Having received only a taste of sun in the desert of Washington we craved more, much like Louis's relationship with Reese's Peanut Butter Eggs around this time of year. As the name plainly states Sun Valley, Idaho was most likely going to be our best bet. We took advantage of the rainy weather that crept onto us in Washington and bee lined it to Idaho. We made short work out of the 5 hour drive and found ourselves in Mountain Home, Idaho just in time for the inclement weather to pass through. As we were unsure about the schedule of our friends in Sun Valley, we took advantage of the time by playing some disc golf. As the remnants of the gusty winds from the recently passing storm were still present, our game was more like trying to play waste paper basketball in a hurricane.
After scoring a higher number than the average MPG of the bus on every hole on the course, we got word from our friends that the plan was to head out to a hut the next morning. As the sun hadn’t even had time to rise over the highest reaches of the Walmart we parked by to sleep for the night, we caressed Hermelda’s engine to life. Driving with the thoughts of the upcoming hut skiing trip in our heads, we were picking up our friends in no time and on our way to The FishHook Hut in the Sawtooth Mountains. With only a couple mile skin (hike on skis) into the hut through flat terrain, we had enough time to take a quick lap on the moraine directly above the hut. That night we celebrated the weekly holiday, taco Tuesday, and were introduced to the board game Pandemic. For those of you who haven't played before, this adventure involves working together on the difficult task of curing four diseases that are out breaking across the world. And if you were wondering, yes it felt as exciting as one could imagine it would be in real life!
The next morning we got off to a rough start, failing to save the world in a quick game of Pandemic, so we took to the skis to cheer up the mood. Traversing up the ridge line to the destined bowl, we began to hear small rumblings coming from the cliffs. Reaching the upper portions of the traverse we got eyes on the unknown noise, witnessing a cascade of snow coming down the cliffs across the valley. As with most trips into the back country, our expectations for the weather were quickly changing as the sun began to reveal itself through the thick layer of clouds. After digging around in the snow and gaining some extra knowledge of the snow pack, we made a group decision to play it safe and ski the low angle face we were using as the approach. The skiing ended up being a blast and we made the best out of the descent taking advantage of the natural features along the ways. After doing one more lap on the moraines around the hut we took refuge back at camp just as it began to rain.
The next day we packed things back up and headed out of the amazing area that surrounded the hut and headed towards the bus. Before leaving the Sawtooths we drove to a nearby hot spring that sounded like the perfect medicine for our sore ski touring legs. Although the old buoy that held the natural hot spring water was a tight fit for all four of us, the surrounding views and sounds of the river were a welcomed distraction. Unfortunately as we dried off and started up the bus to head back over Galena Pass, a heavy snowstorm blew in covering the road in minutes and pushing us to stay on the other side of the Pass in the bus for one more night. Thankfully the next morning we awoke to a bright blue sky and a clear road which carried us back to the other side of the Pass.
Spending the next two days enjoying the warm sunny weather and almost winning a Beirut tournament, we rested up in preparation for the upcoming woodcut. At the end of the season every year the Sun Valley Trekking team gets together to gather firewood at all of the huts for the next season. As we conveniently (since you can't hear our voice this is sarcasm!) were visiting around this time we got the offer to join in on the fun and were also promised a day of epic skiing and another night in the gorgeous huts. Not knowing exactly what we were getting ourselves into we loaded into the car early in the morning and headed out towards the Pioneer Mountains. Another advantage of helping out, we got to catch a tow from the two snowmobiles which were also headed into the hut for the cut. Getting the hard work over with the first day, we cut down somewhere around 15 trees and stacked them higher than Willie Nelson on a good day. Looking to distract us from the sore muscles we formed from moving all of the wood, we got a quick ski lap in before dinner on one of the nearby slopes.
With all of the work done, we woke up the next morning psyched to get out and ski having contained the excitement as motivation the day before. Our objective for the morning was a line called The Dorsal Fin, a wide couloir that cuts a distinct white spine down the jagged face of the neighboring Duncan Ridge. The other part of the group planned to ski The North Couloir on Cobb, which fittingly stood across the valley from our line. Mother Nature rewarded us nicely as we met the top of the ridge just as the shining warm rays of the sun melted the tough crust on top of the snow that we were expecting to ski during the entire climb. Meeting back at the hut within minutes of each other, both groups were overfilled with psych that poured out with each high five and smile.
Before any wood cuts were “conveniently” going to come up, Riley and Steve were following us in the bus towards eastern Idaho to visit our friend Milan who is living just north of Driggs. Our plan from Driggs is to ski for a while and potentially fish before moving on to The City of Rocks to do some rock climbing.