Thursday, December 8, 2022

Steve's Outdoor Tips: Tamarack opens Friday, Idaho City Park and Ski trails are groomed for the weekend and more!

Should be one heck of a powdery weekend in the mountains! 

Hi all, 

For this week's outdoor tip of the week, here are some newsy items to know: 

  • Big storm coming Friday-Monday this weekend in Southwest Idaho. The storm is forecast to drop 18-24" of new snow in the Boise Mountains and at Bogus Basin, Tamarack, Brundage, the West-Central Mountains, Sawtooths, Soldier Mountain and Sun Valley. Everyone is going to benefit! The main storm event will be Friday night-Saturday and Saturday night, but it will keep snowing through Sunday and Monday. A Winter Weather Advisory will be in effect all weekend. See my latest report on the Idaho Daily Snow
          For those of you who like to avoid crowds, Soldier Mountain might be a great pick this weekend. They're supposed to get at least 2 feet of new snow!  
Skiing with Quinn below Stargaze Yurt near Beaver Creek Summit. 
  • The Idaho City Park and Ski Areas have been groomed this week and will be ready for xc skiing, snowshoeing and fat biking this weekend. Bear in mind that the trails are groomed once/week, so the snow will pile up over the weekend. That'll make for a snowy experience! Bring a shovel! See the IDPR Non-Motorized Trails Facebook page for updates. 

    Fresh powder and groomers await skiers/riders at Tamarack Resort on Friday.
    (Photo courtesy Tamarack Resort) 

  • Tamarack Resort is opening its slopes for the first time for alpine skiing on Friday, Dec. 9. The Tamarack Express, Summit Express and Discovery lifts will be running this weekend. Wildwood is not open yet. The main terrain park will be open on Lower Showtime and beginner terrain park on the Discovery lift. Tam Nordic trails are open and groomed for xc skiing.  
         They'll have a DJ playing Saturday by Tamarack Express Lift to celebrate the season getting under way, and there will be s'mores on the snowfront Saturday and Sunday from 3 pm - 5pm. Tamarack also is hosting a ski film festival this weekend. See the Tamarack web site for more information.   
  • Night skiing starts at Bogus Basin on Friday, Dec. 9. Bogus is 100 percent open. Should be a heck of a powder weekend!   
  • Steve wrote a major feature story about Jo Cassin and Stan Kolby's 35-year journey of running Idaho River Sports in Boise and growing it into the Center of the Universe for the river-boating community. See the full article in the Idaho Press Outdoors. Steve wrote the story in first person since his own whitewater boating history occurred at the same time that IRS opened in 1987 and continues to this day. 
  • Be sure to stay off Muddy Trails this weekend. It may be rainy and muddy in the lower trails.  Check on the Ridge to Rivers Facebook page for the latest conditions. The trail off of Bogus Basin Road over to Stack Rock would be a good bet for snowshoeing or maybe boot hiking.     
  • The Boise Bicycle Project is looking for more kids bikes for the Christmas give-away. If you've got some bikes that you can give away, take them over to BBP! See more on the BBP Facebook page.    
That's it! Have fun! 
- SS 

Thursday, December 1, 2022

Ullr dumps big *pow* in Idaho's Mountains, ski conditions are gonna be great! Bring a shovel!


Rider carves fresh turns in Sun Valley *pow* (Courtesy SunValley.com) 
Hi all, 

The latest snow storm Tuesday-Wednesday this week was forecast to be a doozy, and by God, it was!!! The Snow God Ullr took a deep breath and let out a big roar - sending oodles of powder snow our way!  

Courtesy Brundage Mountain web cam 12/1/22 

Ha! For those of who like to ski/snowboard/snowshoe/xc ski/make snow angels, and play in the snow, this is "Go Time"! 

