Thursday, January 28, 2010

Galena Lodge has something for everyone

Marianne Nelson, Carolyn Volk and Wendy Wilson on Mushroom Ridge

Steve with the birthday girl

The honored guest, Marianne Nelson

Packing stuff into the yurt via backpack and sled
Hi all,

A friend of mine invited a group of friends to the Galena Lodge yurts recently for her 50th birthday. Our group was big enough to fill two yurts. It was a blast.

What's a bit different about the Galena yurts is that they're a short climb (less than a mile) up to a ridge overlooking the 50K Nordic trail system and the surrounding mountains near Galena Lodge. Many other yurts in SW Idaho require a longer climb to get into the backcountry, and they're more oriented toward backcountry skiing.

So the yurts are very conveniently located immediately adjacent to the Nordic trails. That's pretty neat. I love to skate ski, and I was able to combine a day of backcountry skiing and skate skiing in a single day.

Galena has a great variety of cross-country and snowshoe trails on site. It's also the trailhead for the Harriman Trail, which runs down-valley for 30Ks to the Sawtooth National Recreation Area office trailhead, the route for the Boulder Mountain Tour. So it's pretty much ground zero for the Nordic enthusiast.

It's also extremely close to Galena Pass, where oodles of backcountry ski routes await. Our group loved to do backcountry and Nordic, so we got our fill of both.

I packed in my ihome battery-powered unit, so we had great tunes for Marianne Nelson's 50th birthday party night. The close proximity to the Galena Lodge parking lot allowed us to pack in multiple loads for the party festivities, plus I packed in our skate skis so we could jump on the Nordic track right outside the front door of the Star Perch yurt.

The yurts at Galena Lodge cost $145/night, and they sleep 8 people. That's $18/person. The Galena yurts are typically more available on a short-term basis than the huts/yurts in the Smoky Mountains, Sawtooth Mountains, Pioneer Mountains and in the Idaho City Park 'n Ski Areas. So give it a try.

Galena Lodge itself has hot drinks and food after your ski experience. It's a great place to warm up or rest. The lodge also can be rented for special events and private dinners.

Cautionary note: If you plan on skiing at Galena Pass, each skier should be sure to bring an avalanche beacon, shovel and probe. The avalanche danger has been extreme in the Sawtooth area, so be sure to check the latest avalanche report.

So anyway, to me, a weekend trip to Galena Lodge is a must-do experience every winter. Check on yurt availability for the rest of this season, and give it a try.

-- SS

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Explore Boise Trails for fitness and fun!

Start from Barber Park, Bown Crossing or River Run to access the walking/running trail

the Herrick house

New underpass at E. ParkCenter Bridge

The heron rookery

This is a favorite venue for runners and walkers - no pavement!
Hi all,

Bandanna Running and Walking has come up with a cool promotion for 2010 -- it's called Explore Boise Trails. The idea is to expand your horizons and try new hikes and trail-running routes that you haven't experienced before.

Bandanna recommends using my guidebook, Boise Trail Guide: 75 Hiking & Running Routes Close to Home, as the source for inspiration.

Listen to Chris Chandler at Bandanna explain the program:

If you want to knock off all 75 routes in one year, and you're one of the first five people to do so, you could win a $100+ pair of Cascadia 5 trail-running shoes. The shoes were made especially for Scott Jurek of Seattle, who is considered by many to be America's greatest trail-runner. His motto is "embrace your adventurous side."

We all know it's January, so I recommend starting on Greenbelt trails, Snake River trails, Owyhee County trails and lower-elevation Ridge to Rivers trails during the winter mud season. Please be sure to check on trail conditions before you go on Ridge to Rivers trails at I have a link to the trail conditions report on as well.

To get you started, I recommend the walking/hiking trail along the Boise River between Barber Park and ParkCenter (see map above). I did a 5.5-mile run on the trail on Thursday morning, and it was totally fabulous. At this time of year, you can see bald eagles perched in the tall cottonwoods, not to mention an occasional great blue heron, kingfishers, many types of ducks and songbirds. You might even see a mink, muskrat or beaver at the river's edge.

Part of this trail section has been renamed the Bethine Church River Trail to honor Bethine and the late U.S. Sen. Frank Church, D-Idaho, for all of their outstanding conservation work. There is an interpretive sign near the East ParkCenter Bridge that explains the dedication.

I hope Bandanna's promotion inspires you to go where you've never gone before. At the same time, you could improve your fitness and endurance levels. It's a good way to get ready for Robie if nothing else!

- SS

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Seize the day - try FREE xc ski day Saturday

Skate skiing at Ponderosa State Park in McCall (please excuse the heavy breathing ...)

Maybe you've got cabin fever, maybe you're ready to lose a few pounds after the Holidays, maybe you've been lazy ... whatever the case, there can be no excuses on Saturday, a totally FREE day for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. No parking fees, either! Get off the couch and go!

The Nordic trails at Bogus Basin, the Idaho City Park n' Ski Areas, Lake Cascade State Park in Cascade and Ponderosa Park in McCall are all open for free Saturday. The North Valley, Galena Lodge and Quigley trails in Ketchum/Sun Valley are open for free Sunday. You'll need to rent equipment or bring your own. Bring extra food and drink for the trail.

The thing that's great about snowshoeing and cross-country skiing is that any able-bodied person can do it. If you can walk, you can snowshoe or cross-country ski. You're just doing it on the snow. It's like going for a hike in the mountains. It's also a great workout.

Gather up a few of your friends and head up to the Idaho City Park n' Ski Areas, managed by the Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation. Gold Fork, a nice moderate trail system on the left side of Idaho 21 with 10 kilometers of trail, will be the epicenter of the fun. Gold Fork is about 1.5 hours from Boise. Check out the Idaho Parks and Recreation web site and you'll see cool pdf maps for each park n' ski area, plus detailed descriptions and locator maps.

On Saturday, the weather is forecast to be clear and sunny, but on the chilly side in the morning. Drew in layers, and dress warm! All of the trails will be well-groomed. For snowshoers, off-trail conditions will be breakable crust, so you may want to walk on the edge of groomed trails. Or, send your strongest person out front and let them break the trail for you, and then take turns.

The whole purpose of free ski day is to encourage first-timers and novices to try cross-country skiing or snowshoeing. I can guarantee that if you visit any of the venues I've mentioned here, you'll want to come back.

Have fun!

- SS