Sunday, December 26, 2010

Video: Grand Canyon Adventure

A little slideshow/video I put together, of our Thanksgiving Grand Canyon adventure. There's music, so turn up the sound and enjoy.

Happy Holidays!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Winter is Here

As fabulous as our fall was in Driggs, it turned to winter so quickly we all thought a month must have gone missing. Leave it to Idaho and Mother Nature.

One week we were mountain biking in shorts...

...the next, snow hiking. It's all beautiful.

Jackson Hole reported record early-season snowfall by Thanksgiving weekend, and Grand Targhee is doing equally well. It's great to see, because last year was downright bleak until the end of March.

My philosophy: it's cold & dark anyway, we might as well have a bunch of snow to play in! (just stay away from the Metrodome in MN :-)

Speaking of Thanksgiving...we took a long-overdue trip to the Grand Canyon, hiked down with a great group of friends, and spent two nights at Phantom Ranch before hiking back out.  Absolutely incredible experience - top 3 of my lifetime - and huge thanks to Jere & Deb for instigating, planning & coordinating the trip.
This is Joanne by Bright Angel Creek at the bottom of the canyon, on our layover day.  Words and photos don't do the place justice; it is powerful beyond description...overwhelms & envelopes you, at once. Go, and feel it.  It will change you.
Just one of many photos of our hike out South Kaibab Trail. I
It's 5,000 feet of challenging & steep hiking in each direction, but the insane views at every turn simply pull you along. One of the wonders of the world, indeed, and a most memorable Thanksgiving.  We're already planning a return visit.

Meanwhile, life back home isn't bad, either.  We took Bridger x-c skiing on the Alta, WY trails Saturday, and I enjoy that course more each time. Rolling Idaho farmland meets the Tetons...unbeatable.

The TVTAP Christmas benefit dinner was the weekend's icing on the cake; awesome seeing and catching up with so many good friends. This is a priceless place, both land and people.

Happy Holidays to you all!

Friday, November 19, 2010

November Transitions

Like April, November is known as a transitional "mud month" around Driggs, Idaho, Park City, Utah, Jackson Hole and other area mountain towns.  Colder, darker, less colorful days signal the start of winter...but it takes a while for the snow to really pile up.  In the meantime, it's just muddy.

Mountain biking season screeches to a halt, and thoughts turn to skis, boards, and snowmobiles.

Temperatures remained warm through the first week of the month, so I took advantage with a couple final bike rides. I'm keeping this exact location a secret; name it if you can.  Let's just say it was a delicious day.

Went to the much-anticipated Utah-TCU football game back on November 6.  ESPN college game day was there, and both teams came in undefeated; Utah was ranked #5 in the country, and TCU #3. Big, big game. Wish I could say it was a highlight of the month, but as you probably know by now Utah got absolutely crushed.  So much for national title hopes.

Which takes me to what was unquestionably the highlight of November, and the year so far: seeing my brother Mark become a father.  Little Corbin was born to him and Annie on the 12th, healthy and happy, with the biggest hands & feet you'll ever see on a baby; should be palming a basketball by the time he's about 8 :-)  Here he is at one week, already gettin' his Ute on; watch out, TCU!

I bid farewell to fall with a final high-country mountain bike ride a couple of weeks ago, right before the snow started flying. Wanna try to name this spot, as well? 10,000-foot elevation, sweetest singletrack I've ever ridden...and it's under about 3 feet of snow now.

Grand Targhee ski area opens tomorrow, and so does Park City.  Let the winter season begin!

Friday, October 22, 2010

The Most Sublime Fall Ever

What a fall!  Here in Driggs, Idaho (and also Park City, Utah), we have had more summer-like weather in September & October than we did in June, July & August this year.  Add in the bonus of cool nights, no bugs, no wind, and spectacular colors...and it has simply been paradise.

A recent evening hike up Coal Creek (near Teton Pass) revealed the most luminescent Aspen leaves I've ever seen.  The temperature felt like July, sky was deep fall blue, not a whisper of wind, and we had the trail all to oursleves. Magical stuff.

I've also been preparing the Baffin Park City store for winter, and getting out exploring that area more. This photo is along the Upper Provo River, between Woodland and Tabiona; it's one of the most beautiful stretches of road I've ever seen, and I'll be back.

