Dec 182014
 

Backpacking in Craters of the Moon National Park

My article describing the trek I took across Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve was just published online! Be sure and follow this link (here) so you can give it a read.

Better yet, support National Parks Conservation Fund by giving them a donation…and subscribe to their magazine!

You can watch a featured segment from our trek that was included in Outdoor Idaho’s special, 50 Years of Wilderness, via this link (here).

Aug 252014
 

Colin Rodgers and Nate Scales turn the corner from the pass between Alice and Toxaway lakes while running this classic  loop in the Sawtooth Mountains of Idaho.

“Running is what people do in the Olympics” was how Nate compared what we were doing to the real thing. He continued, “Or, what a thief does when pursued by the cops.” We were not running the Alice-Toxaway loop in the Sawtooth mountains of Idaho. That said, with only three breaks (granola-bar,summit, and a swim) we were able to finish the 18 mile loop in 4:20.

The trails were busy with overnight hikers. We passed at least a half dozen groups of four or more. What was a bit interesting was that more than half of these groups were people over the age of 50 and only 2 were families with younger children. It seemed to me that the sample we got yesterday was a good reflection on today’s backcountry users–aging hippies staying fit on the trail whose x-generation’s offspring grandchildren are absorbed in computers, games, and social media!

Colin Rodgers and Nate Scales turn the corner from the pass between Alice and Toxaway lakes while running this classic  loop in the Sawtooth Mountains of Idaho.

Aug 182014
 

Mountain biking in the White Cloud Mountains of Idaho.

Like the Nor Cal surfer, Jeff Clark, and his famous solo pursuit of surfing Mavericks for decades, Idaho locals have been riding their mountain bikes on the single track trails in the White Cloud Mountains without much notice. Stories about riding out in this distant range have stayed on the peripheral, like fables. Matt Leidecker, Scott Corkery, and I gathered this past Saturday for our first ride on the east side after having heard about a magnificent 25-mile loop that took riders high into the alpine.

Mountain biking in the White Cloud Mountains of Idaho.

I’d heard about this ride from a friend who works at Club Ride who said it was a classic, but, Matt had met a couple of guys who called the ride, “The Unicorn,” because it was so otherworldly and fantastic that it couldn’t be real! Needless to say, it didn’t take much convincing to get us motivated for the adventure.

Mountain biking in the White Cloud Mountains of Idaho.

Matt is currently writing a guide book for the White Clouds and while doing research a few weeks ago had left his “White Box” (his term for RV’s) at a trailhead near our intended ride. He needed a shuttle to get out to his rig and after a few emails, a little map work and scheduling, he had the three of us a plan in which we’d climb up a western drainage on the southern end of the range, cross over the divide, and descend into the adjacent eastern drainage which would ultimately have us finish at Matt’s rig where we’d stay the night. Then, the next morning, we’d get after the Unicorn.

Mountain biking in the White Cloud Mountains of Idaho.

What with each of us having two kids and wives, we were not able to get to the trailhead until late in the afternoon. But, to be honest, it was great for me photographically. A short but steep three mile ascent put us on the divide with a 2000′ descent taking us down to the RV and one of Idaho’s best hot spring, The Bowery. Unfortunately, Matt had a mechanical on the descent that destroyed his rear derailleur. We made to the hot spring with the last light and had to use our lamps to ride to Matt’s RV.

Mountain biking in the White Cloud Mountains of Idaho.

While cooking a hodgepodge of instant meals leftover in the RV, we thought it might be possible to convert Matt’s bike over to a single speed which would allow him to ride the Unicorn with us the next morning. We rose from our tequila induced slumber at 6:30am, had breakfast, coffee and got Matt’s derailleur off, his chain shortened, and were off riding by 7:30. Unfortunately, at the first steep climb Matt’s chain snapped and ended his bike ride; he coasted back down to go research a different drainage for his book.

Mountain biking in the White Cloud Mountains of Idaho.

