You can see it now! The halls are decked, and the stockings are hung with care. Ho! Ho! Ho! You are spending Christmas in Sun Valley, Idaho – the most magical of all winter wonderlands where kids of all ages partake in the season’s joy. Ketchum and Sun Valley will be wearing their best festive greenery accented with over-sized red ribbons and twinkling lights. You have booked your travel arrangements. You have secured a rental car. You can almost feel the excitement and anticipation in the crisp, cold, winter air.

Yes, there is plenty of Alpine skiing and snowboarding on Baldy and Dollar. There are lessons and clinics. There is ice skating. There is Gallery Walk. There is adventuring out to natural hot springs. There are excellent coffee shops and cuisine sprinkled through town. Yes! A vacation in Sun Valley is pretty incredible. But, what can you explore during your vacation to make it even better? It sounds like a day trip to Galena Lodge might just do the trick.

A day spent at Galena Lodge will not only get your adrenaline going but also rejuvenate your soul. Approximately 30 minutes north of Ketchum, Galena Lodge is a picturesque and historic log structure boasting rustic charm, a gourmet restaurant, a ski rental shop, and an outdoor deck.  Situated just below the summit and offering extraordinary views at every turn, Galena Lodge is the hub of access to skate skiing, Nordic skiing, and snowshoeing trails. Whether you choose to relax inside with a micro-brew and a delicious meal or tackle the trails, Galena Lodge is calling your name.  And, you are ready!

Galena maintains over 25 kilometers of snowshoe trails for all skill levels making it a great place to give this favorite sport a try. Imagine being deep in Idaho’s backcountry as you follow the twists and turns of a snow-packed trail exploring what’s around. There are towering pines. There are open meadows. There are peaks. There is wildlife. There are views unlike any other place in the world. Snowshoe outings can range from 30 minutes to 4 hours depending on your sense of adventure. A snowshoe trail pass costs $5 and dogs are welcome to tag along for free. Everything you will need is available for rental at the ski shop and guides are available.

Want to give Nordic a try? You are in luck! With the North Valley Trail System and the Boulders as a backdrop, Galena Lodge is in the middle of some of the best cross-country skiing trails in the country! I kid you not! There are over 50 kilometers of groomed trails perfect for all abilities and skill levels. There are mellow loops and steeper inclines. The Harriman Trail, 30 kilometers south of Galena, offers gradual rolling trails and views! Whether adventuring out for skate skiing or cross-country, this will be fun for the whole family.

Okay – so now you have an appetite! Open daily from 9:00 am to 5:00pm, Galena Lodge serves lunch from11:30am to 3:30pm. Occasionally, Galena Lodge will host dinners for special occasions like Thanksgiving, New Year’s, and Valentines.  They work with mother nature to plan Full Moon Dinners and their favorite wineries for the occasional Wine Dinner. Depending on your travel dates, check their calendar to see what’s cooking – literally and figuratively. And, if you can make it for dinner, bring your skis (or rent theirs) for a little après dinner adventure on the trails. Either way, you will add to the flavor of the night and your Christmas in Sun Valley experience.

Yes, it’s true! During Thanksgiving week, it happens in Sun Valley. Whether you are a local or vacationing, it’s the time of year when all of us stop and reflect in the hopes of showing gratitude. Maybe that means enjoying a hike on the crisp fall day. Perhaps that means meeting friends for coffee or lunch followed by a bike ride. No matter what you do, we know one thing. Spending your Thanksgiving in Sun Valley is one for the record books.

First and foremost on the agenda, is the fact that Thanksgiving Day is always opening day for Sun Valley’s Ski Season on Baldy. Go ahead! Throw the tradition of watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade to the wayside. It’s time to grab your skis or snowboard and grab your pass. You have been waiting for this day since the mountain closed last April. And, here it is!

Since Mother Nature is the lady of the house, so typically the mountain will not be fully open right away. But, one thing is for sure. You can count on an infectious dose of anticipation and excitement for the limited runs open on the Warm Springs side of Baldy.  And with the largest automated snowmaking system in the world, there will be snow!

