Thursday, November 30, 2017

Three kid-friendly pre-winter hikes - Browns Canyon, Eagle Island Park, Polecat Gulch

Browns Canyon in the winter sun ... not much light in the canyon! 
We took Huck to Browns Canyon when he was a puppy
Drew did great on the Browns Canyon hike 
Redrock canyon, sagebrush and aspens 
Hmmm, where do we go now? 
Hiking the two-track back to the trailhead out in the open Owyhee country
Hi all,

These semi-cloudy cold days with temperatures in the low 40s don't seem all that appealing for outdoor recreation -- at least on the surface. But actually, once you get moving on a hike, a run or a bike ride, you'll warm up inside and enjoy your outing.

It is important to dress properly in layers and bring a warm hat and gloves/mittens so you stay comfortable, and peel layers as necessary as you warm up inside.

For this week's outdoor tip, I'm recommending three kid-friendly hikes -- Brown's Canyon in the Owyhees, Eagle Island State Park and Polecat Gulch in the Boise Foothills. Get the kids dressed up in appropriate clothes and take them out to explore the great outdoors in SW Idaho. Pack a lunch, snacks and bring plenty of water.

Remember that there's a "Cold Moon," a full moon that's supposed to appear 10%+ larger than normal this weekend, peaking on Saturday night/Sunday morning. It's supposed to appear as a full moon three days in a row -- Friday, Saturday and Sunday. That'll be a treat or maybe the coyotes will make too much noise and keep you up all night ...

For these outings, try to get out on Friday or Saturday morning. That's when the weather will be best. There's a 50 percent chance of rain on Saturday afternoon and Sunday in the valley. Just FYI. Most of these trips would be doable with a good rain coat.

1. Brown's Canyon Overland Tour, Owyhee Front, near Oreana. Distance: 5.2 miles. Difficulty: Moderate. Travel time: 3+ hours. This is an interesting hike in the sagebrush and rocks of the Owyhee Front until you come across Brown's Canyon, a hidden jewel. In my Owyhee Canyonlands guidebook, I detail a hike inside the slot canyons of Brown's Canyon, and a hike that goes around the slot canyon (thereby avoiding cold, deep-water pools) but you can still see it from above.

How to get there: Take I-84 East to Simco Road. Turn south on the highway to Grand View. Turn right on Idaho 78 in Grandview and head for the tiny old town of Oreana. There's a sign on the highway for a left-hand turn into town near MP 43. Make a note of your odometer. Drive down the hill straight into town, go past the old church (2.25 miles from the highway) and go straight on the Oreana Loop Road until it takes a hard left. Make the corner and take an immediate right on Alder Creek Road. Follow the bumpy dirt road six miles to a signed right-hand turnoff for BLM Road 700. Proceed down the grade to an old corral at a two-way junction. Park. The hike starts here.

The Hike: Go west on BLM Road 700 and climb a moderate grade over to a bluff that overlooks Browns Canyon. At mile 1.4, bear right on a two-track and drop down to the Browns Creek draw. This is a pretty area that's full of shrubs and aspens. The first slot canyon with blondish rock begins at mile 1.7. Cross over to the left side of the draw, as you go downstream, and walk overland through the blond rocks staying above the canyon. You'll break out into an open sage flat at mile 2.0. When the next slot canyon begins, climb up the slope to the left until you reach the top of the rim, and then hike along the rim as close as you feel comfortable to check out the slot canyon as you move along. In a half mile, the canyon breaks open by a draw, and you'll need to lose elevation. Hike into the bottom of the gully and climb back on top of the rim. There's a nice overlook when you reach the top again at mile 3. Continue on the left side of the canyon until you come to the dirt road crossing, and then turn right onto the dirt road at mile 3.6.  Follow the road to mile 4.0 at a two-way junction. Turn right again at a fence gate, and follow the two-track road (BLM Road #710)  back to the trailhead. Feel free to explore Antelope Springs along the way. It's another tight canyon.  

2. Eagle Island State Park - There's a nice 5-mile hike in the park that I detailed in Boise Trail Guide: 90 Hiking and Running Routes Close to Home. This particular hike tours both channels of the Boise River while also cruising around the outskirts of the park. You could easily do a shorter route in the park by just touring the North Channel of the Boise River. Start from the parking area by the pond and circumnavigate the park. I did the hike in a counter-clockwise direction. See the GPS tracks on the map below.