Scott and I carried on. Both of us had a preconceived idea that this loop was going to be brutal. We expected to have to hike-a-bike a ton on the ascent and that the downhill was going to either break us or our bikes-or both. After an hour in the saddle and having found the climb to be a mix of perfectly inclined and buff single track mixed with short bouldery technical sections, we started pinching ourselves to see if this trail was real. 5 minutes wouldn’t go by before either of us would bust out laughing at how good certain sections of the climb were. We were in disbelief and began challenging ourselves on the reality of the situation.

Mountain biking in the White Cloud Mountains of Idaho.

A few hundred yards from the top of the climb, I lost it and began shouting hysterically. I’d just finished spinning up a few perfect switchbacks and then caught a glimpse through the forest of the alpine zone-a magnificent peak with a sheer white granite wall a few hundred feet tall. In all my years of mountain biking, never have I enjoyed a climb so much and been rewarded by such a fantastic view from the top.

Mountain biking in the White Cloud Mountains of Idaho.

Aside from the hoots, hollers, and whoops of joy that came forth from our grinning mouths, the words we used on the descent to define our experience riding the Unicorn were thus: holy shit, what the fuck, dear god, jesus christ, insane, fucking crazy, hell yeah, nuts, nutty, spicy, sick, etc. The descent seemed to never end and its quality never subsided.

Mountain biking in the White Cloud Mountains of Idaho.

The Unicorn took us through almost every mountain niche and trail condition. It was an intermediate climb followed by an expert descent. I had to throw my bike three times and hit the ground twice. I blew my rear tire once and was impressed that no other mechanicals happened. It was rad.

Mountain biking in the White Cloud Mountains of Idaho.

Those guys that told Matt about the Unicorn mentioned that they’d ridden a different trail in the White Clouds and found it to be better, so, they called it the Pegasus. Maybe we’ll disappear into another world when we ride this one!

Mountain biking in the White Cloud Mountains of Idaho.

Mountain biking in the White Cloud Mountains of Idaho.

Mountain biking in the White Cloud Mountains of Idaho.

Mountain biking in the White Cloud Mountains of Idaho.

Mountain biking in the White Cloud Mountains of Idaho.

Mountain biking in the White Cloud Mountains of Idaho.

Mountain biking in the White Cloud Mountains of Idaho.

Mountain biking in the White Cloud Mountains of Idaho.

Mountain biking in the White Cloud Mountains of Idaho.

Mountain biking in the White Cloud Mountains of Idaho.

Mountain biking in the White Cloud Mountains of Idaho.

Mountain biking in the White Cloud Mountains of Idaho.

May 202014
 

Couloir skiing in Idaho.

Just on the other side of most any high alpine peak or ridge lie the strikingly beautiful shafts of snow which are isolated by rock walls and are better known as couloirs. In french, it means “passage” or “corridor,” and in terms of ski mountaineering, it means a portal into the ephemeral world of steep and exciting turns. There is a little cirque up north that offers a half dozen or so little couloirs that are fun to get into. Matt Sylvester and I went up for some of these tasty turns one stormy day late this Spring.

Couloir skiing in Idaho.

Couloir skiing in Idaho.

Couloir skiing in Idaho.

Couloir skiing in Idaho.

May 202014
 

Backpacking with kids in Idaho.

This past weekend I took my wife and kids out the East Fork of the Salmon river for an overnight backpacking adventure. It’s amazing how much fun you can pack into 24 little hours! The East Fork is an amazing place filled with wildlife, scenic mountains, hot springs, and an abundance of trails. If you are looking to get your kids into backpacking, this is a great canyon to start them with; the only caveat being that you’ll have to ford the river about a mile from the trailhead.

Backpacking with kids in Idaho.

Backpacking with kids in Idaho.

Backpacking with kids in Idaho.

Backpacking with kids in Idaho.

Backpacking with kids in Idaho.

Backpacking with kids in Idaho.

Backpacking with kids in Idaho.

Backpacking with kids in Idaho.

Backpacking with kids in Idaho.

