Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Sun Valley

This would be, for all intensive purposes, the last stop of our incredible adventure, and what an amazing relief it was to be in Sun Valley. To escape from the heat and stress that we suffered in Boise, and relax into the relatively cool and wild beauty of this riverside, mountainside forest service campground.

We camped at Wood River Campground, 10 miles north of the mountain-resort town of Ketchum. It was a great site, although I think all of them were. We even had just enough Verizon signal for our Wilson amplifier to make usable internet, although not enough to have a phone conversation. That was fine with us.

The warm, long days and cool nights were perfect for living off of our batteries, and we only ran the generator for a few hours each day to charge up the house, computer and cell phone batteries. Pleasant as it was, we cooked over a wood fire each night, and kept it burning until bedtime.

We met a really great man, Lowell, and his companion, Carl, a miniature schnauzer. Lowell and Carl would wander by each afternoon or evening. Lowell would talk to us about Sun Valley and the Sawtooth Mountains, past and present. He was in his late 70's and a widower, having lost his wife to cancer several years ago. He still comes to camp in Sun Valley, and visit the memorial bench that he installed on the river not far from the campground. We enjoyed talking with Lowell, and watching Toby and Carl play. This connection made our visit here more special.

Lillian also tracked us down here. She was still in Brookings, having stayed until after Samantha's baby was born, and now came to visit us on here way back east. She stayed two nights with us, and during the day that she was there we drove up the valley, over the mountains, and into the lands beyond:

The sawtooth mountains:

Cooling off in the Salmon River:

Little Redfish Lake:

Wildflowers were a'bloom:

Boulder Mountains:

Our other days we spent walking Toby on the Harriman Trail which bordered the campground, and I went for a couple of excellent mountain bike rides. One was on a singletrack network just north of Ketchum, where steady climbing yielded rewards of views of the valley and an awesome descent back to the trailhead:

The other ride was at the Sun Valley Resort, where I twice rode the gondola 3200' feet up to the 9100' summit of Bald Mountain, to ride the singletrack trails back down. Unlike any other lift-service riding that I've done, where the ride down takes no longer than the lift up, in this case the trail back down was more than 12 miles long and took an hour! So I only did two runs, but it was awesome!

Sweet singletrack carved into the mountainside:

Actually, the second run was much more fun than the first, as I knew what to expect, and had learned how to float the bike over the loose & jagged shards of shale that covered sections of the trail surface. It was fast riding and amazing views, including of the town of Ketchum, thousands of feet below on the valley floor:

This was such a great place for us to have our last real stop of our trip. From here we would be en route to deliver the rig to Hurricane, spending most of our time cleaning and packing in the hot sun. So we are so glad that we took the time to go to Sun Valley, enjoy and reflect upon our amazing journey.

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