Want to be on the first chair up Baldy?  Some local folks have been known to spend the night at the foot of Warm Springs in the hopes of doing just that. If you are lucky enough to get first dibs on the first ride, count on your photo being front and center on the cover of the Idaho Mountain Express. Whether craving the first carve or a gentle S turn, Baldy is officially open Thanksgiving Day from 9 am – 4pm and will remain at your disposal through the middle of April or longer – Remember, Mother Nature holds all the cards!

Prefer to sleep in a bit? Why not participate in another Thanksgiving Day local tradition? Just a short 15-minute car ride south of Ketchum is the starting point for Hailey’s Annual Turkey Trot sponsored by our Valley’s Chamber of Commerce. The race/walk/stroll starts at 10am from Sturtos Hailey on Main Street and winds its way through the Draper Preserve continuing south through the Della View subdivision before turning north again. The family-friendly event brings out over 650 folks every year in support of our local Souper Supper and Girls on the Run after-school programs. You can register online or the morning of the event. If you want a Turkey Trot T-shirt – and, you know you do – we suggest registering in advance. Visit the Wood River Chamber for details.

After a day on the hill or running around Hailey, your appetite will be hearty and good to go. You can always prepare a traditional Thanksgiving dinner at home. Reserve a private chef to prepare your feast. Or, you can dine out and avoid the dishes! Can you smell the sage, garlic, and onions cooking now? Suggestions for enjoying the local ambiance and flavors of the season are Galena Lodge, or the traditional Thanksgiving feast held annually in the Limelight Room at the Sun Valley Inn.  Click here for a list of local restaurants offering fresh roasted turkey, savory stuffing and all the trimmings.

Of course, every day after Thanksgiving offers more skiing in Sun Valley but what about retail therapy? After all, it’s Black Friday!  Ketchum and Sun Valley are full of savvy and smart boutiques loaded with unique clothing, art, jewelry, books, unusual gifts for the home, and so much more. You can even find something special for the four-legged friends in your life. Starbucks, Java on Fourth, or Maude’s can caffeinate your energy level and satisfy your sweet tooth while lunch is available at local favorites like the Kneadery, Perry’s, Grumpy’s, or Despo’s. With your belly full and your shopping underway, why not sit back and relax. You are on Ketchum time! Is it time for a massage or a mani-pedi? Is an afternoon movie is in order? Sun Valley Serenade plays every day at 2:30 pm at the Sun Valley Opera House. You won’t want to miss it.

After the day is done, freshen up and head out to Ketchum’s Gallery Walk from 5-7 pm. Each of the participating Galleries offers new art and artists selected for the month as well as refreshment. Mix and mingle with locals and artists alike as you take in the sights and sounds of a night on the town. Because it’s a busy weekend in town, consider making a reservation for dinner after Gallery Walk. You’ll be glad you did.

Saturday after Thanksgiving may seem to bring some downtime… but looks can be deceiving. Hidden on the backstreets of Ketchum and Sun Valley are the classic tidbits that bring vacationers back year after year. There are antique stores and a new/used bookstore. There are retail window displays that will dazzle with sparkle and shine. There are movie theaters showing new and obscure releases all day long. There are historical museums preserving Idaho’s rich history. There are literary events with world-renowned authors at the Community Library. There are pottery and art classes. There is ice skating. There is bowling. There is a  music recording studio at the local YMCA. There are incredible consignment and thrift stores for all occasions. There is live theater, live music, and late-night entertainment. There are fabulous dining options for families as well as more intimate dining for two.

Yes – Sun Valley is a place for all seasons and all people! And, the lifestyle here makes it easy to give thanks for all of the magnificent things this valley has to offer.

Go ahead!

BOOK YOUR SUN VALLEY VACATION RENTAL NOW

Just when you think your Idaho vacation can’t get any better, it does. October in Sun Valley ushers in a mild chill as the vibrant colors of fall make themselves heard. Yes, you might get a few snowflakes …but, locals will tell you, hands down, that October is undeniably one of the best months to spend in Sun Valley, Idaho.

