Thursday, December 17, 2020

Stueby's Christmas recommendations - Outdoorsy gifts for him and her

Hi all, 

Christmas is just a week away! It's time for my annual Christmas gift ideas for the outdoorsy him and her.

This year's list includes recommendations for our friends at Idaho Mountain TouringBoise REI, and McU Sports about the latest popular and trendy items.

Now, on to the gifts!

1. Covid-approved neck gator for skiing/riding at ski areas. There are quite a few styles and colors available. I have several in my quiver, and you should, too. Here are some face masks from Hoo-Rag ... you can buy 4 of them for $31.

See these mask options from IMT - Outdoor Research and Airband Masks with filters + for active users, cycling ,running etc. 

2. A warm, cozy Carhartt vest from D&B Supply, or a Patagonia down vest from Idaho Mountain TouringBoise REIGreenwoods Ski Haus or McU Sports.

3. SocksLots of color, designs and patterns, Smart Wool comfort made in the USA. Everyday Compression to support people standing on their feet, and it doesn't take 3 men and gorilla to put your socks on. 

4.  Lights for your campsite. REI recommends Revel Gear Trail Hound lights ($25) - it's a 30-foot string of colored LED lights that could provide a festive feel for your campsite.

5. Lights for your bike, your head or your body. The Bontrager Ion 200-1000 human light ($100) looks like it could light up the trails as if you're on a professional movie set.

6. Ski gloves - It's nice to have several pairs that work for various tasks such as driving, xc skiing or snowshoeing (thinner weight), and alpine skiing (warmer). I have a pair of the Hestra Heli-Insulated gloves pictured here ($155), and man are they nice! Always keep my hands warm! Mine are mittens with a trigger finger. For xc skiing and lightweight use, look in the work glove section of May Hardware in McCall or a local Maverick service station.

7. Snowshoes - It takes a lot of time and money to master the art of skiing or snowboarding, but just about anyone who can walk can strap on a pair of snowshoes and do great! It helps to bring a pair of ski poles for balance. There are many different brands available. Price range: $50-$150 for snowshoe-pole combo sets. You might be able to find a new or used pair at the Boise Outdoor Gear Exchange. Chris from IMT recommends these super-light TSL snowshoes with Boa closures. They're made out of carbon fiber. Prices range from $69 and up. Nice gift for a serious snow-shoer, but they also have kids models priced right at $39.95.

Women's Apt. 9® Herringbone Cadet Hat8. Winter hats - Can't go wrong in this department, but it's always nice to find a winter hat that has personality! Similar with gloves, it's nice to have different winter hats for situations when it's relatively warm or you're working up a sweat (thinner weight), and when you need a bomber warm hat that keeps you warm in single digits or sub-zero weather. Remember that wool ultimately rocks in the warmth department. Another helpful item is a facemask for the really cold days on the mountain. I also love the smart-looking ballcap-style hats they make for women.

9. Patagonia trucker hats - Chris at IMT: These are Red Hot!- every age loves them -- men, women and kids.

10. Headlamp - For outdoorsy folks, it's about as easy to lose a

headlamp as it is to lose a pair of socks. Especially if you're a family of outdoorsy folks ... everyone borrows your headlamp and it never comes back! You can snag a headlamp for $25-$50, and it has great value for your camping trips, night hiking, river trips, backpacking, even for use around the home! My favorite brands include Petzl and Black Diamond. Get a bright one and you'll appreciate it! My latest Black Diamond model runs on 4 AAA batteries and it's really nice and bright.

11. Dog accessories from Ruffwear. How about an insulated coat for your pup? $79.95. Those things are so danged cute!

12. Guidebooks! - Ha! Always a thoughtful item in the stocking or under the tree ... my guides are available of course, from Boise Trail Guide, Owyhee Canyonlands, Paddling the Payette, updated for SUPers, and Boise Road Cycling Guide, plus my biography on the great champion for birds of prey Morley Nelson, Cool North Wind, in memory of all of his achievements related to the creation of the Morley Nelson Snake River Birds of Prey National Conservation Area. Plus I recommend Matt Leidecker's guides for the Sawtooths, White Clouds and Middle Fork Salmon River.

13. Capilene tops, long underwear - For any outdoorsy person who's active, getting out and exercising several days a week, you can quickly run short of tops and bottoms after they get pitted out and pitched into the laundry. So it's nice to have a deep supply of different tops especially ... lightweight, midweight, expedition weight, etc. These items typically run $25-$75. REI and Patagonia make gear with lasting value. Take a look at smart wool, too. 

14. Buck knife or Swiss Army knife - These items also have a way of disappearing. But especially guys appreciate having a knife handy for all sorts of things. A single-blade Buck knife is really sleek and cool, and the multi-tasking Swiss Army knives are always a hit. Boise Army Navy has a great selection of knives.

15. Hydro Flask - Previously known as a water bottle, the hydro flasks available today can be used for drinking coffee on the go, taking a long a nice hot cup of tea or hot chocolate on an outdoor outing, or actually packing plain old water. Hydro Flask is a brand by itself, but there are many other brands that make quality stainless steel insulated cups and containers. Pricing is in the $10 to $25 range or more. 