Since Tuesday, new snow amounts as of Thursday night: 

  • Bogus Basin - 10" last 24 hours, 20" in the last 7 days. They are operating 7 days a week. All front side lifts are open at this point, and backside lifts have yet to open. Nordic trails are open. Night skiing begins Dec. 9. 
  • Brundage Mountain - 15" in the last 24 hours, 33" in the last week. They reopen Friday morning for full operations with the Bluebird quad and Centennial lifts running. 
  • Tamarack - 9" in the last 24 hours, 13" in the last 48 hours. They plan on opening on Dec. 9.
  • Sun Valley - 4" in the last 24 hours, 7" in the last 48 hours, 10" in the last 72 hours. I bet the snow might be deeper than that, looking at the pics on their Facebook page.  Sun Valley is operating daily.  

    See my latest report on the Idaho Daily Snow.  
Courtesy Bogus Basin web cam

So basically, we've gotten at least a foot of new snow in the last week, if not 2-3 feet in the highest elevations. Snow bases are now in the 30-40" range already and growing. All of this new snow is going to set up our ski areas and the Idaho mountains for a great winter and ski season! And it's only Dec. 1! 

Personally, I'm planning on downhill skiing at Brundage Friday and Saturday, and also do some xc skiing with Wendy and Huck at the Bear Basin Nordic Center. Once all of the Nordic trails are groomed in the McCall area on Friday and Saturday morning, the conditions should be excellent. See McCall Nordic for all of the latest grooming reports.
   
Wendy and Ellie at Bear Basin on Saturday 

FYI - Near Idaho City, the Idaho Park and Ski Trails aren't groomed yet ... I checked with IDPR staff, and they reported that because Idaho Highway 21 got closed by the big snow storm, they can't get the groomer up on site to roll the trails at Gold Fork, Skyline, Banner, etc. There's plenty of snow base now so those trails will be in great shape once they're groomed.   

That said, people can still go backcountry skiing, Nordic touring and snowshoeing at More's Creek Summit, Beaver Creek Summit and at Gold Fork and Skyline by just breaking your own trail and finding your own adventure. You might need shovels to dig out a spot where you can park your car! Be sure to care avalanche beacons, probes and shovels if you're venturing into the backcountry on your own. 

Wood River Valley xc ski trails are in great shape and it looks like 100 percent of their terrain is open. They report 5" of new in the last 12 hours, 12" in the last 24 hours.  

Another idea: Upper Ridge to Rivers trails like the trail to Stack Rock from Bogus Basin Road are snow-packed and in great shape for boot hiking, snowshoeing and snow biking. 

Be sure to drive carefully and be safe out there!
Have fun!  
- SS 

Thursday, November 17, 2022

Bogus Basin "soft opening" for downhill and xc skiing happens Saturday, plus McCall and Sun Valley xc trails are open

Snow biking at Jug Mountain Ranch on Tuesday. 

Hi all,

With the early natural snow and cold weather, Bogus Basin has been making snow 24/7 and they're hosting a "soft opening" this weekend, Saturday-Sunday, Nov. 19-20. It'll be the earliest opening for alpine skiing at Bogus in 28 years! Kudos to them! 

Be aware the early opening is for eligible season pass holders only, however. Bogus is selling a limited number of reduced-priced lift tickets online. See more details here. BTW: Bogus plans to open alpine skiing for the season on Thanksgiving Day.  

If you're like me, and you enjoy playing in the snow, there's just enough snow base in the mountains that it's possible to go xc skiing, snowshoeing or backcountry skiing. Right now, it's pretty easy to do your own outings near mountain passes. That's my recommendation this weekend. I'll give a trip report on McCall xc ski areas, a few details on snow conditions at Mores Creek Summit, and the Wood River xc ski trails are open for the season, too, north of Ketchum. 

Steve and Wendy at Bear Basin last Saturday. 