For the most part, high tourist season is over, and the town is relatively quiet. Even so, there is still much to hike, fish, do and see. October in Sun Valley brings two prominent festivals front and center. Whether the plan is to tap your feet to the boogie-woogie of the  Sun Valley Jazz Festival or to take part in the unique experience of the internationally recognized Trailing of the Sheep Festival, make sure to leave time for strolling through town, listening to live music, catching a movie, enjoying a warm afternoon hike, or taking a bike ride on the Wood River Trail system.  Wait – did we mention – and then skip over – Trailing of the Sheep? Of course, we did! Let’s fix that!

October’s annual Trailing of the Sheep Festival in the Wood River Valley is a 5-day celebration of the area’s rich, cultural history. With events and activities held throughout the Wood River Valley, the festival has been attracting and entertaining folks from around the world for over 20 years. It’s historical, cultural and educational. It’s interactive, creative, and tasty. It’s so extraordinary that it has been called “One of the Top 10 Fall Festivals in the World” by MSN Travel and has been included in USA Today’s coverage of “10 Best Fall Festivals in America”. It is so unique you will want to return year after year. But, wait…. sheep? Really? Why celebrate sheep?

Here is what we know….

Shepherding is a large part of the Wood River Valley’s history. And, as a matter of fact, in 1860, the headcount for sheep in the Wood River Valley was about 14,000. As the population grew from mining, the role of sheep within the local economy became even more significant. With our harsh Idaho winters and limited access to this part of the country, you can imagine sheep were as an essential source of both food and warmth.

The industry thrived, and our Wood River Valley sheepherders supplied their wares to other areas. With the sheep count of 1890 at 614,000 increasing to 2.65 million head by 1918, it’s simple math that recognized Ketchum as second only to Sydney, Australia when it came to sheep.  We know – that’s impressive for a little Idaho mountain town in the middle of nowhere!

Wait, there is more….

Back in Ketchum’s early days, folks came from around the world planting roots in the Wood River Valley while pouring blood, sweat, and tears into sheepherding. Let’s do some namedropping. There were the Lanes, the Laidlaws, the Thomas family and, of course, the Peavys. In the mid-1850s, a Basque community made their way to Idaho. There were the Cenarrusas, the Etcheverrys, the Guerrysand, the Oxarangos, and many others. Time and life went on in what many called sheep country. It was a good life.

Much to the chagrin of the ranchers and sheepherders, the secret of the beauty and lifestyle of Sun Valley, Idaho was revealed. Development crept in as city folk moved into town. By the mid 1900s, many large land parcels were being sold off.  Hemingway arrived with his cronies as did trainloads of Hollywood celebrities, top business executives and politicians. Skiable terrain was developed, and lifts were built.  Life in Sun Valley, Idaho was changing with the rise of tourism, and an influx of newcomers.

To honor the old days and old ways, a plan was hatched for the first Trailing of the Sheep Festival in 1997. Designed to educate the newcomers of our rich shepherding and ranching history and cultural heritage, the Trailing of the Sheep Festival has been a favorite for years.

The 2018 Trailing of the Sheep Festival runs October 10-14th and includes events and activities for your whole family. Throughout the whole weekend, you’ll discover Sheep Tales Storytelling, multiple Farm to Table Dinners, and a unique local Sheepherders and Ranchers Q and A at the Community Library. There are on-going demonstrations of life in the old days, as well as films and documentaries specific to the festival. You can test your culinary skills with Cooking with Lamb classes. And, creative types can challenge themselves with a variety of Wool Fest classes. The opportunity to explore and discover is endless.

However, where do you start?  Friday evening kicks off with For the Love of Lamb, which is a must do and taste!  Local Ketchum restaurants offer their individual spin on hand-crafted, culinary delights or lamb bites to passersby in celebration of the weekend. It’s fun! It’s tasty! And, at just $20 per “passport”, it’s a lamb lover’s dream come true. If you don’t get enough to eat, the town’s restaurants will please your palate even more with their own special lamb inspired dishes spiced perfectly for this time of year. Can’t you taste the garlic and oregano?

