The jury is still out regarding the best part of this weekend. Was it the 2011 The Abyss from Deschutes? Was it two days of stunning blue skies and perfect powder at Galena Summit? It could certainly have been the true satisfaction of sharing my love for the snow with the Sawtooth Avalanche Center’s awareness course on Saturday. It is such a great feeling to share your enthusiasm with a class and have it met with equal excitement, thoughtful questions, and new discoveries. Equally satisfying were the enchiladas Robyn greeted me with upon my return from the field, a New Belgium Snow Day (this winter’s best new brew) in hand and the Backcountry Film Festival at the Liberty Theater that followed.
Of course today wasn’t shabby either, a lazy morning and cold -15F start that nipped our cheeks and froze the breath in our nostrils. As Trixie finally warmed up we were already at Galena summit snapping pictures of the immaculate view of the Boulder Mountains and nearby Smokey Mountains and Sawtooth Headwaters. Starting up the trail our gear creaked and our coats crackled, stiff and brittle as an old tarp. As we toured through the trees I remembered how much I love the forest. Climbing steadily, the trees thinned and the mountain views seemed to grow even more spectacular with each switchback. Our +9,000ft summit offered a 360 degree view of relatively untouched and infrequently traveled Idaho Wilderness. We have seen, skied, hiked and climbed in many mountain ranges all over the west but there is something special about this intersection of Central Idaho ranges.
After increasingly enjoyable laps on “The Cross” we cruised back to the car and rolled down to Galena Lodge. Galena Lodge is where it’s at. Nordic trails spur in all directions leading to mountain huts and snaking valleys. The lodge is rustic, comfortable and warm. The staff and everyone lucky enough to spend time there can’t help but exude a relaxed and cheery demeanor. Kids are sledding, dogs are hanging on a sunny porch and parents sit by the fireplace sipping beers amongst 36 miniature pairs of socks and ski gloves.
Back at home another homemade dish from Robyn wafts my direction from the kitchen. Our minds are whirling with potential adventures, mountain bikes, Nordic skis, summer summits, and backpacking trips. There are so many zones to explore, so many runs to do and miles of Nordic trails to learn on. It’s hard to believe we only made it north of Ketchum a few times this fall – climbing tugged us further and further south as the temperatures reflected the dipping sun.
So what was the best part of this weekend? I guess it’s hard to say, but in the spirit of living in the moment it’s the homemade peanut satay vegetable pizza that just emerged from the oven…