Thursday, September 26, 2013

Owyhee Canyonlands Outdoor Adventure guide; McCall Fat Tire Fest; Nat'l Public Lands Day

Browns Creek canyon, Owyhee Front 

We hiked Browns Creek last year when Huck was 8 weeks old ... 
Fetching views at Succor Creek State Park with Steve and Drew 
Hi all,

In case you haven't seen our campaign on twitter or Facebook, fine arts photographer Mark Lisk and I are collaborating on a new guidebook for the Owyhee Canyonlands. The book will be titled, The Owyhee Canyonlands - An Outdoor Adventure Guide. We are expecting it to be ready for Christmas sales in late November.

We launched the Kickstarter campaign about 10 days ago, and we've already reached our minimum goal of $6,500 to cover printing and production costs. Woo-hoo! But the campaign still will run for another 19 days, so this is a chance for folks to capture some sweet deals in terms of buying an autographed copy of the hard-copy guide, buying several autographed books for Christmas gifts, getting a combination of an autographed book plus a Mark Lisk 2013 calendar, or an autographed book and a Mark Lisk photo print of your choice.

We have a whole bunch of options if you'd like to check it out at the Kickstarter site. We have a video that explains how the book project came together along with details about the guidebook. We'll have 55 hikes and mountain bike rides in the book, and as our loyal and faithful followers know, I've been providing sneak previews of a number of these hikes and bike rides in my blog over the last couple years. (see below)

The Owyhee Canyonlands are a real treasure here in SW Idaho. There are many hidden slot canyons to explore, super-scenic mountain bike rides you've never ridden before, a few hot springs worthy of visiting, and a whole bunch of trips in the new Owyhee Wilderness areas. The scope of our guide spans from the closest Owyhee Wilderness areas in Big and Little Jacks Creek near Grand View, to the Jarbidge/Bruneau/Sheep Creek canyons south of Bruneau, to many hidden jewels in terms of slot canyons in the Owyhee Front between Grand View and Marsing, to the spectacular Southern Utah-like rock formations of the Leslie Gulch area.

Here are the links to those sneak-peek trips, if you'd like to head out for a desert hike/bike ride this weekend. The cool weather will be perfect! This will give you a taste of what to expect in the guide. Nine-tenths of the challenge in the Owyhees is to learn how to get there, have a sturdy, dependable rig to take you there, and navigate a big wide open area with very few signs or no signs, and no services. Map-reading skills are important!


Given the weather in the last few days, it's almost feeling like winter, but it's going to warm up a bit this weekend, so it should be perfect fall weather for mountain biking in McCall. The Central Idaho Mountain Biking Association (CIMBA) and local retailers are hosting the first-ever Fat Tire Festival in McCall, beginning Friday night and going through Sunday.

Here's the calendar of events for the busy weekend. If you've been wanting to learn more about the mountain bike trails in the McCall area, this is a perfect opportunity to do so with local ride leaders. Organizers have laid out a great slate of group bike rides for the weekend, geared to different ability and experience levels.

On Saturday, there's a women's beginner "Zen Ride" going on at the very family friendly Bear Basin Trail network near McCall, rides at Jug Mountain Ranch, Payette Rim Trail, Elk Trail at Brundage and more. From 4-9:30 p.m. that day, there will be a beer garden party at Depot Park downtown, dinner and live music. Perfect way to round out the day.

On Sunday, there will be more guided rides including the fun and challenging the Goose Creek Trail, East Fork of Lake Fork and Bear Basin.

In case you're thirsting for more rides, my guidebook, Mountain Biking in McCall, will keep you busy with 40+ rides to explore in the Valley County area, including all the rides mentioned above.
It's the 20th anniversary of National Public Lands Day
Saturday is also the 20th anniversary of National Public Lands Day. The Bureau of Land Management is hosting two volunteer projects -- one in the Morley Nelson Snake River Birds of Prey National Conservation Area, south of Kuna, and another in the Little Jacks Creek Wilderness, southeast of Grand View.

The birds of prey project will involve planting shrubs and perennial grasses below Swan Falls Dam. If you'd like to participate, meet at the picnic area by the dam at 9 a.m. Saturday morning. Bring a lunch, wear sturdy shoes and bring gloves. The work day will be over around 1-2 p.m. Contact Barb Forderhase at the BLM for more information, 384-3485.

The Little Jacks project will involve taking down some barbed-wire fence and building a new trail in the Shoofly Creek area. Volunteers should meet at the Poison Creek picnic area, on the right side of Mud Flat Road, or the Owyhee Backcountry Byway, south of Grand View, at 8:45 a.m. It's a full-day project, with horseback support for hauling trail-building materials. Free T-shirts for volunteers! Contact Dave Draheim at the BLM for more information, 384-3358.

Every Friday morning, I talk about my outdoor tip of the week on 94.9 FM with Ken Bass and Misty Taylor. Up to now, the segments have been airing at 7:10 a.m. This week, they'll move to about 7:40 a.m. Just a head's up! See River Interactive for more details and audio of previous shows.    