Not to be missed on Saturday, is the incredible Sheep Folklife Fair at Roberta McKercher Park in Hailey, Idaho. Known as Lamb Fest, you’ll discover an abundance of activities, demonstrations, artists, and delicious foods inspired by our local heritage. Watch, listen and learn from the cultural music and Basque dancers performing in traditional dress. There are more wool classes and demonstrations including how to use a spindle!  There is a kid’s craft tent under the direction of our local 4H groups. There are wool and leather artists. Learn about felting and the many uses of wool. There is more storytelling about sheep and wool, and even a Make It with Wool Contest. There are Sheepdog Trials and Demonstrations, Sheep Shearing Exhibitions, and even authentic sheepherders’ wagons. Saturday finishes off with “Sheep Jam” featuring cocktails, a buffet dinner, and entertainment at Whiskey Jacques in Ketchum.

Sunday wraps up the weekend with a Sheep photography outing, and the cream of the crop (or flock), The Big Sheep Parade and Picnic. What’s that? So glad you have asked! Imagine, 1500 sheep making their way south down Main Street through Ketchum.  Yup! This is our version of an Idaho traffic jam! For an even more affect, the Big Sheep Parade is led by descendants of local sheepherding families. Before and after the parade, make your way to Ketchum Town Square for the Happy Trails Festival Closing Party, a free event with food, drinks and music.

Participating in Trailing of the Sheep always gives us a deeper appreciation of how the Wood River Valley was conquered and how it should be valued. We love our Idaho and want to share its unique qualities with visitors. Whether passing through or staying a while, we invite you to enjoy what the Gem State offers.  Take a moment to imagine yourself living in the 1850s. You’ll be impressed and grateful for the settlers of yesteryear. And, your family will have a fantastic time!

Located an hour’s drive north of Sun Valley, the Alice Lake trail rewards the hiker with a variety of terrain and a beautiful destination. While the slope of the trail isn’t overly challenging, it is a long hike. Plan for at least 5 hours to hike the total 10.4-mile trail (5.2 miles each way) with 1,700 elevation gain. Just make sure you give yourself time to enjoy the lake.

To get to the trailhead from Sun Valley, head north on Highway 75, and turn left (west) at the sign to Pettit Lake. Follow signs to the Tin Cup Hiker Trailhead, which is located on the north side of Pettit Lake. While there are plenty of parking spaces nearby, it’s always advisable to get there early, especially on busy summer weekends.

Alice Lake Shore

The first mile or so of the trail follows skirts the north of the lake and is fairly flat. The pitch of the trail doesn’t get too bad as you enter the Sawtooth Wilderness but becomes increasingly more difficult as the trail continues.

Most of the hike follows a stream up the mountains, crossing it several times. I imagine in the spring that some of the stream crossings could be very challenging. However, in early August there’s no problem finding enough exposed rocks to get across without getting your feet wet.

At several points during the hike, it felt like Alice Lake would appear around the next bend. Ultimately, we did see a lake, or rather a pond. While beautiful, it didn’t seem right. And in fact, it wasn’t right. Two ponds need to be passed before getting to the main event. Don’t worry, once you’ve reached the first pond, it’s only another 10 minutes before Alice Lake appears.

We brought our fishing poles and a hammock. After 5 miles of hike in, the hammock won. Anyway, tt didn’t sound like people were very successful fishing. So, be sure to bring some food with you (and perhaps a hammock and bottle of wine).

For us, this was the end of the road, but there are more options. First, Twin Lakes are a fairly short distance from Alice Lake. They can be added to the Alice Lake hike and still make it a day trip. For the more adventurous, you can head over the Snowyside divide to get to Toxaway and Farley Lakes. This makes for an 18-mile loop hike. That might be doable in a day, but we’d much rather tackle that with plans of staying overnight.

Summer has arrived, and enough snow has melted to open hiking to the higher elevation alpine lakes. Ever since the skiing season ended, I’ve been looking forward to the Norton Lakes hike. As a newbie to Sun Valley, I’d never been there, and a long time local described it as the best bang for the buck hike in the area.