The trails around greater Park City are endless, seamlessly connecting to the Canyons, Deer Valley, and beyond.  This is the view to the east, from upper Deer Valley: Jordanelle reservoir, with the Uinta mountains in the distance. Tough to beat.

Another "pinch me" perfect day in the mountains, with Joanne & Bridger. I spent much of the summer preparing for and recovering from triathlons, so I've really enjoyed the chance to just go out and casually wander the hills during this amazing stretch of Indian Summer. Peaceful, healing, and inspiring times.

The snow will be here soon, and we'll be ready. But wow, I don't remember a nicer fall in my lifetime.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Idaho Harvest Time

It's "Spud Week" here in Driggs, Idaho. In layman terms, this means harvest time; and, in decades-old tradition, public schools close for a week so students can help with the harvest work.  Barley and potatoes are the main crops, so this also leads to the moniker "Spud Break." 

Summer-like weather is continuing, making for ideal harvest conditions.  It's crazy, but for the last several years we get nicer weather in September than we do in June.  No complaints!

Harvest time also means hunting season around Driggs, so our outings now involve wearing orange. Bridger, as always, is oblivious to the details and just happy to be out exploring.  Funny, but I'm often the same way.

Look at that blue sky, set off by emerging fall colors and uncrowded trails. Does it get any better?

As the weather continues to hold, we continue to sneak in final summer fun. An evening of golf with good friends Jere & Deb last week was a definite highlight...thanks, guys!

Meanwhile, back in Park City working, sublime Indian Summer continues.  This is Jordanelle Reservoir, and the East side of Deer Valley ski area.  In another month, it'll certainly be covered in snow.

Until the white stuff flies, we'll be enjoying the blue, red, yellow, and orange.  Happy trails!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Suddenly, Perfectly September

Fall has a way of sneaking up on us, subtly, on the  heels of summer's frenzy. It then envelops us with colorful perfection we wish would never end. Such is the case this time of year around Driggs, Idaho.

Indian Summer: those glorious days after the first snowstorm or two, when sunshine returns, mosquitoes are gone, nights are crisp, and leaves begin changing. Perfect for adventures.

Meanwhile, Grand Targhee ski resort eagerly awaits the inevitable forthcoming powder days.

It's been a bike-centric couple of weeks, beginning with Labor Day weekend rides in Park City, Utah. Joanne joined me for a classic loop from Jordanelle Reservoir, to Park City, up around Deer Valley, and back.

The beautiful thing about riding in Park City is you're never far from a St. Regis, or Waldorf, or comparable resort if you need to powder your nose. Oh yeah, and the singletrack is sublime.

Two-wheel mania continued the following weekend, with LOTOJA.  I did the race as part of a great 5-person relay team this year, and it was another terrific experience.  Teammates Ashley, Stacie, Sara and Tim all rode like rockstars, and we cemented friendships that surpass the race. 

Good times training, strategizing in Logan the night before the race, and especially celebrating in Jackson Hole after crossing the finish line. Shake 'n Bake!

This week is our 17th Anniversary. Naturally, Joanne & I celebrated by doing a favorite mountain bike ride to the top of Garn's Mountain, west of Driggs. Sitting on top, at 9,000 feet with 360-degree views, we recognized how fortunate we are to have experiences like this, in a place like this.

Enjoy the ride, wherever you are.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Lasting Summer Adventures

As we segway from summer to fall, the rush is on to fit in final epic outings. This is especially urgent in places like Driggs, Idaho, and Park City, Utah, where the summer season is fleeting to begin with. Winter approaches with relentless stealth; yes, we love playing in the snow...but memories of summer adventures help warm the soul through the cold months ahead, for sure.  So, let's go!

As bike-hike-swim-ski-run focused as I often am, I do enjoy a little yin with the yang. Fishing, floating, snowmobiling, stargazing, and golfing all have their place in my world, and help keep me centered. An evening round with Joanne at Teton Reserve served just such a purpose last weekend. Ahhh.

A Century in beautiful Star Valley, Wyoming was another great day last weekend.  My brother Curt (he of NY residence) and several of his good friends converged for the ride, and asked me to join them. It was simply stellar.  Quiet country roads, friendly volunteers, and one of my favorite climbs in the world:

Salt River Pass, highpoint of LOTOJA.