McCall Trails
 

I xc skied Bear Basin last Saturday on classic skis with Wendy and Huck. They had about 1/3 of the trails rolled so far, and the snow depth was 9-12". The base felt very solid. We took "Just Right," the main trail over to Camas and climbed Camas over to Moon Ridge and then circled back to 4 Corners and through the Meadows back to the parking lot. 

Felt great to be out on the xc ski trails again ... in mid-November!   

Wendy with our friend Steve Jones

On Sunday, we xc skied in Ponderosa State Park with our friend Jonesy. The main trails have been rolled in the park, but they're pretty rough from people walking on them. Snow depth was 3-6" in the lower parts of the park, and 4-6" farther uphill. Still seemed fine on classic skis. Wouldn't recommend skate skiing there. We took the main trail out along the lake past Duck Bay, and then vectored off on Fox Trail to climb the hill back over to the main trail and back to the trailhead. There were a few spots where the sun had burned off the snow on the paved roads. 


On Monday, I xc skied on the North Valley Trail, starting out by the Activity Barn, south of McCall. There was 3-5" of snow depth on the trail, and it's also kind of rough because people have been boot-hiking on it as well as biking, xc skiing and snowshoeing. That's all OK! The trail has been rolled, but it won't be groomed until there's more snow. 
That's the case for all these areas right now. And no new snow is expected until the middle of next week. 

I snow-biked at Jug Mountain Ranch on Tuesday, and found a solid 4-6" base on their Nordic trails on the way up to JMR Reservoir. The trails have been rolled, but they are uneven like the other areas I just mentioned. 

Even so, the surface was mostly firm and rideable. It was a delightful sunny day, and I got a great workout grinding up to the lake. 

Mores Creek 

The Mores Creek snotel site indicates there's over 20" of snow at Mores Creek Summit, northeast of Idaho City. I've been seeing videos of backcountry skiers shredding some nice powder on Pilot Peak and Sunset Mountain. I also saw pics of a snowshoe group that had climbed to the top of Sunset Mountain.

I have no information about what's going on with the Idaho City Park and Ski Areas ... I think the snowpack may be too skinny for grooming quite yet, but you could certainly go make your own trails by Skyline and Gold Fork trails or you could climb up to Stargaze yurt at Beaver Creek Summit on Idaho 21. 

No matter what you do, please use caution and watch for unmarked obstacles! 

Wood River Valley

The Blaine County Recreation District's Winter Trails link indicates that many trails in the Wood River xc ski trail system are groomed and open. It looks like a portion of the trail system at Galena Lodge is open as well. Pick up a trail pass and go! 

The trails should be good for classic, skate skiing and snowshoes. 

That's my roundup! Have fun! 
- SS 
 

Thursday, November 3, 2022

Winter is coming to the Idaho Mountains! Are you ready?

We could be skiing at Bogus Basin by Thanksgiving! Wendy on Paradise. 

Hi all, 

In case you haven't noticed, winter weather has been moving into the Idaho Mountains in the last week or so. On Tuesday, 7-9" of new snow fell at Bogus Basin, Tamarack Resort and Brundage Mountain Resort, and there's another major weather system coming in on Friday and Saturday. It's an atmospheric river system, so it's expected to be a hum-dinger! 

Atmospheric river weather system is forecast to bring 200% of normal precipitation.
Courtesy Idaho Daily Snow, OpenSnow.com

Weekend forecasts through Monday are calling for 14" at Bogus, 17" at Tamarack, and more than 24" at Brundage. Sun Valley is projected to get 10" by Monday. 

These snowfall amounts will land on top of an existing base above 6,000 feet. 

Suffice it to say that winter is coming, and right now, it's coming fast! 

And the question is, Are you ready? 

It may be possible to begin snow-shoeing, xc skiing or backcountry skiing by mid-November, certainly Thanksgiving, if the existing pace continues! 

Again, are you ready? 

If you're a downhill skier, have you secured a season pass yet? Get online and look into a lift ticket-package that works for you at Bogus Basin, Tamarack Resort, Brundage Mountain Resort or Sun Valley. Maybe even look into Soldier Mountain near Fairfield! 