Getting there: Take State Street west of Eagle Road to a signed turnoff for Eagle Island State Park. There is a park entrance fee unless you have a statewide season pass via your vehicle registration. I always buy that pass ... it's a real bargain!

3. Polecat Gulch - Hike a 3-mile loop around Polecat Gulch in the NW Foothills of Boise. The loop takes about 1.5 hours, depending on walking speed. The hike described takes you on a tour of the finger ridges on the Polecat Loop Trail in sage and grassland habitat. You might see mule deer on this hike or even the albino deer! I rate this hike easy to moderate. Trailhead is at the north end of N. Collister, off of Hill Road. Go north on Collister to the trailhead parking area and rest room at the end of the road.

Hike up the main Polecat trail up the bottom of the draw to Quick Draw Trail, climb Quick Draw to the Doe Ridge trail. Go to the top of Doe Ridge (enjoy the views of NW Boise) and follow that trail over to the north side of the Polecat Trail complex. Turn right on to the Polecat Loop trail above the Cartwright Road trailhead and follow the loop trail along a steep hillside above the Terteling Ranch and Cartwright Road. Follow the trail as it wraps around the mountain and then drops back to the Quick Draw-Polecat junction. Go left or down-canyon on the Polecat Trail to return to the trailhead.

Have a great weekend! - SS

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Go see Warren Miller "Line of Descent," then create your own snow adventure

(Courtesy Warren Miller Entertainment) 

(Courtesy Warren Miller Entertainment) 

(Courtesy Warren Miller Entertainment) 
(Courtesy Warren Miller Entertainment) 
Hi all,

In case you haven't noticed, we are transitioning to winter. Are you ready? There's nothing better to get the adrenaline flowing about skiing and snowboarding than the annual Warren Miller ski movie. This year, the move is titled "Line of Descent." It's the 68th film produced by Warren Miller Entertainment, promising downhill thrills, global adventure and a nod to ski instructors ...

"Ride along on a stunning cinematic journey as we travel near and far, descending some of North America’s deepest lines in Jackson Hole, Montana, Silverton, Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows, and Steamboat," a Warren Miller press release said. "From powsurfer to splitboard, motorcycle, dogsled or snowmobile, watch as athletes chase winter along the Beartooth Pass, the French Alps, New Zealand, British Columbia, and Norway.
“This season, we explore how skiers are shaped by picking up a pair of skis for the first time,” notes Warren Miller’s veteran producer Josh Haskins. “More often than not, it’s family who introduces us to the sport or steers us on the path towards an ongoing passion—be it a ski bum lifestyle, a professional career or simply the desire to pass on the same feeling to the next generation. There is a kinship unlike any other in the ski community, and Warren Miller is the elder, bringing generations of skiers and riders together for 68 years, and this year is no different.”

"Line of Descent" is playing at the Egyptian Theater Thursday and Friday at 7 p.m. There are two showings on Saturday, one at 4:30 p.m. and another at 7:30 p.m. Tickets cost $15. See you there! 

After you get pumped up for winter at the Warren Miller movie, you can go play in the snow ... you could go for a snow-boot walk, go cross-country skiing or snowshoeing in a "discovery" mode in the backcountry before any of the official trails are open. Places at higher elevation such as Bogus Basin, Bogus Nordic Trail, Mores Creek Summit and Park n' Ski Areas above Idaho City, The Strand and Crown Point Trail in Cascade, North Valley Trail and Bear Basin in McCall, McCall Golf Course, Galena Summit, north of Ketchum/Sun Valley, and Stanley. Snow biking would work in a lot of those places as well! 

Bogus opening a hike-to terrain park at the base area on Friday, Nov. 17, with 11 features ... That's a great idea for people to get out and play in the snow before the lifts are running ... 

I noticed that the Blaine County Recreation District and Galena Lodge have some trails open right now! The Harriman Trail from Prairie Creek to Galena Lodge is open, and several trails at Galena are open. After more storms come tonight and tomorrow, you can bet they'll be opening more terrain. Early season might be a good time to find lodging deals in the Wood River Valley. Galena Lodge is reporting that they'll be open for business starting on Saturday. They have over 12 inches of snow, but that's going to double by this weekend if the big storms come through. 

