Thursday, February 24, 2022

New cold snow this week has freshened the mountains and ski areas - Go play in the snow!

Fresh tracks ... (Courtesy April Whitney, Brundage Mountain Resort) 

Hi all, 

You might have noticed with the dramatic shift to winter weather this week, even in Boise and the Treasure Valley, that winter is not over yet. 

Not by a long shot! 

I've been in McCall since last Sunday, and we've been getting a series of these sweet little storms with a few inches of cold snow falling very slowly ... it's been so long since we had fresh powder that I have really been enjoying the heck out of few inches of new snow each day. 

So my outdoor tip this week is to get out and play in the mountains, play in the snow! 

I feel kind of like Mr. Obvious on the Bob & Tom radio show by saying, hey, we just got a great dose of new snow this week -- so get out and enjoy it! 

Rent a cabin! High-season is over everywhere. It should be easy to book a place right now through whatever means you like to use.  

Hit a hot spring

On the downhill skiing front, Bogus Basin got 4" of new snow on Thursday to freshen the base. 

Brundage Mountain got 2" in the last 24 hours, 6" in the last week. Tamarack Resort is reporting 0" of new (hard to believe), but the skiing there has been great! Sun Valley has gotten 2" in the last 24 hours. 

I feel kind of like Mr. Obvious on the Bob & Tom radio show by saying, hey, we just got a great dose of new snow this week -- actual snow depths depend on location -- so get out and enjoy it!

Atmospheric river event coming next week ... blue hues indicate 180-200% of normal moisture.

See my latest snow forecast on the Idaho Daily Snow. There's a major atmospheric river system approaching Idaho next Sunday-Tuesday, then another storm system, Thursday-Saturday. So like I said, the show isn't over yet! 

Cross-country skiing/snowshoeing: See my comprehensive blog post on more than 15 locations for xc skiing and snowshoeing in Idaho. Check it out! 

Xc skiing at Bear Basin 

All of the Nordic trails are in great shape in McCall. I've been xc skiing Bear Basin on a regular basis, and the grooming there is immaculate! The xc skiing is great at Ponderosa State Park as well. You can go xc skiing or snow biking at Jug Mountain Ranch. That'd be a great call this weekend! Tamarack also has multiple K's of xc ski trails that are open to snow-biking as well.   

See Steve Dent's Backroads report with me about Nordic skiing at Bogus Basin and beyond. 

Go tubing at Bogus Basin or the Activity Barn in McCall. I think Garden Valley may have a tubing venue too. Advance reservations are required for tubing at Bogus. Plan ahead.

Please! Give the Ridge to Rivers trails a brake! And go play in the snow. 

- SS 

Thursday, February 17, 2022

Go climb a mountain in memory of John Platt - we will miss him greatly!

Dave Beck, left, John Platt and Ruby camping in the mountains above McCall.
(photo by Dave Beck) 

Hi all, 

Last week, I woke up in McCall, packing up for ski trip in N. Idaho. And I saw some posts on Facebook saying, "RIP John Platt." 

And I'm like, what? No way! John Platt was the strongest outdoorsman I had ever met. He had a huge zeal for adventure. He climbed a new mountain almost every day. You were lucky if you ever had the opportunity to go on an outdoor adventure with John because he's so witty, smart and always looking at the bright side when things might look bleak. 

The sad news is that John had indeed suffered a heart attack and died after going xc skiing on a low-key adventure at Jug Mountain Ranch. Wow. He was 66. 

I feel fortunate that I knew John, going back to the mid-1980s, when he and Chris Haunold opened Idaho Mountain Touring in downtown Boise. More about that in a moment. 

John atop Castle Peak in the White Clouds with two friends (courtesy

In the meantime, I want to encourage outdoorsy people everywhere to go climb a mountain in memory of John ... His web site,, has tons of free information about his many outdoor and peak-bagging adventures in Idaho and elsewhere. Go check it out and plan your next adventure. 

Tom Lopez, a good friend of John's who did peak-bagging adventures with him all over the West, sent me a list of the top 20 people with the number of peaks they've climbed just in Idaho. John ranks #4, with 583. Lopez, author of the excellent guidebook, Idaho: A Climbing Guide, has notched an even 800. 

How many Idaho mountain peaks have you summited? How many arfe on your list? These guys are totally amazing! 

See the Idaho Statesman's article about John's life. Very well-done. Here's a link to his obituary, also very well-done. 

I loved this line from the obit: "By the time John rode his one-speed Sears bicycle over McKenzie Pass at the age of 9, he was giving his parents both grief and glimpses of the adventurous man he would become."

This was when his family lived in Oregon. His father had a long career with the U.S. Forest Service and frequently took the family camping. 

John developed solid outdoor skills at a young age as an aspiring bike racer and technical mountain and rock-climber. After he graduated from Boise High, he moved to Oregon to live closer to the bike-racing scene in Corvallis. His younger brother, Tom Platt, and Mike Cooley, followed him there and also got involved in bike-racing. Tom and Mike would later take over ownership of George's Cycles in Boise. Read my long-form feature about that history. 