What about your backcountry gear? 

Do you have a pair of snowshoes and ski poles ready to roll? How about xc ski gear? Backcountry set up? Skis, boots, bindings, skins, ski pack, avalanche gear, etc. Make sure everything is dialed and ready to go!  

I recently sprung for a new pair of backcountry boots ... can't wait to try them out! Very expensive, but I think they'll be really light and comfortable. 

BTW - The BBSEF Ski Swap is this weekend! Great place to find the best deals on ski gear and clothing. Plus the reps from Bogus, Tamarack, Brundage and Soldier will be there to answer questions and sell season passes. 

Ski Swap Sale hours are:

Friday, Nov. 4, 1 pm - 10 pm
Saturday, Nov. 5, 10 am – 7 pm
Sunday, Nov. 6, 10 am - 3 pm

Gear checkin starts today (Thursday) 2-8 p.m. 

I find excellent deals on clothing, skis and equipment almost every year. I highly recommend going to the swap ... plus it's always fun to run into your friends while looking over the goods. They serve beer, wine and food at the swap as well. 

Some of my favorite Boise retail shops that can outfit you with winter gear include McU Sports, Greenwoods Ski Haus, Idaho Mountain Touring, Boise REI, Eco Lounge, and the Outdoor Exchange.    

I'm hoping the string of winter storms continues, and we can go either backcountry or downhill skiing by Thanksgiving! 

New snow forecast through Monday, Nov. 7, 
European ensemble model. 
See you out on the snow! 
- SS 

Thursday, October 27, 2022

Try this trio of Boise foothills hikes with fetching, elevated views of the city - nice to see fall colors!

View of Boise from Central Ridge Trail in Military Reserve Park.

Hi all, 

After a nice cool and wet week to turn the page toward fall seasonal norms, the weather this weekend looks quite nice for some weekend outings! Afternoon high temps will be about 57 degrees F and sunny - a bit chilly but you can dress for it.  

Now that the fall colors are beginning to happen in the Boise Valley, for my outdoor tip of the week, I'm recommending three hikes close to home where you can enjoy some fetching views of the City of Trees and the wide variety of colors visible as far as the eye can see! All of these are kid-friendly. 

Full Sail Trail heading over to Buena Vista (courtesy BoiseTrails.com)

Hike #1 - Buena Vista Trail, Hillside to the Hollow.
Difficulty: Moderate. Start either at the Harrison Hollow trailhead by Healthwise or behind Hillside Junior High along Hill Road. Buena Vista Trail has a very nice and moderate contour as it winds across the outer-front of the Boise Foothills, and it feels like you can reach out and touch the community below. Yet, you're at least 500 vertical feet above the city, so it's a great vantage point! If you do an out-and-back walk on Buena Vista, you'd cover several miles over an hour or so. 

Spring shot of Harrison Hollow looking down at the city.

Hike #2 - Central Ridge Trail, Military Reserve Park.
Difficulty: Moderate. Start at the Military Reserve trailhead where Mountain Cove Road bends sharply to the right going west into the foothills. There's a large parking area on the right and a trail map. You can start by walking along the Mountain Cove trail along Freestone Creek for about a mile or so. Then, you can turn to the right and climb up on Central Ridge to that initial summit. Then walk south down the backbone of Central Ridge back toward the trailhead. On Central Ridge Trail, it looks like you're going walk right into the State Capitol building and downtown Boise. Kind of a cool selfie opportunity before you drop down to the trailhead. Travel time for this one would be 1-1.5 hours at a leisurely pace.

Great views of the city from Valley View Trail 

Hike #3 - Seaman's Gulch Loop.
Difficulty: Moderate. Start at the Seaman's Gulch Trailhead off of Seaman's Gulch Road and Hill Road in West Boise. You have the option of hiking a short loop for 1 mile, or you can hike a longer loop for 3 miles with more views. In my Boise Trail Guide, I called this route "Seaman's Gulch Double Loop." The trails contour nicely across the landscape; you never have to work too hard to climb uphill. 

