Thursday, August 27, 2009

Climb Mt. Borah - it's easiest in late summer

Photos courtesy of

A friend of mine, Scott Turlington, inspired this week's outdoor tip -- climbing Mt. Borah, Idaho's highest peak (12,662 feet) in the Lost River Range near Arco, Mackay and Challis.

Scott took his 12-year-old son on the adventure last weekend. He said it took them 8 hours to bag the peak, and 6 hours to come back down. There were at least 75 other people on the trail on the day they climbed the peak. His legs were still sore on Wednesday. No wonder ... The typical route involves ascending 5,262 vertical feet (1604 m) from the trailhead to the summit in just over 3.5 miles. Whew, that's steep! The trail grade averages 30 percent.

Experts say it's best to climb Borah in late summer when most of the snow has melted from the summit, and the most technical aspects of the climb can be accomplished without ropes. An ice axe might be handy when you're scrambling across "chicken-out" ridge, a narrow rocky spine with major dropoffs on both sides. Scott said the ridge still had snow on it last week.

Most people drive to the trailhead the night before, make camp, get up about 3:30 a.m., and make the summit before noon. Most people do it as a "day hike."

It's all self-support. Be sure to bring lots of food and water. There is no public water at the trailhead. Even if it's hot to begin with, cold and wet weather can roll in, so be prepared for that.

Here are some links with detailed information about the climb and the mountain:
- Wikipedia
- Peak
- This site has driving directions to the trailhead and other useful information.
- YouTube has tons of videos from people who posted their pix and video from the trip. Here are links to a couple that seemed helpful:
- Short clip
- Longer clip: Mt. Borah - the Good, the Bad and the Ugly
- Tips from a woman who's been there

Have fun!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Fat Tire Traverse in the Boise Foothills

Trip map (click to enlarge)

Hi all,

This week's outdoor tip of the week is dedicated to a new trail in the Boise Foothills that's called the Fat Tire Traverse. In observance of the Tour de Fat Festival coming up on Saturday, everyone should know that the Fat Tire Traverse was built by Ridge to Rivers with Tour de Fat Festival funds donated to SWIMBA.

So that means it's a smart thing to attend the festival on Saturday, spend money, drink beer and be merry and enjoy the wonderfully wacky festive atmosphere. The dollars you spend at the festival will go toward more new trails in the future. Wa-hoo.

The Fat Tire Traverse is an awesome new trail that opens up a whole world of new loop opportunities. Check out a short YouTube video. It's a critical connector trail that allows people to travel from the central foothills to the Rocky Canyon foothills, and trails above and below. Only your imagination is the limitation now.

The 12-mile route described here climbs Sidewinder via Owls Roost and Kestrel, and then traverses on the Fat Tire Traverse over to Trail #5, and descends the steep ridge down to Military Reserve. Take the Military Reserve connector over to Crestline and then Kestrel and Owls Roost to Camelsback to finish the ride.

You could climb from Sidewinder over to Watchman, or from Watchman over to Sidewinder. You could go from Three Bears over to Sidewinder and vice versa via Trail #6. The list goes on.

Many thanks to Fat Tire Brewing, SWIMBA and Ridge to Rivers for creating this outstanding connector trail.


Thursday, August 13, 2009

Make it a lifetime project to tackle the Idaho Centennial Trail

Hi all,

Back in Idaho's Centennial Year (1990), the Lasting Legacy Committee of the Idaho Centennial Commission created the notion of developing a statewide north-to-south trail that become known as the Idaho Centennial Trail. We have Roger Williams, a retired Idaho Fish and Game biologist and avid outdoorsman, to thank for creating the vision for the trail and charting the course.

The ICT is a 900-mile route that weaves through the most scenic portions of Idaho’s wild country, from high desert canyonlands in southern Idaho to the Sawtooth Wilderness and Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness in Central Idaho to the wet mountain forests in North Idaho.

Right now, Ken and Marcia Powers are cruising the length of Idaho along the ICT, and they're more than three-quarters of the way to the finish line at the Idaho-British Columbia border. Check out their trip journal for notes and photos along the way. Their motto is "gotta walk." Love it.

When I was president of the Idaho Trails Council in the 1990s, I helped the non-profit group publish the first-ever guidebook to the ICT. Its titled Discover Idaho's Centennial Trail. The book is still available, but the best information about traveling on the ICT rests on the Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation web site. Here you can trace the entire route on a detailed topo map, learn about strategic food drops, mail drops, access issues, etc.

It's a very challenging trip to do on foot because of the rugged country to pass through in the high desert along the Jarbidge and Bruneau rivers, not to mention walking through the Sawtooths and the Frank Church, and then continuing north through the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness, Kelly Creek, the Stateline Trail on the Idaho-Montana line, and then the Cabinet Mountains and the Selkirks in the Panhandle. Long-distance hikers like the Powers are beginning to discover the ICT.

I have personally been on many sections of the ICT but have never done the whole thing. I plan to make it a lifetime project to not only experience the whole thing, but also take my kids on it as well.

Few states have the kind of diverse countryside and awesome scenery that we have in Idaho. The ICT is a perfect way to experience that up close and personal. - SS

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Go zipping with Tamarack Canopy Zipline Tours

I've always looked at eagles flying in the sky with a bit of jealousy. Wouldn't it be awesome if we could fly like an eagle? Hang-gliders might come close, and so do para-sailors, but both of those activities carry a fair amount of risk, and the downside is really bad.

But to go flying on a zipline adventure is really close to flying, and there is really no risk at all. You stap on a climbing harness, a carabiner is clipped from your harness to the cable, and you step off the platform and zip down the cable to the next zip station, flying along at high speed several hundred feet above of the ground. It's a rush!

So I was psyched to hear that Tamarack Canopy Zipline Tours were back in business as of last weekend. They're running multiple tours Wednesday - Friday of every week until the snow flies. It'd be a great activity to enjoy this weekend or anytime.

Reservations are required. Call 208-325-1006 to reserve your spot. Groups of up to 8-10 can be accommodated. It costs $99 per person.

Kids over 80 pounds and adults up to 275 pounds are welcome. There are no age restrictions otherwise, but young kids can get scared of heights, according to Tamarack zipline operations director Randy Hall of McCall. There are two guides per group. The zip course features eight different zips, with big views of the surrounding countryside and the canyons below.

The word about Tamarack's zipline tours reopening has traveled fast. They've had 70 people taking zip tours in the last four days. Wa-hoo!

Here's a YouTube video that shows what it's all about.

Don't worry about the weather, Hall says. Some of their most exciting days have occurred when people are zipping through the fog or the clouds. If it's raining, bring a raincoat and it's no big deal.

Have fun! - SS