Backpacking with kids in Idaho.

Backpacking with kids in Idaho.

Backpacking with kids in Idaho.

Backpacking with kids in Idaho.

Backpacking with kids in Idaho.

Backpacking with kids in Idaho.

Backpacking with kids in Idaho.

Backpacking with kids in Idaho.

Backpacking with kids in Idaho.

Backpacking with kids in Idaho.

Backpacking with kids in Idaho.

Backpacking with kids in Idaho.

Backpacking with kids in Idaho.

Apr 202014
 

Backpacking in the wilderness of Craters of the Moon in Idaho.

I’ve just returned from a trek that covered 65+ miles of hiking over the volcanic lava fields in and around Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve here in South Central Idaho. Our expedition was a celebration of the 50th anniversary of the 1964 Wilderness act and 90th anniversary of Robert Limbert’s National Geographic publication which described his exploratory adventure of the surreal landscape and was a primary factor in the establishment of the area as a National Monument. I’ll be working on an essay in the coming days and weeks and will update this post with the transcript. Until then, enjoy the images!

Backpacking in the wilderness of Craters of the Moon in Idaho.

Backpacking in the wilderness of Craters of the Moon in Idaho.

Backpacking in the wilderness of Craters of the Moon in Idaho.

Backpacking in the wilderness of Craters of the Moon in Idaho.

Backpacking in the wilderness of Craters of the Moon in Idaho.

Backpacking in the wilderness of Craters of the Moon in Idaho.

Backpacking in the wilderness of Craters of the Moon in Idaho.

Backpacking in the wilderness of Craters of the Moon in Idaho.

Backpacking in the wilderness of Craters of the Moon in Idaho.

Backpacking in the wilderness of Craters of the Moon in Idaho.

Backpacking in the wilderness of Craters of the Moon in Idaho.

Backpacking in the wilderness of Craters of the Moon in Idaho.

Backpacking in the wilderness of Craters of the Moon in Idaho.

Backpacking in the wilderness of Craters of the Moon in Idaho.

Backpacking in the wilderness of Craters of the Moon in Idaho.

Backpacking in the wilderness of Craters of the Moon in Idaho.

Backpacking in the wilderness of Craters of the Moon in Idaho.

Backpacking in the wilderness of Craters of the Moon in Idaho.

Backpacking in the wilderness of Craters of the Moon in Idaho.

Backpacking in the wilderness of Craters of the Moon in Idaho.

Backpacking in the wilderness of Craters of the Moon in Idaho.

Backpacking in the wilderness of Craters of the Moon in Idaho.

Backpacking in the wilderness of Craters of the Moon in Idaho.

Backpacking in the wilderness of Craters of the Moon in Idaho.

Backpacking in the wilderness of Craters of the Moon in Idaho.

Backpacking in the wilderness of Craters of the Moon in Idaho.

Backpacking in the wilderness of Craters of the Moon in Idaho.

Backpacking in the wilderness of Craters of the Moon in Idaho.

Backpacking in the wilderness of Craters of the Moon in Idaho.

Backpacking in the wilderness of Craters of the Moon in Idaho.

Backpacking in the wilderness of Craters of the Moon in Idaho.

Backpacking in the wilderness of Craters of the Moon in Idaho.

Backpacking in the wilderness of Craters of the Moon in Idaho.

Backpacking in the wilderness of Craters of the Moon in Idaho.

Backpacking in the wilderness of Craters of the Moon in Idaho.

Backpacking in the wilderness of Craters of the Moon in Idaho.

Backpacking in the wilderness of Craters of the Moon in Idaho.

Backpacking in the wilderness of Craters of the Moon in Idaho.

Backpacking in the wilderness of Craters of the Moon in Idaho.

Backpacking in the wilderness of Craters of the Moon in Idaho.

Backpacking in the wilderness of Craters of the Moon in Idaho.

Backpacking in the wilderness of Craters of the Moon in Idaho.

Backpacking in the wilderness of Craters of the Moon in Idaho.