Monday, May 25, 2009

Perfect Sun Valley-Sawtooth Bike Ride

Work took me from Driggs over to Sun Valley and Ketchum, Idaho last week. The business part was good, plus the weather gods cooperated and it really started feeling like spring in Idaho. Before leaving, I took advantage and did a long bike ride I'd been dreaming about: starting in Ketchum, going north over Galena Summit (8,700 feet), down to the headwaters of the Salmon River and Smiley Creek lodge...and then back (the "and back" part is what's always tough). 74 miles, 4,400 feet of climbing and about 4.5 hours.

It was an epic afternoon that I'll probably never duplicate. Perfect temperatures, sunshine, very little traffic, and calm winds. I appreciated the fortuitous timing, and soaked it all in. Mountain ranges unfolded like a delicious four-course meal: Pioneers, Boulders, White Clouds, and Sawtooths.

I've spent a fair amount of time in the Sun Valley-Ketchum-Sawtooth Valley region over the years, and even remember when the Salmon runs were still productive near Redfish Lake. Even so, today was right at the top of my all-time list.

Numerous mountain bike outings with Joanne, family and friends have started and/or finished at Smiley Creek Lodge. So, it was a bit nostalgic when I wandered in solo this time to refill my water and take a break before returning to Ketchum. FYI: the Smiley Creek store is being remodeled, and will mostly be an ice cream parlor in the future. I was assured beverages and ice will still be available, and maybe a little fishing tackle. Whew.

On the return ride, the aches of four-plus hours on the bike started setting in, and it was a relief to finally see the iconic Sun Valley ski area's Bald Mountain. The Big Wood River is starting to rage now from area snowmelt, which prevented me from simply jumping in to cool off. It'll be a while before the water clears and the fly fishing is good, but there's plenty of work and recreation to pursue in the meantime. Happy Memorial Day!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Friends, and Spring at Last

It had been a long time since the sun shined in Driggs, and even longer since I'd seen my old college buddy Tom. Both arrived last weekend, and it was good.

There's never a boring minute with Tom around, and the fun seems to just naturally follow him from California to Chile on a solo motorcycle trip, or up Kilimanjaro, or surfing in Fiji. Our hike up Moose Creek & Plummer Canyon on Saturday paled in comparison to those epics, but was still a good day.

It was great catching up with an old friend. Tom and I are different in a lot of ways, but brothers at heart. We've got each other's back, and lots of stories from back in the day.

We marveled that it's been over 20 years since we labored through Dante's Trilogy and were called "honyawks" by a certain erudite professor. There was always time for fun, and still is. No, Joanne couldn't quite talk him into helping with yardwork :-)

After Tom headed on down the road, it was time for the annual bowling event with my basketball team in Jackson. These are some of the best dudes you will ever meet, and a few of them have been playing b-ball together for over 30 years now (I've been running with them for 13 years already). I've probably only bowled six times in the last five years, but I took no prisoners on Friday, bowled an all-time personal best 211 (sometimes the pins just keep falling down), and took their money. If we had a bowling alley in Driggs I could really have some fun.

Sunny spring weekends in Teton Valley wouldn't be complete without a good bike ride. So, I spun around the valley and up to Grand Targhee on the Tarmac...felt great to be out in shorts at last. As you can see from this pic, the Aspen leaves still aren't out, and it's the middle of May. It was a long winter, indeed.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

May in the Mountains

Historically, mud-season here in Driggs, Idaho is April. However, about four of the past five years this lovely season has slipped into May. My mom says the seasons are changing, and she's usually right. Guess we all need to embrace the insanity!

Even Bridger appeared disgusted Sunday evening, as huge flakes came down.

Just as I was ready to head south again for purposes of sanity, we got a nice window of partial sun Monday afternoon. I took advantage and did a road ride around Teton Valley & Horseshoe Canyon. I feel better now, even as the drizzle continues.

It was encouraging to see some runoff starting, at least at our lower elevations. Maybe the high country trails will dry out before August this year...we'll see.