Bogus recently had its Pray for Snow party last Sunday, and Brundage is hosting a SNOWvember Meet & Greet Pray for Snow party tomorrow night, Nov. 17, at Broken Horn Brewing in McCall, 201 S. Mission Street, near the Smokejumper Base. Sounds like fun! 

One more idea this weekend, the weather is supposed to clear on Saturday and Sunday, and that means the lower Boise Foothills trails could be in decent shape for hiking, biking or trail-running. 
Check the Ridge to Rivers web site and/or Facebook page to get the latest conditions and advice from our trail keepers. It's usually best to visit trails that are sandy and dry out quickly. 

Have fun! 
- SS 

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Find a killer deal at BBSEF Ski Swap Friday! Vote Yes! for Boise Open Space Tuesday

Hi all,

It's time to gear up for winter! Multiple storm tracks are heading our way according to local reports. I heard Scott Dorval, meteorologist for KIVI-TV, predict that we could receive 2-4 FEET of snow in the Central Mountains the next 10-14 days. Oh baby! Here comes winter! Like it or not!

Especially following such an epic winter from last year, it seems easy to get my juices flowing in anticipation of another banner powder skiing season. I can easily recall so many days of my face hurting from wind and snow coming down like bonkers, and fair weather days too! But I enjoyed the hell out of the whole experience, while carving turns in the luscious powder on my Rossignol Super 7's. Those skis make me feel like a hero!

Just in time, as we're getting stoked about winter, the Bogus Basin Ski Education Foundation Ski Swap is opening on Friday at 3 p.m. and running through Sunday at 3 p.m. Get there Friday afternoon to find the best deals, but rest assured that there are a TON of skis, ski boots, and snowboards to choose from at the swap, not to mention tons of other winter gear like ski poles, snow boots, coats, gloves, mittens, ski suits, on and on! Used backcountry skis and Nordic stuff are usually in the shortest supply, so it's especially important to get there early if you're interested in that gear.

Personally, I'm hunting for more Rossi Super 7's or Soul 7's if I can find any on the rack ... also like to get a new pair of backcountry ski boots. I also could use a new/used pair of Nordic skate skiing boots.

Good luck finding what you need!

My second topic this week is to encourage Boise residents to vote for the Open Space and Clean Water levy in the Boise City Election on Tuesday, Nov. 7. You might wonder, why do I need to vote for a levy I already voted for two years ago?

Yes. Good question. Voters approved the $10 million levy in 2015 by a 75% vote. But due to a clerical error, Ada County didn't assess the tax. The mistake had something to do with the city filling out a form improperly, but the City Council has put controls in place to make sure the form will be filled out correctly next time. Plus, let's hope someone picks up the phone and double-checks that all is good with the Ada County Assessor's office before the tax year begins ...

So the actual ballot measure reads like thus (from Ada County Elections sample ballot): 

On November 3, 2015, Boise City voters approved a temporary override levy with 74% of the vote to protect clean water and drinking water, wildlife habitat, critical open space, and native plant species, and enhance recreation opportunities and trails through the purchase of property and improvement projects in areas such as the Boise Foothills and the Boise River. Due to a clerical error, the approved levy was not assessed in the first fiscal year. To ensure that the will of the voters is preserved, shall the City of Boise, Idaho be authorized to revise the assessment period of the previously-approved temporary override levy to the two fiscal years beginning October 1, 2017 and ending September 30, 2019? If approved the final total amount collected through this override levy will remain equal to ten million dollars, as was originally approved by voters in 2015. None of the money will be spent on administrative costs and there will be oversight by a citizens' advisory committee and annual audit.

Please vote Yes! for Open Space and Clean Water. The existing open space account has less than $1 million remaining, so a fresh dose of dollars for open space is needed. Remember that in the previous go-round, the City of Boise did a stellar job of spending the first $10 million wisely, acquiring more than 10,000 acres of open space including key new trails and open space areas such as Polecat Reserve, Freddy's Stack Rock Trail, Bucktail connection to Shane's Trail in Military Reserve, Hillside to the Hollow, and much more!

We need to keep the momentum going! Vote Yes!