special notes:

  • Avimor Trail Day on Saturday - Ricochet Trail - Avimor, north of Eagle on Idaho 55, is breaking ground on a new trail this spring called "Ricochet." It's a beautiful one-mile addition laced with views, rocks, climbs, drops, challenge, exposure and flow, according to Marc Grubert, Avimor trail guru. Volunteers are needed for a work day on Saturday March 12th (weather permitting). Sign up at Volunteer Spot if you'd like to go. Volunteers should bring water, wear sturdy boots/shoes, long pants, a jacket and some form of eye protection. You'll be working remotely in steep rocky terrain (no dogs or small children). The work day will conclude with a BBQ back at the Avimor community center, food and beverages provided.
  • Ski and board sales - All of your favorite local ski and ride shops are having sales right now, with deep discounts. If you're looking to make a major purchase, now is the perfect time to save a TON of money. Support your local businesses such as Idaho Mountain Touring (mid-winter sale), Greenwoods Ski Haus ("Haus Cleaning 10-50%), McU Sports (progressive sale; things get marked down more every day), and Boise REI (members garage sale) is Saturday. World Cycle may have some xc skis on sale, too. 
  • Dog poop pickup party on Saturday - Well, I couldn't lead off with this one, but this is a necessary gesture to clean up dog poop in the footies. Thanks to Team Eastside Cycles, along with Boise’s Habitat Veterinary Hospital and Boise Parks and Recreation for co-sponsoring this event. It starts at 10 a.m. You can start at Camelsback, the Jim Hall Learning Center or the Old Pen trailhead. Learn more here:
  • Last week of grooming at the Idaho City Park n' Ski Areas - Leo Hennessy reports that the groomer made its last pass over the cross-country ski trail system in the past week, and that'll be it for the season. There's still about 3-5 feet of snow in the area. Keep it in mind depending on weather in the next few weeks. 
  • The Idaho Trails Association assembled a hearty list of trail projects that will occur statewide this summer. Go to the ITA web site for a full list of projects, how to sign up, and how to join this very worthwhile organization. 
  • The Land Trust of the Treasure Valley launched a new program called "Boise Foothills Friends." To be a BFF, you can volunteer at least 4 hours a year on trail projects or donate to a trails fund. Go to the LTTV web site for more information. I'm a LTTV member, and I highly recommend it! Plus you'll meet new friends! 
Just in case you're interested, fellow Boise Hawks travel hockey parents and I are hosting a big multi-family yard sale at my house on Saturday, starting at 8 a.m. 3209 N. 39th St., Boise 83703. All items must go! Everything will be priced to sell! We have a ton of good-quality items for sale, including furniture, kids toys, clothing, a few whitewater boating items, mountain bikes, air hockey set, books, etc. All proceeds from the event will help send our boys to USA Hockey Nationals March 31-April 4 in Brooklyn, NY. These boys are the top high school hockey players in our valley!   

If you'd like to get out of town this weekend, I'd recommend taking a drive on the Banks to Lowman Road, look for deer and elk, and go soak at a hot springs of your choice ... Skinny-dipper, Pine Flats, Kirkham or Bonneville. See the Idaho Hot Springs site for details. Here's a blog I wrote about this tour. Pack a lunch and some beverages for a fun low-key day.   -SS

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Wet, wacky weather coming this weekend! What to expect in March; What to do?

It's going to be wet in March! 40-50% chance of above-average precipitation 

But ... 30-40% chance of above-average temperatures. How will this play out? 
As of March 2nd, much of Idaho is at 100% of normal.
There's still a ton of snow in the mountains!
Hi all,

Well, just as I invited folks to get out and enjoy the trails in the Boise Foothills last week, it looks as if it's going to be wet this weekend and a major wet weather pattern is heading our way in the next couple of weeks. However, tomorrow (Friday) should be fabulous for spring skiing or playing in the foothills, with a high forecast in the mid-60s in the valley and clear skies. Enjoy that while you can.