Short loop: Follow the left-hand fork of Trail #110 and climb to an initial ridge. Bear left at the top on Phlox Trail #112. That'll bring you back to the trailhead. 

Longer loop: Follow the same directions to start with, but once you reach the initial ridge, take Valley View Trail #111 as it wraps around the front of the Boise Foothills, super close to the edge of the city. Once the trail loops around the hills, it ties into Phlox Trail on a ridgetop, and you can head back to the trailhead on Phlox. The longer loop is 3 miles and features 500+ feet of vertical gain. Travel time is 1.5 hours. Take your time and enjoy it! 

All three of these hikes and 92 more are featured in my Boise Trail Guide: 95 Hiking and Running Routes Close to Home. The book is available at stevestuebner.com, Idaho Mountain Touring, Boise REI, and Rediscovered Books. 

Ken and Melissa will be giving away a free copy of Boise Trail Guide on 94.9 FM The River tomorrow (Friday) morning at approximately 7:40 a.m. Tune into my radio gig, and you can call in to win the book at 208-287-2949. 

Have a great weekend! More moisture forecast next week! More snow for the mountains! 
- SS 

Thursday, October 20, 2022

First big winter storm coming this weekend! What will La Nina Triple Dip mean for Idaho ski season?

Fresh *pow* at Brundage Mountain Resort 

Hi all, 

The first big snowstorm of the fall is coming this weekend, and that could put at least the Idaho Mountains into winter mode for the upcoming ski season. Deer and elk hunters also will be rejoicing to see the snow potentially move big game animals down to lower elevations and provide the ability to track their movements in the snow. 

This winter is forecast to be the third La Nina winter in a row or a "Triple Dip La Nina." 

La Nina winter weather pattern map (courtesy NOAA)

What does that mean for Idaho? 

In general, La Nina winters favor more precipitation in the Pacific Northwest and the Northern Rockies. But certainly the last two La Nina winters were not all that impressive, at least in Southern Idaho, the Sun Valley area, and the Upper Snake River watershed around Yellowstone National Park and Jackson Hole, Wyo. 

A late, wet spring saved us after watching the mountain snowpack flatline between mid-January and the end of March. But now, many of Idaho's irrigation reservoirs across the Snake River Plain are close to empty or dry, so we will need a big winter to replenish our water supplies in Southern Idaho. 

How much snowfall is coming this weekend? 

The first burst of the storm system is forecast to bring 10" or more of new snow to Northern Idaho, 4-6 inches in McCall, Tamarack and Stanley, and 1-2 inches at Bogus Basin and Sun Valley through Monday. After a short break in the action, another storm system is forecast next week, bringing potentially even more mountain snow - up to 12" in the West Central Mountains and Stanley area, and 5-7" at Bogus and Sun Valley. Let's hope the forecast holds true! 


What's the Farmer's Almanac say? 

Just for grins, I checked the Farmer's Almanac for predictions on the winter of 2022-23, and their theme nationwide is "Shake, Shiver and Shovel." Ha! They are predicting a strong winter nationwide, and 

The Farmer's Almanac is calling for colder temps and normal precipitation, following the general trend expected from a La Nina winter.

Another indicator that can influence weather patterns was described this week by a meteorologist at Opensnow.com. Alan Smith talked about the Quasi-biennial Oscillation (QBO), which describes trade wind patterns in the tropics. A westerly phase of the QBO is expected to occur this winter, which is a phase that has shown some correlation with above-average winter precipitation across the Western U.S.

Although the sample size is admittedly small, winters that feature a La NiƱa combined with a westerly phase of the QBO appear to have a better chance of being wetter (and thus, snowier) than average across a large portion of the Western U.S. 