John didn't do anything half-assed. He was the first bike racer to finish the arduous Bogus Basin Hill Club in less than an hour. He won the event three years in a row, in 1976, 1977 and 1978. Think about how many riders must have been inspired by his training and quest for excellence. 

When I moved to Boise in the mid-80s to write for the Idaho Statesman, I started a ski column, printed weekly. I wrote something about xc skiing at the time, and how I was noticing a new trend of people skiing faster than ever before on xc ski trails via skate skiing. I participated in a few 25K races in Colorado before I moved to Boise, skiing on classic gear, and clearly, if you were going to race, skate skiing was becoming the way to go. 

I remember John taking me under his wing and introducing me to skate skiing on the Bogus Basin Nordic trails. He gave me some free rental skis from IMT, and gave me a free lesson on skate skiing. It was a gentle way of showing me that this is the future, and you might as well embrace it! And of course, he was very good at it, very fast, because he always seemed to be in excellent physical shape! He just kind of floated through the mountains with seemingly no effort. I was impressed. 

The bottom line, John was always up for an adventure, and he was often willing to share the adventure with others. 

"He was all about finding adventures in the mountains," says friend David Beck. "No idea was necessarily bad. If you think about all of the people he touched with his adventures, it's just incredible - either through the trips provided on his web site or the trips he did with countless people over the years." 

Dave Beck and John Platt spent 5 solid years climbing peaks in the Lick Creek range and in other locations around McCall after Platt retired from Trek bicycles. "We probably slept 25-35 nights out on the ground each year together," Beck says. "I counted myself as an adopted Platt brother. There's just so many good things to say about him, and how he touched so many people over the years through outdoor adventures."

Lopez and Platt have bagged many a peak together in Idaho and the West. They used to go truck camping in Death Valley and bag peaks in that area during the winter. 

Wendy and I were spending a number of days exploring Death Valley for the first time in 2016. John saw one of my posts on Facebook, and he recommended a perfect day hike to a walk-up peak. We did the hike the next day. 

Thimble Peak provides awesome views of Death Valley.
John's description on was spot-on. 
At the summit of Thimble Peak. 

This is what Tom Lopez said about John on, an Idaho outdoor forum.

"John seemed destined to live a long life. The last time I climbed with him in late fall, he was unstoppable. We descended through 500 vertical feet of nearly impenetrable alders, with John leading the way like a bull moose. One of his nicknames was the "Alder King," because he dragged so many of us through alder patches. Another was "Lick Creek Johnny" because of his prowess at exploring the Lick Creek Range. ... I will grieve his loss for as long as I am kicking." 

John also gave back to his community through volunteerism. He's been a great volunteer for the Idaho Trails Association for a number of years. He also volunteered for Valley County Search and Rescue. I've seen him volunteering at the McCall Remastered Nordic race just about every year. The first time I did the 75-mile Cascade 4 Summits road ride, there was John at the aid station in Landmark at the top of the half-way point in the ride ... "I was like, thanks for volunteering, John! I'm surprised you're not doing the ride!" Well, they were short on volunteers in that location, and there was John, ready to help. 

Last June, I needed help during the work week to spread out trail-surfacing materials on the new Heinrich Demo Trail for Valley County Pathways. I asked John on short notice if he could help out, and he showed up with his brother, Tom, and some other friends. They put in a solid half-day of work before moving on to the next thing ... I was grateful for his help! 

John Platt is on the left, scraping road mix out of the mud buggy;
Tom Platt is on the right.  

Beck says when he and John would summit a new mountain peak, they would play a game called "NTP" or Name that Peak. They'd look around 360 degrees from the peak they're standing on, and see if they could name all of the peaks. Platt had an amazing encyclopedic knowledge of the mountains, and he often took pictures of mountain peaks from different angles to ensure he could recognize them from all angles. 

When you go to, you'll see all the references to the peaks he's explored, along with a fun narrative about the day's adventure, the people who went along with him, etc., and you'll have a better understanding of just how well-traveled the guy was. It's a lifetime project, and you better not waste a single day! 

Here's John's wife, Julie, and daughter, Jasmine, climbing up the face of Danskin Peak, where they ran into a thick patch of manzanita shrubs. He said he caught a little bit of hell for that! (courtesy 

Here they are on top of Danskin Peak, with Jasmine showing a sense of humor. You can probably surmise what Julie was thinking.  

"I thought I'd be able to hike with John for another couple of decades, but his life was an example of a life lived to the fullest," Beck says. "A life well-lived."

When you read about his life in the obit, you'll see he and his wonderful wife, Julie, raised two daughters, his father Richard is still going strong in his 90s. And as I mentioned earlier, he touched so many other people's lives through many outdoor adventures and volunteer activities. 

I hope you might be inspired by John's story. If you do try an adventure on, remember that all of these outdoor trips are a pretty major deal, if not a really big deal. Read up on the trip carefully and make sure you're ready ... that's what John would say. 

And if you'd like to donate to a charitable cause in John's memory, the family recommends the Idaho Trails Association or Valley County Search and Rescue 

Art Troutner, left, friend Steve, and John atop Cervidae Peak on New Year's Eve,
an annual tradition. (courtesy 

- SS

Thursday, February 3, 2022

Stellar conditions prevail for fat biking on Nordic trails at Bogus Basin! Trip report!