The trailhead to Norton Lakes is just a few miles north of Ketchum. Head north on highway 75 and take left on Baker Creek Road. A word of warning, Baker Creek Road isn’t well marked. In fact, I couldn’t find any sign when traveling northbound, though there is a sign from the other direction. The road is about ½ mile north of the Cathedral Pines campground turnoff and past the Easley hot springs turnoff. If you’ve reached Prairie Creek, you’ve gone too far. You’ll know pretty quickly if you are on the correct road. There’s a sign to Norton shortly after the turnoff. It’s 7 miles of gravel road from there to the trailhead. The road is dusty, but accessible for most vehicles.

The trailhead has parking for roughly a dozen vehicles, and I’ve heard there’s seldom an issue finding a space. From there the trail is well marked.

Now, my original thought was to tackle a 10.8-mile loop that passed four lakes and 3,600 vertical elevation gain, but my girlfriend had other ideas. She brought fishing poles, knowing that I had yet to catch a fish in Idaho.

We set out at a good pace and covered the 2.1-mile uphill climb to Lower Norton Lake in about an hour. According to my phone app, the total vertical was 1,700 feet, but that included a fair amount of up and down when we got the lake. This is a fairly popular hike. So, be prepared to see a few people. That said, there’s lots more to see than the people. The views were spectacular, and lake itself was gorgeous.

Norton Lakes

The lake was clear and well-stocked. As soon as we arrived, we brought out the poles and tried our luck. Unfortunately, the dog we brought along decided to jump in right next to us, scaring away all the fish. We slowly worked our way around the lake. It wasn’t until we reached the far side of the lake, at the edge of a scree field that we both managed to land a trout. Not much to brag about – those 5” long beauties needed a bit more time in the lake, and we set them free.

Norton Lakes

While there’s a clear trail to the far side of the lake, it took a small bit of bushwhacking to completely circle the lake. It wasn’t a big deal, and I had spied the perfect set of trees next to the lake to set up our hammock. Forget about those other 3 lakes, at least this time.

Next time, we’ll do the big loop.

As I’m sure you are aware, before there was skiing in the Sun Valley area, there was mining. While I’m not always happy with how mining can scar the landscape, the old mining roads provide access to some of the most beautiful scenery in the area.

My mission today was to find Boulder City. I was looking forward to seeing the mine ruins, and I had heard that the road to Boulder City would test the abilities of my Jeep Rubicon.

Boulder City

The access point to the road is about 15 minutes north of Ketchum off Highway 75. About ½ mile south of the Cathedral Pines campground is a small parking area next to a road leading east into the mountains. Warning, it is highly recommended to have a four-wheel drive, high clearance vehicle to attempt this drive. You are tested almost immediately, and it gets worse from there.

My Jeep handled the first part of the road without a problem. The only real challenge was crossing a stream about a mile in. In mid-June, the water is pretty high, and bottom the creek bed was pretty loose. Still, it wasn’t a big deal.

Shortly after the stream is the trailhead with a place to sign in. From there on, the road narrows to little more than the width of my Jeep. To make matters worse, there are few opportunities to park or pull over if you come across traffic. Thankfully, I didn’t run into any opposite traffic.

Boulder City

As I continued down the path, I grew more and more concerned about my inability to turn around. At the same time, the road obstacles grew larger. When an opportunity arose, I decided to park and hike the rest of the way. In the future, I would have driven another mile or so. Shortly after parking, the road crossed a scree field. Though there were no opportunities to pull over, the road itself was in good shape. Immediately beyond the scree field were a few places to park. There, unless you have a modified Jeep, dirt bike, or an ATV, I strongly urge you to park. The road beyond that point would have been impossible for my un-modified Jeep.

As my hiking continued, the road also became a stream, which had washed away the small rocks and sand, and leaving behind large, uneven rocks. Yes, the road ultimately flattened out and dried out, but then it crossed a fast-moving stream, and my mission to reach the Boulder City ruins was blocked. I couldn’t find a good place to cross, either up stream or downstream.

All was not lost, though. I had brought my hammock, and there’s nothing better than relaxing on hammock next to a stream. Also, the scenery was spectacular, and the hiking was fun.