Last - but certainly not least - was an evening birthday hike with Joanne & Bridger.  Here I am with our happy dog, at the top of Pole Canyon, trying to remember how old I am (or not!).

Happy Labor Day weekend to you all.  May your final summer adventures be outstanding, and keep you warm for months to come!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Peripatetic Summer: Utah, Idaho, and Wyoming Adventures

These past couple of months, a more appropriate title for this blog would be "Livin' in Driggs, Workin' in Park City, Drivin' all over Utah-Idaho-Wyoming for bike races and triathlons."  It has been crazy, but great.

Here I am the last weekend of July, taking in the scenery at Happy Jack Recreation area in Laramie, WY.   The next morning Joanne & I toed the line for the Laramie Enduro mountain bike race.

It was the third time I had done this race ('06, '07 and now '10), and Joanne's second time. It is flawlessly organized (thanks to Rich Vincent!), all proceeds go to non-profits, and the vibe is awesome. We were pretty worried about thunderstorms, because we got soaked during our short Friday afternoon pre-ride...but race day dawned beautiful, and stayed that way.  Whew.

Here's Joanne on our Friday pre-ride, checking out a section of race trail: the dreaded Headquarters climb. It seemed easy when we were fresh on Friday, but was crushing at the end of the race on Saturday.

500 racers competed; about 125 pro/experts, and 375 sport class (which would be us).  We all raced the exact same 111K/70-mile loop...a savory blend of 1/3 dirt roads, 1/3 atv trail, and 1/3 sweet singletrack. Total climbing was about 8,000 feet, most of it coming during the last half of the race (brutal!). 

Dinner with the gang at our friend Galen's the night before must have worked, because Joanne & I each took about 30-minutes off our previous best times; I was 6hrs. 58min (good for 53rd overall), and Joanne was 7hrs. 47min.  It was really hard, and hurt more than the Boise Ironman 70.3 that I did back in June...but we loved it.

After a week at the Outdoor Retailer show in Salt Lake, and a good weekend at the Baffin Park City store during the Kimball Arts Festival... it was up to our all-time favorite town for a quick getaway: Ketchum, Idaho.  I've been going to Ketchum/Sun Valley since I was a toddler, and still can't believe I never moved there.  Joanne agrees; so, whenever we get the chance, we visit.

I've mountain biked all over the western U.S. and Hawaii these past twenty years, and place Sun Valley firmly at the top of the list.  Long, flowing, yet challenging singletrack winds up nearly every canyon, and can all be accessed via bike paths from town.  It's simply amazing.  There's even more to the north, up by Stanley, if you have the time.

Greenhorn, Lodgepole, Adam's, Fox, Chocolate, and Oregon Gulches are all epic loops which can be woven together for hours of singletrack bliss. This picture shows Joanne near the top of the Greenhorn-Lodgepole loop.  I mean, wow! 

Icing on the cake is Ketchum's great selection of nice, casual restaurants; a chill, friendly vibe held by everyone you meet; and a core downtown that is completely walkable, with free parking. What a concept!

It was tough saying good-bye, but we somehow managed.  Back to life in the working lane...which ain't all bad. 

A triathlon is coming up for me this weekend at Jordanelle reservoir near Park City, and then a big birthday weekend up in Driggs...including a bike tour of Star Valley, WY with my brother Curt (he of New York residence) & friends. Gotta squeeze it all in these last few weeks of summer!

Here's to summer adventures; I hope you're all enjoying a few.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Driggs Wydaho Mountain Bike Festival

The first annual Driggs "Wydaho Mountain Bike Festival" is in the books, and was a huge success. Joanne is on the planning committee, much-deserving of a shout-out for her considerable & effective work. About 200 folks took part in three days of live music, group rides, raffle giveaways, contests, movies, food, drinks, and perfect high-country summer weather.

Mark your calendars now for next year's festival dates: July 22-24, 2011.  I expect to see a bunch of you!

In the midst of it all, Joanne and I enjoyed a couple of laps around Rick's Basin at Grand Targhee. How 'bout those wildflowers?!!

I also managed a quick evening hike on a little-known trail in the Tetons. There's something extra-cool about reaching snowbanks in late July.

