Like the rest of the population, we all try to get out and make 4th of July weekend more memorable than the average weekend. That extra day off from work, perfect weather, and of course the excitement of being overly patriotic for a day or two, it’s hard to beat. Back when we lived on the east coast, 4th of July usually meant sitting in traffic for hours in order to spend a day or two at the beach. But that’s rarely the case since we’ve moved to Utah. This year, we decided to head north towards cooler temperatures and the adventures found in Idaho. See, we had yet to spend a night in Idaho, only driving through on some of our longer trips. But this weekend, we were going to take it all in and enjoy 3 days in the infamous potato state.
Finding a Campsite
After spending the night near magic reservoir, because it was getting too late to drive into the Sawtooths to find an open camp spot in the dark, we got up early in search of the perfect site. And 5 hours later… we finally found it. I’m not sure what we were thinking, to be honest. This is a major destination for outdoors and camping, on one of the busiest weekends of the year, and would barely have any open sites. But after driving all the way through Ketchum, over the Galena Summit pass, stopping to check for any spots near Alturas Lake and Petitie Lake, we had no luck. Even though we didn’t find a spot near those pristine lakes, we at least got some incredible photos around Alturas Lake. Finally, after coming back over the pass, and pulling into countless pull-offs, we found a spot (by accident). And, you know what, it turned out to be the perfect spot, all things considered. Hidden from the road and all other camp sites, sitting right on the edge of a stream, and right at the foot of a major mountain. It was incredible.
With the site locked down, and the rest of the weekend in front of us. We set up camp, cracked a beer, and sat our chairs in the river right next to camp. Later that night, I rode up the road to check out the mountain biking trails of Galena Lodge. Riding up Spring Creek trail, I eventually reached the upper traverse where I dropped into Rip & Tear which reminded me of a mellow version of Salt Lake’s Bobsled trail. All things considered, an awesome riding area that I barely touched the surface of. The riding here is so much more raw than anything I’m used to in Park City/Salt Lake. Raw in the sense that not every trail is cut to the perfect grade that allows you to climb easily and defend fast. I regularly found my self out of the saddle trying to make climbs and also having to pedal on the “descents” to keep speed. But after a great ride, it was back to camp where Court, Gregor, and I hung out by the fire all night. Something I definitely took for granted since it was probably one of our last fires this summer due to fire restrictions being put in place all over the west, shortly thereafter.
Hiking Bald Mountain
Sunday morning, we got up early to head back into Ketchum to hike Bald Mountain, where Sun Valley Ski Resort is located. Scheduled to be a 10 mile hike, we got started early before the mid-day’s heat kicked in at the lower elevations. Slowly, but surely, we made our way uphill along with the crowds of other hiking groups. Gregor couldn’t have been happier smelling all the new scents and meeting all the new dogs. This hike resembled something much more similar to that of New Hampshire. With trails winding up through the woods, steep sections that could’ve used switchbacks, and great views along the way as the trails cross the drainages.
By mid afternoon, we reached the summit lodge where we cracked our beers and ate a granola fueled lunch. Needless to say, this was our first big hike of the year and it kicked both our butts. The view from the summit was incredible, surrounded by the Sawtooth National Forest. Sharp peaks scattered across the horizon. Truly a mountain range you couldn’t explore in a lifetime of days spent in the mountains. But after lunch and a bevy at the top, we eventually had to head down. The descent went much quicker and was much more enjoyable, especially with the promise of burgers and beers after we reached the truck parked at the trailhead.
When we finished the hike that ended into the main base area, we had one thing on our minds to do first, dunking our feet in the cold, clear Big Wood River that runs right through town and base area. It was a simple, but a fitting reward to a great hike. Then we packed up, and headed to Sawtooth Brewery Public House for some juicy burgers and hoppy IPA’s. By sunset, we returned to camp after a long, exhausting day, to drift off by a roaring fire.
One More Ride
The last day of our Idaho weekend was a short one. Unfortunately it’s quite the drive from Park CIty (+6hrs), so I go up early to go ride Galena Lodge again to get my weekly mileage on the bike. This time I had much more fun since I knew where all the features were and could really open it up on the bike. When I returned to camp, Courtney had already loaded up the truck and we were ready to ship off. We said goodbye to the campsite on the river that we had come to enjoy so much, and headed south. Of course, we did have to make a quick detour in Idaho Falls, not for the scenic views, but for pizza. With expectations low, and hungers high, we were beyond surprised how delicious the pizza from Idaho Pizza Company really was and would go back in a heartbeat.
Finally, we were able to check Idaho off our list of states we’ve visited, and quickly put it on the list of states to come back to (sooner rather than later i hope). We’ll see you soon Idaho and can’t wait to keep exploring all your mountains and valleys!
My name is Zachary Kenney and I’m an adventure filmmaker & photographer. My passion is to tell stories that will hopefully motivate you to go live a more adventurous life. Whether that is to experience the view from the summit of a mountain, or wandering through a new town on a road trip. Currently based out of Park City, UT.