Tag Archives: Idaho
By Michael Lanza
We pause at the top of a steep hill on the Elkhorn Loop Trail in Idaho’s Boise National Forest and contemplate where to go from here. My 17-year-old niece, Anna Garofalo, and I have cross-country skied for two hours to reach this quiet spot in the ponderosa pine forest, miles from the nearest road—and more than 2,000 miles and an experiential chasm from the only place she has ever known as home.
I lay out the choices to Anna: turn around and ski two more hours back to the Skyline yurt, where we’re spending three nights with my wife and kids and another family; or explore a trail I’ve never actually skied in the many trips I’ve made to this system of ski trails and yurts north of Idaho City. I’ve never skied it because, unlike most of the trails out here, it’s not groomed, and it lies out on the farthest perimeter of the trail system. Going that way would take us at least three more hours to reach the yurt. But I’ve long wanted to ski it, if for no other reason than its name: the Wayout Trail.
“Let’s do it,” Anna tells me. “After all, when am I going to be back here again?” God, I love that attitude. But I suppose that’s how you would look at something you’ve been literally waiting almost your entire life to do. Continue reading →
By Michael Lanza
Idaho’s best-known mountain range, the Sawtooths remain surprisingly, pleasantly uncrowded. I’ve taken backpacking trips on gorgeous weekends at the height of summer without seeing more than a few other hikers. But come here when snow blankets the peaks and you may see no one else for days. And from a spacious and warm yurt at 7,400 feet near the Bench Lakes, below the sharp pinnacles of Mount Heyburn, backcountry skiers and snowshoers can explore a rich bounty of moderate terrain—and have the snow to themselves. Continue reading →
By Michael Lanza
We reach an unnamed pass at 8,450 feet early on a September evening that could hardly be nicer, with temperatures in the low 60s and a soft whisper of breeze in the air. I’m hardly breaking a sweat; I love hiking at this time of day. Below us, the green valley of Johnson Creek falls away into deepening shadows below a skyline of granite spires glowing golden in the low-angle sunshine.
A feeling of anticipation fills me, a low-grade excitement over finally getting to a goal I’ve had on my to-do list for years. My friend Jeff Wilhelm and I are backpacking into the deep interior of central Idaho’s Sawtooth Mountains—into the most remote and probably the least-visited part of Idaho’s best-known mountain range that can be reached by trail. Continue reading →
How about a little weekend inspiration? I took this shot of my 12-year-old son, Nate, on a three-day backpacking trip we took this summer into the Big Boulder Lakes basin in Idaho’s White Clouds Mountains (a place that deserves designation as either federal wilderness or a national monument). I hope you’re getting out to find some wild place to enjoy this weekend.
The Owyhee River carves narrow canyons of sheer rhyolite and basalt walls hundreds of feet deep into the sagebrush and grassland high desert sprawling over southwestern Idaho and eastern Oregon. An area four times the size of Yellowstone, it’s the loneliest corner of the Lower 48. It’s hard just to get there because of the few, bad roads. Check out the canyons of the Owyhee in this slideshow. Then read my story about our eight-day, 82-mile kayaking descent of the upper Owyhee River, where we saw just one other kayaker, on our last night, a couple miles before the takeout.