BOULDER CITY

I’ll be back soon. I’ll drive in a bit farther, and I’ll find a way across that water.

Recently, I turned 55. It’s not exactly a milestone birthday, but it does qualify me for the senior discount at Albertson’s in Hailey (the first Thursday of every month). Still, any birthday can be unique if it involves running off the mountain and into the sky. Seriously!

It was my college-aged daughter who came up with the idea. She suggested either skydiving or Bungie jumping, but paragliding seemed a better choice for me. It just looks so peaceful up there.

As it happened, Fly Sun Valley, the only permitted and licensed paragliding company in the Wood River Valley, had two openings for the morning of my birthday. The Idaho sky was a cloudless blue with temps in the 50’s. With our spots reserved, we headed to the River Run parking lot to meet Chuck, the owner of the paragliding company, our pilots (while flying, we were each tethered to a pilot) and our driver.

PARAGLIDING TRIP Sky

The first thing we did was to become student members of the United States Hang Gliding & Paragliding Association. We even received neat cards to put in our wallets! Then, of course, there were the waivers to sign, only a couple of pages. I thought it was a nice touch that we pay AFTER we get back. Chuck is confident in his service and his product.

Next, there was the matter of getting to the top of Baldy. Because the gondola wasn’t open on my birthday, Chuck drove us. Otherwise, we would have been required to ride the gondola up (and pay for the gondola ride). At the top, there wasn’t much wind, which is a good thing. Truth be told, we did try to fly a few days earlier, but we were unsuccessful due to too much wind. As they say, it’s better safe than sorry. Right? Right!

Instructions lasted about 2 minutes and primarily focused on takeoff and landing. I’m not afraid of heights, but I am scared of running down a steep hill over loose rocks. For takeoff, we were told to start running when the pilot was ready. Don’t stop running, even when you feel your feet lift off the ground. Your instructor will tell you when to stop. With adrenaline pumping, I got strapped-in and was ready to tear down the mountain at a moment’s notice.

The order came to start moving. Then, like Jenny screaming at Forest Gump, the order came to run! Doing as I was told was easy even with the sharp rocks beckoning at my feet. Three steps later I was in the air. Following my orders, I kept running, running, running. Since we had dipped back towards the ground, this made sense. Within a few seconds, we were clear….and, by clear I mean it felt like we were several hundred feet off the ground.

PARAGLIDING

If you are flying tethered to a pilot, there’s not much to do except sit back and enjoy the view. And, WOW! What a view it is! Floating above the town of Ketchum was spectacular. Except for the Cage the Elephant music I asked the pilot to play, the flight was extraordinarily peaceful. The first thing was to get higher. The trick is to find those thermals that push the wind up the mountain while allowing us to defy gravity. Once we found the sweet spot, it was just a matter of circling around in order to stay in the thermal and let the wind elevate us high in the sky.

Did I mention circling around? Yes, I did. If you have ever been seasick, you have heard the advice suggesting you watch the horizon when you feel sick. The horizon acts as a stabilizing force. Well, looking through a camera viewfinder to take pictures is precisely what not to do while circling around in the sky. Being aware is half the battle and, it wasn’t too bad. Once we stopped circling, it was spectacular. I went back to taking pictures of the valley floor and tried to capture shots of my daughter in the air. Once again, I was reminded of the adventurer’s paradise in which we live.

PARAGLIDING Close-up

I have no idea how long the flight took. It seemed to go fast, but we were probably up for 20-30 minutes. Paragliding can last much longer with the right thermals. Landing back by the River Run parking lot was completely uneventful. All we needed to do was keep the knees slightly bent at landing and to start walking. It was no more jarring that jumping off a stair to the floor. The whole activity took about 2 hours, leaving plenty of time for more birthday adventures. Unfortunately for me, I had to go to work.

