Thursday, January 26, 2017

Secret hut in the South Hills, McCall Winter Carnival, Kegs 4 Kause fund-raiser Monday

The Thompson Creek hut, very nicely appointed and taken care of by the High Desert Nordic Association in Twin Falls. 
Skier-packed trail leads to the hut, 1.3 miles up the trail from the Penstemon groomed trail. 
Penstemon Trail is wide and buffed. There is no charge to xc ski, snowshoe or snow bike on the trails by Magic Mountain.
The mountains in the South Hills have a lot of natural openings, tree stringers and aspens ... cool country to explore. 
Hi all,

First, I wanted to make sure everyone knows about the Kegs 4 Kause event Monday, Jan. 30 at Payette Brewing, to benefit the Idaho City Yurt and Trail Restoration project. The event runs from 5-10 p.m. There will be many silent auction items and a live auction for some bigger-ticket items. Leo Hennessy reeled me in as the guest auctioneer! OMG! Get ready to give! Gotta dig deep!

In case you've been living in a cave, the event is being held to restore four backcountry yurts and many trails that were damaged by the Pioneer Fire last summer.

It's going to be fun sipping on Payette River beer, knowing that 50% of the proceeds will go to restoring the Idaho City Park n' Ski yurts and trail system. As the evening progresses, we'll get into the live auction. Check out the Facebook event page: I know there's a bike that's been donated by World Cycle, I saw a GoPro video camera on the list, plus bike tune-ups, growlers, pint glasses, outdoor books, totes, concert tickets and more! Jenn Okerlund of IDPR has been posting many auction items on the Facebook page.

And for a total bonus, if I might say so myself, there will be two live auction items involving a Leo Excellent Adventure and a Steve Excellent Adventure for groups of 6-8. I'm offering the choice of taking people paddle rafting on Cabarton, hiking or mountain biking adventure in the Owyhees or Boise National Forest, your choice. I'm not sure what Leo's trip is going to be, but you know it will be memorable! Hope to see you at Payette Brewing Monday night!

Wooden bunks and a kitchen table in the hut. All you need
to bring are your clothes, sleeping bag and food.   
Now, about that secret backcountry hut! Some of you might have read my story in the Idaho Statesman recently about where to go yurting in Idaho "for a guaranteed great time," but my list didn't include the Thompson Creek hut in the South Hills, south of Twin Falls. I just wrote a blog post this week about visiting the Thompson Creek hut for Southern Idaho Tourism, so I am sharing the secret with you.

The Thompson Creek hut is a totally solid wall tent that sleeps a maximum of seven people, but the hut meister told me that it's probably most comfortable for four people. It's not a huge wall tent, but it has plywood bunks all set up, a main kitchen table, a large propane double burner stove (propane provided), and a wood stove. Plus it's outfitted with pots and pans, plates, cups, etc., and sleeping pads.

Wood stove and propane cook stove. Propane is stocked. 
The amazing thing is that the hut isn't booked hardly at all this winter. The calendar is pretty much wide open! The hut is located about 3.5 miles from the Nordic trailhead next to Magic Mountain Ski Resort. It's an easy trip to get in there with skis and skins or snowshoes. The hut is operated by the High Desert Nordic Association in Twin Falls. They charge $10/night/person for members, and $20/night/person for non-members. What a bargain! Many of the yurts and huts in the Sawtooths cost at least $175 a night!

I haven't checked out the backcountry ski terrain because I was on lightweight Nordic touring gear for that particular outing. But I am curious and hope to do some field research! The hut is situated on a mountain-side, about half or two-thirds the way up to the top of a ridge adjacent to Magic Mountain. There seems to be quite a few slopes that one could skin up and ski, and for snowshoers, there's plenty of terrain to explore. Plus, the hut is situated among a 23-mile xc ski and snowshoe trail system. About 10 of the miles are groomed weekly.

Magic Mountain is only about a 2 or 2.5-hour drive from Boise, depending on road conditions and driving speed. It's a beautiful area with lots of natural openings for skiing. Contact the High Desert Nordic Association if you'd like to inquire about availability of the Thompson Creek hut. See details and a topo map in my blog post.

Don't forget, the McCall Winter Carnival is cranking up this weekend! Here's the McCall Chamber web site with details about the events and ice sculptures. I always like to promote the Winter Carnival because it's packed with so many fun events, and it's always great just to be in McCall to go xc skiing, snowshoeing, ice skating, alpine skiing, tubing or sledding.

Here's an event schedule with all the details. Friday night opens with a Children's Torchlight Parade, and there's fireworks over Payette Lake, a Black and Blue hockey game, beer garden and drink specials at Foresters and the Yacht Club. Saturday at noon is the Mardi Gras Parade, a can't-miss event! It's also fun just to cruise around town and check out the ice sculptures. Have fun!
- SS

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