Looking ahead into March, it's going to be a challenging balance between chasing fresh powder in the mountains or hiking, biking, trail-running, road biking, playing golf or tennis in the valleys below. Even spring camping in the Owyhee Canyonlands may be difficult depending on how much rain we get in the next few weeks. Wet mucky roads = getting stuck and stranded in a super remote place.

PLUS, rising rivers put another wrinkle on things for people who like to kayak, raft, SUP, etc. The Owyhee River has cut loose and it's running 4,000 cubic feet per second today, a sweet level for the Lower Owyhee River, starting at Rome and paddling down to Birch Creek, a 3- or 4-day trip. The Payette River and Salmon River are rising as well. The steelhead bite is on. More about the rivers in a moment.

My outdoor tip this week will focus on weather conditions expected in the next couple of weeks to give folks a sense of what to expect in planning their weekend outings or spring break.

An abnormally warm second half of February has people thinking winter is over, but I know it's too early for that! After all, I grew a beard this winter to DARE the snow gods to remain in our sphere for a full ski season, and that means at least another month of skiing! But I've been curious about what's in store for the next few weeks. Here's what I found:

The National Weather Service Climate Prediction Center forecast for the next two weeks calls for above-average precipitation and above-average temperatures:

50-60% chance of above-average precipitation March 9-19

30%-40% chance of above-average temperatures
In my experience, these forecasts are very accurate. Just to ground-proof it a little, I contacted the National Weather Service in Boise to get their take on things. The forecaster I spoke with indicated that, indeed, they are expecting a wet pattern to come in with gusto with strong winds. High temperatures will be in the mid- to high 50s in the Boise area, while mountain temperatures will vary according to elevation and microclimates.

We all hope for powder snow and no rain, and that will depend on snow levels with each storm. The NWS forecaster said he expects snow levels to be in the 4,000-5,500-foot range for colder storms coming soon, or maybe as high as 7,000 to 8,000 feet by March 11th. It's hard to say for sure, of course, but these are the predictions.

If you're a true skier and a powder hound, you'll watch the weather like a hawk and be in position to pounce when the gettin' is good! If you'd rather avoid the snow and winter weather at this point, you may have to endure a fair number of rainy days in the valley. Please watch the Ridge to Rivers web site or the Boise Foothills Trail Conditions Facebook page for the latest trail conditions and above all else, heed their advice!

Two of my favorite destinations for times when it's rainy in the valley and foothills trails are muddy:

  • Marianne Williams Park - Barber Park -  Bown Crossing Loop.  4 miles. Rated easy. Click on link for details and maps. This is a hiking trip, no bikes allowed on the nature trails.
  • Eagle Greenbelt Loop 
  • Eagle Greenbelt Loop - 6 miles. Open to hiking, running or biking. Park by the Greenbelt and Glenwood Bridge parking lot on Glenwood Avenue in Garden City or at Bardenay near Eagle Road. I like to start from the Bardenay area. Head east on a paved trail that gives way to dirt after a while and then becomes paved again on your way to the new pedestrian bridge crossing the Boise River. Cross the bridge and head west on a paved path that later turns to dirt as you get close to Eagle Road. When you emerge at Eagle Road, walk or bike across the bridge spanning the south channel, and then walk/bike in the swale to the north channel of the river. Pick up the Greenbelt there, head east a short ways, cross two pedestrian bridges, and then turn left to return to Bardenay. Walkers or runners could do a longer loop by going all the way to Glenwood before crossing the river and returning west on the trail.  
Now, back to the rivers, if you're looking to run the Owyhee this spring, here's a graph from NRCS Snow Survey that shows how the Owyhee River may flow in the coming weeks ... it could be peaking soon! 

Right now, the Owyhee is tracking close to the 1998 season, when it was
runnable through May. What happens with spring precipitation and heat
will determine how the rest of it runs off.

Hope that information helps for what you may be planning in the coming weeks! Have fun!
- SS