Adventures in Idaho
Written on July 25th
It’s been a while since my last post. More often then not we don’t have phone service or the capability to download/upload pictures and post to the blog. We don't even have service now as I’m typing, but I’m wanting to get some thoughts down. We did, in fact, make it to a new state……IDAHO! We’ve been in Idaho for about 12 days now and I feel like we’ve done so much already!
After a great time in Spearfish, which we kept extending, we did our first long drive of the trip - across Wyoming. Our drive might have been made a bit shorter if I hadn’t misjudged the gas! Yes, that’s right, with me behind the wheel and my husband nursing a hangover we ALMOST ran out of gas. LUCKILY, when I became acutely aware that we were in the middle of nowhere and extremely low on gas, we saw an oil rig and pulled over. One of the gentlemen there was kind enough to give us some gas so we could make it to the next town (which was in the wrong direction)!
With that little episode over we got back to business! We dropped off some goodies for the guys at the oil rig to say thanks and continued on our journey. We had been throwing the idea around of going to “Targhee Fest”, a music festival at Grand Targhee Resort. We didn’t have tickets for the festival and when we checked it out online it said it was sold out for Saturday (the day we really wanted to go)! However, our reason for going to Targhee was twofold, one to try and hit the festival and two to ride our bikes! So even though the tickets weren’t looking promising, we decided to go anyway! As It turned out, the festival wasn’t sold out on Saturday so we bought tickets AND we scored a sweet camping spot! The music festival was fun! It had a great local feel to it and it wasn’t too big. The bands were great and we got to shake our booties!
The next morning we woke up ready to ride!!! One of the things on Isla’s “BT Wish List” was to try lift-serve mountain biking. We had “planned” on doing it on her birthday, but we weren’t in the right place at the time. We knew Targhee had good riding so we were psyched to check it out. Let me tell you…the trails did not disappoint! We started the day on some beginner level downhill and cross-country trails to get the girls warmed up and gradually we tried harder trials. The girls were rocking it and John and I were having fun too! Our last ride down the mountain was a top to bottom on an intermediate trail. John and I were super impressed with the girl's riding skills and couldn’t believe that we were doing this kind of ride as a family (yes, my heart was singing). The views of the valley and the Tetons were incredible. The wild flowers - amazing! The day was truly memorable for us all.
From Targhee we FINALLY crossed the border into Idaho. Our first stop, Craters of The Moon National Monument. What a cool place! We spent one day riding the 7-mile loop road which provides access to various volcanic features. While on the loop we stopped to hike through a crater flow, climbed Inferno Cone, checked out spatter cones and craters, saw lava tubes, walked through lava fields and ventured into our first caves! One of the caves we went into had ice on the walls and floor, which was pretty refreshing considering it was hot outside. The girls earned another Jr. Ranger badge (the Lunar Ranger badge) and we all learned so much about volcanoes and this specific area. We had an awesome campsite which we stayed in for two nights.
During the car ride on the way to Craters of the Moon, we got to talking about some of the things we wanted to do on the BT. We all have a “BT Wish List” of sorts and one of the things both girls said they wanted to do was visit and play on some sand dunes. Bruneau Dunes State Park, which has the tallest single-structured sand dune in North America (470 ft high), was only about 100 miles away from Craters of The Moon. So....we decided the next stop had to be the dunes! We knew it was going to be hot, so our plan was to arrive in the afternoon and set up camp and then hit the dunes in the morning when it was cooler. When we got to the park there wasn’t a soul around! The lonely ranger at the visitor center looked at us like we were crazy for wanting to visit when it was 95 plus degrees. He warned us about the heat, the temperature of the sand (which is about 20-30 degrees hotter then the air temp) and he essentially told us NOT to hike on the dunes. Leaving the visitor center we were all a little bummed. We checked out the camping area and it didn’t look great, another bummer. Isla had her heart set on climbing a dune, so we decided we should at least check out one of the smaller dunes. We drove to a little side dune, looked it over, and decided to climb it. We threw on our hats, put on our shoes and socks so our feet wouldn't burn, drenched ourselves in water and hiked the dune!
Needless to say, it was HOT! We played on the dune for about 10-15 minutes and by the time we got back to the car all our clothes were dry! Isla still wasn’t completely satisfied!! She wanted to climb the BIG dune. We tried to find the trailhead, but couldn’t find it so we drove back to the Visitors Center for directions. When John went in to get directions to the big dune, the ranger said we shouldn’t hike it, and then asked what phone service we had. When John replied, “Verizon”, she said, “great, that works here, you’ll be able to call 911”!! Undeterred, we went to the trailhead, re-soaked our clothes, grabbed water and our hats and headed up the dune! 45 minutes later we were on top of the BIG dune!!! The conditions weren’t great. In addition to being super hot, it was also really windy - which is great for the heat, but not for the eyes!
Once we were back at the car we really felt exhilarated!! All of us loved the accomplishment of hiking the dune and laughed at the ridiculous conditions we hiked in. We emptied all the sand out of our shoes, kicked on the A/C and drove to Twin Falls to find a campsite.
The next day we drove to the put-in at Centennial Park and paddled the Snake River upstream to Pillar Falls. We passed under Perrine Bridge, which is the only bridge in the US where it’s legal to base jump from, and hoped to see some jumpers. Lucky for us, we got to watch a handful of people jump from the bridge right above us.
We only stayed in Twin Falls for two nights. On our way out of town we stopped at Shoshone Falls (the Niagra Falls of the west).
Our first five days in Idaho had been HOT! We were ready to be in the cooler temps of the mountains. After seeing Shoshone Falls, we drove north to Ketchum. We commando-camped at the base of Bald Mountain for two nights, which allowed us to take advantage of what was happening in town. We hit a couple of restaurants, resupplied, checked out a car show, and hiked and biked on Bald Mountain. However, the most notable thing we did was to see “Sun Valley on Ice”. The special guest of the night was Nathen Chen, the 2018 World Champion and 2018 Olympic Bronze medalist. Although we didn’t get to see him do a quadruple jump, it was still a very impressive show! The show was filled with former olympians and NCAA star skaters. The girls were mesmerized by the show and it was just as much fun for John and I to watch their faces as it was to watch the show. At the end of the show, the the girls got autographs and pictures with some of the skaters.
From Ketchum we continued north to Alturis Lake. We wanted to find a place where we could “rest our wings” (a new Shaw family term for chilling at a camp for several days). We scored the last site at the lake. Although it wasn’t a GREAT campsite, the lake was beautiful and it had a white sandy beach that we couldn't turn away from. We swam, paddled, played, and chilled for two days. We drank coffee on the beach each morning and made dinner on the beach our last night. We also got a lot of mosquito bites!
Right now, we’re in the camper and everyone is in bed. We left the lake this morning and drove to Stanley to make a few phone calls, check the weather, and pack for our next adventure. Tomorrow we will begin our first backpacking trip of the BT!