Thursday, May 30, 2019

Give back on National Trails Day, Morning Star story contest and Raptor Fest in Kuna!

What's your story? Enter the Morning Star story contest to win a triple chair for your front yard!
Oh my goodness, the weather looks fab this weekend in the Boise Valley! Temperatures will be nudging 80 degrees in the afternoons ... and things should start to dry out after a long series of rainy days in Idaho!

For my outdoor tip of the week, I'm recommending a hodge-podge of activities for the weekend, including three National Trails Day events on Saturday, a new story contest for a Morning Star chairlift from Bogus Basin, and another event on Saturday, the Snake River Raptor Fest at Indian Creek Winery, where I'll be speaking about Morley Nelson, the great champion for birds of prey at 2 p.m., and give some tips about recreation outings in the Snake River canyon.

Put some sweat equity back into your favorite trails. (Courtesy Land Trust of the Treasure Valley)
First for National Trails Day, you can do your part to give back to our beloved trail systems and  public lands by participating in one of three events on Saturday, June 1:
  • Volunteer cleanup event by the Oregon Trail reserve on BLM land near Columbia Village. See Facebook invite for details. Hours are 9-11 a.m. Sponsored by the BLM, Ridge to Rivers, the Oregon-California Trails Association and more. Contact for details. 
  • BBP Goathead Challenge - From June 1 - July 31 BBP is encouraging people to pull goatheads around trails and their neighborhoods. Click on link for details. June 22 is a community-wide effort coming up soon. Prizes for large quantities of goat heads pulled. Drop the spoils at the Northend Nursery or dispose of them in your compost bin.
  • Boise REI, the Land Trust of the Treasure Valley and Hidden Springs will be hosting a trail maintenance project on the Cartwright Ridge Trail from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Meet at the Hidden Springs Community Barn.     
Ok, now for the Bogus Basin story contest to win a much-prized Morning Star triple chair! The Morning Star chairlift is being replaced this summer with a faster quad. The retro triple chairs are proving to be quite popular!

The story contest is all going to happen really fast! "From marriage proposals to memorable mishaps, Bogus Basin’s Morning Star Chairlift Story Contest has become a sentimental journey for local ski enthusiasts. The story contest, which runs now through June 2, represents a chance for one lucky winner to own a unique piece of Bogus Basin history by sharing their memories from riding the lift," says marketing director Susan Saad.

Bogus has provided a series of opportunities for fans to win chairs from the decommissioned lift,
including an online auction, two raffles, and now the story contest. A second and final online auction is planned for June.

The winner of the story contest will be selected by a panel of two judges - Betsy Russell, the leading  state government reporter in Idaho for the Idaho Press, and yours truly. Betsy has been an avid skier for decades, plus she's the president of the Idaho Press Club. She and I used to race together for the Statesman on Monday nights at Bogus.

Entries are due by June 2. Mail entries to by June 2nd. Entrants must be at least 18 years old, only one submission is allowed per person, and the stories must be limited to 250 words or less. Photos are optional, but not required. The winner will be announced on June 7th.

Bogus is open for the summer season BTW! See their web site for more information on what to do, but you can do scenic chairlift rides, ride the Mountain Coaster, there's food and drink, and more! 

Love this painting of Morley! Come learn more about this man on Saturday at Raptor Fest.
The Snake River Raptor Fest runs from noon to 5 p.m. on Saturday at Indian Creek Winery. The event was very well-attended last year for the 25th anniversary of the Morley Nelson Snake River Birds of Prey National Conservation Area. There's live music, food and drink throughout the afternoon, plus presentations!

Indian Creek Winery will be serving a variety of their fine wines, and Lost Grove Brewing will be pouring cold beer. Bang on the Wall Burgers, Crisp, Melt, and the STIL will be serving amazing burgers and fries, globally eclectic food, and delicious ice cream.

Schedule of informal presentations:

1:00pm — Heather Hayes, Research Biologist, Intermountain Bird Observatory 
"The Long-billed Curlew: Tracking A Species of Greatest Conservation Need"

2:00pm —
Steve Stuebner, Award-winning Author and Morley Nelson Biographer
"Conservation and Recreation in the Morley Nelson Snake River Birds of Prey National Conservation Area." Steve will sign copies of Cool North Wind at the event.

