More wildflowers! more creek crossings! More aspen groves! more vistas! More sublime singletrack! Welcome to IDAHO!!! This past week in the Sun Valley/Sawtooth area we’re feeling rather gluttonous as we continue to devour some of the tastiest trails in the West, including this one which was documented by a friend of Josh’s.
Josh and I haven’t done much mountain biking together prior to this trip, so it’s been a treat for us. This is partly because Josh all but refuses to ride the local Phoenix area trails. And now I understand why. I too am going to have a hard time finding motivation to ride yawn-inducing, urban desert trails.
Our opposite riding strengths provide Josh and I plenty of time to savor the views and fresh air on our rides. If we both started at the same place and rode at our own pace we’d probably finish within a couple minutes of each other but on unfamiliar trails we like to stay together. So I hammer up the climbs and wait at the top while Josh follows with an easy spin. Then he takes the lead, gliding down the descents and waits for me to follow more slowly and hesitantly.
Our system was thrown off slightly on one Sawtooth area ride when we made the mistake of getting behind a group of about 20. It wasn’t too long before we ended up more in the middle, inadvertently embarking on our own Tour de Fisher trail, struggling to keep the peloton from passing us just as soon as we were able to get around the pack.
Yes, the trails here are well used, but long loops spread out the traffic and the locals are the friendliest you’ll find. (see below for our favs) No snooty mountain town attitude here though wouldn’t expect it given the upscale shops and over the top architecture.
We feel right at home in this laid-back, conservative state with abundant and accessible free camping. And did we mention that there are hotsprings everywhere? Can’t think of a much better way to spend a rest day. (sorry, no swim suit photos will be posted on-line).
The five coolest Idahoans we’ve met
1. Zen master. This friendly, bearded outdoorsman showed us how to maximize out hot-spring experience as demonstrated perfect form, floating completely still on his back looking totally relaxed. He coached a hesitant Josh saying ”you can’t worry about the heat, man, you just have to submerge yourself.
2. Natural high guy. OK, so we don’t know for sure that he’s from Idaho, but we’ll include him in anyway. About a mile into our first ride we knew we had made a good choice when we crossed paths with this guy rippin’ downhill the opposite direction. Grinning from ear to ear he hollered at us to “have fun, it’s great!” as he passed and we continued to hear his “whoops” of joy for the next few minutes as he sailed down.
3. Paul & Dave. We actually met these two in California when we shared a Camp 4 site with them for a few nights. But they’re from Boise, and about the coolest people we’ve met so far on our trip. With some 40+ years combined climbing experience, these two have “been there, done that” and had endless entertaining stories to share of their adventures. They sent us off well supplied with route and camping recommendations. Not only that, but they were always quick to share with the Camp 4 park bums.
4. The Primetimers. The over 50 contingent is riding strong in the Ketchum/Sun Valley area. Our favorite was a gentleman who passed us while we were taking a break at mile five of a ride. He had just finished mile 26. Turns out he’s training to be the oldest finisher of this year’s Leadville 50. (a fifty mile mountain bike ride in Colorado that reaches 12,000 feet four times) At 72 years old, he’s been riding and racing since his 40’s.
5. All in the family. Aminda’s cousin is an experienced climber and mountaineer. I recall at a long ago family Christmas (I would have been about middle school age) being intrigued by his new climbing gear. Until the cost of it all was revealed and I though “well, there’s one sport I’ll never get into.” He and his super upbeat wife have a son who’s the cutest first grader in the state.