16. River Gear - Pick up some accessories or a new SUP, hard-shell kayak, inflatable kayak, canoe or raft at Idaho River Sports, Cascade River GearAIRE in Meridian,  or Boise Army-Navy.

It's probably safe to say that we're all ready to bid 2020 goodbye because of the Covid-19 pandemic. So thankful to see vaccinations coming online for our health care workers and all of us who will need that ASAP. Gives me hope that things could return to "normal" sometime next year. It may be months before the vaccines are available to the average person. 
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all!
- SS  

Steve talks about his weekly outdoor tip on 94.9 FM The River on Friday mornings with Ken and Deb at about 7:40 a.m. Please listen in!

Thursday, December 10, 2020

Tamarack to host grand opening on Friday, big snow coming next week and more ...

Time to shred at Tamarack!

Hi all, 

For downhill skiers/riders who want plenty of elbow room, Tamarack Resort has always been a well-kept secret among those in the know. 

On a powder day, the freshies will get shredded in about 1.5-2 hours at Bogus Basin or Brundage Mountain. But at Tamarack, with fewer people on the slopes, you can find fresh turns all day long.

That's one of the key benefits of skiing/riding Tamarack Resort. In the 2020-21 ski season amid the covid-19 pandemic, the importance of feeling comfortable and having enough personal space is something that matters to skiers and riders. So that will be another plus this year at Tamarack, where you can find your own Private Idaho. 

Skiing pow at Tamarack with Lake Cascade and Long Valley below (Courtesy Tamarack Resort)

Tamarack is having a grand opening tomorrow (Friday, Dec. 11), opening its slopes and alpine village to the general public for the first time this ski season. The resort has been open to season pass holders and resort guests over the last few weekends. From this point forward, they'll be operating 7 days a week. 

Daily lift tickets, Boundless All-Season Passes, and Express Passes are all available online. Standard covid restrictions are in place. Bring your face-coverings to protect yourself and others from the virus.

The Tamarack and Summit express lifts will be running along with the Discovery beginner chair. (No Wildwood yet). You'll be able to ski top-to-bottom, all 2,800 vertical feet, on groomed slopes like Serenity, Showtime and Waltz. See the Tamarack snow report for a run down on the slopes open at this point.      

Speaking of snow, we're supposed to get hammered with lots of *pow* in the next 15 days leading right up to Christmas Day. My OpenSnow post this morning said we've got "Big pow coming with a roar." We need it! 

The Reserve Bar in the Village - it opens tomorrow (courtesy Tamarack Resort)

Scott Turlington, who last summer was named president of Tamarack Resort, said the resort has been working hard to get the new Village at Tamarack ready for the ski season. People who haven't visited for a while will be surprised to see fewer domes at the base area, and more services available on the ground floor of the Village. 

"Man, it's night and day to see the village now," Turlington says.  

Yes, the Village buildings that were wrapped in Tyvek for many years following the 2007 bankruptcy are seeing new life. It's so great to see Tamarack under new ownership revitalizing the resort, finishing unfinished business, and now they've got condominiums in the Village for sale.

"In many ways this will be a season unlike any other, and the Tamarack team is committed to ensuring our guests can safely experience the joy of winter recreation along with the delight in discovering a new favorite in The Village,” Turlington said. 

The Village at Tamarack has a whole new look! (courtesy Tamarack Resort)

On Friday, Tamarack is opening The Reserve upscale bar and restaurant. Other options for food and drink include an outdoor beer garden, Mountain Bites food truck, Clearwater Coffee and the Village Market, which has grab-and-go sandwiches and drinks. In general, skiers/riders should use their vehicle as the "day lodge" due to covid restrictions. 

Later in December, Tamarack will open the Rendezvous food court, where you can choose from four different food venues in one large space -- the Triple B Diner, Crusty's Pizza, Summit Bowls and El Pueblo Taqueria. Turlington says the Triple B will be the work-horse restaurant, similar to the Canoe Grill, but better. Many peeps in McCall love Crusty's, and I recommend it, too. Nice to have more food options! 

Unless you want a year-round pass, the Tamarack Express pass could save money on lift tickets, which cost $100 for adults this year. It comes pre-loaded with a single day ticket, and then skiers and riders can visit as many times as you like with a $15 discount/per visit. See more about lift tickets and passes online.

One unique offering is that Tamarack has special Pickup Boxes for getting your Express pass or other pass. You buy the pass online, scan the QR code at the Pickup Box, and then the box issues your pass on the spot. Then, you can head directly to the lift and start skiing.  

Heading up the Tamarack Express for another run with Jughandle Mountain in the background.

Some of you may recall that I worked in government affairs at Tamarack from 2002-2007. A big part of my job was mapping and exploring the backcountry for the guided snowcat skiing program, guided snowmobile tours and summer recreation activities. I used to call the areas to the north and south of Tamarack's ski area boundary as "my office." 