— Mike Kochert, Scientist Emeritus, USGS, and the NCA's first Biologist
"Fifty Years of Studying Golden Eagles in Southwestern Idaho: What Have We Learned?"

4:00pm — Juli McCoy, Programs Manager for Canyon County Parks Cultural and Natural Resources
"What's Going on Out There? A History of Cultural Resources in the Snake River Canyon"

Wow, all of those sound pretty darn interesting! There also will be exhibitors at Raptor Fest, and I'm fairly certain that Monte Tish will be there with Morley's golden eagle, "Slim." 

Have a great weekend! 
- SS    

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Drive the Owyhee Uplands Backcountry Byway or hike two off-beat locations in the Owyhee Canyonlands

Sheep Creek below Mary's Creek ... very remote spot with plenty of solitude.

Huck checks out Sheep Creek
War Eagle Mountain can been seen in the distance behind Steve. Hiking to the west of Toy Pass is easy with big views.
Hi all,

The weather appears to be turning cool and moist heading into the weekend. Saturday looks like the most promising day to go hiking, with no chance of rain and a high of 65 degrees. Perfect conditions for a hike in the Owyhee Canyonlands!

For people in the know, the Owyhees are a great place to explore in the spring before the summer heat comes to SW Idaho and the rattlesnakes come out in the high desert. And if you don't know much about the Owyhees, you can pick up a copy of my Owyhee Canyonlands guidebook, which features 55 hiking and biking routes in the greater area, plus a guide to the Owyhee Uplands Backcountry Byway.
Here are three destinations:

1. Drive the 100-mile Owyhee Uplands Backcountry Byway and enjoy a big-picture overview of the Owyhee Mountains and Owyhee Plateau. The drive can be done in a day. The byway has a good-quality dirt road that travels out into "The Big Wide Open" (no services, BTW) and eventually drops back to civilization in Jordan Valley, Oregon. I recommend starting on the byway in Grand View and traveling in a east-to-west direction to Jordan Valley. Pack a lunch, some beverages and enjoy the drive. The backcountry byway will pass many intriguing areas, such as the Antelope Springs Road, Deep Creek junction, Nickel Creek Table and the North Fork of the Owyhee BLM campsite, the only developed campsite on the 100-mile byway. The byway is suitable for 2WD vehicles. But make sure your spare tire is in good shape. Again, there are no services out there, and no mobile service.

Wendy pretends she's an eagle on top of the Owyhee Mountains near Toy Pass. Bachman Grade Road can be seen below. 
2. Toy Pass - I've got 2 hikes in the Owyhee Canyonlands guidebook that start and finish at Toy Pass, accessed from the Bachman Grade Road, south of the little town of Oreana, between Murphy and Grand View in the Owyhee Front. Toy Pass sits at 5,875-foot elevation, south of Oreana. Drive to Toy Pass, do a day hike from the pass to the mountains on either side of the road, and then either go look for a campsite afterwards or head back home. To reach Toy Pass, take Simco Road to Grand View. Go right on ID 78 in Grand View and travel west to Oreana. Watch for a road sign for the historic Owyhee town. Turn left and drive 2 miles into town. Bear right at Our Lady, Queen of Heaven Catholic Church at the corner, and take the Bachman Grade Road to Toy Pass. It's about 13.5 miles to the top. This road is suitable for 2WD vehicles. Park at the pass and decide which mountain you'd like to climb. See maps below for hiking to the west or to the east. Both routes are about 5 miles.

Map courtesy of Owyhee Canyonlands: An Outdoor Adventure Guide.

3. Mary's Creek/Sheep Creek Wilderness. Mary's Creek is an easy-to-access tributary of Sheep Creek Canyon, which is one of the BLM wilderness areas in the Owyhee Canyonlands. There is a self-support camping area at the "trailhead" next to Roland Road. You could camp there, and then do the Mary's Creek Loop, hiking into the bottom of spectacular Sheep Creek Canyon, and then hike back. You also could backpack into Sheep Creek Canyon and camp there. The full loop detailed in our guidebook is 8.75 miles, with 1,400 feet of vertical gain/loss. Scenic hike and nice spot to camp. To reach Mary's Creek, take ID 51 south of Bruneau about 40 miles to a signed turnoff for the Rowland Road by the old bar and junk yard at Grasmere. Turn left on Rowland Road and follow that 5.2 miles to the Mary's Creek trailhead. There's a BLM kiosk at the trailhead.

