Thursday, January 4, 2018

Five outdoorsy ideas for the weekend - Free xc ski day, Mountain Coaster, Gateway tubing hill and more

Kids are having a blast on the Gateway Parks tubing hill at Eagle Island State Park in Eagle
Wendy skiing at Ponderosa State Park with Huck when he was a little puppy! He used to try to bite our ski tips. 
A lot of the foothills trails are icy ... get some traction devices for safety! 
Hi all,

These are challenging times for the winter outdoor enthusiast because of the lack of snow in recent weeks. It's hard to get excited about downhill skiing when limited slopes have been hit hard over the holidays, and there hasn't been any new snow to improve the base. Nordic skiing and snowshoeing conditions are much better in select places. DO YOUR BEST SNOW DANCE! WE NEED MORE SNOW!

In this week's outdoor tip, I'm recommending several activities that will allow you to make the best of the current situation:

1. Try xc skiing or snowshoeing on National Free XC Ski Day on Saturday, Jan. 6. Ponderosa State Park will have rental gear available for use and their trails will be open free of charge. They may even have some free instruction. Contact the park for details. The Idaho City Park n' Ski Areas will be open for free access (no fees charged in the parking lots for this one day only). You'll need to bring your own xc skis or snowshoes. Leo Hennessy with IDPR recommends snowshoeing the Banner Ridge Trail or the trail to Stargaze Yurt. The Skyline loop is groomed for xc skiing, but Leo said there are bare spots, and it has rained on top of the snow, making for a hard, slick trail. I'd agree with him and take your snowshoes. Lake Cascade State Park won't be participating this year because of lack of snow and icy conditions.

Reason to do this activity: Getting into xc skiing or snowshoeing is a great way to enjoy the mountains in the winter without burning a hole in your wallet. I've been doing both since I was a teen-ager.

Courtesy Kent Proesch YouTube 
2. Ride the Mountain Coaster at Bogus Basin. Hey, it's a brand new novelty, right? Everyone has to try it -- skiers and non-skiers/riders alike! The Glade Runner descends 4,330 feet at speeds of up to 25 mph. You conntrol your own speed. The track winds through the woods, climbing to over 40 feet in the air at times. The cost for single riders is $15 and $25 for two. I haven't ridden it yet, but I've heard good things. 

Courtesy Idaho Mountain Touring 
3. Pick up a pair of Yaktrax ice-grippers and go hiking or running on the Boise Foothills trails when they're frozen. Many of the trails are super icy right now, so it's pretty treacherous to do either activity without some traction devices. I checked out three models of Yaktrax at Idaho Mountain Touring - the Yaktrax Pro model ($30), which has metal coils that provide grip on the ice, Yaktrax Run models ($40), which are a combination of coils on the heels and studs on the ball of your feet, and Yaktrax Diamond Grips ($45), a more robust set that provides more grip on ice than the Pro model.

Trails are getting muddy the afternoon in Military Reserve ... be sure to get out early or later at night after things freeze! 
Check the Ridge to Rivers web site or Boise Foothills Trail Conditions Facebook page to get the latest information on trail conditions ... Lately, I noticed that they are seeing Table Rock trails turning muddy by late morning, and they are closed by noon on a daily basis right now. Ridge to Rivers also showed pictures of people hiking muddy trails in Military Reserve today (Jan. 4). Make sure you get out early and hike when things are frozen.

Gateway Parks tubing hill ... 
4. Take the kids tubing at Gateway Parks at Eagle Island State Park and/or go hiking along the river. There's fun little hill at the park where Gateway created two different tracks for tubing. It costs $15 for 2 hours of tubing. I went by there today and see a steady stream of people riding the magic carpet to the top for a fun ride down.

While at the park, there are some nice trails along the south and north channels of the Boise River. Bring your boot traction devices as mentioned above regarding the foothills trails. But I found the trails at Eagle Island to be mostly snow- and ice-covered and good for walking, all things considered.

5. Catch an inspiring film at the 15th annual Wild and Scenic Film Festival at the Egyptian Theater on Friday night. The film festival is sponsored by the Idaho Sierra Club chapter. Eleven adventure and conservation films will be featured. Should be fun!

There you have it! Have a fun weekend!
- SS

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