Combination of La Nina and QBO can lead to wetter winters. (Courtesy Alan Smith, Opensnow.com)

Here is NOAA's take on the La Nina Triple Dip. 

It's fun for us skiers to dig into these things to get a glimpse of what may occur in the winter of 2022-23. But long-term forecasts are shaky at best, so we can't put too much emphasis on them.

In my experience, every winter is different. In a year when we start getting heavy snow in the mountains in November and rain in the valleys in Idaho, that bodes well for a potentially great ski season, and opens the possibilities of skiing on Thanksgiving weekend or the first week of December.

The NOAA Climate Prediction Center is forecasting colder and wetter conditions in the next week or so, and then equal chances in November, which is better than dry and hot!

Here are the forecast maps:





Well, there you have it!

A couple of key dates coming up for skiers and riders:


- SS 


Thursday, October 13, 2022

Fall colors are popping everywhere in the Idaho mountains right now! Time for a Road Trip!

A River runs through it ...
South Fork Snake River valley, courtesy Caribou-Targhee National Forest.

Hi all, 

Based on my own observations and many people's photos in social media, the fall colors are really starting to peak in the Idaho mountains right now, especially in McCall, the Wood River Valley, the Sawtooths, the Tetons and Eastern Idaho. 

Time to plan a scenic drive ASAP to see Idaho's mountains ablaze with deep colors! Book a room or find a camping spot near your scenic drives to reduce the amount of time on the road. 

The weather looks to be just about perfect for a scenic drive this weekend with high temps in the high 60s to high 70s. 

Courtesy Caribou-Targhee National Forest 

Recommendation #1: 
Zip over the Southeast Idaho on the Pioneer Historic Byway to see some of the most magnificent colors you'll see anywhere in Idaho. The Pioneer Byway can be reached via freeway to Pocatello, and then go south to Lava Hot Springs and over to Soda Springs. Be sure to stop and swim at Lava! From Soda you'll head down to Preston and Franklin. Head over to the other side of the mountains and visit Bear Lake while you're in the 'hood.    

Idaho side of the Teton Range (courtesy Pintrist)

Recommendation #2: Head over to Idaho Falls on the freeway and continue east to Swan Valley on U.S. 26. There, you can tap into the Teton Scenic Byway and head north over to Victor, Driggs, Tetonia and Ashton, a distance of about 70 miles. There are huge views of the Teton Range from the Idaho side, and in the foreground, you'll see miles of golden and red aspen groves.  

The weather looks to be just about perfect for a scenic drive this weekend with high temps in the high 60s to high 70s. 

For a full run-down on all 31 of Idaho's scenic byways, go to VisitIdaho

Closer to home: 

File photo courtesy Ed Cannady 

Recommendation #3Sawtooth Scenic Byway - Take U.S. 20 to Fairfield and head for Sun Valley. The colors in the Wood River Valley and the Sawooth Valley should be fantastic. Stop for lunch in Ketchum. There are many great restaurants to choose from. I personally like the Pioneer, Whiskey Jacques, and Lefty's.

Hum Lake (photo courtesy Alejandro Meza/Hiking Idaho Facebook page) 

Recommendation #4Payette River Scenic Byway - Take Idaho 55 north to McCall to enjoy fall colors along the North Fork of the Payette River and in the Boise and Payette National Forests. Go for a hike in McCall at Ponderosa State Park or the Payette National Forest - the colors are ablaze! 

Fall colors lighting up Box Canyon (courtesy Southern Idaho Tourism) 

Recommendation #5Thousand Springs Scenic Byway - Follow U.S. 30 from Hagerman to Twin Falls. Potential side trips include Hagerman fishing ponds, Miracle Hot Springs, Hagerman Fossil Beds museum, Snake River Grill and more! Click here for details. Here's a post about three other scenic drives in the Magic Valley.

Have fun!
- SS