Monday, June 30, 2008

Lovin' It

Summer days here in Teton Valley, ID are so amazing, all you can do is pinch yourself, smile and indulge. The past ten days have been positively euphoric, and it's hard to believe it was still snowing only two weeks ago. We took advantage of the perfect conditions and explored on bike, foot and horse over the weekend.

Taylor Mountain has always been one of our favorite areas. It's huge, with a couple of great trails and big scenic vistas. Joanne made it most the way up on George the Mule this weekend, along with a couple of friends. There's still quite a bit of snow up high, but it's melting fast and flowers are making their way up the hillsides.

It's always fun taking friends new places. Jere and Deb enjoyed their first ascent of Pole Canyon, all the way to the big snow cornices on top. Who'd have thought we'd be turned around by snow the end of June? Still, it was a great hike with plenty of sunshine, views, greenery, and water for the dogs along the way. Burgers at the Knotty Pine tasted mighty fine afterwards.

Sandwiched on either end of the weekend were a couple of sweet mountain bike rides: Darby Canyon, Aspen Trail, Millcreek Trail, Rick's Basin and Grand Targhee (we were first tracks!). In summary, I just can't get enough.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Solstice, Sunshine, Bliss

'Tis the season for visiting Driggs, and this is the new sign welcoming folks into town. The 4th of July is always peak visitation weekend, so next week will be busy. Hot air ballon rides, mountain bike races, arts & crafts, parades, community breakfasts and more. Teton Valley, Idaho couldn't be more beautiful at the moment. Visitors will be amazed at the green fields, kaleidoscope of wildflowers, and snow-capped peaks framing it all.

It's been incredible to see the explosion of summer, and I've been getting out there enjoying it as much as possible. A couple of the year's first mountain bike rides, hikes with Bridger, turning on the pasture irrigation, bar-b-ques outside...we're now in full summer mode. With the Solstice this past weekend, the days are insanely long and activity-filled. This is the time of year you never want to end.

This photo shows the Teton River at Bates Bridge. It's not quite at "peak" level yet, but should be within a matter of days now. Lots of folks were out floating, kayaking and fishing on the river over the weekend. It's great to see high stream flows again, especially after last year's total lack of water.

Speaking of visitors: my longtime buddy Kurt, Meg and their new baby girl Abby came all the way from the Bay Area and stayed with us this past weekend. It was great to see them, experience life around a newborn (yes, really), and catch up. They are stellar parents, and I'm predicting Abby will grow up to be some kind of Rhodes Scholar or Olympic athlete. Kurt has the sweetest softball/baseball swing you'll ever see, Meg played college soccer, and they are so bright our house is still glowing. Thanks for spending a couple days here in Driggs, guys.

It's been a while since I posted a picture of Bridger. So, just to let you know he's doing O.K., here you go. He's a crazy as ever, and with the onset of summer he has become a water and shade-seeking machine. As much as we're enjoying the warmth, I think he'd still prefer snow. We'll agree to differ, for now.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Suddenly Summer

And then one day, the sun emerged. Snowing sideways on a Thursday, summer by Saturday...welcome to Driggs, Idaho. We completely missed Spring this year. I had been in Boise on business for a couple of days, and was thrilled to come home to this view. It almost makes you forget the fact that winter reigned for nearly nine months in Teton Valley this year. Daytime temperatures are into the 70's, water is raging, and wildflowers are exploding. We were all very ready for this.

So, it's now a mad dash to cram six months of spring/summer activity into about three months. Epic backcountry outings are planned, fishing adventures beckon, fancy golf courses fill up, construction projects roll, friends and family come to visit (where are they all in January?), and the daylight seems to last forever. Sure, we like to play in the snow, but these perfect summer days are what keep us here in Driggs.

Local animals - domestic and wild - seem to be enjoying the sudden onset of summer as much as we are. Farmers won't be short on water this year, forest fires should be minimal (in stark contrast to last year's infernos), and as you can see from this photo, the valley is incredibly green. I intend to behave according to the Scarcity Theory from my long-ago economics education, and soak it all in while it lasts. Adventure details to come.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Hoping for Summer

Back in the fall of 1995 (my first year in Teton Valley), I was getting impatient for snow. I remember talking with an old-timer in downtown Driggs, who told me: "Rick, it'll come. We've missed a few summers around here, but we've never missed a winter." 13 years later, I can confirm that he was absolutely right. 2008 is unfolding to be one of those missed summers, as this photo shows. It's been snowing sideways all day, with more expected tomorrow. I'm now referring to this month as "Junuary."

We've been doing our best to just bundle up and go do things. Hey, if it can't actually BE summer, then let's pretend it is. Meanwhile, 95-degree heat is suffocating people in the northeast, and the midwest is battling tornados and flooding. Top it off with a nationwide banking and housing crisis, spiraling fuel and food costs, and having to watch Kobe in the NBA Finals...and you just want to go put your head in the sand somewhere. Oh wait, that's what Congress has been doing for decades, which explains the situation we're all in. Yes, it even affects us living right here in little 'ole Driggs, Idaho. Interesting times.

So, if you can't bury your head in the sand, the next best thing is to go watch horses frolic in the field. Or, in this case, the horses and dog. Our baby colt (his nearly-official name is now "Slate") and Bridger have become friends, and it's a riot to watch them play. The other morning, after a particularly exhausting play session, they both just plopped down to rest while Finis continued grazing and watching over them. Bridger is the most social dog I've ever seen, we can't keep up.

Optimistically, we purchased a nice little set of porch furniture last weekend. Standing in the checkout line, the lady in front of me said: "so, do you think it'll ever be warm enough to actually use that this summer?" All I could say was, "don't get me going."

At least we managed to put it all together, and get a photo during a brief hour of sunshine Sunday evening. I do hope we can spend a few evenings actually sitting outside this summer. Cross your fingers.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

It's June, right?

I pedaled my bike from home up to Grand Targhee ski area on Sunday, June 1. Five feet of snow at mid-mountain! It could still be open for skiing, really (like many ski areas, it's on a forest service lease, and has to close on April 15 regardless of conditions). The old timers say that high water happens in the valley streams when you can see bare ground on Fred's Mountain. We're a few weeks away from that, I'd say.

Continuing with the Grand Targhee/big snow/where's summer theme: this is looking up at Peaked Mountain (right) and Mary's Nipple (center). In four weeks, the Wydaho Mountain Bike Race will be taking place on these same slopes...let's hope some warm summer sunshine arrives by then.

So, other than late-winter weather in early summer, what's happening in Driggs, Idaho? Development continues, but at a slower pace than recent years (probably a good thing, it was lunacy). It's amazing the ripple effect of higher gas prices, stricter loan criteria and a slowing economy. Local contractors actually return phone calls now. This photo shows the view out my office window, looking west toward the Big Holes. Next year it will be a commercial and residential development.

Memorial Weekend news: impatient vandals ripped out the gate at the mouth of Teton Canyon. It was still closed due to considerable snow and mud, and no campgrounds were open...but that didn't stop the entitled perpetrators. That canyon has the highest usage of any in Teton Valley, and someone just had to get where they wanted to go, apparently. It's a federal offense that can bring up to ten years in prison, kind of a big deal.

While we all go stir crazy waiting for summer, our baby colt continues to grow and develop. He woke up on the wrong side of the fence the other day, which caused a bit of a panic, but otherwise it's been a smooth first week. We still haven't officially named him, but leading considerations are: Slate, Cinder, Tucson. What's your vote?