Another benefit of skiing at Tamarack are the out-of-bounds opportunities for skiers and riders just outside the ropes. Many people take a bunch of turns out of bounds and then vector back to the ski area to catch the lift. You also can pack skins and go for a tour over toward Wildwood Bowl or Lone Tree Mountain to find more Private Idaho. 

I've had some legendary powder days out there, and there's plenty more to come! 

To check on lodging options at Tamarack, go to: 


A few other outdoor notes: 

Brundage Mountain is opening the Activity Barn, a super fun tubing hill near McCall on Friday. The Activity Barn is open Fridays from 2 to 6 pm, Saturdays from 10 am - 6 pm and Sundays from 10 am - 4 pm. During the winter holiday, hours expand considerably. The Activity Barn plans to be open every day from December 18 - January 3. More details and reservations are available at

I've been ripping groomers at Brundage for several weeks. Maybe you've seen my Facebook posts. The snow has been holding up amazingly well! Quinn and I skied there Tuesday for his 23rd birthday on a gorgeous sunny spring-like day. We had plenty of elbow room on the deck as we had a great lunch from Smoky's (big juicy burrito) and some beers while basking in the sun.  

Sun Valley has some great ski-and-stay deals prior to the Christmas holiday season and following the Christmas-New Years holiday. See the Sun Valley lodging deals page for more information. 

Idaho Park and Ski trails have not been groomed yet. Waiting for more snow. And that should be coming this week! 

Have a great week ... next week's blog will be on last-minute Christmas gift ideas for the outdoorsy him and her.
- SS

Thursday, December 3, 2020

Tips to "know before you go" downhill skiing in Idaho

Steve is masked-up for the next run.

Hi all, 

If you've seen my social media posts in the last week or so, you know that I'm pretty stoked about the opportunity of getting out and playing in the snow! 

When Brundage Mountain, Sun Valley and Bogus Basin opened last week for downhill skiing, people were delighted to go lift-served skiing again after the season was abruptly brought to a halt last March because of the coronavirus pandemic. I personally wasn't ready to stop skiing! 

Last weekend, I skied Brundage three days in a row with my son, Quinn, and Wendy joined us on Sunday. Quinn and I snow-biked on Saturday and skied Brundage in the afternoon. The groomers were super fun, and because the hill was open to season pass holders only, it wasn't very crowded! That was a bonus!   

However, two of the people who pulled up in a vehicle beside us did not know that Brundage Mountain was open only two season pass holders last Friday. They had driven up from Eagle. Their kids had passes, but mom and dad expected to buy day tickets. Whoops!

Steve, Wendy and Quinn at Brundage on Sunday.   
The whole ski experience has changed a bit because of Covid-19 rules and guidelines. The biggest thing that skiers/riders need to remember is to check on the web sites of the ski areas they are visiting before they go. Check on covid protocols, check on ticket availability, and more.

"Know before you go," says Susan Saad, director of community and customer relations for Bogus Basin Mountain Recreation Area. 

"Don't just jump in the car and head up the mountain," she said. "Check our website, watch social media, call our office, and/or watch for emails for unexpected operational updates or changes due to COVID-19."

Some other reminders: 

  • Masks are required when getting into the lift line at the bottom of the hill, and you need to mask up when you get off the lift at the top of the hill. Ski patrols or lifties will ensure you have a face-covering on before you get in line to get on the lift. No exceptions. 
  • The neck-gator type face coverings work great for skiing. I have purchased several of them. One of them is wool for colder, windy days, and one is lighter-weight when it's warmer outside. When you approach the lift line, stop and pull up your mask, before you get in line.
  • No indoor seating is provided at ski lodges. Bring your own food and drink, and think of your vehicle as the "ski lodge." 
  • Brundage and Bogus are selling day tickets now. People are encouraged to buy them in advance online. There's a limit on how many day tickets will be sold/day. 
  • Maybe pack a small BBQ in the back of your truck and pack your BBQ fixings in a cooler ... we'll probably see a lot of that this year. Don't forget the lawn chairs.
  • Right now, it's early-season conditions. Watch out for hazards when you're skiing/riding. If you've got a new pair of skis or a snowboard, wait until there's more snow to deploy it.

All of the covid-related restrictions are designed to prevent the spread of the virus and allow us to keep skiing! Let's hope we can ski all winter-long! 

Where's the snow? Winter started off with a bang in early November, and now we're in a lull, with a high pressure system parked over the Northern Rockies. The high pressure ridge is currently blocking storms from moving into Idaho, and instead, they're diverted to the north or south. It appears we'll be in a holding pattern with dry, cold and clear weather until late next week. See my latest post on Enjoy the sunshine. 

No grooming yet on the Idaho City Park n Ski Trails. Grooming is supposed to start next week for the Park n Ski Trails. There's still good snowshoeing to be had on the trails and backcountry skiers have been climbing to make their own turns at Mores Creek Summit, east of Idaho City. Watch for updates here on Facebook.

All of the Park n Ski yurts are booked solid for the season, according to Idaho Parks and Recreation. So if you were thinking making a reservation for one of those yurts, don't bother! 

I'll write about some of the other yurt/hut systems you could visit this winter in a forthcoming column. 

Have fun and be safe out there!
- SS