Care to FLY in my footsteps? Paragliding in Sun Valley

This winter has turned out to be one of the longest and snowiest yet. And as the snow starts to melt, and the temps start to get just a little bit warmer, the starting signs of spring are becoming welcome sights to the eyes of all Sun Valley citizens. For me, spring is my favorite time of the year. High School tennis starts, my birthday comes around, and every once and while there are those cozy and decadent rainy days where all you want to do is curl up inside next to the fire with a good book, or you’re favorite new series on Netflix. Plus, I mean, who doesn’t love everyone’s favorite holiday, Easter! Nothing means the coming of spring other than the bright colors and candy filled eggs of the Easter holiday. And, there is no better place in the whole world to celebrate Easter than the scenic Sun Valley, Idaho.

On Friday, April 14, various shops/ restraunts in the Sun Valley Village will hold Easter celebration events for the whole family. These include easter egg hunts around the village, train rides for all the children, and a very special visit from the Easter Bunny himself! On Easter itself, there is no better place to get a famous Easter Brunch than from the delicious, Austrian/German inspired Konditorei. The Sun Valley clubhouse will also be serving a delicious Easter brunch buffet. Some of the options will include Eggs Benedict, Brioche French Toast, Lox and Bagels, and my personal favorite, personalized omelet stations. The Konditorei will also be serving some delicious pastries to go along with all of the Easter fun! Plus, Easter Sunday marks the last day on Bald Mountain, and its famous end of the year celebration. Live bands will be playing at the Warm Springs Lodge, so that the skiers can enjoy their last day on the slopes.

Have a wonderful Easter celebration!

The winds of winter (huge Game of Thrones Fan) have blown through our little mountain town, and the snow is finally starting to melt some. It seems like this Saturday was the first time that we have seen the sun in about five years. It has really only been three weeks, but when there is no sun, who can tell? So, let’s recap this year of snowfall.

In the 12 years that I have been living in this winter wonderland, this is the most snow I have ever seen. Since 2006, the levels of snowfall have been falling and falling to the point that each year we have asked ourselves if we would see a single flake fall to the ground in 12 months’ time. Whether this is due to global warming, or just some weird trend in the weather, it was happening.

Thankfully, Old Man Winter heard my prayers and came back to the valley with a vengeance.

This year alone, we have seen over 270 inches of snow, which is almost unheard of in Sun Valley’s 80 year history. This has created awesome ski opportunities, both Nordic and downhill. It seems like every weekend we have had fresh powder to shred, and three feet of snow to clean off of our windshields every morning. On the Nordic side of things, conditions have never been better. You have never really felt true peace until you have spent a Sunday afternoon gliding in between the trees of a high mountain forest, with fresh, huge flakes falling around you.

The snow has also caused a massive benefit to our economy. Tourists have been flooding to Sun Valley, and personally, I think it’s great. I hate it when the town is all quiet and no one is walking the sidewalks, or eating at the restaurants, or looking in at the shops. It really does get quite dull. The snow really has been fantastic this year.

And don’t worry, we’ll all soon be making our prayers to old man winter to double the load next year.

The last couple of weeks, Sun Valley has been in the middle of what we like to call a “snowmageddon.” Or, as most people like to say, a “snowpocalypse.” We’ve had some of the biggest winter storms that this valley has ever been through. Streets have been clogged, temps are consistently below zero, avalanches are flooding rivers, and the mountains of snow have been falling through my roof (bit of an exaggeration, but still). But, there has been one great thing that has come from this “snowpocalypse.” And being a high school student, I really love these: SNOW DAYS. The valley has gotten three whole snow days the last couple of weeks. To put this into perspective, we haven’t had a single one for about a decade. Snow days are a huge deal for us kids here.

Trust me. There is no better feeling than waking up early in the morning, finding out you have a snow day, and then sleeping for about 5 more hours ;).  But, most kids do try to seize the day when given a snow day. The mountain becomes absolutely flooded with kids, and the slopes become extremely crowded.

I love to head out to breakfast with my friends and return to the best times of my childhood. We head over to one of our houses and first, put on our snow pants and gloves. Then, we spend the rest of the morning sledding down the hill behind my friend’s house. We make a snow fort, and have an epic snowball fight for the rest of the day. There’s nothing better than a good snowball fight with your best pals. Then, we finish the day sipping piping hut cups of hot chocolate, wrapped in our furriest of blankets, watching some of our favorite movies. Snow days really are my favorite days of the year.