Views of Sheep Creek from the rim above.
Map of the Mary's Creek Loop
There you have it!

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Try floating the tranquil Middle Fork Payette River as a relaxing alternative to whitewater

Idyllic scene on the Middle Fork Payette River, Laurie Anderson, Cymry Reed, Joanie Faucie and Wendy in Big Red.
Hi all,

I'm sure everyone is enjoying the fabulous weather, and this weekend should be incredible with temperatures in the 80s! 

With warm weather, our whitewater rivers will be rising as the deep snowpack melts in the mountains. The white-knuckle whitewater enthusiasts will be out on the South Fork Payette River and North Fork Payette for an adrenaline-charged experience.

Last Sunday, we decided to go for a more low-key experience on the Middle Fork of the Payette River, near Crouch in Garden Valley. This is an often-overlooked river trip at this time of year, but right now, the flows are perfect for Stand-Up Paddle-Boarding (SUP), canoeing, inflatable kayaking, sit-on-top kayaks, and rafting. There are no rapids, but many bends in the river, so that is your main navigational challenge. Might be a good call for a Mother's Day float!

More of our crew, Mishel, Jim and Pam from McCall, and Mark Anderson on the SUP
It's an 8-mile reach that starts at Tie Creek Campground, about nine miles north of Crouch, and flows by a diverse array of cabins and shacks on the river bank, with forested mountains in the distance. It's a very scenic float trip, plus it's fun to check out the cabins. It takes about 3 hours to do the float. Take your time, bring a lunch and enjoy the trip. 

The river flow is increasing a bit toward 2,000 cfs. That is a sweet level!  

Plant a shuttle vehicle in Crouch at the take-out before you go, or have friends pick you up. There is a detailed description and map about this day trip in my guidebook, Paddling the Payette, a guide to 24 day trips on the Payette River. The book is available at Idaho River Sports and Alpenglow Mountainsport. 

We did lunch at Mishel's cabin on the Middle Fork.
If you've got the time, bring your camping gear and hang out in the Middle Fork area. There are numerous car-camping spots along the Middle Fork ... some are developed campgrounds with water and fire pits, etc., and some are less developed. I am not sure if the Forest Service campgrounds are open yet. You also could stay at a bed & breakfast or the Garden Valley Hotel. See the Garden Valley Chamber of Commerce for more information on lodging. 
The other thing to consider when you're in Crouch is to visit the Longhorn Restaurant & Saloon. I love their burgers. The Longhorn has 16 different beers on tap. You also could play a round of scenic golf at the Terrace Lakes Resort, or eat dinner at Terrace Lakes. The food is good and prices are reasonable. Other activities in the area include numerous hot springs, both primitive and developed.

Waving to folks at their cabins along the way
Have fun!
- SS

Thursday, May 2, 2019

Four spring hikes close to Boise that'll get your legs broken in for the 2019 season!

Nature Girl: Wendy Wilson enjoys the Five Mile Creek-Watchman-Three Bears hike last Saturday.
Hi all,

My outdoor tip of the week focuses on four spring hikes close to home that'll get your legs and lungs warmed up for the 2019 hiking season!

I detailed the hikes in an outdoors article this week in the Idaho Press. Follow the link to read all about the hikes!

The hikes are:
1. Five Mile-Watchman-Three Bears - East Boise Foothills. 6 miles. About 3 hours travel time. Rated moderate to strenuous.
2. Station Creek to Bald Mountain in Garden Valley out and back. 7 miles. About 4 hours travel time. Rated moderate to strenuous.
3. Hillside to the Hollow Trails. Distance: You make the call. Easy and up.
4. Kepros Mountain out and back. Distance: 10 miles. 4+ hours travel time. Rated strenuous.

All of the hikes are featured in Boise Trail Guide: 95 Hiking and Running Routes Close to Home. 

See the Idaho Press article for more information.
- SS