After sixteen summers, I still don't tire of this view: descending Ski Hill road from Grand Targhee, looking straight up at the Tetons.  Gotta be one of the most beautiful stretches of road in the world.

Ride on!

Monday, July 5, 2010

Perfect 4th of July Week, Driggs style

I've been a lot of places, but in July, there is nowhere on the planet I'd rather be than Driggs, Idaho. 2010 marks our 16th summer here, and I still feel like a kid in a candy store.

There have been numerous great outings during the past week, but this photo of a group mountain bike ride might be my favorite. As much of a loner as I can often be, there's something to be said for sharing experiences like this. The mayor of Driggs is in this pic, as is our good friend John from Tucson, Scott from Pennsylvania, etc. Quite a mixture of folks, and lots of fun on a beautiful evening in the Tetons.

First thing's first: the best thing about the week was catching up with many good friends. Jere & Deb, Dave & Michelle, Carol & Russ, Gary & Cindy, Jon & Audrey...absolutely love y'all. "Real" people are what truly make Teton Valley, and the unmatched recreation is icing on the cake

Speaking of recreation: Bridger found a perfect swimming hole early in the week, after a great hike in the Big Holes. We always love watching his big paws get churning in the water, a total water dog!

On the topic of we are at the top of Drake Creek, at the south end of the Big Hole Crest trail, with snow-splashed Palisades Peak in the distance. It was one of those stellar evenings: not a cloud in the sky, no wind, perfect temperature. In typical Teton Valley style, we encountered absolutely no one else on the trail. Priceless.

Of course, there's always plenty of mountain biking in our lives this time of year. Here's Joanne on a classic ride last Sunday, from Spooky Trail to Piney Pass. Joanne and her good friend Celia actually named the trail back in 1996, and the Forest Service adopted it; how rare is that?! 360-degree views of the Big Holes, challenging but fun, with lots of water and wildlife. This might just be my favorite ride in the world.

Mixing in a little yin with the yang, we made our way to the local golf course. This was another perfect evening, relaxing with Grand Targhee ski area in the background (a bit of snow remaining). Yes, I'm a lefty; no, I'm not good.

Remarkably, I persuaded Joanne to switch out her mountain bike for a 50-mile road ride one afternoon. In authentic Driggs style, we had to make our way through a cattle drive at one point; kinda messy, but fun! The highlight of the ride had to be these views near the end of Horseshoe Canyon.

The big 4th of July celebration in Driggs this year actually came on the evening of the 3rd. The beautiful new Huntsman Springs golf course development officially opened, and we were honored to attend a private ribbon-cutting bar-b-que with Jon Huntsman Sr. himself (an Idaho native), golf legend Billy Casper, renowned course designer David McLay Kidd, guest Glenn Beck, and more. It was a big deal. All proceeds from Huntsman Springs - as in, 100% - will go to the Huntsman Cancer Institute.

Joanne and I thoroughly enjoyed the evening, which wrapped up with symphony music, speeches by Mr. Huntsman & Beck, and the best fireworks show we've ever had in to the public, and complete with music. This will be a tough week to top.

Happy Summer!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Winter and Spring Schizophrenia

Winter and spring clearly have an unstable relationship; the calendar means nothing. Winter gets lackadaisical, and spring grabs the stage. Spring turns its head, and winter jumps right back into the picture. March, January, May, February...they all end up feeling (and often looking) the same. It goes like this well into June here in the Northern Rockies.

This year, I became schizophrenic right along with the feuding seasons. Bike rides in January & February; skiing in April; trail running in March; who knows what May holds...maybe snowmobiling. I thought I'd better document it for the ages, so here you go, in pictures.

Skiing conditions have been marginal all year, with the exception of a few days. Word is that yesterday (April 1, for real) was maybe the best day yet. Joanne and I made it out for a tour with Bridger last weekend, and he smiled.

By early March, it appeared things were melting off in the Salt Lake foothills. I pounced, and started trail running. By the end of March it felt like January again, and we were all back to skiing, sometimes while driving. It's never boring.

A late March highlight was biking in Teton National Park. This is a bucket list kind of thing to do; the roads are plowed, but no vehicles allowed yet. Absolute bliss.

Meanwhile, Park City ski area just announced that it will remain open an extra week, thanks to recent and forthcoming storms & cold. So, keep the boards out until April 18, at least!