Have fun!
- SS

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Calling on all Boise Foothills hikers, joggers, bikers, horseback riders and dog-walkers! Time to Rally!

Rally at City Hall on Tuesday ... 
Rally speakers talk about the many reasons why the bond issue is important
to the future of the Boise community. 
Polecat Gulch in NW Boise was one of the key properties purchased
with funds from the $10 million foothills open space levy.
The land that Bucktail Trail winds through in Military Reserve is
another key piece of private property purchased as open space for
the Boise community to enjoy. The $10 million open space bond
will allow the city of Boise to continue its great work on land conservation.
Hi all,

It's official now. Mayor David Bieter and the Boise City Council voted unanimously on Tuesday to proceed with bond measures for foothills open space, parks and public safety. The amounts are $10 million for open space, $5.5 million for parks and $17.2 for safety improvements to four fire stations and the construction of a new fire training facility.

These measures will be on the Nov. 5 ballot, just 7 weeks away. Now it's time to rally and get out the vote! See the Yes! Yes! for Boise campaign web site and Facebook page.

As some of you recall, I was heavily involved in the first campaign for Boise Foothills open space. I was still an officer with SWIMBA at the time. Foothills recreationists, neighborhood activists, conservation groups, recreation groups, people who love the foothills backdrop, and lots of Boise residents of all stripes and political persuasions came together to work the phones and the streets to pass the $10 million levy.

Honestly, I feel it's one of the smartest things our community has ever done, and hopefully, all of that hard work will make it easier to pass this next open space measure. I'm also so proud of how the city carefully invested and leveraged the $10 million into wise purchases that have provided vital connections between city parks at the base of the foothills with BLM and State Lands in the middle foothills and, of course, Stack Rock on top. Approximately 11,000 acres have been purchased so far. The investment reportedly contributes $11 million to Boise's economy, according to a study, by enhancing property values and "ecosystem services" such as clean water, biodiversity and flood control, according to an article in the Idaho Statesman.

But hey, much more remains to be done!

Soon after we launched the campaign in 2000, I remember we had an awesome beer and pizza party at Noodles downtown. Several hundred foothills recreationists packed the room, and we gave them a pep talk. In essence, we said, let's seize the day, and work our butts off to make sure the levy passes the first time around and enhance our future, and our children's future. And by god, we did it. The night of the election returns, we partied at the Boise Depot, and I had chills running up and down my spine all evening, as the returns showed we had a strong majority with 60 percent of the vote, and it held throughout the night. We did it!!!! That was huge!

This time around, we'll need 66 2/3rds vote to pass the bond measures on Nov. 5. A lot more people in Boise understand the value of foothills open space now that an additional 11,000 acres of land has been purchased, and our quality of life has been enhanced, not to mention protection of the foothills watershed, clean water, wildlife habitat and more.

But there isn't much time between now and Nov. 5. The campaign is up and running, and VOLUNTEERS are needed big-time. Here's how you can plug in:

  • Canvass potential voters at foothills trailheads. 
  • Work the phone banks to identify would-be supporters who are registered voters. 
  • Staff community events and educate folks about the bond measures. 
  • Go door-to-door in strategic neighborhoods to educate residents about the bond measures. I love going door-to-door ... it's so fascinating, and you end up having great conversations with your neighbors about the future of your community. 
  • Donate to the campaign. City Council member Lauren McLean just put out a challenge yesterday to raise funds, and she will match contributions up to $3,000. 
If you'd like to volunteer, please contact Tom Hamilton at If you're already connected with the Land Trust of the Treasure Valley, the Idaho Conservation League or the Nature Conservancy, contact those groups because they're already involved in the campaign and can tell you how to plug in. 

I had coffee with Emily Walton this morning. I just met her at the City Hall rally on Tuesday. She's the executive director of the Idaho Civic Engagement Project, which works on getting young people registered to vote and engaged in enhancing their communities. Emily also is active with the Boise Young Professionals. Forty percent of potential Idaho voters under 30 years old, or 150,000 people in Idaho, are not registered to vote. "It's crazy!" she says with a gleam in her eye. 

A native of Declo, Idaho, who grew up in the heart of the potato fields in southern Idaho, Walton has learned how to become an effective political dynamo after putting herself through college and networking. She wants to run for governor someday. She is actively involved in the open space campaign. "Think about how Boise celebrated its 150th Birthday this year," she says. "It's amazing how people just love this place. But there's a feeling in the air, what are we going to do next? I believe in the city. I want to make it better. Let's keep up the momentum!"

Boise is one of those places where we all rally at important times to enhance our community. We do it through community involvement. Thousands and thousands of people do this through fun and cool events, campaigns and community improvement projects. We all have a ton of pride in our community, and we all want to make it better. 

Now is the time to get engaged! Now is the time to make it happen. I want everyone who sees this blog to choke Mr. Tom Hamilton's email inbox with tons of emails offering your assistance to take Boise to the next level. Seize the day! 