Beautiful spot in a grove of ponderosa pine trees on the Nordic Connector Trail.

Hi all, 

With all of these postcard blue days we've had, it's been getting cold at night into the single digits and teens (below-zero in Stanley) and that's been good to retain the snowpack we have in the mountains. 

The cold nights also have been good for maintaining good snow quality for grooming downhill ski runs and xc ski trails. A solid firm base lies underneath the soft surface, and that also creates perfect conditions for fat biking in the snow! 

I noticed that several people had been fat biking at Bogus Basin on the Fat Bike Boise Facebook page, and raving about it, so I thought I'd zip up there on Wednesday afternoon, Feb. 2, and give it a whirl! 

Recent dusting of snow created sweet riding surface on an ungroomed trail.

They were right! The snow conditions were excellent for fat biking on Bogus' Nordic trails yesterday ... The firm foundation allowed me to spin along the trail quite easily while leaving almost zero impact on the trail itself ... this is an important factor that fat bikers should pay attention to retain good relations with xc skiers. If your tires are creating a big wedge or rut in the snow, then you will upset the xc skiers, who are expecting to glide on a smooth surface. If you leave light to no tracks, then the conditions are perfect for fat biking.

That's the situation we've got right now. Think about heading up to Bogus Basin to go fat biking on the Nordic trails, or head for a few other destinations that allow fat biking on Nordic trails - Jug Mountain Ranch, Tamarack Resort and the North Valley Trail near Donnelly and McCall, or the Idaho City Park and Ski Trails, northeast of Idaho City. Similar firm conditions prevail at all of those locations. 

At Bogus, it costs $45 to rent a fat bike for 2 hours, $65 for the day. Hours of operation are 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. midweek, 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. on weekends. So you could easily head up there after work if you have a daytime job. Nordic trail passes cost $15 for a half-day, $21 for a full day. 

I have a Bogus alpine season pass, so I paid $15 for a trail pass at the Nordic center, and then stopped in the Bogus Basin office back in town and paid another $10 for a Nordic season pass. They credited me for the day ticket and rolled that into the season pass. Alpine season pass holders get a discount on the Nordic pass FYI, so that's all good!  

I have owned my own fat bike for more than five years, so I didn't need to rent one. My fat bike has 4-inch-wide tires, disk brakes, and a nice range of gears for climbing and riding downhill.  

I covered about 10 kilometers on my ride, maybe a little longer. Starting at the Nordic Center, I took the Nordic highway for a few yards, and then went left on the Nordic Connector Trail to drop into that timbered bowl above Bogus' snow-making reservoir. It's really scenic and beautiful in that area, and the trail had a number of fun twists and corners, hills and downhills, for the most fun portion of my whole ride. 

Trail map courtesy Bogus Basin Nordic Center

I followed the Nordic Connector around to the Meadow trail, and began climbing out of the bowl, following Meadow and then The Flush back to the main Nordic Highway trail. The recent dusting of new snow this week made it fun to ride portions of the Meadow trail which had not been groomed as yet. The dusting made for a sweet and tacky climbing surface, and my fat bike is geared to handle moderately steep trails.  

Once back on the Nordic Highway, I rode slightly downhill over to the Bitterroot chairlift and then more downhill to Superior before the steep climb to the Shafer Butte picnic area turnoff. They don't allow bikes on the climb to the picnic area from that junction, so you can go another half-mile or so on the Nordic Highway, turn around, and head back. 

Shafer Butte picnic area junction.  

The whole ride took me about 1.25 hours because of the fast and firm conditions. You could easily add some more loops to the ride, if you'd like to go farther. 

Be aware that some of the Nordic trails are closed to fat biking. Be sure to check with the Nordic staff at the lodge to ensure you know which trails to ride. 

I highly recommend the Nordic Highway-Nordic Connector-Meadow-The Flush-Nordic Highway loop. 

Be aware that xc skiers and snowshoers may not have seen many fat bikers on the trail before. Please be courteous and try to be a good trail ambassador. One of the "rules of the road" is to ride off to the side of the xc ski trail so as to leave the middle skating lane open for the skate skiers. The classic skiers will be skiing in the grooves. Snowshoers also should stay off to the left or right sides of the groomed trail. 

The good news is that the Nordic Highway is so wide that there should be enough room for everybody, especially mid-week or in the evenings. 

Fat biking hasn't really taken off in SW Idaho compared to a number of other places in the U.S. I see more people on fat bikes in ski towns like McCall, Sun Valley or Driggs and Grand Targhee. 

Besides renting a fat bike at Bogus, you might be able to rent one in town. Check with your favorite bike shop to see if anything is available. I did a quick Google search and saw that McU Sports downtown rents fat bikes, $40 for a half day, and $60 for a full day. 

There you have it! It appears that high pressure aloft in the Pacific Northwest will bring us mostly sunny skies and no snow for the next 10 days. If you're getting bored with your existing routine, try fat biking for something different! You'll like it! And it's a great workout if you work in some hilly trails and climbing. The downhills are fun, too! 

- SS