Thanks in advance for all of your efforts. I know you will rally and support the cause. 
- SS 

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Here are some fun hikes, bike rides close to home; plus, Avimor Bike Demo Day and Ride for the Red

Took my boys out on the Five Mile-Orchard Loop on Father's Day  
At the Orchard-Five Mile saddle ... big views everywhere ... 
Sweet trail ... Orchard Gulch 
Five Mile Creek didn't have much water in it last time I was there ... pack water for your pets.  
Doug Lawrence on Eastside 
Paul Hilding and Doug on Eastside 
Doug finishes the Mr. Big steep-ass climb 
Hi all,

After all the moisture this week -- Yay! -- the trails should be nice and tacky this weekend, and the temperatures will be in the low 80s in the Boise Valley. So it should a great weekend to get out on some local outings close to home.

I'm recommending a couple of sweet hikes and bike rides, and also, I'd suggest heading out to the Avimor Bike Demo Days on Saturday or Ride for the Red on Sunday. More about those events in a moment.

First, the hikes. Both of these are a little off the beaten track in the NE foothills, and they're very scenic.

1. Five Mile Creek - Orchard Gulch Loop - This one is 5.35 miles. Allow about 2.5 hours hiking time. It's rated moderate to strenuous in my Boise Trail Guide: 75 Hiking & Running Routes Close to Home
Take Rocky Canyon Road to the end of the pavement, and keep going for about 2.5 miles to a parking area and trailhead for Five Mile Creek. Park here. Climb Five Mile Creek Trail for about two miles, and you'll come to a junction for Orchard Gulch connector trail. Climb a steep hill to a saddle, and then drop into Orchard Gulch. Find a spot in the shade for lunch. And then finish hiking down the draw and you'll come to Rocky Canyon Road. It's about a mile back to the car.

2. Five Mile Creek - Watchman - Three Bears Loop - This is a much longer hike, about twice as long at 10.2 miles if you do the whole thing. (It's an awesome bike ride, too.) But I'll recommend something that's a little shorter, and nice for hiking. Follow the same directions to the Five Mile Creek trailhead as the hike above. Climb Five Mile Creek past the Orchard connector, and you'll merge with Watchman Trail. Following the Watchman Trail as it winds around the upper tier of the foothills. It's very scenic and enjoyable. At the end of a long downhill, bear left at the junction with Trail #6, and head for Three Bears. After a short climb and another downhill, you'll come to a junction with Three Bears on the ridge. Go left and do the steep descent on Three Bears back to Rocky Canyon Road. Go left and the Five Mile trailhead is about 100 yards to the left.

Here's a video of the Five Mile Creek - Watchman - Three Bears Loop ...

Here are a couple of bike rides that are real smooth right now. Both of them are featured in my guide Mountain Biking in Boise

1. Eastside Loop - I've been amazed at how popular the Eastside Trail #120 is this summer. We rode it last Saturday, and it was super-smooth. The standard Eastside Loop is done by going up Bogus Basin Road about 12 miles to a large vehicle pullout on the left. Park here. Ride your bike on the pavement almost to the Bogus Basin base area, and then go left on Eastside Trail. Along the way, you'll see some optional big-air or technical features that you can either ride or bypass. I'd rate this ride as strong intermediate/advanced. It's about 10+ miles. The only thing I don't like about the ride is you go slightly downhill on Eastside, and then you have to climb back to the parking area on a pretty steep trail. There are a couple of options for climbing back to the parking lot. On Saturday, we took Eastside to Mr. Big, descended a short section on Mr. Big, and then did a steep, arduous climb on Mr. Big to Freddy's Stack Rock/Sweet Connie junction, turned left, and rode that back to the parking lot connector and finished the climb to the parking lot.

2. Freddy's Stack Rock Loop - This one is 9.5 miles. I'd rate this strong intermediate/advanced. Drive to the same parking area as the trailhead for Eastside. Drop into the singletrack next to the parking lot and descend to Eastside Trail #120. Bear left on the singletrack. At mile 2.5 from start, you'll come to a junction with Mr. Big and Freddy's Stack Rock Trail. Go straight on Freddy's #125. In another half mile, you'll come to the Freddy's loop junction. Here, you can decide to do the loop clockwise, or counter-clockwise. I recommend clockwise. At mile 4, you'll reach Stack Rock. Take a break and have a snack. Follow the loop around the rock, and return to the Eastside parking lot. Allow 2.5-3 hours for the ride.
See the SWIMBA web site for information about Avimor Bike Demo Days. Should be a lot of activity with the Knobby Tire race going on, plus the demo day, BBQ and beer. I got there in the afternoon last year, and none of the 29ers were available to demo. So show up early! Avimor has a lot of cool trails to explore. Worth driving up there to check them out, if you haven't already.

On Sunday, George's and the American Red Cross are sponsoring Ride for the Red, a group road ride from Barber Park in east Boise to Celebration Park next to the Snake River, south of Nampa. You can sign up to ride 50, 75 or 100 miles. Should be a very interesting course. Registration closes on Friday.

Have fun!
- SS